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Kronovalls slott in October

Autumn in Skåne is beautiful.

The cool, crisp temperatures. The changing colours. The prettiest little towns that look like they are straight out of an Astrid Lindgren fairytale (in case you’re like WHO? … she’s the famous Swedish author of Pippi Longstocking).

Over the past few weeks, I have spent my weekends exploring the Skåne region, which is the southernmost Swedish county that Malmö resides in. And it’s safe to say I’ve seen some of the prettiest landscapes since I moved to Sweden.


Here are some of my favourite autumn in Skåne photos.


ARILD

If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was walking around a movie set in Arild. It is so charming, that Travel & Leisure named this quaint fishing village it one of their “Top 25 Secret European Villages.” And for good reason – just look at how perfect it is.

Can’t Miss: If you’re in Arild, make sure to make a pitstop at Flickorna Lundgren. This spot is located in the countryside outside of Arild and was named Sweden’s best fika by Vogue. Here, you’ll be served their famous sweets and coffee while you sit in the most perfect garden setting. However, keep in mind that this spot typically closes for the season at the end of September, so make sure you check out their opening hours on their website.

After fika, don’t forget to head into the town of Arild to roam around the narrow cobblestone streets and admire the cutest little houses.


MÖLLE

Another picturesque fishing village, Mölle is a popular summer destination for both locals and Europeans, but it quiets down in the autumn months. This makes it the perfect time to visit, when you can enjoy the crisp fall weather without any crowds.


HÖGANÄS

Höganäs is home to Sweden’s famous BBQ spot: Holy Smoke. Situated again in middle-of-nowhere Swedish countryside, this BBQ spot is very popular amongst locals. They serve authentic southern BBQ that will surely make you feel like you’ve been transported to the American south, in the cosiest outdoor setting. At the end of the meal, you can even sit campfire-side and roast marshmallows.

Similar to many other places in this region, Holy Smoke isn’t open all autumn. Take a look at their website for their seasonal hours.

See Also: My guide to where to eat and drink in Malmö.


ÖSTERLEN

Österlen is a region in southwest corner of Skåne, comprised of all kinds of charming country villages. One Saturday during autumn in Skåne, we took a little trip around Österlen. We didn’t really have an itinerary, and we stumbled across some of the coolest sights.

First, was this Österlenchocklad, a little chocolate factory located in the middle of one of Österlen’s small towns. As we were driving by, we noticed the sign and made a split second decision to pull into the parking lot. And let’s just say, I am so happy we did because in this little award-winning chocolate shop, I had the best hot chocolate of my life (and lots of tasty chocolate, too!).

Österlenchocklad: The best chocolate store in Skane

Another stumble-upon location we made a quick decision to pull into was Kronovall Castle. This spot was tucked into the woods, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It featured the most beautiful castle, including acres of grounds with hiking trails and historic buildings, like a blacksmiths shop! And with the leaves being the perfect shade of orange, this place was purely magical.


KIVIK

Kivik, the famous apple region of Skåne, is home to acres and acres of apple orchards. The most famous spple orchard is Kiviksmusteri. Kiviksmusteri produces all kinds of different apple juice and cider, and other apple goods. We loved roaming around the groups, visiting the apple trees, and taking home lots of apple goodies.


SIMRISHAMN

Simrishamn is another community in Österlen. It is located on the water and home to the most beautiful beach (with sand that a really unique shade of orange). The town itself is charming and quaint, with zig-zagging cobblestone alleyways lined with beautiful historical homes.

My only regret is that we didn’t come here in the summer to take a dip at the beautiful beach.


MALMÖ

If you haven’t caught on yet, I love living in Malmö. And Malmö during the autumn season is no exception. As the colours of the seasons continue to change, I find myself non-stop snapping pictures. And can you blame me?

See Also: My full guide to Malmö Sweden.


I told you that autumn in Skåne is beautiful. I’m feeling pretty darn thankful to be living in this picturesque county, where these quaint towns and incredible views are only a short drive away.

Travelling the world is wonderful. But with all these special spots in my very own backyard, I’m feeling really content with staying home for a while. And with so much more to discover, stay tuned for more Swedish road trips coming at ya soon!


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And if you’re living in, or visiting, Skåne, make sure you check out my Malmö Sweden City Guide.

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Indulging in a cardamom bun from St. Jakob's.

The most common question I get about the Malmö food scene is easily: What even is Scandinavian food?

And truthfully, before moving here, I had no clue what it was either.

While I’ve spent nearly eight months in Sweden, and consumed a lot of delicious Swedish farm-to-table fare, I can say that Scandinavian food isn’t the only thing Malmö does well. When I talk about Malmö with family and friends, the conversation typically starts – and ends with – me raving about all the best restaurants in Malmö. And trust me, there are a lot of good ones.

I mean, me talking about food is pretty predictable – I am a self-proclaimed foodie after all. And after spending so much time exploring the food scene in this city, I’m excited to share with you all my favourite hotspots, and hidden gems. So here it is, everything you need to know about to where to eat in Malmö Sweden.

See Also: Visiting Malmö? Read my ultimate guide of all the things to do in Malmö.


BEST RESTAURANTS IN MALMÖ


Best Brunch in Malmö

Kärleksgatan 3: Tucked away in Davidshall, this tiny little brunch spot offers great food, coffee, and the most adorable interior [I mean, just look at this pastel tiled floor!].

Atrium: Atrium is the perfect cafe to grab brunch, and is absolutely one of my favourite brunches in the city. The ambiance is perfection, and I am obsessed with their very affordable breakfast platters, filled with everything from a yogurt parfait, to cheese and fresh bread (and don’t forget the bottomless coffee!).

Nam Do: Okay – so this isn’t really traditional brunch. Served on Saturday and Sunday from 11-4, Nam Do offers a Vietnamese “brunch,” which includes a full buffet spread of alllll your Vietnamese favourites, coffee, tea, and oter assorted drinks.

Cafe Grannen: Looking for vegan brunch in Malmö? This breakfast buffet is served everyday in the cutest little cafe. The spread includes an assortment of homemade pies, breads, and other treats. And the best part? At only 79 SEK on weekdays, it is surely the most affordable brunch you’ll find in the city.


Best Lunch in Malmö

Noir Kaffekultur: This place is so much more than just coffee. The avocado toast paired with a kaffe latte is my go-to, preferably outside on their perfect little Parisien-inspired patio.

Malmö Saluhall: The local “salluhall” or “food hall” offers a variety of restaurants in a cool indoor market setting, and is a great spot to grab lunch if you’re exploring the city. Plus, their diverse food offerings mean that there is guaranteed to be something for everyone. [must try: raman at Pink Head Noodle Bar].

AB Småland: This lifestyle concept store not only carries the most beautiful home goods, but it also offers a great vegan buffet lunch and coffee shop.

Far i Hatten: Located in the middle of one of Malmö’s coolest parks, Folkets Park, this is the perfect spot to grab a patio beer and pizza.

Spoonery: Offering a variety of different different bowls, with a rotating seasonal menu, Spoonery is a great lunch spot. If you’re in the mood to try a Scandinavian classic, opt for the meatballs!

Fiskehoddorna: Also known as Malmö’s fish market, this spot lines the street with colourful huts. Here, you can pick up the local catch-of-the-day to bring home and cook, or you can opt to eat to eat on their back patio. You won’t find better fish ‘n chips in Malmö, trust me.

Slottsrädgårdens Kafé: Nestled in the middle of Kungsparken, a park located in the centre of the city, you’ll find this cafe. This is the perfect summer patio spot for lunch or fika in the sun. [must try: the hummus plate!]


Best Dinner in Malmö

Bastard: Often referred to as the best restaurant in Malmö, Bastard is a premium food experience. Using high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients, the chefs at Bastard deliver incredible Scandinavian cuisine. We opted for the tasting menu, and I couldn’t recommend it more. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more casual, you can opt for pizza in their courtyard in the warmer months.

Saiko: Step into this restaurant and I swear you’ll feel like you’ve teleported to Japan. To say I am obsessed with Saiko would be an understatement. This Japanese restaurant in Malmö offers small sharing plates, and recommend roughly three plates per person, which means you can virtually try the entire menu. And don’t forget to wash it down with a glass of sake.

Casual Street Food: Looking for the best burger in Malmö? Look no further. The high quality burgers here blew me away (this coming from someone who doesn’t even really burgers…).

Nam Do: If you love Vietnamese food as much as I do, this is the place to go. The ambiance is cool, the food is delicious, and portions are very generous. I have tried other options, and in my opinion, this is best Vietnamese restaurant in Malmö.

