MALMÖ – a city in search of 22 more nations

(Updated January 2020)

Malmö has 320,000 inhabitants who share 77 square km resp. less than 30 square miles – which makes it, believe it or not, Sweden’s third largest city (after Stockholm and Göteborg) and combines in a very intriguing way the cute, folksy charm of Astrid Lindgren’s children’s books like Pippi Longstocking and the hip atmosphere of a student city – which it actually is.

Västra Hamnen Malmö
View of the Västra Hamnen, Malmö’s “city of tomorrow” with the iconic “Turning Torso” from the city beach Ribersborgsstranden.

But Malmö is not only hospitable and homey to students.


International Diversity

One of the greatest things about Malmö is its hospitality and international diversity:

With its 320,000 inhabitants it actually is Number 4 of world’s diversity list!

New York (189 nations – but 8.5 millions inhabitants),
London (182 nations – but 8.8 millions inhabitants) and
Washington DC (177 nations – but still 681,000 inhabitants),
Malmö prides itself to be home to people from 171 of worlds official 193 UN-member nations – do you see how amazing that is?

You know that you came to the right place when a symbol of non-violence is welcoming you.
Wouldn’t that be a good idea for some North American cities, too?!
Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd “Non-Violence”

And the best part is, while other cities and communities try to reduce their share of foreigners, Malmö is actively working on becoming the diversity list’s Number 1: The organization Little Big Malmö is not only supporting and helping the expats from around the world that are already in town, no, they are as well advertising for representative of the missing 22 nationalities to come to join their United Colors.

So if you happen to be from e. g. Andorra, Belize, Comorerna, Grenada, Liechtenstein, Oman or another of the listed countries, you should definitely consider becoming a MalmöTowner!

Note: You can become a MalmöTowner even if you don’t move there since they claim that being a MalmöTowner is a state of mind. Right on, MalmöTowners, right on!


Needless to explain that the above sketched diversity has a strong impact on the city’s cuisine which is famous in Sweden for its eclectic choices of food from all over the world – mixed with a little Swedish meatballs (that we all know from IKEA) and the great variety of pickled seafood.

If you just need a quick bite at a reasonable price, you find lots of Vietnamese and Indian places and definitely more falafel diners than trafficlights.


Oriental delicacies – always a treat.
(Photo: pexels)

My favorite is Toppgrillen1 right in the heart of the historic city center, not far from the Moderna Museet, a branch of the Modern Art Museum in Stockholm. I’ll introduce this gallery further below in the art-section of this post. Right now I rather supply you with the Toppgrillen’s address so you can enjoy their freshly fried falafel and other delicacies:

Stora Nygatan 17C
211 37 Malmö
Phone: + 46 – 40 – 12 19 97

Open daily rom 10.30 a. m. to 8 p. m. (weekends from 11 a. m. to 7 p. m.)

I’d also like to introduce two alternatives where to eat once you get tired of all the falafel-choices.

Especially in Autumn and Winter you’ll be happy to find a place where you get a hot’n’hearty soup or a rich stew: The Spoonery at the trendy neighborhood S:t Knut will fix you up if you drop in between 11.30 a. m. and 9 p. m.

Spoonery S:t Knuts 
Sankt Knuts väg 7
211 57 Malmö
Phone: + 46 – 40 – 655 69 31
Open daily from 11.30 a. m. to 9 p. m.

Creamy soup – yummy especially when there’s a nip in the air.
(Photo: pexels)

In case you’re craving a hot soup after a long walk on the beach, their other Malmö branch might be more convenient:

Spoonery Slottstaden 
Östra Stallmästaregatan
2 217 49 Malmö
Phone: + 46 – 40 – 26 56 00
Open daily from 11.30 a. m. to 9 p. m.

If you absolutely wanna go for Swedish food, the Konsthall’s restaurant SMAK is worth the visit. They offer three different dishes every day, you can check them out on their website.

Malmö Konsthall
The Konsthall’s old part to the left with the SMAK’s entrance under the trees.

S:t Johannesgatan 7
211 46 Malmö
Phone: + 46 – 40 – 50 50 35

Open daily from 11 a. m. to 5 p. m. (Wednesday to 9 p. m.)

