Those seeking cultural activities after dark should get tickets to the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, which is renowned across Europe. It performs at the Konserthus, Föreningsgatan 35 (tel. 040/630-45-06). The tourist office distributes programs of its upcoming schedule as well as schedules and descriptions of other cultural events.
Cafes & Bars
For other serious after-dark pursuits, many locals, especially young people, head for nearby Copenhagen. But for people-watching, no place in Malmö is more popular than the Lilla Torg, with its plethora of outdoor cafes and restaurants that shelter an attractive mix of locals and visitors. The most popular of the dozen or so watering holes surrounding the square include Victor's (reviewed) and the Moosehead Bar.
At the Moosehead Bar, Lilla Torget 1 (tel. 040/12-04-23; www.moosehead.se.; bus 17), the clientele might seem a bit less concerned with etiquette and social niceties than the patrons of more sedate hangouts in other parts of the square. Its woodsy-looking, brick-lined decor and its emphasis on the biggest animal of the northern forests and tundra might remind you of a college hangout in Maine, but the conversation and the proliferation of blondes is pure Sweden. Don't expect gourmet cuisine here: Everybody's favorite meal is a juicy burger made from either beef or moose meat (it's up to you to specify which), accompanied by a foaming mugful of Åbro, the local lager. Barring that, consider ordering a green melon or pineapple daiquiri, priced at between 85SEK and 120SEK ($17-$24/£8.50-£12), depending on the size.
One of the most packed and long-lived hipster bars in Malmö is Centiliter & Gram, Stortorget 17 (tel. 40/12-18-12; bus 17). When it was inaugurated in the mid-1990s, "Cl. & Gr." was one of Malmö's hottest restaurants, but since then it's emerged as a popular bar with a hot clientele age 25 and up -- although the food is still entirely respectable. It occupies an artfully minimalist herb-and-grass-colored space whose focal point is a centrally placed bar that rocks with an ongoing stream of electronic, usually house, music. Guests often stay to flirt long after their dishes have been cleared away. Main courses cost from 135SEK to 240SEK ($27-$48/£14-£24), with an emphasis on salads, pastas, grilled fish and grilled steaks, and light vegetarian fare. The establishment's name, incidentally, derives from wine (which is measured in centiliters) and food (which is measured in grams). It's open Wednesday to Saturday 5pm to 3am.
Nostalgic for Britain? Then check out the Bishop's Arms, Norra Vallgatan 62 (tel. 040/664-48-88; bus 14 or 17), a cozy and highly appealing replica of an Anglo-Irish pub. Located within the Elite Savoy Hotel, it serves generous platters, priced at 120SEK to 185SEK ($24-$37/£12-£19) each, of such Anglo and Celtic staples as fish and chips, burgers, buffalo wings, and pepper steaks, as well as some of the coldest beer in town. There's always a congenial crowd. As is common in the U.K., you'll place your drink and/or food order directly at the bar, and then a staff member will carry it to your table. It's open Monday to Saturday 4pm to 1am, Sunday 4 to 11pm. Take bus 4, 5, or 7.
The hippest and most appealing dance club in the area is Slagthuset, Jörgen Köcksgatan 7A (tel. 040/10-99-31). It's set within the red-brick premises of what was conceived in the 19th century as a slaughterhouse for cattle and hogs, in a location directly behind the railway station. This high-energy and much-talked-about place now functions as the largest dance club in Scandinavia. You can wander freely over three floors, each with its own bars, dance floor, labyrinth of interconnected rooms, music, and crowds of good-looking, sometimes raucous clients. It's open only on Friday and Saturday nights, from 10pm to 5am. The entrance fee is 100SEK ($20/£10).
Slaghuset's most visible competitor is Club Skeppsbron, Skeppsbron 2 (tel. 040/30-62-02). Outfitted for a relatively mature clientele that, in the words of a good-looking local woman, includes "cute guys, rich men, and strong drinks," this nightclub incorporates a restaurant, an outdoor terrace, big windows overlooking a canal, and a mixture of antique nautical paneling with postmodern angularity. It's open only on Saturday nights, from 10pm to 5am, year-round. The entrance fee is 100SEK ($20/£10).