Eatery Social: If you’re looking for Mexican, look no further than Eatery Social, which is located in the Clarion Malmö Live Hotel. They offer a great selection of unique tacos [I personally loved the pork tacos], and the chocolate chilli sponge cake is to die for.

Syltan: Premium pub fare and drinks. This is the perfect place for a night out with friends or if you’re looking for a casual, delicious meal in a pub setting.

Green Mango: This is your spot for the best Thai food in Malmö. With an extensive, high-quality menu and perfect little patio space, this has become one of my favourite spots in the city.

Malmö Brewing Co.: With a large selection of in-house and international beers, paired with some good old southern cooking (think mac & cheese, pulled pork, and creamed corn), this is a great spot for a casual bite.

See Also: My favourite Nordic dinner restaurant in Copenhagen.


BEST FIKA IN MALMÖ


To say fika is a way of life here would be an understatement. I swear, Swede’s entire day seems to revolve around fika. With that being said, there is no shortage of amazing coffee spots in Malmö [you can read my thoughts about Swedish coffee here]. Here are a few of my favourites.


St. Jakobs Stenugnsbageri: This place is, in my opinion, the best fika in Malmö. St. Jakob’s offers many locations scattered throughout Malmö, but my favourite is their newest location in Davidshall on Södra Förstadsgatan. And you must try their cardamom buns.

Uggla Kaffebar: I absolutely love this cute little coffee spot. It’s located very close to my apartment, which obviously makes me a regular. And they serve good coffee and the perfect fika sweets.

Noir Kaffekultur: I mentioned this place in my lunch recommendations, but they also offer some of the best coffee in the city. Sit outside on their patio, watch the bikes zoom by, and I swear you’ll feel like you’re on a terrace in Paris.

Lilla Kafferosteriet: Amazing coffee and an assortment of pastries. This is a fika favourite in the city, and it’s clear why. I suggest you opt for seating on the backyard terrace, if weather permits. It is the the perfect spot to soak in the afternoon sun.

Kaffebaren på Möllan: Great coffee and atmosphere in the trendy Möllan neighbourhood. In the summer months, I suggest taking your coffee out front and people watching in the square.

AB Småland: This was also featured in my lunch recos, but I have to include it here as well because they have a great little coffee shop. If you’re looking for something different, try their golden milk latte – yum!

EIDA: A super cutesy cafe in the old town. I personally love sitting on the big comfy couches outside in the summer and enjoying the bustling streets with a coffee in hand.


BEST BARS IN MALMÖ


Best Brewery in Malmö

Malmö Brewing Co.: With a large selection of both in-house craft beers, and featured international beers, this is the best brewery in Malmö.

Mikkeller Pop Up: The popular Danish craft beer brand hosted the coolest popup right in the middle of Folket’s Park this year. Now, it’s closed for the winter, but I am including it because I really hope it’ll be back next summer because the Wednesday night jazz nights because a staple in our summertime routine in Malmö.


Best Cocktail Bars in Malmö

Care/Of: This is my favourite cocktail bar in Malmö for high quality cocktails. It also has a perfectly intimate and cosy vibe.

MJs: To say I am obsessed with the aesthetic here would quite frankly be an understatement. And the cocktails are great too!

Side Note: If afternoon tea is your thing, MJs hosts the cutest afternoon tea I’ve ever seen with savoury small plates, tons of sweets, cotton candy, and – of course – lots and lots of tea. Seriously, everyone needs to have afternoon tea at Mjs on their list of things to do in Malmö.


Best Wine Bar in Malmö

Mineral: This is a perfect little wine bar in Malmö with tapas-style food. I’m also obsessed with their pretty outdoor patio space.

Mineral Wine Bar
Mineral Wine Bar

Julie: Julie is the perfect intimate wine bar in the middle of the old town and offers a very extensive wine selection. The staff at Julie definitely knows their wines, so prepare for a top notch experience.

L’enoteca: Full disclosure, I have never been to the restaurant itself (I’ve heard it’s great!). However, the hosted the most amazing wine garden down the street this summer and it quickly became one of my favourite go to summer spots to enjoy a glass of wine with the girls.


BEST FALAFAL IN MALMÖ


Did you know that falafel is basically the unofficial food of Malmö? You’ll find it everywhere and it is easily the cheapest food you can buy for only 30-40 SEK. There are many awesome falafel restaurants in Malmö, with arguably the most iconic being Jalla Jalla. However, if you were to ask me where to find the best falafel in Malmö, my answer would easily be Värnhem’s Falafel. Not only is the falafel tasty, but they actually make you a fresh pita right in front of you. And really, it doesn’t get better than that.


SO, NOW YOU KNOW WHERE TO EAT IN MALMÖ SWEDEN

I know I’m personally feeling pretty hungry after compiling this list of where to eat in Malmö Sweden. And I bet you are too! Sooooo… get eating!

Are there any spots I missed? Do you have any recommendations? If so, add them in the comments below.

Don’t forget to check out my Things to Do in Malmö for a complete guide of what to do in Malmö. And check out come of my my favourite little towns in Skåne with my Autumn in Skåne post.


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The city of Porto is seriously cool. It’s gritty. Charming. Inviting. And perfectly imperfect in every single way.

Coincidently, I would use all these same adjectives to describe one of my favourite hotels, ever: ZERO Box Lodge.

This spot is definitely not your typical hotel, and quickly challenged all my expectations of what I typically expect from a hotel: because it is so much more than just a hotel. A trendy hub in the centre of Porto where you can sleep, eat, drink – and be amazed (seriously, this hotel was definitely designed with Instagram in mind).


ABOUT ZERO BOX LODGE

ZERO Box Lodge describes their hotel design as a new way of sleeping. And suggests that their model could be the future of tourism.

The hotel was the brain child of Gonçalo Carvalho, who had a vision to transform an old t-shirt factory from the 1800s into a revolutionary hotel concept. It was a one-stop-shop where visitors could feel like they have entered a different world.

In short, in every single way this place is the complete opposite of an ordinary hotel. ZERO Box Lodge is…


A PLACE TO REST

The room concept at ZERO Box Lodge was inspired by the Japanese “capsule hotel” and features rows of simple wooden boxes with plenty of room to move around, stand, and sleep. Each of these boxes features it’s own private, very modern bathroom.

Although the rooms were small, we rarely spend time in our hotel room when travelling. And found it was spacious enough to relax after a long day, with a very comfy bed and a large welcoming bathroom and shower (with huge towels, which I find are ALL TOO RARE when travelling – it’s all about the little things, you know?).


A PLACE TO EAT

Would you believe me if I said that the best dinner we had in Porto was at our hotel?

I never eat at hotel restaurants. I typically find them generic, overpriced, and lacking any sort of culinary creativity. O Carniceiro at ZERO Box Lodge challenged every single one of those opinions.

The concept was simple: look inside the glass refrigerator, pick a cut or two of meat, and they will prepare it for you. Pick a side dish (or two or three). And ENJOY.

We opted to share a couple different cuts of beef (they do have veggie/fish options if meat isn’t your thing). Indulged in two sides. And were totally blown away.

I was so full, but the food was SO good I knew I had to get dessert. And the sweet/spicy mix of the blackberry and green pepper chocolate cake was easily one of the best desserts I’ve had in awhile.

And the best part: this meal was so affordable.

See Also: The Best Food Tour in Porto


A PLACE TO DRINK

Why leave the hotel when you have one of the coolest bars in the city onsite? The Big Bad Bank Bar not only looked cool, but the cocktails were so on point. We enjoyed our pre-dinner cocktails so much on our first night in Porto, that we returned for another drink before our dinner at Big Bad Bank Bar the following night.


A PLACE TO BE AMAZED

Bank Vault

Inside Big Bad Bank Bar, they have designed their very own bank vault, complete with thousands of bills behind bars and traditional Portuguese tile patterns. It is easily the most Insta-worthy spot in the hotel.

Free Room

Yes, you heard that right – FREE HOTEL ROOM. This unique feature helps you answer the question: how far would you go for free accommodations?

Located in a highly visible location between the reception and bar is a glass-enclosed “free room.” The catch – zero privacy. And I mean literally zero. In fact, when we were going to breakfast in the morning we walked by the room to witness the occupant passed out in the midst of all the commotion around him. And we came home from a busy day in the city to see him playing video games in the room.

Personally, I’m adventurous, but not THAT adventurous. However, if you are ready to put yourself on display, this is the perfect opportunity to stay in Porto for free!


