My favourite part of Sweden is Skåne, the country’s most southern region. With its long coastline it’s no surprise why Swede’s flock here during summertime.
Skåne is a county that makes up the southern tip of Sweden, it includes the cosmopolitan city of Malmö; the famous university city of Lund; the medieval town of Ystad; and the coastal city of Helsingborg with its beach and rather fancy boardwalk.
Here, I’ve written a summary of each place to give you a better impression of what you can see and do in this region. I did this journey when I was doing some product research for Scandinavia Only and had the best time. If you’re planning your own trip it’s useful to know that you can easily travel to each of these places by train, so hiring a car isn’t necessary. As a suggestion you could easily use Malmö as a base to see Ystad, Lund and Helsingborg if you prefer as they’re so close to one another. Lund, for example, is only a 15-minute train ride away!
Sweden’s third largest city, Malmö is diverse in both its appearance and attractions. It’s an urban tapestry of street art, exhibition centres, assorted architecture, cyclists, hipster cafes and pop-up bars.
As you visit Lilla Torg and Södergatan, follow on by strolling over to the Turning Torso and Western Harbour and you’ll see how old and new sit side by side in this eclectic city. At Western Harbour you’ll have a fabulous view of the famous Øresund Bridge, a reminder of how close this city is to Copenhagen, at less than 30-minutes away by train.
One of the surprising things about Malmö is how picturesque it is. I’d heard mixed reviews and after watching The Bridge it’s easy to imagine the city as an industrial grey chasm, but that perception couldn’t be further from the truth. A stroll through the old town completely rebuffs this notion with its gable-studded buildings, cobbled streets and colourful houses.
Where to eat? This is something you don’t have to worry about, Malmö has an incredible selection of cafes, coffee shops and restaurants for you to choose from. I ate at Belle Epoque and would recommend it in a heartbeat whether you’re a meat eater, pescatarian or vegetarian. The menu is quite small so they can specialise in seasonal produce, and each dish I had was beautifully presented and the flavours were super fresh and delicious.
Where should you stay in Malmo? There are quite a few good hotels in Malmo, but I would say Master Johan Hotel offers the best experience for your money – great location, atmosphere, comfort and that all important breakfast.
To experience a quintessential holiday town, look no further than Ystad. Blessed with a picturesque location by the sea and with close proximity to breath-taking countryside, this small but colourful town should not be missed whilst in South Sweden.
The town centre is one of the prettiest towns I’ve ever seen with its myriad of cobbled alleyways lined with brightly painted streethouses. I lost count of all the houses I swooned over, each one slightly different to the next yet adorned with rose vines that swept around doorways and window frames.
Ystad may be small compared to nearby cities, Malmö and Lund, but it sprawls out towards the beach and forestland, so there’s an extended feeling of space and a great sense of being close to nature at all times. If you have a car I recommend going to Ale Stones and exploring the surrounding countryside filled with bright yellow rapeseed fields.
Some of you might know Ystad as the filming location for the popular TV series Wallander. As a result of the series’ success, people from all over come to walk in the footsteps of police inspector, Wallander. There’s even a quirky, little veteran fire engine that takes fans to various filming locations around the town. I didn’t try it out myself, but you might want to…
Where to eat? You’ll need a car, but a trip to Olof Viktors is totally worth the drive. It’s recommended in the White Guide and is the BEST place to go for lunch or coffee. With an outdoor cafe, small organic farm shop and an indoor seating area surrounding by white-washed wood and book-cladded shelves, it’s the perfect place to unwind and indulge.
Lund is a charming city that could be seen as the Oxford of Sweden with its prestigious university and medieval appearance. Everything is within easy reach – the cathedral, university, museums, cafes, pubs, and the botanical gardens are all located within walking distance from the city centre.
I had a tour of Kulturen, which is an open air museum that brings to life Sweden’s culture through the ages. Filled with historical buildings, it is your chance to step into preserved houses and experience what life in the city and the countryside, from the Middle Ages to the 1930s was like.
The Cathedral is a dominating building in this small city and can be seen as a point of reference from almost everywhere. It’s completely free to enter unless you’d like a guided tour for more information about its history dating back from the 1110s. Inside the Cathedral take a look at the great astronomical clock dating from around 1425 showing signs of the zodiac and the phases of the moon, and which chimes twice a day while the three wise men and their servants pass and bow before the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.
Where to eat? I had sushi with a twist at Ra Epok. Its reputation for using local ingredients has made this Japanese a firm favourite in town for its experimental pairing of ingredients. Up until my visit I’d never tried sushi with pike or char, and it’s the first Japanese I’ve been to that doesn’t have tuna on the menu for sustainability reasons.
Visitors benefit from the region’s close proximity to Denmark, a closeness that adds masses of appeal to visitors wishing to soak up the atmosphere of their Danish neighbour in a single day-trip. From Helsingborg you can take the 20-minutes ferry ride across the Øresund to Helsingør to explore Kronborg Castle, immortalised as Elsinore in Hamlet by William Shakespeare, before hopping back on the ferry and enjoying dinner at one of the restaurants dotted along the city’s 25-kilometre idyllic coastline.
But Helsingborg shouldn’t just be seen as the gateway to Denmark, instead it’s the ideal base to explore the stunning Kulla peninsula, Skåne’s northwest coast. With it’s rugged cliffs and incredible views, the region is well known for walkers and cyclists, but food lovers have something to be excited about too. Home to many organic farm shops, artisan bakeries and restaurants that can be found in the White Guide, your taste buds will be singing all day long.
Where to eat? In the immediate city centre, dinner at Table & Kitchen serves up really tasty food. But if the whether is good you should take a stroll down the long boardwalk and see which seafront restaurant takes your fancy. Make sure you try the seafood. I had a bowl of prawns which were exceedingly good.
Some of the best places to eat in the vicinity are further afield so you’ll need a car, if you do then try out Rut på Skäret, Höganäs Farmers Market (pictured above) and Arild’s Vineyard.
Where should you stay in Helsingborg? I stayed in Clarion Grand Hotel and couldn’t fault it. Clarion hotels are famous for their incredible buffets breakfasts and this one did not disappoint. It’s quite big but it still feels really cosy and the rooms offer a really high standard of comfort and detail. Perfect if you’re looking for something more luxurious and well situated.