Once you’re done eating: The Konsthall – the art gallery – itself as well as its gift- and book shop are worth the visit, too, so that now we arrive at this post’s art section; if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that this is of great importance to me.



Malmö Konsthall

The Konsthall is one of Europe’s largest exhibition halls, showing only temporary exhibitions. Right now there is “pressure ⏐ imprint” taking place, a group exhibition introducing Charlotte Johannesson (born 1943 in Sweden), Ester Fleckner (born 1983 in Denmark), and Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt (born 1932 in Germany).

Malmö Konsthall
The Konsthall’s interior – architect Klas Anshelm made sure that it is very simple with light colors and lots of light
to put the art in focus.

It’s interesting how these three different artists from three generations come together under the show’s titel. And in this case the artists’ age respectively era matters a big deal since their art is based on the technical means and circumstances.

Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt
“Vergangen Gegenwärtig Zukünftig”
(Past Present Future)
Yap, the present is just a thin line
between the past and the future, indeed.

I think that’s the reason why Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt’s work touched and impressed me the most. Wolf-Rehfeldt is not only the oldest, she also lived in the former GDR where artist materials as well as the freedom of artistic expression were much more limited than in Western parts of Europe.
Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt created a large series of ingenious and inspiring prints using nothing but a mechanical typewriter. Her neatly typed motives are not only pretty; knowing about the political background in former Eastern socialist countries, they seem to be like codes or secret signs.

What I’ve found particularly enchanting in the artists introduction was the fact that after the German wall came down, Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt chose to finally travel the world instead of keeping up her artistic work. That’s touching because even before Ruth was allowed to travel, some of her work already did, since she’d sent her mailed art to places behind the wall.

Her prints remind me of the works I liked a lot at the Çanakkale Art Walk in Osnabrück: for one Joanna Schulte’s “An Oliver” (“To Oliver”), a project where she, living in the GDR, too, has been sending letters to a fictional person just to make them travel and come back. The other installation was Elisabeth (Lis) Schröder’s “A Daily Work” (1.1.2013 – 31.12.2013), consisting of 365 sheets with the word “Freiheit” (freedom) typed on it in different patterns – and as well on a mechanical typewriter.

Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt
Two of my favorite prints: “From” and “To”

The opening of this exhibition took place on the occasion of this year’s Gallery Night, a wonderful event where all the museums and galleries are not only open till midnight, but also try to add a little extra to their regular program.

Malmö Konsthall
S:t Johannesgatan 7
205 80 Malmö
Phone: + 46 – 40 – 34 12 86

Open daily from 11 a. m. to 5 p. m. (Wednesday to 9 p. m.)

Moderna Museet

The gallery night’s most spectacular part was organized by the Moderna Museet (that I already mentioned above since it’s located in the heart of the historic district): In addition to the single exhibition of Ulf Rollof’s oeuvre “Urgent” there was the opening of the show “Public Movement”. Its subtitle “on arts, politics and dance” sums it up quite clearly: There are political movements expressed – literally and metaphorically speaking – by movements…which is definitely artsy.

Ulf Rollof
Ulf Rollof: “Refrigeration Coat”
Maybe the artist could cooperate with Olafur Eliasson and develop a way to operate this coat with sun power?!
Because this must be a terrible power guzzler.

It was a reencounter with Halil Altındere’s music video “Homeland” featuring Mohammed Abu Hajar that I’ve already introduced in my post on the Çanakkale Art Walk in Osnabrück. From the other 14 films I liked Emily Roysdon’s serene two canal video loop “Sense and Sense”

Then Adam Pendleton’s “Just Back From Los Angeles: A Portrait of Yvonne Rainer” for its depth – and in contrast Klara Lidén’s “Paralyzed” because it’s just downright crazy and great fun watching her getting completely berserk on a Swedish commuter train.

Klara Lidén Paralyzed
Klara Lidén’s “Paralyzed” left me sort of…paralyzed; with awe that is.

I must admit that for me it’s a challenge to watch videos at art events where there’s so much to see. I simply cannot sit still and focus; it’s a shame, I know.

Well, the highlight of this show did not require to sit still, it was quite the opposite since the visitors of this opening had to follow a group of nine men across Malmö (perfect guided tour for the first time visitor, by the way).

Choreography for the running male
“The Running Male” make a first stop to sway their hips. After a couple of minutes they kept trotting….