A PLACE THAT HAS IT ALL

Welcome Beer

Cold beer? Yes please. When I walked into the hotel and was offered a cold beer, I knew were in for a special stay. And the hospitality didn’t stop throughout our stay. The staff was friendly, helpful, and really rounded out the whole experience.

Breakfast

We also opted for the breakfast, which was served at O Carneceiro in the mornings. For only 8 euros per person, you were given a choice of four breakfast options, which included coffee and freshly squeezed juice. The portions were generous, making this option an incredible value and one I would absolutely opt for so you get up and start exploring early.

Watertank & Sauna

The “watertank,” or rooftop pool, wasn’t opened yet when we visited in April, and it still says that this feature is “coming soon” on the hotel website. But, once it is opened it will be a fantastic amenity with views overlooking Porto; it’s something that I can’t wait to return to try.


LOCATION

ZERO Box Lodge is located in a fabulous location, right in the city centre. Porto is a small city, and virtually everything is accessible by foot. This spot is perfectly situated to help you make the most of your city exploration.


PRICES & BOOKING

ZERO Box Lodge is super affordable, and offers an incredible value for your money. Check out the latest prices and book your stay: click here.


In short: ZERO Box Lodge is JUST PLAIN COOL & if you’re visiting Porto, you NEED TO STAY HERE.

I really couldn’t recommend this spot enough. The concept was so unique, and absolutely contributed to making our stay in Porto that much more special. And if sleeping in a box isn’t your thing, you can still stop by and enjoy the bar and restaurant. Because this spot is so much more than just a hotel.

See Also: The Chicest Boutique Hotel in Lisbon


ARE YOU HEADING TO PORTO?

PIN this article for later and stay at Porto’s trendiest hotel! And subscribe to my mailing list to stay up to date on more Portugal recommendations coming to your inbox soon.

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Porto Sardines

Without a doubt, experiencing different food cultures is one of my favourite parts of travelling [if you ask my boyfriend, Sebastian, he would say that it is his favourite part of travelling]. With that being said, we often spend a lot time prior to our travels researching restaurants, polling our friends, scouring the internet, and making reservations at all the best places to eat in the cities that we’re visiting. As you can imagine, this process takes a lot of time – which is why it is sometimes easier, and more fun, to let the locals guide you to those decades-old, hole-in-the-wall treasures that many tourists will never find.

Cue: SECRET FOOD TOURS PORTO.

Before I travelled to Portugal, I was so excited to try Portuguese food and wanted to make sure I got the very best experience. So, when I heard about Secret Food Tours Porto, it sounded like a great opportunity to explore some of Porto’s hidden food gems.


ABOUT SECRET FOOD TOURS

Secret Food Tours is an award-winning company that hosts food tours in cities all over the world. They employ local foodie enthusiasts that guide you to all the best spots to eat, drink, and indulge.


SECRET FOOD TOURS PORTO

After having unparalleled successes in many other cities around the world, Secret Food Tours has recently added the northern Portuguese city of Porto to its tour offerings, and they invited us along to taste our way through Porto.

It was our first day in Portugal and we met our tour guide, Alexandra, bright and early, eager to start tasting. Alexandra, a Porto native who has lived all over Europe, greeted us with a warm smile and was excited to show us all her favourite spots in her hometown.

First stop: breakfast. And most critically, coffee. Alexandra explained that the typical coffee culture in Portugal involves a small cup of espresso in the morning [often with an entire package of sugar poured into it]. We partook in this Portuguese tradition, and got to know our guide over coffee and a traditional Portuguese sponge cake in a small intimate café.

Portuguese Sponge Cake and Espresso
Portuguese Sponge Cake and Espresso

Next, we headed out to a popular indoor market, both with locals and tourists, to try a Portuguese delicacy: canned sardines. When I was first told that this would be the second stop of the day, I admittedly hesitated. However, the sardines were, dare I say it, TASTY. They were perfectly salty, paired with fresh local bread, all washed down with a big glass of local Portuguese ‘green wine’ [don’t let the name fool you – the colour of the wine is white]. Not to mention, the sardines were packaged in the most beautiful, colourful cans.

After lunch we explored the market, bought some local bread, and headed to our third stop for a Portuguese sandwich, called a bifana. This sandwich is made with thinly sliced pork, marinated in a chili sauce, and according to Alexandra, this small local restaurant has the best bifana in Porto! Let’s just say I could have easily eaten five of them, they were so darn good.

After the bifana, I was already beginning to feel full, but there was SO MUCH more to eat. Thankfully, I was able to walk off some of the food between restaurants. Along the way, we made stops at some of the most popular spots in Porto and Alexandra told us stories about Porto’s culture and history.

Bifana
Bifana with Local Pineapple and Orange Juices

Our fourth stop was a plant-lovers dream, with a terrace covered floor-to-ceiling in greenery. Here, we tried another popular Portuguese dish called francesinha, which is a sandwich stuffed with a variety of meats, coated in cheese, toasted, and covered in sauce – also known as a heart attack on a plate. We washed this down with Super Bock, a local beer that you will find everywhere in Portugal. Again, we were reassured that we had just indulged in the best francesinha in Porto. And I totally believe it.

Okay, after that cheesy-meaty goodness I was seriously getting full. But, little did I know, that we were about to have our biggest meal yet. We ventured to a small local restaurant on the most unsuspecting street and feasted on a traditional Portuguese white bean stew, complete with a ‘secret’ ingredient that you must taste for yourself. It is something I would have never tried on my own, and again was a bit hesitant to try, but the flavours were incredible.

Last stop: port tasting. This is absolutely one of the me popular things to do in Porto [and Portugal in general] and something we did a lot of through the entire trip. Port wine is native to the Porto region, and the tasting featured port samples from local wineries. Here, we learned more about the different types of port wines, and heard the origin stories of this type of wine in Portugal. It was absolutely the perfect way to cap off a perfect day with Secret Food Tours Porto.

Port Tasting in Porto
Port Tasting with Dried Figs

HOW MUCH WILL THIS TOUR COST ME?

The best part of this tour: the incredible value. You can spend four hours stuffing your face on the best Porto food and drinks tour for only 64 euros per person. And, if you’re in the mood to drink your way through Porto, you can add the “Upgraded Drink Package,” which includes three extra drinks, in addition to the ones I already mentioned, for only 7 euros more per person.


FEELIN’ HUNGRY YET?

I want to disclaim that in the interest of not spoiling some of the ‘secrets’ of this experience, I’ve been asked not to include all details. However, I want to add that what makes this tour so special and fun is not only the places we visited, and the dishes we ate, but the local guide who massively contributed to my love for the city of Porto, its history, and its food culture.

I’ve taken food tours in a many cities and let me tell you, this tour was among the best. I can’t recommend Secret Food Tours Porto enough, and based on this experience I would feel so confident spending another day with Secret Food Tours wherever my travels lead me next. It is an experience I will never forget.

As one final note, I must warn you: be prepared to EAT A LOT. This Porto foodie experience is worth every single bite.

If you’re ready to book your trip with Secret Food Tours Porto, click here.

See Also: The trendiest hotel in Porto.

Porto Food Tour

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View of Budapest from Gellert Hill
Budapest Itinerary // 3 Days in Budapest // Budapest Food Guide // Budapest City Guide

Budapest is a city that I have longed to visit for awhile. It was a city that I have almost visited so many times, but never quite got there. So when we started planning our first weekend away since I moved to Sweden, spending 3 days in Budapest seemed like the easy choice.

And our weekend in Budapest certainly lived up to the hype.

Szechenyi Baths, Budapest
Szechenyi Baths, Budapest

The sunny weather reached over an unexpected 20 degrees [in late March!], and the city felt so alive. Coming from a chilly, grey Sweden, we felt like we might as well have been in the Mediterranean. And, because it was March, the city lacked the bustle of tourists that it typically experiences in the warmer months.

This set the stage for a truly perfect weekend away.

We had the best 3 days in Budapest, and I want to give you the all the details so that you can have the best time too. As we always aim to do, this itinerary offers the perfect mix of must-do touristy and off-the-beaten-track Budapest – and A LOT of amazing food recos.

So, here it is: A guide on how to spend the perfect weekend in Budapest.


Where to Stay in Budapest

Pal’s Hostel

Confession: I have always loved a good, cheap backpacking hostel, where I shared a room with a bunch of strangers and made friends with other travel-lovers. But since Sebastian and I met and started travelling together, our travel preferences have changed a bit. And consequently, I haven’t stay in a hostel in a couple years.

