After a week of relaxation by the sea and then 24 hours in a sweet, old university city Lina + I were ready to move on + get those urban vibes we so love. First up: Malmö, Sweden! The 3rd largest city in Sweden, it is the international, ethnically diverse coastal city that is just across the water from Denmark. In fact, it’s only a 30-40 minute train ride from Malmö to Copenhagen. And I loooove me some Copenhagen – stay tuned for that post in a day or so!
I’d never been to Malmö, but I’d heard about it. And I had a picture of it, or a feeling of it, in my mind/soul. Something inside of me made me think that I would fall in love with this city – and I was so right.
Malmö is gritty + funky. A place filled where all kinds of people from all over now call home. Of course there are “traditional” Swedes, but the ones I ran into throughout our visit all have a little bit of extra friendliness and funkiness/coolness/bad ass-ness to them. There are also tons of immigrants, foreigners, and refugees who have moved to Malmö, making it a super eclectic, international city. There is no lack of culture and diversity here. And I totally love that.
In the past, from the little I know of it, Malmö was a working class city of docks, harbors, and industry. Hard working people called the city home. Today, even as the population grows by leaps + bounds, there’s still that vibe of hard-working, creative, industrial atmosphere. But, now, it’s also eclectic and ethnic. It’s filled with artsy, inspiring, open, international vibes on every street corner. At least that’s how I saw it.
I like to think of Malmö as NYC’s funky East Village to Stockholm’s bougie Upper East Side vibe.
But, enough of all the talk about the city. Let’s look at it through my eyes during my waaaay too short 4-day stay!
Lina + I drove 30 minutes from Lund to Lina’s cousin’s little cabin/cottage just outside the city of Malmö. She lives in the middle of the city, but she + her partner have a tiny, simple cottage where they can have a yard, grow things, and enjoy a slower pace. It’s common in Sweden for urban cities to have areas/neighborhoods of little cottages and/or pieces of land so it’s possible to get a little nature-feeling close to home. I suppose it is a community garden, with different allotments divvied up from a larger piece of land. The land owner then rents out allotments to individuals. Some are simply garden spaces, others have space for a cottage.
Lina’s cousin invited us to use the cottage for a few days so we could save money + also so we could just soak up their cozy, simple, beautiful little city oasis. As soon as we arrived, we did a little grocery shopping and then grilled out together. Ok, I sat + drank beer. Lina’s cousin’s partner grilled. We chatted into the evening and soaked up the summer sun, catching up after not seeing each other for about 10 years. Then, they left to head back to their city apartment and Lina + I got cozy in the 2 room cabin for the night.
The next day, we had a long, slow morning with coffee outside in the yard. And then we took the bus into the city – only about 20-30 minutes – to meet up with Lina’s cousin. We walked + talked + walked some more, hearing stories about where she lived at different parts of her life, passing by neighborhoods, see that gritty, inspiring, funky Malmö that inspired my soul. Finally, we ended up at Folkets Park, a popular spot in the city, where a local Danish brewery had set up a pop-up spot. We stopped for beers and food, and found ourselves sitting for hours, delving deep into our life stories and reconnecting with memories and each other.
Lina’s cousin had to head home, so Lina and I wandered some more and went to Malmö Brewing Co, which Jenny recommended. We shared a flight of beer – and I fell in love with a blueberry beer. Something that was soooo not my usual taste. After relaxing and people watching for a bit, we made our way through some more neighborhoods, began to get our bearings a little, and enjoyed a yummy tapas dinner before finding a bus that would take us home to the cottage. Such a great introduction day to Malmö!
The next morning, we repeated the slow morning of coffee outside and then packed our bags to head to the hotel we booked in the middle of downtown Malmö. Here comes that balance thing I mentioned in a previous post. We’d been a week in nature, 24 hours at a luxurious Grand Hotel, back to nature in this simple cottage, and now we were going to check in to a bougie, boutique hotel in central Malmö for 2 nights.
