Helsingborg is a stunning Swedish city with gorgeous architecture
Often overlooked by travelers for more popular cities like Malmö, Lund, and Gothenburg in the West and of course Stockholm and Uppsala in the East. Most visitors to this city are Danes or regional. Due to the ease of travel with SJ trains, Skånetrafiken network of buses and trains, Öresundtåg trains, and the ferry from the Danish city of Helsingør; a day trip to Helsingborg will be worth it. The grand architecture of the Rådhuset welcomes you with its regalia upon arriving central station. A quick look into the history of Helsingborg is similar to the rest of Skåne region, it used to belong to Denmark. There is a large port connected to the central station with frequent ferries across the channel to the Danish city of Helsingør. The Öresund strait is the most narrowest between Helsingør and Helsingborg. The ferry is probably the reason why there are quite a number of Danes visiting Helsingborg. It takes approximately 20 minutes and runs very frequently.
This historical city is usually bypassed for some reason but there is a lot of beautiful historical architecture in the old city. Kärnan tower at the top overlooking the centre old city is a highlight as well as the majestic Rådhus right across the street from the central station. Getting around the city is easy by foot and getting a bit lost wandering around is recommended. The city is very much on a rectangular grid so you will not be lost for long. Trust me, I have such a bad sense of direction sometimes that it is quite comical.
How to get to Helsingborg
By Train: The fastest way to get to Helsingborg from Malmö, Lund, or Gothenburg is arriving by train to Helsingborg Central station. Check out timetables and prices on SJ and Skånetrafiken. If you have a Jojo card you can use it in ALL of Scania/Skåne region on trains and buses.
By Bus: There are buses from Malmö, Lund, and Gothenburg as well as Flixbus (If you don't know what Flixbus is all about, these are heavily discounted buses that travel between cities and countries in Europe)
By Ferry: There is a frequent ferry that goes from the Danish city of Helsingør that docks just behind the central station. There are about 4 ferries an hour. Check out the timetables for the ferries
Getting around Helsingborg
Walk! Seriously its the best way to see Helsingborg's old city and you will want to take a ton pictures along the way.
Bus: There are local bio-gas fuelled buses throughout the city and you can use your Jojo card or the Skånetrafiken app to pay for the ride.
Where to stay
It is really easy to make your trip to Helsingborg a day trip from Malmö, Lund, or Copenhagen but if you wanted to stay overnight, there are a number of hotels in the area. Try to get a hotel in the centre of the city so you can have access to all the restaurants, bars, buses, attractions, and central station.
Some of the hotels in the central area include:
Comfort Hotel Helsingborg - I have stayed here and the room is quite spacious and modern. The location is right by Stadsparken and Helsingborg's City Library (Stadsbiblioteket).
First Hotel Kärnan - I have also stayed in this hotel. This small charming hotel has a very good location right across from the central station and walking distance to the marina, beach, restaurants, bars, etc.
Other centralized hotels:
Get lost wandering the city...
From the stunning Rådhus to the towering Kärnan, to the "Tropical beach", to the sunsets from the marina, and the cute houses all over the central city. Each visit to Helsingborg, my favorite is to wander around the city with my camera ready to snap all the cool architecture and the stunning sunset (or sunrise if you're a morning person). A great place to go is walk up to the Rosenträdgården park which is by the Slottshagen park and Kärnan tower. You can get a beautiful vantage point to look out over central Helsingborg and over the Öresund/Øresund strait facing the Danish city of Helsingør. It is such a peaceful spot to watch the sunset.
Helsingborg has Really majestic architecture
Even the normal buildings that house medical offices looks like a fairytale castle. The building right behind Rosenträdgården park is one of my favorite buildings in Helsingborg. Upon further inspection, it was not a museum or even listed as a point of interest but a building of medical offices!
find a neighborhood with beautiful architecture
Wandering behind these medical offices you find a neighborhood with beautiful houses and a school that looks like a castle. I told you that Helsingborg is filled with beautiful buildings and it doesn't even have to be a point of interest in a guidebook! I could just get lost walking in this city with my camera all day.
(Check out Slottsvängsskolan - yes its a school right by the Slottsparken)
But of course there are places of interest...
You may think that I did not see Helsingborg's architectural points of interest. You can't really miss these places in the city though. They are certainly worth seeing in person. I admit that the first time I discovered Helsingborg was on Pinterest and Instagram. The architecture really intrigued me.
The crown jewel architecture of Helsingborg in my opinion. The Rådhuset or City Hall is hard to miss when you exit Helsingborg Central Station. Though not open to the public, sometimes on weekends they host weddings and private events there so you might catch a glimpse of the partygoers and happy couple. I can only imagine how awesome their pictures will look when it is processed.
This Neo-Gothic building was built in the 1890s and just outside the building is a monument of a Dane and Norwegian thanking the city of Helsingborg for taking in refugees during the war.