However, this trip was extremely last minute, and the price of booking a last minute hotel was expensive. We were looking for something simple, but clean, with a private bathroom, and in the city centre – all at a good value. That’s when I stumbled across Pal’s Hostel and knew that I had found the perfect place.

However, nothing could have prepared me for just how nice this spot would be. Located in the most gorgeous historical building right across the street from the popular St. Stephen’s Basilica landmark, this hostel is in the perfect location, within walking distance of all major sights. Not to mention, the hostel has the most friendly and helpful staff who went out of their way to ensure that we had the best stay!

We opted for a private room with private bathroom, and to say the room was huge would be an understatement. It also featured the most beautiful high ceilings, comfortable bed, kitchenette with dining room table, and the biggest surprise – the private balcony overlooking St. Stephen’s Basilica. This was a feature that I was not expecting, and it absolutely blew me away. I mean, look at those views.

Pal's Hostel, Budapest
Views from our private balcony at Pal’s Hostel

If you’re looking for a no-frills, affordable, perfectly-located private room in the heart of Budapest – this is your spot. And if you can, request this room and take in the breathtaking basilica views.


Things to Do in Budapest

Visit a Historical Castle

Buda Castle, which sits atop the Buda side of the Danube River, is worth spending time to explore. Walk across the famous Széchenyi Chain Bridge and enjoy the riverfront views.

Once across the river, you can either enjoy a leisurely walk to the top of the hill, or take a tram, and explore the Buda castle grounds. Here, you’ll also find some beautiful views of the city.

Once you’re done at the castle, make your way to Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion. We opted to not tour the church, or pay to walk along the top of the Bastion, but these are both options. Instead we explored the ground area, and again admired the views.

Hike to the Highest Point in Budapest

Gellert Hill offers panoramic views of Budapest. Take a 15-20 minute uphill walk to the Citadella at the top, and admire Pest from an entirely new perspective.

I have been told that the best time to visit Gellert Hill is at sunset to take in the most beautiful views. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to do this and instead visited in the morning, but it is something I will definitely do when I next return to Budapest.

Explore the Famous Budapest Pub Culture

Scattered throughout the Jewish Quarter, you’ll find tons of ruin bars offering cheap drinks in the most eclectic, unique atmospheres. Our favourite was the most famous ruin pub, Szimpla Kert, but other really popular options include Instant [which has turned into more of a night club], Csendes, and Yellow Zebra.

Szimpla Kert, Budapest
Patio at Szimpla Kert, Budapest

Soak in the Famous Thermal Baths

One of the most popular things to do in Budapest is undoubtedly visit their famous thermal baths. We decided to visit the most popular bath, Szechenyi Thermal Baths, because we were really interested in an outdoor bath experience. Although a bit expensive, this was an awesome experience. With 18 indoor and outdoor pools, this place is huge! We spent most of our time outside in the thermal pool, taking in the beautiful surrounding architecture and enjoying the sunshine.

Szechenyi Baths
Szechenyi Baths

Tip: If you plan to visit Szechenyi Thermal Baths, the earlier in the day the better. We arrived around 10am on a Sunday and it was already fairly busy. And by the time we left, there were several people queuing outside for tickets.

To get to the Szechenyi Thermal Baths from the city centre, I recommend hopping on the Budapest Metro. Tickets are cheap, and taking a ride on the yellow line will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

There are tons of thermal baths all over Budapest. I would have loved to visit others, but we simply didn’t have the time. Other local and tourist favourites include Gellert Spa and Rudas Baths.

Go Shopping at an Indoor Market

Central Market Hall is a massive indoor market that offers a variety of different vendors. Here, you can find local souvenirs, tons of handmade goods, fresh produce and meats, and a variety of food vendors.

Central Market Hall, Budapest
Central Market Hall

Experience Budapest at Night

Budapest is beautiful at all hours of the day, but it’s charm is a little extra special at night. Walk along the banks of the Danube at night, and watch the city sparkle. Buda Castle and and the Hungarian Parliament Building are especially beautiful when lit up at night.

Many people recommend taking a Danube River cruise at sunset or in the evening to truly appreciate the glow of the city. We didn’t end up having time to do this, but I’ve heard that it is a fantastic experience.

Hungarian Parliament at Night
Hungarian Parliament
Buda Castle at Night
Buda Castle at Night

Shop In The Jewish Quarter

We stumbled upon Gozsdu Udvar in the Jewish Quarter, which is an eclectic narrow alleyway filled with street vendors, restaurants, and bars. We bought a few souvenirs, including some handmade leather goods, and really enjoyed the overall vibes of this district.


Best Restaurants in Budapest

It’s safe to say that one of my favourite things about Budapest was the food culture. Before visiting, the only Hungarian food I had heard of was goulash – and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Verdict: Hungarian food is delicious [and cheap!].

Here’s all the places to eat – and the restaurants I would avoid – in Budapest.

Cirkusz

Located in the Jewish Quarter and coined the ‘ruin pub’ of breakfast joints, Cirkusz offers a diverse and tasteful breakfast menu, complete with staples like eggs benedict, as well as Hungarian-inspired breakfast options.

Things to Try: I indulged in the french toast, which was perfectly cooked and flavourful, and Sebastian opted for in one of the seasonal delicacies – a pulled pork eggs benedict. Delicious!

Hungarikum Bisztro

We had the best Hungarian food at Hungarikum Bisztro. It was so good, in fact, that we ate there twice for lunch.

This place serves authentic Hungarian food, and has super generous portions at a very affordable price. It is super popular with both locals and tourists, so if you plan to visit for lunch or dinner, make a reservation in advance.

Things to Try: Goulash Soup with Mini Noodles, Dumplings with Sausage and Sour Cabbage, Hungarian Gnocchi with Sour Cream and Roasted Bacon Cubes, and Pork Loin with Paprika Sauce and Bacon-Sour Cabbage Dumplings.

Tip: The goulash portion is huge. However, you can ask them to split it into two bowls to split for an appetizer.

Belvárosi Lugas Vendéglő

Another traditional Hungarian option located nearby our hostel, Belvárosi Lugas Vendéglő is affordable and has great food if you’re looking for traditional Hungarian fare.

Things to Try: Goulash Soup, Hungarian Ratatouille with Smoke Sausage, Hungarian Deer Stew, and for dessert, “Bird Milk” with Baked Foam and Caramel Sauce.

Central Market Hall

At Central Market Hall, go upstairs to explore a variety of vendors with traditional Hungarian options. Here, we indulged Langos, which is Hungary’s most popular street food, and spicy sausages.

HILDA

HILDA is visually beautiful, and offers a menu to match. Here, you can find modern twists on Hungarian favourites, an extensive cocktail menu, and lots of local Hungarian wine options.

Things to Try: Goulash [can you tell that we loved goulash?] and Chicken Paprikash with Dumplings.

HILDA is also open for brunch/lunch, and I wish we would have known about it earlier because we would have definitely visited again to try the daytime menu.

Gelarto Rosa

For the most beautiful gelato you’ll ever eat, head to Gelarto Rosa. Here, you can sit outside of St. Stephen’s Basilica and eat gelato in the shape of a rose [talk about insta-worthy!]. I loved the Basil Lemon and Rose flavours!

Tip: This place was located outside our hostel, and every time we walked by it always had a very long line. However, we went in the late morning, shortly after they opened, and only had to wait a few minutes.

Gelarto Rosa, Budapest
Gelarto Rosa

Street Food Karavan

Street Food Karavan is just what it sounds like – a marketplace full of food trucks! You can find a variety of Hungarian street food staples here, such as langos, kolbice, and sausages. We stopped in and grabbed a cinnamon chimney cake, which is essentially a cylinder of citrusy dough covered in cinnamon, and a definite must-try in Budapest.


Restaurants I Wouldn’t Visit Again

In the interest of transparency, I also want to share the restaurants we visited that didn’t live up to their hype. These places came highly recommended, and weren’t total misses, but it’s safe to say I won’t be returning.

Our first dinner at Fricska Gastropub was good, but not great, which was incredibly disappointing because it had such outstanding reviews and was recommended by several notable food blogs. The food lacked a lot of flavour, and despite the more premium price point, paled in comparison to other meals we had in Budapest.

