The Culture of Malmö: Creativity, Innovation, Multitude, Challenges

Last Updated on Categorized as Culture
Street art in stockholm, sweden.
murals gamla vaster malmo sweden

The culture and attitude of Malmö is unique as far as Swedish cities go, and this is something other Swedes generally are quick to point out whenever they meet a Malmöite. From “continental” and “multicultural”, to “cocky” and “boisterous”—the people of Malmö have been called many things over the years, most of the time—but not always— in a tounge-in-cheek kind of way because, well… Malmöites can usually take it, and are usually at least some of those things.

To get a better sense of how people usually view Malmö culture, we can take a look at what European media generally write when they cover the city. According to a study by Malmö Näringsliv, they tend to describe the city as “bright and modern” with “substantial innovation, architecture, and creativity“—and I’d say that would be fitting for its inhabitants as well. Add a little too much confidence and a boat-load of ambition, and you have a Malmöit in a nutshell.

Swedish media seems to agree with their European colleagues according to studies by Malmö stad, often portraying Malmö as a good tourist destination with a “healthy business sector, good sustainability profile, and lots of creativity“.

Best Creative Spots in Malmö:

A poster with the word ngbg on it.

Norra Grängesbergsgatan NGBG Cultural Sound Zone

The semi-dodgy area around Norra Grängesbergsgatan is a Malmö underground staple; a “forgotten” industrial area that is frequently the host of underground clubs and after parties due to the relative lack of residential buildings, but also a public street party every year (NGBG) where local artists perform and display their art. The creative freedom flows strongly through these otherwise ugly and undesirable streets, and the city of Malmö has recently proclaimed it the first “Cultural Sound Zone” in Sweden, meaning the area is now specifically designated for cultural elements that are loud and obnoxious for some people, such as nightclubs, live stages, etc.
A skate park with people on skateboards.

Ohboy hotel

The most creative accommodation can arguably be found in Ohboy hotel in Västra hamnen, which proclaims itself to be “the world’s first bike hotel” and is a hotel that is drawn, built, and run by architects. The room doors open up to the street and on the opposite side of the street is the excellent skatepark Stapelbäddsparken, but since each room has bikes attached to it the whole city of Malmö is at your disposal. The whole hotel’s interior is designed by local artists and built with local products, and filled with creative solutions and inspiration.
A green cart with a bicycle parked next to it.

Grand Circus Hotel

If you’d like to try out the carnie life for a bit there’s the unique Grand Circus Hotel, where tenants get to stay in a circus wagon. There are loads of individually themed circus wagons, and some of them have built-in kitchens and toilets. For the rest, there are shared toilets and showers available, as well as a camper site for those preferring their own motorhomes or caravans.
A large open office with tables and chairs.


For the creative professionals, there are loads of co-working spaces in the city, but there is also a publicly funded meeting place called STPLN where “playfessionals” meet and realise their creative ideas. Workshops, studios and an open office space for anyone to use.

How About the Ugly Stuff?

Of course, the media also reports plenty of negative things about Malmö; most commonly about segregation, crime, safety, and failed city projects—bringing us to the less polished side of Malmö’s culture. There are areas in the outskirts of Malmö with notably higher unemployment, higher crime, and worse school results compared to the rest of the city, which certainly affects both adults and children in those areas.

Many Malmöites from many different backgrounds grow up in or around areas like these, and that tends to “roughen up the edges” a bit and shape their personality and the city as a whole.

Malmö’s Creative Spirit

The creative spirit in Malmö is a fundamental part of the city’s culture, and wherever you walk you’ll bump into creative outlets of different kinds. Art galleries, street art, public art, artists standing and painting, photographers snapping pictures, musicians playing music—whatever it may be, there is a strong creative pulse in the city.

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By Karl Andersson

As a native Swede with a Finnish mother, Karl identifies as both Nordic and Scandinavian. He left Sweden at 19 to explore the world, and stayed abroad for almost 8 years—during which he backpacked, worked every job there was, earned a degree from UC Berkeley, and met the future mother of his children. He ultimately returned to his native Malmö with his love, where they now have 3 Swedish-American boys eager to explore the world.

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