By Matt Rodbard
September 17, 2014

This Swedish city across the Øresund strait from Copenhagen is emerging as Scandinavia’s hippest hub. Here, four reasons why.

Because some of the region’s best chefs are setting up shop. Cheap rents and a food-obsessed public have lured bright culinary talents. At B.A.R Krog & Vinbar, the tasting menus by Robert Jacobsson—a former sous-chef at Copenhagen’s Noma—push boundaries even by Nordic outside-the-box standards (think ash-and-elderflower sorbet with cucumber and vanilla). Chef Robin Eriksson recently moved from Stockholm to open Tryne Till Knorr, serving simple, refined dishes with a local emphasis. Don’t miss the stone-baked cabbage wedge topped with a hunk of 36-month-aged Comté and a perfectly pan-fried egg.

Because it has one of Scandinavia’s most progressively designed neighborhoods. The once-gritty Western Harbor is now Europe’s first carbon-neutral district. As part of a government-funded competition, architects were tasked with creating statement-making structures that use renewable sources of energy. A tour led by journalist Catarina Rolfsdotter-Jansson also includes the area’s original claim to fame: Santiago Calatrava’s spiraling, white-marble HSB Turning Torso.

Because coffee is considered a high art. Single-estate beans, on-site roasting, cups brewed with high-tech gadgets: Malmö, like much of Sweden, takes its coffee seriously. Our favorite spots: the minimally designed Kaffebaren på Mölla (9 Ystadsgatan), for its expertly pulled espresso, and Solde Kaffebar, where barista Dan Stenqvist makes the city’s best cortado (half espresso, half micro-foam milk).

Because there’s a really good nightlife scene. A cocktail renaissance is taking over southern Sweden. The relaxed lounge Belle Epoque marries absinthe with sparkling wine and violet liqueur in its Femme Fatale. At the more buttoned-up Rosen Bar & Dining, choose from a selection of the country’s acclaimed vodkas. Prefer beer? Grab an outdoor table at Söder Om Småland (46-40/616-0112), which pours 20 local brews, including cult favorite South Plains Brewing Company.