To visit Copenhagen and not spend a day in Sweden would be like visiting New York City without leaving Manhattan. It’s so close, so easy to explore and a perfect day-long adventure for any type of traveler.
South Sweden is filled with small towns, rural countryside and forests. Castles, medieval architecture and windmills are sprinkled along the landscape.
There are three easy options for a quick day trip:
- For kids and history, take the bridge from Copenhagen to Malmö, Sweden, and head east visiting coastal towns. This route leads to Hollviken, home to a replica viking community.
- For a view of nature and hiking, take the ferry from Helsingborg, Denmark, (less than an hour from Copenhagen) to Helsingør, Sweden. Then drive west along the coast to Mölle and the Kullaberg Nature Reserve with the Kullen Cliffs and Kullen Lighthouse.
- For architecture, take the ferry one direction and the bridge the other direction. Focus on the towns and communities in between, such as Lund and Landskrona.
The price is comparable whether taking the Øresund Bridge or Scandlines Ferry: roughly US$53 for the bridge each way or $60 for the ferry (car included). Both options are very simple as English is widely spoken. While both are well marked, having GPS on your phone makes traveling significantly easier. The ferry might take a bit longer overall as you wait for car passengers to load, but once underway it’s a 20 minute trip. Consider leaving before sunset if heading back to Denmark. Kronborg Castle is within view the entire journey, intimidatingly perched along the hillside guarding the coast.
What to see from the bridge to the east
Malmö is a thriving city with cobblestone center filled with cafes and shops. History lovers shouldn’t miss Malmöhus Castle. Cross the drawbridge across the moat and discover a history museum and aquarium. Of particular interest was the “White Bus”, describing the 1945 Swedish and Danish operation to rescue those in concentration camps. The community is filled with gardens that are even vibrant in the fall.
Foteviken Museum in Höllviken is a reconstructed viking town next to a history museum. For those who prefer hands-on learning, it’s an engaging opportunity to learn about vikings and Scandinavian life in the Middle Ages. It’s only open during summer months but has activities for children and immersive event weekends.
Between the bridge and ferry
Lund’s old town, significantly smaller than Malmö’s, is easily walkable. Visit the large Lund Cathedral for the impressive and aged astronomical clock. The church intersperses history with new art and cultural interest. Drive around the town more for amazing architecture and beautiful homes and shops.
The medieval city of Landskrona located along the coast boasts a fascinating history as well. Visit the Citidel, the only preserved landfall fortress in Sweden, and drive past the Gamla Vattentornet, the historic water tower. It’s not open to the public but is a great place for photos.
For the nature lover and hiker
To the far west on the coast lies Kullaberg Nature Reserve. It’s free to visit, there’s a nature center and plenty of hiking trails. The lighthouse is open weekends during the summer, but even in the winter it’s possible to walk around the grounds and enjoy the views of the cliffs below.
Opt to hike to the lighthouse starting in the quaint coastal village of Mölle. It’s roughly an hour walk each way along the coastline. Continue hiking several more hours to Arild, or drive to any one of the wineries in the area to end the day.
Regardless of which route you choose, spending a day in Sweden is a perfect chance to dip your toe into what the country has to offer.