During our New Year’s trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, we were able to spend a day in Malmö, Sweden.
Being able to easily visit two countries in one trip is still a novelty for us and we were thrilled for the opportunity.
Conveniently, Malmö is only a 20-minute train ride from the Copenhagen Airport.
If you’ve been traveling around Copenhagen on the Copenhagen Card, you will need to purchase a separate ticket to Malmö at a kiosk in the airport. Kids go free. Keep your Copenhagen Card with you though because on the return trip, you’ll likely need to show both tickets.
When you board the train to Malmö, there is a quick identification check as you enter the train platform, but you won’t get a passport stamp. Oh, well. They also did not want to see the kids’ passports when we were there, but better safe than sorry.
Don’t worry about needing a car. Malmö is completely walkable – especially if you are only there for a day.
If you’re traveling with bikes or a stroller/pram, you’ll find navigating the streets and public transportation with those items convenient as well. I mean, as convenient as lugging around that stuff can be!
By the way, I have no idea what’s going on in the below picture, but my blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl fits in nicely in Sweden, don’t you think? She is of Swedish descent.
I take her pose to mean walking in the freezing cold is loads of fun!
Museums To See
Malmo Museum and Castle (Malmö Museer)
This is a little confusing, so go along with me. On the grounds of Malmö Castle is a natural history museum, an art museum and an aquarium. Across the street from the castle grounds is the science and maritime museum. One entrance fee covered both museums and I think it was 4 bucks/euros per adult and kids were free. Such a good deal.
The aquarium is all indoors and I found it very well done for a smaller aquarium. There is plenty for the kids to see, learn about and engage with.
Like being eaten alive by a shark…
I don’t know where they get their dramatic flair.
The art portion of the museum with it’s paintings and antique furniture was good exposure for my kids (ages 6 and 9), but not their favorite. Just keeping it real.
The natural history portion of the museum was more up their alley…not quite as interactive as the aquarium, but plenty for them to learn about and nothing they could hurt.
The below exhibit pretty much made me fall in love with Sweden. I was ready to pack up everything and move right then and there. Anybody have a job for us?
The museum’s cafe had my children’s favorite kids’ meal of all time. Pancakes for lunch!
My husband had Swedish meatballs and I had some sort of sandwich. I’m not sure what it actually was, to be honest, but it was delicious.
The museum’s cafe was the one time when I felt our lack of language experience really failed us. On the other hand, it showed us how kind the Swedish people are to foreigners.
The cafe’s menu was in English and Swedish, but they called out the completed order numbers in Swedish. The cafe was quite packed that day and I quickly realized I didn’t know how to say “28” in Swedish. We were in trouble. My husband was frantically googling how to say “28” in Swedish, so we’d know what to listen for. Google’s robot’s voice was slightly helpful, but definitely not the same as hearing a 19-year-old waitress shouting out a number in a very noisy cafe. Finally, I said to myself, ‘This is dumb and we are going to starve.” I can be quite melodramatic when I’m hungry. I asked the elderly gentleman who had taken a seat at our table with his wife if he spoke English. He did – quite well. I explained our predicament and he graciously told me he would let me know when our order was ready.
The man’s wife sat next to me and she was clearly blind or near-blind. The gentleman cut up his wife’s food into bite-sized pieces so if would be easier for her to eat. Then at the end of the meal when her plate was almost clean, he fed her the last few bites that she wasn’t able to see to get on her own fork. I have no idea what they said to each other that entire meal, but they carried on a lively conversation. They could have been talking about the dumb Americans next to them for all I knew! It didn’t matter though because I was almost moved to tears witnessing his adoration of this woman and his absolute compassion and respect for her. Talk about relationship goals. Wow.
The Science and Maritime House (Teknikens och Sjöfartens hus)
When you leave the castle grounds, you’ll cross over the moat and walk just a little way down the street to enter The Science and Maritime House. One entrance fee pays for both the castle and the science house, so don’t lose your “I paid” sticker like my husband did. I think they are used to husbands losing these stickers, so they gave him another one.