Dancing is also the rage at the creatively designed Nightclub Étage, Stortorget 6 (tel. 040/23-20-60; bus 17). Initially conceived as an upscale bar and restaurant in the late 1980s, this nightspot lowered its prices and began marketing to a mass audience in the early 1990s. Despite its lowered expectations, the bar has not suffered as a result. It's reached by climbing a circular staircase from an enclosed courtyard in the town's main square. The complex is open Monday and Thursday to Saturday 10pm to at least 4am, depending on the crowd. The cover for the dance club ranges from 75SEK to 90SEK ($15-$18£7.50-£9).
Many love affairs, both long and short, a few of which have segued into marriages, have gotten their start at the Malmborgen Compound, a sprawling antique warehouse on Hamburgsgatan. There's a restaurant within the building's courtyard (Gränden; tel. 040/12-38-95; bus 14 or 17) serving pizzas, shish kebabs, and Swedish meatballs with salad for 98SEK to 175SEK ($20-$35/£9.80-£18) daily from 11:30am to 11:30pm. The compound also contains a somewhat nondescript scattering of minor bars and cafes, but its most visible venue is the Swing Inn, Stadt Hamburgsgatan 3 (tel. 040/12-22-21), where romantic dancing is the norm. Attendees tend to be over 35, and the recorded music is reminiscent of a '60s variety show. There's a restaurant on the premises serving platters of traditional Swedish food Thursday to Saturday between 10 and 11:30pm. Main courses cost from 135SEK to 205SEK ($27-$41/£14-£21). Music and bar activities are scheduled on Thursdays from 10pm to 1am, Fridays 10pm to 3am, and Saturdays 10pm to 4am. The cover charge is 90SEK ($18/£9) after 11pm.
Gay & Lesbian Nightlife
Many gays and lesbians now take the train across the bridge to the fleshpots of Copenhagen. But gay nightlife in Malmö recently took a distinct turn for the better thanks to the involvement of Claes Schmidt, creator of such mainstream clubs as the also-recommended Slagthuset . Claes "came out" publicly to the Swedish press in 2003 as a (mostly heterosexual) cross-dresser. Immediately in the wake of this "confession," the local paper sold an additional 20,000 copies (huge by local standards). (For more on the story of the double life he'd been leading as his now-famous stage name Sara Lund, check out his website, www.saralund.se.) In the wake of these confessions, Claes became the most famous cross-dresser in Europe, working occasionally as a paid consultant at corporate consciousness-raising conventions and at universities throughout Scandinavia. Claes's nightclub sensation, which has surpassed his smashing success Slagthuset and is now the most popular cutting-edge dance club in Malmö, is Indigo, 15 Monbijougatan (tel. 040/611-99-62; www.rfsl.se/malmo). Don't expect to find it easily: It lies in a former warehouse within a drab industrial neighborhood in the Triangeln neighborhood, a 12-minute walk from the Hilton Hotel. You'll climb solid, industrial-strength stairs to the third floor of this brick-built fortress, encountering some amicably punkish people en route.
Inside, you'll find a vast and echoing space with enormous dance floors and bars that host the city's various drag or leather events. The best known of these is Switch, which defines itself as "a bar for men and women of all genders." Switch hosts a drag ball and elegance contest that occurs on the second Friday of every month -- but the scheduling can and often does change according to the whim of whoever's monitoring the event. Don't expect regularity in anything associated with Indigo. It plays host to all manner of counterculture splinter groups of all persuasions: Some weekends, it's an old-fashioned gay bar for old-fashioned Swedes and Danes; other nights, thanks to the welcome flash and flair of Claes/Sara, it can get a lot more exotic. In most cases, Indigo is open only on Friday and Saturday nights from 11pm to 3am, and usually charges an entrance fee of 60SEK to 85SEK ($12-$17/£6-£8.50). If you really want to be sure it's open, telephone in advance, or check the website noted above.
An Amusement Park
Between May and September, locals, often accompanied by their children, and roaming hordes of young and sometimes boisterous teenagers head for Folkets Park (People's Park), Amiralsgatan 35 (tel. 040/709-90), where a battered compound reminiscent of a B-rated Tivoli draws crowds. Children might enjoy the playhouse, small zoo, reptile center, and puppet theater. Restaurants, some devoted to fast food, also dot the grounds, and at random intervals there might be a live concert from a pop or rock-'n'-roll group. Hours are daily from 3pm to midnight in summer, noon to 6pm in winter. Admission is free; however, some performances require an admission price of 50SEK to 110SEK ($10-$22/£5-£11). Take bus no. 5.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.