With a fabulous food culture, long, sandy beaches and sleek design hotels all within easy reach of the city, Malmö, in southern Sweden, is the ideal destination for those who want a city break. What’s more, with the launch of the only direct flight from the UK and the festive Christmas markets coming up, Skåne is set to become more popular with UK tourists this winter than ever before.
Ryanair launched the UK’s only direct flight from London Stansted to Malmö on Wednesday 2 November 2011, and is expected to run the daily route year-round. Until now, the only way to reach this northern city was to fly to Copenhagen and transfer via train, so Malmö has been largely off the radar for most UK travellers. A one-way flight starts from £27.99 per person, including all taxes and surcharges. To book, visit www.ryanair.com
With echoes of Brighton thanks to its seafront location, modern architecture, creative industries and multicultural community, Malmö is Sweden’s third largest city and the capital of Skåne. Right on the doorstep are some of Europe’s most beautiful white, sandy beaches and incredible national parks, perfect for kite surfing, cycling, hiking and boating.
December sees the region come alive with a host of Christmas markets and unique shopping experiences. Traditional Christmas markets are held in both the cities of Skåne as well as in the countryside at some of the area’s magnificent manor houses; all providing the perfect place to pick up a treat from local food producers and craft makers.
Design lovers are spoilt for choice in Skåne. In Malmö, the Form/Design Centre – Sweden’s oldest design centre – features exhibitions and sells gorgeous Scandinavian design and art, whilst DesignTorget sells everything from limited edition interior design products to quirky gift ideas.
For something truly special, like local arts and crafts pieces and materials for the traditional Skåne ‘weaving and twist’ embroidery, Hemslöjdsbutiken is the place for you – the only craft co-operative in is located in the beautiful Citadel of Landskrona, surrounded by moats.
Hunt for bargains on glassware, cutlery and kitchen utensils at Höganäs ceramics factory selling famous design brands. A vintage lover? Check out Lisa’s Retro Design in Tomelilla which sells Scandinavian designer furniture and textiles from the '50s, '60s and '70s.
For a fashion fix, head to the Swedish clothes brand Lollopard, based in Malmö, with its environmentally friendly rich colours and patterns, or Tjallamalla which is a haven for up-and-coming Swedish designers featuring one-off unique pieces.
Food and drink
With the launch of “Supper Club Malmö” in spring 2012, whereby tourists can dine with local people in their houses, getting a taste of the healthy Swedish lifestyle in the region has never been easier. Supper Club Malmö is a network of Malmö locals who open their homes to visitors for supper. In a truly unique experience, guests will meet the host families in their daily lives, and share their top tips for the region and its cuisine. Guests and hosts are perfectly matched with Supper Club members suitable for families, couples and singles – all with a mutual love for cooking and eating.
Supper Clubs aside, there are plenty of places to tickle the taste buds throughout the region. The Swedes’ healthy lifestyle shines through and organic restaurants are in abundance, from Salt & Brygga in Malmö – Sweden’s first 100% ecological restaurant which serves locally sourced, seasonal food with a Mediterranean Swedish twist, to Bastard - a modern European home-cooking restaurant, famous for its Bastard Planka – a charcuterie plate filled with meaty bites.
The miles of rolling countryside mean that the region also boasts plenty of farmers’ shops offering exceptional quality local foods, providing the basis for success to the regions many restaurants. Daniel Berlin, a new restaurant for 2011 is one such establishment, bringing innovation to the Swedish culinary tradition, using only local ingredients in season – many of which come from its own gardens and orchards. Alternatively, for a taste of freshly smoked fish and speciality herring preserves, Skanörs Fiskrögeri gourmet smokery in Skanör is a must.
Visitors to Skåne can also indulge in the age-old Swedish tradition of ‘fika’ which involves taking a break from your day’s activities to relax and socialise with a drink and a treat. Coffee is an important part of fika, since Swedes are the world’s second largest nation of coffee drinkers, but tea and soft drinks are all legitimate parts of the tradition, whilst home made baked goods such as cinnamon buns are popular accompaniments. During fika, generations of Swedes have relaxed, solved problems, made new friends and fallen in love. Visitors are warmly welcomed into the fika community at Flickorna Lundgren – a charming café set in lush gardens in Skäretvägen.
The Skåne region is famous for its castles and one of its most exciting treasures is Glimmingehus, Scandinavia’s best preserved medieval castle. Here you can learn about Swedish history, discover unique archaeological artefacts, ghost hunt, relax in the herb garden or enjoy a medieval meal.
Many of the castles boast beautiful gardens. Of particular historic and horticultural note is Sofiero Palace, just a short drive north of Helsingborg, voted the most beautiful park in Europe. This fantastic garden boasts 10,000 rhododendron plants and more than 500 different species and several art and garden themed exhibitions throughout the summer months (www.sofiero.se ).
For a spot of history and culture, head to Lund’s Cathedral which dates back nearly 1,000 years to a time when Skåne was under Danish reign - the largest and most beautiful of Romanesque buildings in the Nordic countries. Alternatively, for those interested in astronomy and meteorology, the Tycho Brahe museum with its underground observatory and reconstructed Renaissance garden on the beautiful island of Ven in Landskrona is a must.
For something more modern, check out the award-winning Turning Torso in Malmö – an awe-inspiring landmark that rises 190 metres into the air, with 54 floors and five revolving cubes.
Like a brisk wintry walk? Then head to Stenshuvud – one of three national parks in Skåne – situated in the far south-east of the region. The top of the cliff is flat and juts out over a beautiful beach, providing breathtaking sea views. Whilst trekking, keep your eyes peeled for the giant whose head is rumoured to form Stenshuvud!
Fans of Henning Mankell and followers of the BBC series Wallander should take time to visit the historic city of Ystad, home to fictional detective Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh). Hop on board a volunteer fireman’s truck to follow in Wallander’s crime-fighting footsteps or take one of the guided murder-mystery tours where visitors get to solve a murder case worthy of Mankell’s writing!
Accommodation options range from cosy country hideaways such as Drakamöllan - a farmstead surrounded by meadows and beech forest- to luxury establishments such as Torekov Hotell – a spa hotel in the chic holiday resort of the same name. Visitors can experience authentic Swedish aristocratic living at Häckeberga castle, which dates back to 1878 and offers activities such as fishing, hunting and riding - not to mention gourmet meals. Just 30 kilometres south of Malmö, you'll find the luxurious Gässlingen hotel with its long sandy beaches, refreshing ocean breeze and nearby golf courses.
Fly to Malmö with Ryanair (www.ryanair.co.uk ) from as little as £27.99 one way.
For more information on Sweden go to www.visitsweden.com
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