This museum was my kids’ favorite part of the whole trip. In fact, just yesterday, they asked if we could go back there. As if going to Sweden is no big deal.
Inside the museum they could partake in science experiments like powering lights with a bicycle.
They could climb inside a train, a boat, a fire engine and an actual WWII submarine.
This submarine was one of nine built in the middle of WWII that were small in scale and of full Swedish design.
It was a tight squeeze for the adults, but we made it through the submarine too. I swear I hit my head and bruised my knees climbing through this hatch. Then I turned around and took Handy Husband’s picture. He smiled like it’s no big deal, but I’m pretty sure he hit his head too.
I can’t even imagine living in this small space for days on end. I’d need a few throw pillows or something.
My kids learned some Swedish words while inside the submarine.
Can you see which one caught their eye?
I can’t even tell you how proud I am…
Then we went downstairs in the museum to see all of the motor vehicles on display.
Yes, my life flashed forward 10 years when I saw my kids in the van. Right after I snapped this picture they threw me the peace sign and then invited a whole group of kids in to
The below picture is pretty epic.
Remind me to never get this child a motorcycle.
My kids’ favorite part of the museum though was the indoor playground for the 10 and under crowd.
There’s nothing like hearing your kids yell out from the top of the replica wooden ship “the Vikings are coming, the Vikings are coming” to a room full of Swedes.
The little kids my children were playing with had not learned English yet, but little details like language don’t seem to matter when you can run, jump and climb to your heart’s content.
It’s these type of travel experiences that we really value our children having while they are forming opinions and beliefs about the world. I hope when they are adults facing adversity, they can look back and remember a time when they found common ground with people with different languages, backgrounds, beliefs and cultural values.
I mention museum etiquette only because there’s one quirk about the museums in Malmö that is not something I’ve commonly experienced in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany or Ireland. When you are traveling, sometimes just being prepared for the little things can make or break your experience. So, here’s a little thing!
When we arrived at the castle, we were told coats and backpacks were not allowed in the museum. We had to put everything in a locker, which was fine. The museum cashier loaned me a coin to use to release the locker’s key since we had not gotten any cash for this trip. We had Danish kroner, but not Swedish. Yes, they are different.
If one of these policies is mentioned to you, inquire whether you need to put a placeholder coin in the lock to release the key.
At the science and maritime house, we did end up carrying one of our backpacks with our valuables, but that was only because all of the lockers were full. They had huge coat racks set up at the entrance where everyone stowed their outerwear. Everything, including our snack bag, was right where we left it when we returned!
Some of the museums in Denmark had similar policies, as well.
Parks and Outdoor Art
Malmö is full of parks! I wish we had visited in the summer so we could thoroughly enjoy the parks in this city – especially the ones along the ocean.
Kungsparken is located next to Malmö Castle. It was full of walking trails and gardens. We found the Castle Mill, also known as the Slottsmöllan.
Near Malmö Live, a concert hall and event center, is a brand new art installation.
It’s called Passage by Maha Mustafa. Learn more about her sculptures and art installations here.
It was quite striking to see Passage in person and it made for a good photo opp!
Malmö is a city we’d like to return to and visit during the summer months. It was an interesting mix of old and new in terms of architecture, but the overall vibe seemed young. That makes sense partly because we were surrounded by kids all. day. long, but also because almost half of the area’s population is under the age of 35.
With only a day, we barely scratched the surface of exploring this town, so this is by no means a comprehensive review. For our kids, we crammed just the right amount into our 7 hours. They were happy and tired by the time we boarded the train back to Copenhagen. As parents traveling with kids, you have to know when less is more. We hit the sweet spot and would love the opportunity to go back and explore more of the area and the rest of Sweden too.
P.S. We travelled to Sweden in January 2017, be sure and double check all information before your visit as things change and experiences differ. Learn more at VisitSweden.com.