Is this Sweden’s best weekend destination?

“It’s not very often we hear Stockholmers say they’re not stressed!”

Is this Sweden's best weekend destination?

The jovial bus driver punctuates the statement with a hearty laugh as she accepts payment from the lanky man who just told her he’s not in a hurry. He – a Stockholmer – responds with a chuckle of his own, and they proceed to banter like old friends.

Of course he’s not in a hurry. This is Helsingborg.

It’s Thursday morning, but it could just as easily be Saturday – or a Monday for that matter. In Helsingborg there’s a special mentality…in a way, you could say it’s always the weekend.

Some locals pass by on Segways as though it’s the most natural thing in the world, and a young couple stops to smell the flowers lining the street. It was raining in Stockholm, but here the sun is shining – the people of Helsingborg like to point out that spring arrives earlier here.

Photo: The Local/Solveig Rundquist

Indeed, it’s one of Sweden’s top summer towns, and one of Sweden’s most beautiful cities, too – even the trash cans on the street sit on their own little squares of red carpet.

The Local took a quick trip to find out why so many Swedes love to escape to Helsingborg. There are innumerable ways to spend a great few days here, weekend or no – and you get a lot more bang for your buck than you do trying to squish in a quick trip to, say, Berlin or London.

Here’s what we discovered!

1. “Tura” to Helsingör

Photo: Tannus Photography, Mickael Tannus/Visit Skåne

If there’s one word that sums up the happy-go-lucky Helsingborg mentality, it’s tura.

It’s a verb, and a favourite activity of locals and visitors alike. What does it mean? Simply to take a boat ride from Helsingborg across the channel to Helsingør in Denmark (that’s where Hamlet took place, literature buffs). And then back again. And the other way. And back. And forth.

Indeed, the locals told us that hanging out on one of these ferries is one of the most relaxing ways to spend any day. You don't have to get off; you can just stay onboard and have dinner at the Waves Restaurant or fika at Cafe Ristretto. Would you rather lounge on deck and devour shrimp sandwiches and locally-brewed beer? That works too.

2. Wine and beer

Yes, we said locally-brewed beer. It turns out Helsingborg has a couple of bountiful (micro)breweries! Helsingborgs Bryggeri is celebrating six years this May and is more popular than ever.

Brewski, while a bit younger, is no less impressive – this August they’re hosting their second annual Brewskival festival, which sold 500 tickets in three minutes. Over 60 breweries from around the world will be in Helsingborg for the event – don’t miss it.

Beer's not your cup of metaphorical tea? Helsingborg is also home to a handful of vineyards!

Arilds Vineyard. Photo: CC Lena Evertsson/Familjen Helsingborg

Yes, Swedish wine is a thing – and it's actually really good! Spend a day at Kullahalvöns Vineyard, Vejby, Södåkra, Arilds, Villa Matilda, Frillestad…Italy, eat (drink?) your heart out.

3. Coffee and chocolate

While we’re talking about delicious indulgences, we might as well bring up the chocolate. Chocolate shop Chocolatte has won multiple prizes at the International Chocolate Awards for their mouth-watering confections, with unique flavours like virgin mojito, roasted canola and sea salt, and salt caramel.

Zoégas, one of Sweden's largest coffee brands, is also from Helsingborg. The brand has been producing Sweden's favourite dark-roast for over 130 years. You can even go visit a Zoégas shop from about 1900, still in use!

4. Beaches

Tropical Beach in Helsingborg. Photo: CC Guillaume Baviere/Flickr

Perhaps when you think of Sweden, beach isn’t one of the first words that pops into your mind…but a weekend in Helsingborg might change that!

Helsingborg is a coastal city and the sea is never far from view.

Photo: Joakim Berndes/Familjen Helsingborg

There are several open-air baths and saunas – but the highlight, of course, is the beaches. Natural sand beaches in Helsingborg include Råbocka, Havsbaden, and Fria Bad – but best of all is Tropical Beach, located in the city centre. Each summer the city plants palms in the sand, and the party begins!

Find out more about a weekend in Helsingborg

Tropical Beach in Helsingborg. Photo: CC Guillaume Baviere/Flickr

5. New friends

Women enjoying Helsingborg. Photo: Lars Strandberg/Familjen Helsingborg.

It’s been said that Helsingborg is Sweden’s friendliest city. There are a few reasons for that.

Not only are the people of Helsingborg more relaxed than big-city dwellers or northerners buried in the snow – Helsingborg was also Sweden’s second city to join the Greeters programme. 

Helsingborg Greeters are local residents who are eager to share their city with visitors – for free, of course.

You can book a meeting with a Greeter before you arrive, and get a unique local perspective of the city. Maybe you'll fika or go for a walk…either way, you’re bound to have fun and get some great tips for the rest of your trip!

6. Food

Dining in Helsingborg. Photo: Lars Strandberg/Familjen Helsingborg.

Ah, food. How would a weekend retreat be complete without indulging in new treats?

Helsingborg is brimming with top-notch restaurants for all palates and price levels. Gastro, Drottninggatan 35, and Sillen & Makrillen are just a few favourites that appeal to the fine-diner.

Via 95 and Barefoot Beach House are waterside havens for vegetarians and fish lovers.

Dining in Helsingborg. Photo: Lars Strandberg/Familjen Helsingborg.

On a budget? No problem. Chances are you will enjoy Koppi (also famous for its coffee!), Holy Greens, or the adorably retro Ebbas Fik, complete with 1950s gas pump and juke box.