We left our car at the cottage parking (soooo much cheaper than in the city!), dragged our suitcases to the bus stop, and made our way into the city again. Our hotel, MJ’s, did not look like much from the outside, but I had high expectations as I had been stalking this place on Instagram for a while.
Just a note about our hotels. Not a disclaimer, just a way for you to know me better. Lina + I have had a rough 2 years as we’ve lost a baby and been trying again for a while. It’s exhausting and heartbreaking and invasive. So, this summer, while we’re away on vacation, we decided to try to balance simplicity + luxury. And we are absolutely grateful that we are in a place in life where we can choose how + where we want to stay. So, we went all in whenever we were going to stay in a hotel. Because we’re worth it – and we wanted to celebrate just being us. We are aware of our privilege and gave thanks every single moment. And still do.
Needless to say, we were blown away when we checked in and saw our super cool room. Soooo grateful. Plus, we timed it perfectly to happen to have a room with some sort of air conditioning just when a heatwave struck Sweden. We took long, hot showers again and then met up with an Instagram friend and her partner for coffee! This IG friend and I started following each other years ago. I looove meeting up with IG followers – and it was even cooler that we got to meet her partner and her kids. We had a great few hours drinking coffee and walking the city together.
Lina + I ended the day with a delicious, veggie-filled Vietnamese dinner before crashing in our super cozy bed for the night.
We woke to the news that this day was going to be hooooot. So, we strategically dressed as cooly as possible and headed down for breakfast in the hotel’s atrium. It was gorgeous + yummy + just what we needed to start our day.
We had a simple plan. An idea of which direction to walk – toward Västra Hamn (Western Harbor). But, no real specific details. Because we like to have ideas, but leave room for spontaneity, of course.
It was a hot and gorgeously sunny day as we started off toward the Turning Torso – a famous architectural icon of the city, just by the sea. It was a long hot walk through the harbor area, but there was so much to see – so many newly-built apartments and buildings. We snapped photos, made it to the coastline/beach area, saw the Øresund Bridge that connects Sweden + Denmark, and just took our time wandering.
After a while, we made our way back towards the city center, got lost trying to find the strangest castle I’ve ever seen (I don’t even have a pic!), and then decided to eat some food in an area called Davidshall, a popular area for “regular folk” since 1862. Super hot and with sore feet, we duck into a little farm to table cafe called Farm2Table. Hehe. I ate the best (and spiciest!) avocado toast I’ve ever had and Lina had a gorgeous, huge acai bowl. Soooo good.
We took two lattes to go – one lavender + one rose – and did a teeny bit of shopping before walking some more and finally deciding that a cold pint of beer was just what we needed. That – and a spot outside in the shade for people-watching. Perfection.
We rested a bit back at the hotel, freshened up, ate at a nearby TGIFridays (I know. Kill me. But, it was close by and we were tired), and then had drinks at our hotel bar before crashing for the night.
We woke knowing that we had to leave Malmö today – and also knowing that we had so much more that we wanted to explore. But, we couldn’t really be sad… because now we were going to our beloved Copenhagen! So, after another delicious hotel breakfast, we hopped on the train (our car still safely parked back at the cottage parking area) that would take us across the bridge from central Malmö to central Copenhagen!
I don’t think I can say it enough, but I love Malmö. Like, I could live there. For real. Funky-ness. Culture. International vibes, Close to the rest of Europe. On the coast. Historical. Artsy. Yep. I love Malmö.
Ok… time to move on, though. Stay tuned for our adventures + photos in what I like to call the Greenwich Village/Williamsburg Brooklyn of Denmark – Copenhagen!
Liz’s Malmö tips from this trip:
Turning Torso – super unique, well-known architectural icon by the coastline
Malmö Brewing Co. – just good beer
Farm2Table – makes that spicy avocado toast I had
Folk and Rock – a funky album store that sells beer + sometimes has concerts