Additionally, Café Gerbeaud came highly recommended but was absolutely over hyped. The interior was beautiful, but they charge you a premium to eat there, as well as an additional service charge. The sweets were yummy, but we paid over 30 euros for two pieces of cake and two coffees – which, quite frankly, is just plain robbery in Budapest. If you want to indulge in these popular sweets, I would recommend going inside, snapping a couple pictures, and taking the desserts to-go for a third of the price.


Best Drinks in Budapest

Szimpla Kert

There are a ton of ruin pubs in Budapest. Just wander around the Jewish Quarter and you’re bound to find a few to stumble into. However, the first, and most iconic one, is undoubtedly Szimpla Kert.

Filled with a mix-match of just about every kind of repurposed ‘junk’ you can think of, including bathtub planters and old cars, this is a must-visit. We opted to visit during the day and sit on the patio, and it was the perfect place to drink beers in the sunshine.

Warmup

If you’re looking for cocktails, Warmup is your place. This is a speakeasy-style cocktail bar where the friendly bartenders come sit at your table, ask you what you like, and then craft a unique cocktail aimed to satisfy your favourite flavours.

Personally, I am a huge fan of a floral cocktail, and the bartender delivered me arguably the best rose-flavoured cocktail I’ve ever had. I really can’t say enough about this spot.


It’s Safe to Say That I Fell In Love with Budapest

Exploring Budapest

With the friendliest locals, spectacular sights, and some of the most delicious food that I’ve had in all of Europe, this city is so easy to love. And I’m confident that you will love it too.

If you have any questions about spending 3 days in Budapest, send me a message. And you liked what you read, don’t forget to pin it below!

xx,

Madeline

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Iron Fist Detroit
Detroit Itinerary // Detroit City Guide // Things to Do in Detroit // Best Restaurants in Detroit

The Motor City gets a bad rap. And understandably so if you know anything about the notoriously unstable history of Detroit.

But Detroit is so much more more than it’s past.

Native Detroiters are dreamers, believers, and some of the hardest working, most passionate people I have ever met. They mercilessly defend their city – and for good reason. Because I must say, this city is pretty darn special. And it is filled with some of the most incredibly resilient, inspiring people I have ever encountered in all my years of travel.

Detroit Quote

If you want to be inspired, spend a weekend in Detroit.

Growing up across the river in Windsor, Canada, I’ve seen the city blossom in recent years, paving the way for creatives and entrepreneurs alike who wholeheartedly believed in Detroit. Despite this rebirth of the city, the characteristic grit that has defined it hasn’t left. You can see it in the unique architecture. Taste it in the world-class culinary scene. And feel it in the creative instalments scattered throughout the city.

If Detroit isn’t currently on your bucket list, trust me when I say it should be. And I’ll tell you exactly why in this Detroit city guide.


Where to Stay in Detroit

The Detroit Foundation Hotel: This is undeniably one of the best, and coolest, hotels I have ever stayed at. Located inside of the former Detroit firehall, this boutique hotel is beautiful and is home to one of Detroit’s coolest restaurants and cocktail bars: The Apparatus Room. It is centrally located, across the street from Cobo Center, and close to many main attractions.

Aloft Detroit: Located inside one if the most architecturally beautiful buildings in Detroit, the Aloft features huge, clean rooms and is centrally located at Grand Circus Park [and around the corner from District Detroit if you’re in Detroit to watch a sports game].

Interior of the Aloft Hotel in Detroit
Interior of the Aloft Hotel in Detroit

Shinola Hotel: This hotel is brand new to downtown Detroit, and I haven’t personally had an opportunity to visit yet. I have, however, seen the lobby which is gorgeous, and have heard from others that the rooms and service are top tier. It is centrally located along Woodward, near lots of great shops and restaurants.


Things to Do in Detroit

Catch a Game in District Detroit

Home to all four of Detroit’s major sports teams, the newly developed District Detroit makes it easy to get in on the action. My personal favourite is catching an afternoon game at Comerica Park, home to the Detroit Tigers. However, the brand new Little Caesar’s Arena, which hosts both the Detroit Red Wings and Pistons, is quite the sight to see! And the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field is also closeby.

If you happen to be in Detroit during the warmer months, you don’t necessarily have to buy game tickets to experience the sports culture of the city. You can still tailgate in parking lots, and at bars, with fans before and after Lions and Tigers games.

Eat, Shop & Explore in the Cass Corridor

The Cass Corridor is a great little neighbourhood just north of the city centre, with so many shops worth exploring. Here’s a few of the highlights that can be found on W Canfield St.

Shinola: This is the original flagship store, and a serious pride of the city. Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, it is still very cool to visit and browse. They always feature really cool popups, and even have a coffee shop located inside.

Third Man Records: Founded by Jack White of The White Stripes, this record shop is a must-see. They sell an assortment of records, along with other music merchandise.

City Bird: If you’re looking to bring home some unique Detroit or Michigan souvenirs, this place offers the cutest merchandise. I’ve bought so many interesting gifts in here that my friends and family have LOVED.

Coffee Shop Popup
Coffee Shop Pop Up Outside City Bird

Learn About Detroit Architecture

There are so many architecturally beautiful and unique buildings scattered around the city. Curbed offers a great resource to help you discover the best buildings in Detroit here.

My personal favourites are the Guardian Building, the David Whitney Building [home to the Aloft hotel I mentioned above], and the Fox Theater.

Guardian Building, Detroit
Guardian Building, Detroit

Take a Walk Down Music’s Memory Lane

The Motown Museum is a must-see for music lovers. Just north of the downtown city core, it is easily accessible by Detroit’s QLine and offers museum tours.

Enjoy One of Many Detroit Festivals

Campus Martius Park, located in the city centre, is the home to many cultural events and festivals. Here, you’ll find attractions including a spectacular Christmas markets in the winter, and a manmade beach in the summer [complete with tiki huts and a drink bar].

Take a look here at their official website for a calendar of events highlighting seasonal attractions in Campus Martius Park, Capital Park, Grand Circus Park, and more.

Go Shopping at Detroit’s Open Air Market

As one of the oldest markets in the US, Eastern Market is open every Saturday year round [and other select days during the summer months; you can check out the event calendar here]. I absolutely love visiting this spot for fresh local produce, and other cool locally-sourced products. Plus, the Eastern Market neighbourhood is super cool, and offers lots of restaurants and shops.

Graffiti at Eastern Market
Graffiti at Eastern Market

Immerse yourself in Detroit’s Art Culture

The Detroit Institute of Arts is a spectacular building, hosting many famous paintings from artists all over the world. If you’re looking for a premium cultural experience, look no further than the DIA.

Take Instagram Pictures in a Alley Filled with Graffiti

The Belt is an alleyway in downtown Detroit that offers floor-to-ceiling commissioned graffiti. At night, it lights up and hosts some of the most popular bars and nightlife in the city. It is a great spot to stop and take a few pictures.

Stroll Down the Detroit Riverwalk

Detroit has some beautiful riverfront parks and pathways that you can walk along in the warmer months. Here, you can look across the river and see Canada [my hometown of Windsor!], grab an ice cream at a local shop, take a river cruise tour down the Detroit river, or just sit and enjoy the sunshine.

Detroit Riverwalk
Riding a Bird Scooter on the Detroit Riverwalk

Best Restaurants in Detroit

Perhaps my favourite thing about Detroit is the food culture. So many talented chefs have flocked to Detroit to take advantage of the booming culinary scene. The only downside is trying to prioritize which restaurants to eat at first!

I have had some of the best meals that I have ever had in Detroit. It was so hard for me to narrow down my top picks, because there are so many good restaurants. So, if you have a question about a restaurant that I haven’t included in my list, feel free to message me about it.

Brunch

Gold Cash Gold: Unique, well-made dishes. Beautiful ambiance. My boyfriend said this is in his top two favourite brunch spots – ever. And has become an absolute go-to for me.

Pie at Gold Cash Gold
Gold Cash Gold, Detroit

Folk: If you’re looking for a vegan/vegetarian place, go here [although there is some meat on the menu too, and is definitely suitable to all dietary preferences]. I am totally obsessed with this place. After brunch, head next door to The Farmer’s Hand, a really adorable local market.

Rose’s Fine Food: Located just outside the city centre, this is another one of my brunch favourites. The restaurant is so unassuming, and has the most tasty food. If you decide to head here for lunch, keep driving out toward one of Detroit’s most historically affluent neighbourhoods, Indian Village. Here, you can make your way to my next recommendation, Sister Pie.

Sister Pie: Located on the border of The West Village and Indian Village, this bakery is a must-visit if you love pie [or any other baked goods]. I promise, you’ll have the best pie of your life here.