These trotting guys were Eglė Budvytytė’s “Choreography for the Running Male” – which actually is a choreography for…well, trotting men. Of course the uniformity of their clothing as well as of their movement is e. g. a venomous allusion to Budvytytė’s homeland being dominated for decades by Russia.

Choreography for the running male
…until they had to lay down for another performance segment. “The Running Male” were pretty darn lucky that
the performance took place on a sunny day…and so was the audience (but the audience at least hadn’t to roll on the floor)

Before coming to Malmö, this show of about 30 minutes took place for the first time in Budvytytė’s home Lithuania on the occasion of the Baltic Triennal of International Art in 2012 and in 2014 at the Biennale of Sydney. Not only the fact that it’s always different men running makes every performance one of a kind; it’s rather the individual path and each city’s layout that makes it unique.

Moderna Museet Malmö
Ola Billgrens plats 2–4
Phone: + 46 – 40 – 685 79 37

Open Tuesday to Sunday 11 a. m. to 6 p. m. (weekend to 5 p. m.)

Malmöhus Slott  ⏐  Malmö Konstmuseum

The third large venue I’ve visited during Gallery Night was the Malmöhus Slott, Sweden’s oldest Renaissance castle, built between 1537 and 1542.

Malmöhus Slott
(Photo: Susanne Nilsson,

At a venerable building like this you would expect antique weapons and moth-eaten uniforms, but now way! They are housing the Malmö Konstmuseum, owning a collection of about 40,000 works of art, most of them hidden in storage and archives.

Now on the occasion of this year’s gallery night, they were looking for a way to present as much as possible in an adequate way to the public; and they’ve found a pretty decent one by dividing and sorting the pieces into eleven ‘chapters’ according to museum-related topics. Within these sections they are mixing and matching styles and eras as they please respectively as they find appropriate, and this allows the visitor a whole new perspective at some of the pieces.

Malmöhus Slott
The last room, dedicated to minimalisms. In the front Christian Andersson “Paper Clip (The Baghdad Batteries)”,  behind Tove Storch “Untitled (blue/blue #3)”, in the back Sahar al-Khateeb “حياد” (Neutrality)

My favorite work is the video installation “Mitt land (Någonstans i Sverige)” (My Country (Somewhere in Sweden)) by Ann-Sofi Sidén where the artist was riding for 38 days across Sweden seeing places, meeting people, observing and learning. Screening this on four canals makes Sidén’s ride even more surreal.



Strolling through the Kungsparken

The Malmöhus Slott is surrounded by lush parks and gardens like the Slottsrädgården, the Kungsparken and the Slottsparken – a wonderful walk on a sunny day.

Another park that’s very popular with the locals is the Folkets Park, the people’s park. It’s a tad bit like a very poor version of Copenhagen’s Tivoli, i. e. it’s rather an amusement park than the wilderness and therefore maybe more for families with kids than hip singles with dogs.

Malmö Folkets Park 
Falsterbogatan 9
205 80 Malmö
Phone: + 46 – 40 – 34 10 00

Open daily from 7 a. m. to 9 p. m. (weekends till 10 p. m.)



Whereby, the hip singles – once they’ve left their dog at home – come back to the Folkets Park, too, to party at some really cool clubs:

A mosque? Au contraire, mon frère: It’s a hot club!
(Photo: Maria Eklind /

Moriska Paviljongen, a 1001-night-aladdin-serail-palace that was finished in 1902, opens its gate to welcome the party crowd to all sorts of gatherings like after work clubs and concerts and dances. Check out the program on their website.

Moriska Paviljongen
Norra Parkgatan 2
214 22 Malmö
Phone: + 46 – 40-685 40 30

There is another hot party venue at the opposite side of the park and that’s the Cuba Café where you can sway to Caribbean and Latin American rhythms – often played by live bands.

Cuba Café
Amiralsgatan 35
214 37 Malmö
Phone: +46 – 40 – 12 85 00

They are open on Thursday from 8 p. m. and Friday and Saturday from 9 p. m.


Beach – didn’t I mention a walk on the beach earlier?! Yes, I did, and what a great walk that will be! Malmö is located on Sweden’s West coast with many dreamy sand beaches nearby. But also the city beach, the Ridersborgsstranden, is much nicer than most city beaches around the world. It’s a sandy stretch of about 2,5 km / 1.5 miles along a broad strip of meadow and a concrete promenade so that no matter how and where you like to walk or cycle, it caters to everybody.

