The Best Things to Do in Skåne, Southern Sweden

Sweden’s southernmost region, Skåne, feels like its own country. Malmö is its eco-friendly capital, plus there’s historic Helsingborg, university town Lund, and lush, rolling hills in the countryside. They even have their own special dialect. And it’s just a 35-minute dash across the Öresund Bridge from Malmö to Copenhagen, Denmark.

Øresundsmotorvejen, Denmark
Usually I take a train across the Øresund Bridge, an engineering marvel that connects Malmo, Sweden, to Copenhagen, Denmark. Unfortunately, the train travels below the vehicle deck, which means you can’t actually see the bridge. And this is a bridge worth seeing. The crossing itself is about 10 miles. Coming from the Swedish side, the first five miles of your trip is over a bridge that floats 187 feet above the water before briefly landing on an island and then diving into a tunnel beneath the sea. The girder and cable-stayed bridge section has two pairs of free-standing cable-support towers that seem to grow in height as you approach . . . until they disappear into the sky. Even on a road that is more than 200 feet above the surface of the water, the tops of those towers are still almost another 400 feet above. Rent a car and take a trip across (either Copenhagen or Malmo makes a good day trip), but be prepared to pay a hefty fee for the privilege. The toll is roughly $60 U.S. each way. Øresund Bridge English-language web page has current toll information: http://uk.oresundsbron.com/page/1087
Skomakaregatan 11, 211 34 Malmö, Sweden
Leave it to the coolest, hippest country on the planet to come up with a cool concept like that. Sweden, you keep surprising me. Imagine a ultra-modern record shop in the heart of a touristy, busy medieval square. Imagine a mouth-watering café that offers cakes each more delicious than the other, and a plethora of imported coffee. Imagine a fabulous soundtrack, that goes from the classic grunge hits to the indie Swedish hits. This place is called Folk A Rock - it’s an ode to rock music that shares a passion with traditional fika and appreciates the beauty of its historical neighborhood. I’ve never seen anything quite like it - not that I would expect to. Sweden, in all things fashion, music, and, well, just about anything really, has a secret recipe for these types of things that few can rival. These über, effortlessly cool types of things. One one hand, it kind of makes you want to hate Sweden and remain green with envy. But on the other hand, the result is always way too fun to overlook, especially in the case of Folk A Rock. If you’re an indie music lover with a sweet tooth, this may just be your heaven on Earth.
Lilla Varvsgatan 14, 211 15 Malmö, Sweden
A new Swedish pop music group perhaps? Not quite. On my road trip through Southern Sweden, an architect friend of mine insisted we stop in Malmö to see Santiago Calatrava’s building, the Turning Torso, which was modeled after his own human form sculpture, the Twisting Torso. My friend described the town as “plastic fantastic” because of the vast variation in new architecture styles here, remarking that the Turning Torso is such a notable find within its more sober surroundings. It is, after all, the third tallest residential building in all of Europe. Artsy and industrial, for me, Malmö is reminiscent of something like Dumbo, Brooklyn. Passing through on our road trip, I daydreamed of moving into a loft space in this dynamic city where a majority of the population is under 35.
Höör Municipality, Sweden
When you need to get out, but you are not sure where to go, that is the precise moment to remember that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the drive. Visions of rambling hills, populated with quaint, artful farmhouses like this one are an integral part of the southern landscape of Skåne, southern Sweden. I know this isn’t Heidi country, but somehow these farmhouses remind me of a peaceful, storybook lifestyle, where you eat good, dark bread, fresh goat cheese, breathe in the brisk, fresh air, and your cheeks immediately turn rosy.
271 78 Löderup, Sweden
Ales Stenar is a rock formation (in the shape of a ship, roughly) that sits atop a ridge on the coast of southern Sweden. There have been many comparisons to Stonehenge but there are no other connections other than they both have standing stones in a circle/oval. They’ve posted a few theories about why they exist which are worth a read. The short hike to the top of the ridge is easy enough and the views from the top provide sweeping views of the coast.
Gisela Trapps väg 1, 254 37 Helsingborg, Sweden
Take a trip back in time at Sweden’s best open-air museum. While you cannot enter the 18th-century manor house at the center of Fredriksdal, you will get a glimpse of what it was like to live in its shadow. Most of the houses were moved here from downtown Helsingborg in the 1960s to give an authentic feel to the park, which also includes a botanical garden full of wildflowers. In the summer, French Baroque music is performed on the open-air stage elevating the atmosphere a notch.
131 Sofierovägen
A king’s legacy is usually comprised of legendary war stories, yet several Swedish kings are best remembered for establishing spectacular gardens. King Gustaf VI Adolf left this grand estate to the city of Helsingborg upon his death in 1973. The large rhododendron garden adds a splash of color to the Skåne coastline. Many unique sculptures are hidden away in the greenery, so take your time to fully explore the gardens that have been voted Europe’s best.
2 Drottninggatan
The ornate angular towers, slate and copper roof, arched stained-glass windows and murals are a must-see for anyone interested in architecture. The design of the imposing neo-Gothic city hall was from the winning entry (that of a 26-year-old graduate of Stockholm’s Academy of Arts) in a 19th-century design competition. Its central location next to the train station and waterfront means the building is impossible to miss, and a quick stop here is easy to combine with other downtown sights.
Slottshagsgatan, 250 07 Helsingborg, Sweden
Take in the atmosphere of Helsingborg’s medieval tower, which doubles as the best photo opportunity in the city. You’re made to work for it though, as you’ll have to walk across gravel paths and climb a steep wooden staircase to reach the top of the tower. Built during the early 14th century, the keep was formerly part of a much larger castle that played a key role in Swedish-Danish relations over the centuries. Find out more at the new exhibition that focuses on medieval life during the tower’s heyday.
Krafts torg 12A, 223 50 Lund, Sweden
Discover the medieval charm of Sweden’s oldest town, just a short bus ride from Helsingborg. Don’t miss the remarkable astronomical clock, crypt, bronze pillars and sculpted facade of the striking Lund Cathedral, where daily services have been held for almost 900 years. Stroll the streets of Kulturen, an open-air museum that showcases the buildings and gardens of the Middle Ages. While steeped in history, Lund retains a youthful atmosphere thanks to its thriving university, the largest in Sweden.
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