Sister Pie Detroit
Sister Pie, Detroit

Detroit Institute of Bagels: If you love bagels, go here. Fresh, homemade bagels, and all the toppings/fillings you can imagine.

Detroit Institute of Bagels
Detroit Institute of Bagels

Lunch & Dinner

Grey Ghost: I love this restaurant. The food is high quality. The cocktails are well thought out and perfectly executed. And the ambiance is gorgeous. They also offer an incredible Sunday brunch [complete with the perfect brunch cocktail menu]. If you want visit Grey Ghost, book a reservation well in advance – it is very popular, and for good reason.

Wright & Company: Another Detroit favourite. I love the tapas-style small plates and very tasty cocktails. Not to mention, the interior is gorgeous. Wright & Co doesn’t take reservations, so you may have to wait for a table. Luckily, they have the most beautiful bar you can grab a cocktail at while you wait to be seated.

Wright & Co Cocktails
Wright & Co Cocktails

The Apparatus Room: Located in one of my hotel recommendations, the Detroit Foundation Hotel, this is easily one of the most beautiful restaurants in Detroit. But, it doesn’t stop there – the food and cocktails are on par with the interior aesthetic. You’ll likely need a reservation here too, so plan ahead.

Lady of the House: Offering a variety of experimental small plates, this charming restaurant is tucked away in the heart of Corktown, and offers unique tasting dishes.

Ima: Looking for ramen in Detroit? This is your spot! Also located in Corktown, along Michigan Avenue, Ima satisfies all your noodle-craving needs.

Ottava Via: Easily the best spot for Italian in Detroit. The ambiance and food at this spot is so on point. I especially love to go here in the summer, sit out on the back patio, and play bocce ball with friends.

Best Drinks in Detroit

Cocktail Bars

I love a good cocktail. And let me tell you, Detroit has some of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. Here’s a few of my favourite spots.

The Sugar House: This Corktown cocktail bar is an easy favourite for me. In fact, I have had cocktails all over the world and this remains one of my favourite spots to visit. Order from their seasonally-changing cocktail menus. Or sit at the bar, tell the extremely talented bartenders what you like, and they will surely craft you something amazing.

Sugar House, Detroit
Sugar House, Detroit

Standby: Tucked away in the Belt Alley, this is a local hotspot and is always guaranteed to be busy. This small, cozy bar has amazing cocktails, and also offers appetizers if you’re looking for a late night bite.

Two James Spirits: This is my favourite cocktail bar to go to in the summer months. When it’s nice outside, they open up the garage doors of the distillery, and you can sit at the wrap around bar, listen to live music, and enjoy cocktails from their extensive drink menu with the sun shining in. They also offer distillery tours and tastings.

Two James Spirits

Bad Luck Bar: Another must-try in the city, the cocktails at Bad Luck Bar are a bit more premium in price, but the experience is so worth stopping in for [at least] one drink.

Craft Beer

Disclaimer: I am not a huge beer drinker. However, I’ve been to the following spots and really enjoyed them.

Motor City Brewing Works: Great beer, great beer garden. This is an awesome spot to enjoy some patio craft brews in the summer months.

Motor City Brewing Works
Motor City Brewing Works

Founders Taproom Detroit: The Grand Rapids favourite has recently opened a taproom in Detroit. Founders is an established brewery and offers a ton of beer options, so there is bound to be something for everyone.

Jolly Pumpkin Brewery: A long-running Detroit favourite, this place offers craft beers and pizza. What more can you want? And to add to its clout, it was even good enough for Barack Obama.

Jazz Bars

Baker’s Keyboard Lounge: A Detroit legend. This jazz bar has been in continuous operation since 1933 and has hosted some of the worlds most famous jazz musicians over the years. Pay it a visit and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time; and then just sit back, indulge in some traditional southern cooking, and enjoy the live performances. [Note: this is in a Detroit suburb, not near the city centre. To get here, I would recommend hiring a cab or an Uber/Lyft].

Cliff Bell’s: If you’re looking for a jazz bar in the city centre, this is your spot. Amazing music, drinks, and food. It’s perfect for a night out, or weekend brunch.


Getting Around Detroit

Walk: If you’re staying in the city centre, you can get most places you want to go by foot. The Detroit core isn’t very big, and is very walkable.

QLINE: If you’re staying downtown and want to get up to the Cass Corridor, Midtown, or New Center, your best option is the QLINE, Detroit’s newly-developed street car that runs up and down Woodward.

Cab/Uber/Lyft: These car hire companies offer a relatively affordable option to get around the city. These will be especially helpful if you’re venturing out to Corktown, where there are less transit options to get there.

Scooter: There are electric scooters everywhere. Just make sure you download the Lime and/or Bird apps ahead of time.


The Most Common Question I Get: Is Detroit Safe?

YES. Absolutely, it is. Like almost any large American city, Detroit has its good areas and bad areas. However, if you know where to go and focus your trip around the city centre, and other areas that I have recommended, then I can assure you that Detroit is as safe as any other major American city.

In fact, I have spent a ton of time here, at all hours of the day and night, and have never once felt my safety was compromised.


It’s Time For YOU To Enjoy The Motor City!

Nothing Stops Detroit

Detroit is truly an underrated gem. It is the perfect cocktail of charm, grit, passion, and innovation that will leave you speechless – and wanting more. Everyone who visits the city falls in love with it, and I am confident that you will too. It is easily one of my favourite cities in the world.

I hope this Detroit city guide is helpful in your planning. If you have any questions about Detroit or the surrounding areas, leave them in the comments or message me.

And if you liked what you read, don’t forget to pin it to your Pinterest boards below.

xx,

Madeline

Detroit City Guide
Detroit Itinerary
Detroit Food Guide
Things to Do in Detroit
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Streets in Malmö
Sweden Visa // Sweden Sambo Visa // Sweden Working Holiday Visa // Applying for a Visa to Sweden

When I was researching about moving to Sweden, I had a really hard time finding the information I was looking for online. For that reason, I’ve had so many people reach out to me over the past couple months about the process of moving to Sweden. Mainly, about how to get a Swedish visa.

The more time I spend here, and the more I talk to fellow expats, I have realized that the Swedish Migration Agency isn’t very clear in their rules and regulations. So – I wanted to put together a post highlighting what I’ve learned so far, in hopes that it may help someone in the same situation as me.

Disclaimer: I am by no means a migration expert, and I am not claiming to be. Additionally, the migration agency in Sweden has been known to have some [err, a lot of] grey area in their rules, so my experience may not be the same as other migration cases. If you have any questions, email me and I’ll try to help [or I may know another expat in your situation that you can reach out to].


The Swedish Visa Process

As a Canadian under 30 years old, I was able to apply for a Swedish Working Holiday Visa [WHV]. However, I realize that places me amongst a small minority. So here, I’ll highlight my experience with the Swedish WHV, as well as some other visa alternatives.

Swedish Working Holiday Visa [WHV]

The Swedish WHV is available for young people between 18 and 30 years old, from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Korea or Uruguay. To apply, you just need to provide a copy of your passport, a bank account statement showing 15,000 SEK in available funds, and a valid health insurance policy [I purchased mine from an insurance broker in Canada here]. Additionally, they want to see proof of a return plane ticket, or enough funds to purchase one.

Once you submit the application, you’ll expected to receive your response within 3 months. It took me about 8 weeks to get a response. The whole process was very quick and easy.

Now, here is what they don’t tell you about the Swedish WHV [and what I wish I would have known].

You aren’t given a Swedish personal number on this visa, which means you can’t do very basic things like get a gym membership or open a bank account. This makes it particularly difficult to find a job, because you can’t get paid if you don’t have a bank account. In order to open one, you need to obtain a letter of employment, and then apply for a coordination number with the tax agency. From there, you’ll get a very basic bank account.

Additionally, I’ve heard from fellow expats that their places of employment weren’t particularly helpful in getting them the materials they needed to open the bank account. Based on this, you need to find specific employers who are experienced with WHVs. They exist, and I’ve had a very pleasant personal experience, but it is just something to be wary of.

This is in no way meant to deter anyone from getting a WHV, it is the perfect quick and easy way to just get here. However, just be wary that some serious limitations exist.

Swedish Sambo Visa

The ‘Sambo Visa,’ or cohabitation visa, and is granted to expats who are looking to move to Sweden to be with a Swedish citizen. The reason we didn’t choose this visa is because it often takes 12-18 months to process. Additionally, they prefer that you have lived with your partner for at least six months prior to applying, and at the time Sebastian and I were in a long distance relationship, so taking this route was risky. However, if you meet the basic requirements and have flexibility to wait, this is the best visa to have, as it is the most secure.

