Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, Sweden's Malmö has always played Dannii to Copenhagen's Kylie. Yet, in just over a decade, this one-time urban B-lister - better known for crime and grit - has quietly reinvented itself as a laid-back centre of cool. Curious? Catch the train from Copenhagen and indulge in a few under-the-radar pleasures.

10am | Breakfast with champions

It's only a 35-minute commuter train ride from Copenhagen to Sweden's third largest city, but you're already caffeine deprived. Refuel at grit-chic Solde (Regementsgatan 3). Behind the machine is 2005 World Latte Art Champion Johan Carlström. A stint at Venice's Caffè del Doge inspired him to open his own Italian-style espresso bar, albeit with a Nordic twist (concrete bar, tiled walls, fair trade beans). If you're peckish, opt for a cornetto (Italian croissant).

11am | Find your muse in a power station

From Solde, it's an easy walk to Moderna Museet Malmö (Gasverksgatan 22). A smaller outpost of Stockholm's iconic modern art museum, the gallery is housed in an early 20th-century power station with a bold extension by Swedish firm Tham & Videgård Arkitekter. One recent exhibition showcased provocative video art from Israeli artist Yael Bartana.


1pm | Dabble at a deli

Soul fed, do the same for your belly at nearby NjutBar (Stora Nygatan 23). Run by half-Italian Alexander Näslund and his wife Gabriella, this cafe/deli peddles gourmet cheeses and cold cuts from Italy, France and Spain. The products are used in Njut's own dishes, like bulgur salad with chicken, parmesan, pesto, tomatoes, olives and basil. Top it off with another exemplary espresso, made by award-winning baristi.

3pm | Revamp your wardrobe

Stop at Spirit Stores (Södra Förstadsgatan 25) for Scandi labels like Acne, Dagmar and Ljung. End-of-season sales are a particularly good time to head here (100SKR for an Acne cardigan is a bargain in anyone's lexicon). For emerging labels, check out Tjallamalla (Davidshallsgatan 15). Nearby Chique (Kärleksgatan 3A) is heaven for (mostly women's) vintage threads, shoes and accessories (anything from classic Chanel to blinding 80s kitsch). Fashion literate guys head straight to Très Bien Shop (Friisgatan 6C), home to hard-to-find labels like Kitsuné, Junya Watanabe, Nigel Cabourn, and S.N.S. Herning.

6pm | Toast to a Bastard

Cap the day with drinks and dinner at Bastard (Mäster Johansgatan 11), Malmö's latest dining darling (think backyard bar, mounted stag heads and eye-candy waiters in loose black ties). The menu - divided into 'Cold', 'Wood-Fired' and 'From the Oven' - fuses Scandi, Italian, Spanish and French influences. Winners include a soul-warming ox-tail-and-tongue pie with chanterelle mushrooms and broad beans, and a grappa-spiked pannacotta topped with raspberries. Fed and full, it's a quick walk back to Malmö Centralstationen and your train back to that bigger, bitchier town across the Öresund.

Lonely Planet author Cristian Bonetto has just finished researching the Copenhagen Encounter and Scandinavian Europe guides.

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