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Sweden’s best winter weekend getaway

We won’t sugarcoat it, Sweden gets a tad chilly in the winter. But before you write off the country as a summer-only destination, remember that the Swedes are experts at turning cold into cosy.

Sweden's best winter weekend getaway
Dream Light festival illuminates Helsingborg in February.

And if there’s one Swedish spot that’s practically designed for a winter weekend away, it’s Helsingborg.

The charming coastal city just 40 minutes by train from Malmö is an authentic taste of Swedish life out of the big cities. Its relaxed pace is paralleled by the vibrancy of its culture scene and the abundance of top-notch restaurants and world-famous microbreweries.

It’s one of The Local’s favourite getaways and come rain, shine or snow, there’s plenty to do. If you’re planning a weekend in Helsingborg this winter, here are a few suggestions of how to get the most out of your weekend.

Friday

First things first, you’ll need a base for the weekend.

There’s a string of stylish hotels to choose from, like the swish V Hotel Helsingborg slap bang in the city centre, or the characterful Hotel Maria, a unique hotel with a quaint family feel.

Once you’ve ditched your bags it’s time to refuel. And there’s no shortage of good restaurants in the city.

From fine dining at Sillen & Makrillen on the waterfront, where you can enjoy fresh seasonal seafood sourced locally, to a modern feast at Drottninggatan 35, Helsingborg is a veritable foodie haven.

From February you can say skål at the end of the night with a craft beer at Helsingborg-based microbrewery Brewski’s new bar. And don’t forget to get your tickets for Brewskival, Brewski’s outdoor beer festival taking place 24th-25th August 2018 in Helsingborg.

Find out more and start planning your trip to Helsingborg

Saturday

If you indulged in a few too many brewskis the night before, then Helsingborg also offers the ultimate antidote: jumping into the near-freezing seawater.

Pålsjö kallbadshus in Helsingborg. Photo: Anna Alexander Olsson

That’s right, there are no less than three ‘coldbath’ houses, or kallbadhus, punctuating Helsingborg’s coastal strip. If the concept’s new to you, a winter visit to a cold bath house in Sweden means stripping off and plunging into near subarctic waters before bolting into a sauna to warm up. As activities go, it doesn’t get much more Swedish than that, and if an icy dip doesn’t cure your hangover, nothing will.

Once your skin’s returned to its normal colour and you’re certain you don’t have organ failure, it’s time to check out what else the city has to offer.

Dunkers Kulturhus by Norra Hamnen. Photo: Anna Nilsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Designed by Danish architect Kim Utzon, whose father Jørn designed the Sydney Opera House, Dunkers Kulturhus is a striking waterside structure crowned by a sundial tower and a roof meant to resemble rolling waves.

There’s a mix of modern and traditional art inside the 3,000 square metre exhibition space which doubles as a meeting place and performance hall. There’s also a static exhibition exploring Helsingborg’s cultural roots and history as one of Sweden’s oldest cities.

Life’s about balance, so when you’ve finished soaking up Helsingborg’s history take a spin around the city’s lively shopping district. There’s a blend of big chains and small independent stores.

And if you find yourself in Helsingborg between 9th-18th February, make sure not to miss the annual Dream Light festival. The whole city is illuminated with light installations in a collective and creative push to fight dark winter…afternoons.

Top off your day with something shaken or stirred at KOL & Cocktails — it is Saturday night, after all!

Sunday

Practically wherever you’re from in the world, Sundays are a day of rest. So while in Helsingborg, do what the locals do to unwind.

And what the locals do, is tura. To the out-of-towner getting a ferry back and forth between Helsingborg in Sweden and Helsingør in Denmark might sound a little strange, but once you hear us out we think you’ll be onboard.

The whole idea is that it’s more about the journey than the destination. Kick back with a beer and something to eat while you enjoy the tranquility of being on the open water — with nowhere to go and nothing to do. It’s a unique experience that sums up the easygoing pace of life in Helsingborg.

Don't forget to fika before you hit the road!

Before you set off back home, grab fika at one of Helsingborg’s many cafes like Ebbas Fik (where the brownie is a must-eat) or Fahlmans Konditori with its traditional Swedish open sandwiches and cakes. It’s the perfect end to a cosy winter weekend and a good time to start planning your trip back to Helsingborg in the summer.

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Visit Helsingborg.

TRAVEL

Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany

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