I’ve talked to many expats like myself who came here on a WHV and applied to – and transitioned to – a Sambo visa while within Sweden; however, the Swedish Migration Agency is making it much more difficult to do this.

I am part of a couple ‘support groups’ on Facebook for people applying for a Swedish Sambo Visa [I’ll link them below], and the general consensus is that other expats are being required to leave Sweden to apply for their Sambo Visa. As a result, after spending time here, often on a WHV or student visa, they are being mandated to leave the country for extended periods of time. Many of these people have resorted to applying for temporary WHVs in other countries, like Denmark or Germany, because they don’t have to be in their home country, they just need to be out of the county.

As a result, just be cautious if you’re planning to come here on a WHV and transition to a Sambo Visa. This may not be as easy as you hoped.

  • If you are waiting for a Sambo Visa within Sweden, I would recommending joining this Facebook group: click here
  • If you are in Sweden on a WHV and applying for a Sambo Visa, this Facebook group is very helpful: click here

Swedish Work Visa

Now, a Swedish Work Visa is a great way to get to Sweden. However, this will require getting a job offer before you move, which isn’t always easy.

I’m super happy to share that I received an exciting job offer from a large international company within three weeks of arriving to Sweden. This company has employees from all over the world, and has the resources to help me with everything visa-related, which has been such a relief.

There are a few things I wish I would have known before moving here that helped me land my dream job.

Here’s a few tips for you:

  1. Know your skills, and be ready to convince an employer why you would be a better fit for the job than a Swedish employee. If they are going to invest the time, and money, to sponsor you, they need to be convinced that you can possess a unique skill set that makes you best suited for the job.
  2. Focus your search on large, international companies [specifically ones with English as corporate language]. There are many companies in Sweden that operate primarily in English, and they are more likely to have the resources necessary to facilitate a visa sponsorship. Additionally, if you get a job from a Migration Agency ‘certified’ company, you can get a work visa in as little as two weeks. If you’re looking to work in Malmö/Lund, message me for details on some of these local companies.
  3. Use your network – join support groups, reach out to other expats, and get an understanding of the employment climate in the city you’re hoping to move to. In Malmö, I found this ‘Expats in Malmö‘ Facebook group particularly helpful and eager to give advice. If you’re Canadian, you should join the ‘Canadians in Sweden‘ Facebook group.
  4. Look into teaching English. I have been told by locals who are teachers that there is a serious shortage of English teachers in Sweden. Therefore, many of the international schools are no longer requiring a traditional teaching degree; if you have a degree, or some form of expertise, they may hire you to teach. Get in contact with local schools and see if they are willing to work with you [these institutions also have the resources to support a visa application].
  5. And finally, reach out to employees at companies you’re interested in. And connect with recruiters. This was the most critical step for me. I essentially landed my dream job by subscribing to LinkedIn Premium and personal messaging the manager of a position I was very interested in. In that message, I explained that I was already in Sweden [likewise, you can explain why you are motivated to move to Sweden]. I was told by the hiring manager that they often get applicants from all over the world, and that had I not personally messaged to explain my situation, I would have likely been overlooked as ‘just looking for a visa.’

I was already in Sweden when I was invited for my first interview, despite applying to jobs for months before. And it was also once I was in Sweden that I started getting the attention of local recruiters. With that being said, I do not think it is impossible to find a job beforehand, and I am confident that had I networked a bit better, targeted the right companies, and known my resources, that I could have landed a job prior to arriving. And that means you can too!


What Else Should I Know?

When I made the overseas move, I was following my heart to be with my boyfriend, who is a local. Therefore, I just simply had to arrive and everything was set up for me. I had an apartment to move in to, a partner with a local bank account, and a network of locals that I had already met, and who were eager to introduce me to their city.

Here’s a few things you should know before moving to Sweden.

Swedish Housing Market

This is perhaps the biggest challenge, because to say the housing market is hot would be an understatement – it is basically on fire. I only have experience with the market in Malmö, where there are brand new apartments going up all over the suburbs. And yet, they can’t seem to keep up with demand.

If you’re planning to move well ahead of time and are looking to get first-hand contract, sign up on Boplats Syd here. By paying a subscription fee you get placed in a queue, and from there you express interest in apartments. The interested person who has been in the queue the longest will be offered the apartment. For older apartments, there are applicants that have been in the queue for years. However, if you’re able to pay a bit more, there are options available for brand new units. We were recently able to sign a lease for a brand new apartment fairly close to the city centre after only six months in the queue.

There are also a ton of second-hand contracts available. Although these are a bit more risky, they are definitely the easiest option.

Where to Live

Sweden is exceptionally safe. However, even the safest cities have their not-so-safe areas [even still, despite what the media says, remember that everything is relative and Sweden doesn’t have many ‘no-go zones’]. It may seem ‘easy’ to get an apartment in certain neighbourhoods; but, this also may not be a suitable place to live. Do your research, and reach out to local expat communities. They should be able to provide you advice.

Cost of Living

While this absolutely varies depending on the city and I can’t speak to all regions of Sweden, I don’t personally find Malmö to be much more expensive than life in Canada. Most day-to-day necessities are comparable, and despite being hot, the housing prices in southern Sweden aren’t anywhere close to major Canadian cities, like Toronto or Vancouver.

I’ve also found huge cost savings in not having a car. In Sweden, driving is quite unaffordable. Insurance and parking in major cities is expensive. And don’t get me started on gas. In Malmö, you can bike or take public transit everywhere. I can honestly say that not once have I missed not having my own car.

Making Friends in Sweden

The common consensus that I’ve heard amongst is that Swedes don’t like to make new friends. And while this may be true for locals, the expat community is amazing. I’ve only been here for a few weeks and I’ve already had several fika and drink dates with other expats. I’m starting to feel like I’m finding my community.

The key: Don’t be shy. Join groups. Message fellow expats. And all in all, embrace and be open minded to change.


Resources

I have called out these resources throughout this post, but here is everything I referenced consolidated into one section.

  • Waiting for a Sambo Visa within Sweden Facebook group: click here
  • In Sweden on a WHV and applying for a Sambo Visa Facebook group: click here
  • Expats in Malmö Facebook group: click here
  • Canadians in Sweden Facebook group: click here
  • Boplats Syd Website for Apartments: click here
  • Information on the Swedish Working Holiday Visa: click here

Any Questions, Message Me!

I had SUCH a hard time finding the Swedish visa and migration information prior to moving here. After spending a lot of time talking to expats, I wanted to consolidate all my newfound insights into this [hopefully] helpful little tool to help you get a Swedish visa.

And if you want to see more of what day-to-day life in Sweden looks like, follow me on Instagram, read more about expat life, or check out my blog posts about Sweden.

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Pretty streets in Gamla staden, Malmö

As a expat living in Malmö, I have curated this Malmö Sweden city guide to help you get the most out of your time in my new hometown. Since I am still new to the city, I don’t claim to be a Malmö expert [yet]. However, I have been doing a lot of exploring and already have so many recommendations to share.

Malmö is so incredibly underrated, and is so much more than just a day trip from Copenhagen [although it absolutely can be if you’re short on time]. I am so excited to share with you all my favourite things in this Malmö Sweden City Guide!

SIDE NOTE: I plan to update this guide on an ongoing basis, so subscribe for updates [on the left] if you want to stay up-to-date on all my Malmö recommendations.


THINGS TO DO IN MALMÖ

Gamla Staden [The Old Town]

Pretty streets in Gamla staden, Malmö

Gamla Staden is undoubtedly the most charming neighbourhood in Malmö. Narrow streets lined with beautiful old buildings, you’ll find yourself transported back in time and dreaming of what once-was.

You’ll find the most picture-perfect alleyways and cobblestone streets in Gamla Väster, specifically on Jakob Nilsgatan and Jöns Filsgatan.

Lilla Torg [Little Square]

Located in Gamla Staden, Lilla Torg is a picturesque square surrounded by restaurants – and when the weather is nice – patios. This is my favourite spot to grab a drink when the sun in shining, or take in one of Malmö’s many local festivals. Möllevångstorget

Möllevångstorget

Another perfect spot to grab a patio drink, this square is located in the centre of the trendy Möllan neighbourhood. It also features a great farmers market during the afternoon, where you can pick up fresh produce.

