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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

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

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