The other beach’s grass is always greener: This post’s first picture showed you the sandy side of Ridersborgsstranden, here comes another perspective. Beautiful just the same.

The facilities are great: There are little kiosks where you can grab a bite or enjoy a refreshing drink, there are water fountains with drinking water, stations where you can put air in your bike tubes and there are enough clean bathrooms.

The highlight of this beach is certainly the Ridersborgs Kallbadhus, the bath house housing a sauna – with separate sections for men and women as well as a mixed part. The best thing is that after a good sweat you can just jump right into the Ocean. A truly Scandinavian wellness experience not to be missed.

While the guy with the dog is obviously into active perspiring, I prefer to stretch out to sweat it out – for instance at the Ridersborgs Kallbadhus that you can see in the back.
(Photo: Jörgen Lindström/Malmö Turism)

For a post-schwitz-treat, check out this post’s Café section.

Ridersborgs Kallbadhus
Brygga 1
217 59 Malmö
Phone: + 46 – 40 – 26 03 66

Open Monday to Friday from 10 a. m. to 7 p. m. (Wednesday to 8 p. m.) and weekends from 9 a. m. to 6 p. m.

Towels can be rented and basic toiletries bought on the spot.




No Fika without delicious Swedish pastry.
(Photo: Miriam Preis / Malmö Turism)

“Fika” is a wonderful Swedish tradition. “Fika” is a coffee break, but actually it’s much more than that, it’s a state of mind, since this coffee break is by no means compatible with coffee to go in a paper cup. It’s a nice cup of coffee and a piece of delicious pastry – and a pleasant chat.

There is a fantastic density of cafés in Malmö, many of them teeny tiny so that sometimes maybe only six customers can squeeze in. If you don’t fit in in one, just go three doors down, there will be another.

One of my favorite cafés is the one at the Ridersborgs Kallbadhus since it’s so old fashioned – and since going to the sauna makes you thirsty and hungry. It’s a café and a restaurant, so they have pastries and hearty snacks, too.

Ridersborgs Kallbadhus
A snack after a walk, a soak or a sweat: The Café at the Ridersborgs Kallbadhus will satisfy your culinary needs.

Ridersborgs Kallbadhus
Brygga 1
217 59 Malmö
Phone: + 46 – 40 – 26 03 66

For a good breakfast that fixes you up for the day, for a light lunch or for your sweet tooth’s treat you should try out Bröd & Vänner (bread and friends). They are just a stone’s throw away from the Folkets Park.

Bröd & Vänner
Nobelvägen 44
214 33 Malmö
Phone: + 46 – 76 – 196 94 00

These friends are expecting you with some freshly baked bread and other delicacies daily from 7 a. m. to 6 p. m. (weekends from 8 a. m. (Saturday) resp. 9 a. m. (Sunday) to 3 p. m.)

On top of my coffee house list is the Lilla Kaffeerosteriet, an institution in Malmö, so that probably everybody will be yawning now. But I love this place; love it for having really good and tasty products, love it for having many tables inside and out so I don’t have to wander around with my hot cup of coffee asking people whether chairs are taken.

Lilla Kaffeerosteriet
Malmö’s coffee hotspot is conveniently located right in the city center.

Love it for looking cute and cozy from outside and being raw and austere inside. And mainly love the staff for working at a popular, hip place and being super nice and friendly and not arrogant like the baristas many of these places. Five stars for the Lilla Kaffeerosteriet.

Lilla Kaffeerosteriet
Baltzarsgatan 24
211 36 Malmö
Phone: + 46 – 40 – 48 20 00

Open daily from 8 a. m. to 7 p. m. (weekends from 10 a. m.)

Shops and markets

Once you had a good cup of coffee at the Kaffeerosteriet, you’re just around the corner from all these cute alleys and old squares where you can check out world famous Scandinavian design and maybe by a souvenir or two for those who didn’t have the chance to visit this charming place.

Shopping at Malmö’s little specialty stores is like plunging into the past.