Västra Hamnen [The Western Harbor]

Västra Hamnen, or the Western Harbor, is a new development in Malmö and is home to the cities most recognizable landmark: The Turning Torso. This uniquely designed skyscraper cascades over Malmö and really can’t be missed when you’re exploring the city.

Turning Torso
Turning Torso

While walking from the train station to the Västra hamnen district, you can’t miss the old lighthouse in the harbor at the head of the canal. This is a great place to watch the sunrise and sunset.

Västra hamnen sunset
Västra Hamnen Sunset

The waterfront in Västra Hamnen is beautiful! Take some time to walk along the water-side parks, including Daniaparken and Scaniaparken to take in beautiful waterfront views. On a clear day, you can even see the iconic Øresund Bridge in the distance. This is also the perfect place to watch the beautiful Malmö sunset.

Ribersborgsstranden [Ribersborg Beach]

Ribersborgsstranden also offers some incredible waterfront park space and beaches, and is a great place to go for a swim in the summer months!

Here, you’ll also find Ribersborgs kallbadhus, which is a convenient local option if you’re looking cold baths and saunas. It also features a restaurant and patio, with spectacular views of the Øresund Bridge and the Turning Torso.

I haven’t personally experienced Ribersborgs kallbadhus, but I have heard good things. However, if you’re looking for the best local Scandinavian spa experience, take a look at the “Days Trips” section below where I spill the details on my favourite local spa.

Malmö Saluhall

Malmö Saluhall is a food hall located in the city centre. It features many traditional market stalls, and well as some great local restaurants, including the best ramen I’ve had in the city [Pink Noodle Bar], as well as my favourite local bakery [St. Jakob’s].

Indulging in a cardamom bun from St. Jakob's.
Indulging in a cardamom bun from St. Jakob’s.

TIP: Try the cardamom buns at St. Jakob’s – they will change your life. And if you’re looking for a traditional Swedish treat, opt for the Semla. Two words: SO GOOD.


BEST RESTAURANTS IN MALMÖ


Check out my blog post all about Where to Eat in Malmö Sweden for details on where to eat, drink, and have the best fika in Malmö.

Uggla Kaffebar Malmö

GETTING TO MALMÖ

Getting to Malmö is easy. Most people access the city from Copenhagen, Denmark, which is a short train ride away [about 30 minutes from Copenhagen Airport or 45 minutes from the Copenhagen city centre].

You can also fly into Malmö Airport from select cities. However, based on the location of the airport, it is often more convenient [and cost effective] to fly into Copenhagen.

If you are coming into Malmö from anywhere else in Scandinavia, both train and plane options should be available for a reasonable price.

For more details on train prices and times, download the Skånetrafiken app.


GETTING AROUND MALMÖ

Malmö is an incredibly accessible city, with a bunch of transportation options available.

By Foot: One of the reasons I love this city is because you can get virtually anywhere you need to go by foot within 30-40 minutes.

By Bike: Get around the city the way the locals do – by bike! In fact, Malmö is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, and is very easy to navigate, even for a novice rider. For more information bike rentals, visit Malmö by Bike.

By Scooter: There are no shortage of electric scooters available for rent in the city – they are seriously everywhere. Just make sure you download the Voi and/or Lime apps ahead of time, and finding a scooter is a breeze.

Public Transit: Malmö is extremely accessible by bus, or train. The buses run frequently and cover a significant portion of the city. Just download the Skånetrafiken app to easy view schedules, buy tickets, and more.


DAY TRIPS FROM MALMÖ

Ystad

If you’re looking for an incredible Scandinavian spa experience near Malmö, look no further than Ystad Saltsjöbad. Offering the most beautiful indoor/outdoor spa and hotel, this is a must-visit if you’re looking for a day trip from Malmö. We spent a night here last year and I truly can’t wait to go back!

To make the most out of your time, I would recommend staying at least one night at the spa to make sure you have enough time to use the facilities. I would also recommend ‘The Creek Experience,’ a completely immersive two-hour guided experience. Staying the night also allows you to enjoy dinner at their fantastic restaurant.

And don’t forget to take a plunge into the Baltic Sea [I did in December!].

If you have time, make sure you stop to explore the town of Ystad. It is a charming little medieval town where it feels like time stands still. The narrow cobblestone streets are absolutely worth roaming.

Skanör Falsterbo

This charming little beach community is located about 30 minutes from Malmö by car (about an hour by bus) and is the perfect spot for a beachfront day trip.

Along the waterfront in Skanör, you’ll find rows of little beach huts, which the locals use to store their personal belongings in the summer months. It seriously looks like a postcard. The pier in Skanör is also home to restaurants and a marina.

Head down the beach to Falsterbo for more beachfront real estate, and a pier you can jump off into the water (or in true Scandinavian fashion, do an ice cold plunge from in the winter months).

Here’s a little pro tip you should know about the Falsterbo pier. If you see a set of clogs are the entrance to the pier, do not walk out there. Instead, wait for the person on the pier to finish their swim. This often means that they are doing a quick plunge in the nude, and placing clogs at the entrance to the pier is the local signal of asking for privacy.

Lomma

Another beach town located just north of Malmö, Lomma offers a long sandy beachfront with shallow waters, which makes it the perfect spot for a family swim.

If you’re in Lomma, make sure you stop for ice cream at Glassfabrik for some locally made ice cream. Then, take your ice cream down to the dock and watch the boats float in and out of the harbour.

Skåne Roadtrip

I absolutely love living in Skåne country – there are truly endless things to do. To read more about my favourite towns in Skåne, including Mölle, Arild, and the Österlen region, click here.


I hope you have enjoyed my Malmö City Guide!

I can’t wait to continue to continue to update this guide and share more of my favourite things about this pretty little city as I continue to settle in and make it my home.

To stay updated, don’t forget to subscribe! And, as always, if you have any questions or recommendations, feel free to email me, or drop them in the comment section below.


LIKE WHAT YOU READ? PIN IT BELOW.

Are you looking for tips on how to move to Sweden? Read my post about getting a Swedish visa here. And if you’re roadtripping around Skåne, you can find more details about my favourite Skåne towns here.

Malmö, Sweden City Guide
Malmö, Sweden Itinerary
Things to Do in Malmö, Sweden
Things to Eat in Malmö, Sweden
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Roaming the Streets in Malmö, Sweden

I’ve officially spent 3 weeks in Malmö. In some ways, it feels like I just got here. In other ways, it feels like I’ve been here forever. I’ve settled right in and I’m starting to feel like a local in this city. We’ve done so much in three weeks, including furnishing an entire apartment, a day trip to Copenhagen, spending time with friends and family, and the list goes on.

You’ve asked for a life update. So, here it is.

Here’s some of the things I’ve been up to during my first 3 weeks in Malmö.

Furnished Our Apartment

I have spent more time at Ikea in the last few weeks than I have in my entire life. With that being said, we officially have all the essentials. We still need to put some pictures on the walls, but the place is coming along. Here’s a few sneak peaks our our little hygge-infused Nordic oasis.

Spent a Day in Copenhagen

Last Saturday, we took the train over to Copenhagen to spend the day exploring the city. We walked 28,000 steps all around the city, checking out new neighbourhoods, have patio coffees/drinks, and indulging in some Nordic cuisine. It was 12 degrees Celsius and sunny, which made it the absolute perfect day to just roam. I can’t wait to spend more time here once the weather gets nicer and the days get longer. I am so obsessed with everything about this city.

In case you missed it, I wrote about ‘The Most Instagrammable Places in Copenhagen’ – you can read all about it here.

Explored my Own Backyard

I’ve spent a lot of time getting acquainted with my new city, especially during the day while Sebastian is at work [in between hunting for jobs of course!]. I finally feel like I’m able to get around without relying exclusively on Google Maps. And I’m starting to find all my favourite restaurants, coffee shops, and stores. I’ve had fika dates with new friends, found a yoga community I truly love, and am feeling more and more like a local every single day.

Spent Time with Friends & Family

We’ve been spending lots of time with friends since I arrived, catching up with so many of Sebastian’s friends that I haven’t seen in over a year. Last night, we hosted a small house-warming get together with friends, enjoyed drinks, lots of laughs, and I introduced the group to the game Werewolf [if you don’t know about this game, you NEED to].

I’m so grateful for the friends and family who have welcomed me with open arms, accommodated my lack of Swedish-speaking skills, and made this transition as easy as possible.

Flowers in Malmö Sweden

That’s It for Now!

Stay tuned for more updates and blog posts coming soon. I can’t wait to share more of my adventures with you!

xx,

Madeline

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