7. The great outdoors

Adventure lovers and romantics alike flock to Helsingborg to get some fresh air. In addition to the 25 kilometres of beach along the coastline, Helsingborg has hiking and biking trails galore, and plenty of spots for picnics.

Mölle, a town along the bike path Kattgattleden from Helsignborg to Gothenburg. Photo: Lena Evertsson/Familjen Helsingborg.

Did you know you can surf in Sweden? Yeah…in Helsingborg you can, and should. The Vikingstrand (Viking Beach) surf club has been open since 1984. Kite surfing, wind surfing, and kayaking are also popular.

Sofiero is one of the city’s most popular attractions, famous for its 10,000 rhododendron flowers that bloom each May and June.

Photo: Anders Eberfeldt/Sofiero Slott

The park also hosts concerts during the summer months – Norah Jones and Bryan Ferry are just a few of the names on the list this season!

8. Shopping

If you go on a weekend getaway but you don’t shop, was it really a weekend getaway?

That’s a rhetorical question. And luckily, the shopping in Helsingborg doesn’t leave guests wanting.

The medieval Old Town area is full of quirky little boutiques, and Kullagatan also offers a wide range of unique shops you won’t find anywhere else.

Helsingborg is also home to famous Swedish brands Stenström – for elegant fashion – and Höganäs, for classic Swedish stoneware and ceramics.

9. Children at heart

Photo: Anna Alexander Olsson/Helsingborg Stad

Helsingborg is also a perfect place to set free your inner child…or your actual child for that matter.

Helsingborg doesn’t take itself too seriously and is ready to have fun – as exemplified through the new Museum of Failures.

The Tropikariet indoor zoo is a favourite among kids from 6 to 86.

Of course, every Swede knows the best place for kids to be is outside – for instance on the pirate-themed playground, complete with a ship, at Gröningen park, or at the Fredriksdal Open-Air Museum and Botanical Gardens.

Finally, don’t forget to head up to Kärnan, one of the oldest buildings in the city. (It also offers one of the best views of the city, in our opinion.) Not only will you get a great history lesson, but you can try clothes and play board games from the Middle Ages – we won’t judge! 

Time for a getaway? Find out more about Helsingborg

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


How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans

After long months of lockdowns and curfews Europeans are looking forward to jetting off for a bit of sun and sand -- only to find that their long awaited holiday plans go awry due to a shortage of rental cars.

How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans
Tourists wait outside of rental car agencies in Corsica. Photo: PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP

In many areas popular with tourists cars are simply not available or subcompacts are going for a stiff €500 euros.

Car rental comparison websites show just how expensive renting a vehicle has become for tourists this summer.

According to Carigami, renting a car for a week this summer will set tourists back an average of 364 euros compared to 277 euros two years ago.

For Italy, the figure is 407 euros this summer compared to 250 euros in 2019. In Spain, the average cost has jumped to 263 euros from 185 euros.

According to another website, Liligo, daily rental costs have nearly doubled on the French island of Corsica. At the resort city of Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca, rental prices have nearly tripled.

Today’s problem is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Faced with near absence of clients, selling off vehicles to raise cash made a lot of sense for car rental firms struggling to survive.

“Everyone drastically reduced their fleet,” said the head of Europcar, Caroline Parot.

Until the spring, most companies still had fleets roughly a third smaller than in 2019, she said.

Car rental firms are used to regularly selling their vehicles and replacing them, so rebuilding their inventory should not have been a problem.

Except the pandemic sent demand for consumer electronics surging, creating a shortage of semiconductors, or chips, that are used not only in computers but increasingly in cars.

“A key contributor to the challenge right now is the global chip shortage, which has impacted new vehicle availability across the industry at a time when demand is already high,” said a spokesman for Enterprise.

It said it was working to acquire new vehicles but that in the mean time it is shifting cars around in order to better meet demand.

No cars, try a van

“We’ve begun to warn people: if you want to come to Italy, which is finally reopening, plan and reserve ahead,” said the head of the association of Italian car rental firms, Massimiliano Archiapatti.

He said they were working hard to meet the surge in demand at vacation spots.

“But we’ve got two big islands that are major international tourism destinations,” he said, which makes it difficult to move cars around,
especially as the trip to Sardinia takes half a day.

“The ferries are already full with people bringing their cars,” he added.

“Given the law of supply and demand, there is a risk it will impact on prices,” Archiapatti said.

The increase in demand is also being seen for rentals between individuals.

GetAround, a web platform that organises such rentals, said it has seen “a sharp increases in searches and rentals” in European markets.

Since May more than 90 percent of cars available on the platform have been rented on weekends, and many have already been booked for much of the summer.

GetAround has used the surge in demand to expand the number of cities it serves.

For some, their arrival can’t come fast enough.

Bruno Riondet, a 51-year-old aeronautics technician, rents cars to attend matches of his favourite British football club, Brighton.

“Before, to rent a car I was paying between 25 and 30 euros per day. Today, it’s more than 90 euros, that’s three times more expensive,” he said.

In the United States, where prices shot higher during the spring, tourists visiting Hawaii turned to renting vans.

In France, there are still cars, according to Jean-Philippe Doyen, who handles shared mobility at the National Council of Automobile Professionals.

“Clients have a tendency to reserve at the last minute, even more so in the still somewhat uncertain situation,” he said.

They will often wait until just a few days before their trip, which means car rental firms don’t have a complete overview of upcoming demand, he added.

He said business is recovering but that revenue has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels as travel is not yet completely unfettered.

SEE ALSO: British drivers will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ to visit Europe, EU rules