There is the small square, the Lilla Torg, where you can buy all sort of handcrafted things at the stores or on the occasional market.
If you want quality at a reasonable price – mind you the pieces are all handmade by designers – I highly recommend you check out the Formargruppen, a store where jewellery, pottery, fabric, decoration and much more is on sale.

Is it a gallery? Is it a store? Actually it’s both: it’s art that even people like you and me can afford.


Engelbrektsgatan 8
211 33 Malmö
Phone: + 46 – 40 – 78 060


There are a couple of interesting churches in Malmö like e. g. S:t Paul with its silver towers outside and crazy mockery painting inside.

But my favorite is S:t Petri, conveniently located behind the small square Lilla Torg and the big square Stortorget where also Malmö’s townhall ist located.

S:t Petri brick facade
Looking up to thee: S:t Petri’s Baltic brick gothic church.

The protestant S:t Petri kyrka was build in the 14th century being modelled on the St. Marienkirche in Lübeck – we will get to this church at that North Germany city next month. It and is Malmö’s oldest building.

S:t Petri Krämarekapellet
The most unusual part of S:t Petri.

While the major part is baroque, the frescos at the highly impressive Krämarekapellet, the chandlers chapel, are gothic and stem from the pre-reformation era.

S:t Petri kyrka
Göran Olsgatan 4
Phone: + 46 – 40 – 27 90 56

How to get there and around

So you’re ready to go?

In last week’s post on Basel I got into raptures over Europe’s wonderful diversity based on the proximity of different countries with different languages and different currencies and so on and so forth. Well, Malmö in Sweden is practically holding hands with Copenhagen in Denmark – actually you only have to travers the 8 km long bridge over the Øresund to get from one city to the other in less than half an hour. So if you just want to spend a day in Malmö while e. g. vacationing in Denmark, be their guest.

You just have to cross the Öresund bridge to get from Copenhagen to Malmö in about 30 minutes.
(Photo: Silvia Man / Malmö Turism)

Otherwise there is an airport in Malmö which caters to only few destinations so flying there means most likely flying to Copenhagen and continue to Sweden by train.

Getting around in Malmö is easy peasy since it’s pretty small. You can walk or you can do like the MalmöTowners do and cycle: Malmö is not only people friendly, it prides itself to be Number 6 on the list of bike friendly cities (after Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Strasbourg, and Eindhoven) and has varies companies where you can rent a bike. But also hotels – like e. g. the Hotel Garden – have bikes to rent for their guests.

And if it’s too cold or too wet, there is of course also a good system of public transportation.

Where to stay

I had booked myself in a hotel in the very city center at a really reasonable price.
But I must warn you: if I were like other people, I would now tell you about my room being quite small and having a couple of stains on the carpet.
But instead I prefer to tell you about the apple trees blooming on the 5th floor flat roof under my window on the 7th floor – just beautiful. Or I rave about the sumptuous breakfast buffet with everything everybody can desire. And if it’s raining, they even have a small sauna for their guest.
I felt very comfortable there, and the location couldn’t be better.

Hotel Garden
Baltzarsgatan 20
211 36 Malmö
Phone: + 46 – 40 – 665 60 00

What to say

Scandinavians are known for not being very affected by the building of the tower of babel – they speak like every language on earth. It still might be nice to be able to greet and thank in Swedish, and on babbel you can reach this goal already with the first, free lesson.


What to read

Besides the heartwarming children’s books by world famous Swedish heroine Astrid Lindgren there was literature Nobel prize winner Selma Lagerlöf and her little Nils Holgersson who flew away with the geese. Then there is controversial because of his…let’s call it conservative views…Knut Hamsun. And of course there are the books by Henning Mankell who sadly passed away in 2015 but left us his oeuvre.

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5 Replies to “MALMÖ – a city in search of 22 more nations”

  1. I love when I stumble across a clog on a city I have never really heard much about before. I feel that I have learnt something new. Your photos were a great way to experience Malmo.

  2. Glad to hear this. There seem to be so many people who've never heard of it which is surprising since there is a huge university there with sooo many foreign students. But obviously they don't spread the word; so I did. Happy travels!

  3. Ahaha! Whatever Finns say, Sweden outdo them pretty much in everything. Including small cities like Mälmo. Small ones in Finland are just boring. But they try to compensate it by wining in hockey every year.

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