The times I have visited Helsingborg (I've been to Helsingborg about 4 times in the past year), Kärnan tower has been under major renovations so it was not possible to get to the top of the tower. Recently it has reopened so one could climb up the steep tower and get amazing views of Helsingborg and over the Öresund strait to Helsingør.
The tower is a remnant from Danish-Swedish historical ties of Scania/Skåne and the iconic symbol of the Helsingborg city. If you manage to come to Helsingborg, this is a great place to start your visit. The building dates back to about 1070 and was used as living quarters for Royalty and nobles, fortress, and lookout tower in Helsingborg. This tower and Helsingborg city was part of the Danish kingdom until around the year 1658 when Scania/Skåne became Swedish after a bloody war. Though this website is in Swedish you can find out more about the significance of the tower at Kärnan.se
3. "Tropical Beach"
Yes you read that right. There's a beach in Helsingborg, Sweden. When the sun comes out, the most typical Swedish behavior is to chase the sun's rays. You can see Swedes sit directly under the sun in the Spring, Summer, and Fall (and sometimes under the rare Winter sun!). The pictures above were actually taken in October so there was not a lot of people but it is easy to assume that this is a popular spot in the summer months when the days are very long and the sun goes down late in the evening.
4. Norra Hamnen (Marina)
Norra Hamnen is Helsingborg's marina and quite a long stretch with multiple boats parked there. Just a short walk from the tropical beach, Helsingborg Central station, Rådhuset, and the ferry terminal. The sunsets here are stunning anytime of the year. Residents of the nearby apartments are very lucky to see this view everyday. Often times when I am visiting a new place, I ask myself "Could I see myself living here?", I would answer a resounding "Yes!". The chill vibe, quiet marina, proximity to the central station, ferry terminal, and central Helsingborg would make this prime real estate. The big cranes and construction of a new marina center and residences is evidence that it is a popular area with a lot of interest in revitalization. Dunkers Kulturhus is also right by the marina which houses temporary exhibitions in art and photography, Visit Helsingborg tourist bureau is also located at the house.
5. Sankta maria kyrka (Saint Maria Church)
Located in the old town center, this Romanesque church was one of the largest in the Kingdom of Denmark in the 14th century. Originally built in the 12th century in the Romanesque style and then in the 1500s was added with Gothic detailing. I really like the historical churches in Scandinavia with strong architectural regal structures and understated elegance. Inside the church, there is a model of a ship hanging in the church as an ode to the maritime history. Around the church are several popular cafes and restaurants. On a beautiful day, one can have a Fika or eat a meal al fresco in the square right overlooking the church in the center.
6. Have a fika!
Disclaimer: I was invited to interview these two cafes in Helsingborg for my Chokladbollar book project and have a Fika at Ebbas Fik and Fahlmans konditori. All opinions are mine.
A 1950s style diner with old-school retro details in the heart of central Helsingborg. I met up with Ebba of Ebbas Fik for a Fika break. Fika is a way of Swedish lagom life. One has a coffee (or tea or juice if you prefer) break with something sweet to eat typically in the mid morning, mid afternoon, or evening with friends, family, colleagues, or solo. This Swedish habit is a way of life and is a wonderful way to recharge. I love to take Fika breaks often to recharge and have adopted this into my schedule. Ebbas Fik is not just a cafe, it is a full-blown diner restaurant so you can order a lunch here if you desire something more substantial than cake. The portions are fairly large so come hungry! I had the homemade vegetarian burger and then tried three different kinds of chokladbollar - it was a challenge for me to try to eat everything! All the cakes and menu offerings are made in-house by Ebba and her team. Centrally located, and about a 3 minute walk from Helsingborg Central station, Ebbas Fik is located on the very adorable Bruksgatan with colorful and quirky shops. (Please say 'hi' to Ebba from me if you happen to drop in!)
A Helsingborg institution is the traditional bakery and cafe called Fahlmans Konditori that has been around for 100 years! Situated at the corner of popular shopping street, Kullagatan and Stortorget. This bakery is visited by local residents, students, and visitors. I met with Max Fahlman for a Fika to hear more about Fahlmans konditori and the popular children's snack of bulle med bulle (chocolate ball with a bun. Helsingborg is the city that consumes the most chokladbollar and there is even a day celebrating bulle med bulle which Max and his friends were responsible for. Fahlmans Konditori is a traditional Swedish bakery and cafe serving up traditional Swedish cakes and cookies for Fika, Weddings, Birthdays, and events. If you are in Helsingborg during the winter (Jan/Feb), try the semla bun - it looked so good and I was so tempted but resisted due to my lactose allergy. Their chokladbollar is very classic and goes well with a bread bun for bulle med bulle sandwich.
Have a great time in Helsingborg!
Helsingborg is not as busy as Malmö or Copenhagen so you can relax and take your time wandering around. There are a few other points of interest that I didn't mention because I haven't been there yet!
These are my list for my next trip: Sofiero Castle, Ramlösa Brunnspark, Raus Kyrka, Palsjö Skog.