If you’re arriving in Malmö with public transport, you’ll almost certainly be dropped at or near the Central Station. This is the main train terminal, and the place where long-distance buses pull in.
Immediately south of here is Gamla Staden, the city’s historic heart. It’s here that you’ll find Malmö’s two most attractive squares – Stortorget and Lilla Torg –plus countless cobbled streets dotted with picturesque 16th-Century buildings. Many of the best hotels are in this part of the city, as are some of the busiest shopping streets. Attraction-wise, there are only really two things not to miss: the Moderna Museet art gallery and St Petri Kyrka, Malmö’s oldest church.
The fortress that guarded Malmö for centuries, Malmöhus Castle, is a short walk west of Gamla Staden. Wandering through the exhibitions here could easily take up half a day – allow more time if you want to explore the surrounding parks and gardens (they’re free to enter).
The harbour area just north of here, Västra Hamnen, couldn’t feel more different. Once an industrial zone, this seafront neighbourhood has recently been transformed into one of the most expensive residential areas in the city, home to swanky apartment blocks and Scandinavia’s tallest building, the spectacular Turning Torso.
Heading south from the city centre, a poorer, workaday side to Malmö begins to emerge. The areas around the Triangeln train station and Möllevångstorget, traditionally working-class neighbourhoods, are now some of the most culturally diverse places in Sweden, with a big immigrant population and some excellent places to eat and drink.
If you’re in Malmö during the summertime, or just fancy a sauna and an icy dip in the sea, make a beeline for Riberborgsstranden, just west of the centre. It’s the closest of several excellent beaches, and has great views of the vast Öresund Bridge, which connects Sweden with Denmark.