When In Scandinavia Don’t Miss This Architectural Gem
Imagine a bridge as the hero of a TV series and becoming popular enough to warrant a guided tour. I am talking about the Øresund Bridge, the approximately 16-kilometre-long architectural gem (and star of The Bridge, a crime show aptly produced by a collaborative Swedish and Danish venture) that connects Copenhagen and Malmö, two major Scandinavian cities. Construction began in 1995, and it opened to the public in 2000, since when it has been helping to ease the lives of residents of the Øresund (Greater Copenhagen) region by allowing them to both live and work on either side.
Two 204-metre-high pylons support the cable-stayed bridge that crosses the Øresund Strait. The upper level is for the four-lane motorway, and a two-track rail runs along the lower level. The entire bridge — except for the pylons — was constructed on the ground and then transported using floating cranes. On the Danish side, the Øresundbron (a local nickname) ends at an artificial island, Peberholm, where it meets the underwater Drogden Tunnel. The island was built using material dug out from the seabed and is home to natural flora and fauna, which has piqued the interest of environmental scientists. Over 500 different kinds of plants have been discovered here, and this is also home to hundreds of bird and animal species and the natural habitat of a rare variety of toad.
The bridge was designed by Danish engineering firm COWI, and it is jointly operated by both countries. Commuters have to pay a toll, but the scenic ride makes up for every penny spent; the train journey takes around 35 minutes, while you can take a shorter drive across in 20 minutes. The Øresund Bridge is also a symbolic structure of unity, given the violent history between the Swedes and the Danes.
Bound for Skåne
Since the Øresund Bridge has made commuting between the two countries a lot easier, a day trip to the Swedish Skåne region is a must-do if you find yourself in Copenhagen
Once you’re on the other side of the bridge, spend some time exploring the third-largest city in Sweden. Marvel at another architectural wonder, the Turning Torso — a neo-futurist residential building regarded as the first ‘twisted’ skyscraper in the world. Also visit Malmöhus Castle which was built by King Erik of Pomerania, and the Gothic-style St Peter’s Church, a grand brick edifice, which dates back to the 14th century.
As you drive out of Malmö and enter Skåne’s countryside, you’ll be welcomed by vast meadows dotted with little houses and an obscure windmill in the distance. Approximately 85 kilometres from Malmö, Höganäs is famous for salt-glazed earthenware and it is home to Sweden’s oldest pottery factories. The centre of attraction is Höganäs Saluhall, a marketplace with a small grocery store, a cafe and a pottery studio built around coal-fired brick kilns. Grab a quick lunch of freshly baked breads, stews and salads here. But before you head out for your next adventure, don’t forget to try the award-winning beers at Höganäs Bryggeri next door to the market.
Kullaberg Nature Reserve
Popular for outdoor activities like hiking, nature trails and rock climbing, the Kullaberg Nature Reserve is also known for porpoise watching. Book yourself one of their boat safaris, which are guided by marine biologists whose expert eyes will help you to spot the animals. A pro-tip: look for a pack of seagulls around the water and chances are you’ll see a porpoise nearby (they bring fish to the surface, which is what the seagulls wait for).
Once off the boat, walk up to the Kullen Lighthouse for a panoramic view of the Øresund Strait.
A 10-minute drive from Kullaberg, this cafe is the perfect place to calm your nerves after the choppy and adventurous boat safari. Two chestnut trees stand tall at the entrance of a cottage, which looks straight out of a story book. The cafe was started in 1938, when the seven Lundgren sisters began selling coffee and cakes to earn money to help them keep the cottage. The place soon caught the attention of King Gustav V, who visited a number of times. The main cottage, with lace-curtained windows and a thatched roof, now serves as the storefront, with a little museum of sorts displaying a collection of copper teapots.
The manicured gardens are where people enjoy the sun and fika (the Swedish way of relaxing with coffee and cakes). Every summer (from May till August), the cafe is visited by around 8000 people. The crowd favourites are the vanilla hearts — heart-shaped cakes filled with vanilla custard (they make 40,000 of them every summer) — cinnamon rolls and cardamom-flavoured cookies. The place is usually always packed, but you’ll most likely find a tranquil corner by a pond to read or a shaded spot on the lawn to lie down.