Europe's train systems make it possible to reclaim a sense of adventure--and still be back in time for dinner.
COPENHAGEN TO MALMÖ
A rusty industrial port until around 15 years ago, the Swedish city of Malmö is spreading its wings after an architectural and cultural metamorphosis. Upon arriving at Central Station, buy a Malmö Card: For $19, it covers local bus rides, admission to most museums, discounts on train fares and bike rentals, and more. The 50-minute excursion with Rundan Sightseeing boat tours along the harbor and canals gives a great intro to Malmö, past and present. Boats depart from the quay between Central Station and the Savoy Hotel on the hour. Then walk through the old city (gamla staden), stopping at the three main squares: Stortorget, Lilla Torg (ringed by restaurants), and Gustav Adolfs Torg. The old city is the main shopping district, but with loads of sightseeing opportunities. At Stortorget you can see the city hall (built in 1546) and Apoteket Lejonet, one of the best-preserved antique pharmacies in Europe (it's still a going concern). Just off Gustav Adolfs Torg is the city's oldest cemetery, which leads to two adjoining parks. Meander around the grounds of Slottsparken-Kungsparken, then stop by Slottsträdgården, a public garden where you can buy organic produce and flowers. Near the middle of the park, the fortress Malmöhus Castle is on a mound surrounded by moats. Now a museum complex, the site offers historical displays and contemporary exhibits. Västra Hamnen (the Western Harbor), once industrial, is now home to an ecological-housing area called Bo01, created by a host of architects. Bo01 is a 20-minute walk from the station. In the Western Harbor, you'll be flabbergasted by an architectural wonderland, all in the shadow of Spanish architect-artist Santiago Calatrava's Turning Torso. The second-tallest residential building in Europe, the 54-story "torso" twists 90 degrees from head to toe. Lunch hour is sacred to Swedes, and the sea promenade of the Western Harbor has several restaurants to choose from. After another stroll through the parks, head for Malmö Konsthall to view the current contemporary art exhibition; the museum's Smak Restaurant and Café is an excellent spot to have lunch.
Swedish cheeses, smoked sausages, and crackers from Ost Huset, to go with fruit from the stand on Gustav Adolfs Torg.
Rundan Sightseeing: 011-46/40-611-74-88, rundan.se, $12, April 28 to September 30. Malmöhus Castle: $6, free admission with Malmö Card. Malmö Konsthall: St. Johannesgatan 7, 011-46/40-34-12-93, konsthall.malmo.se. Smak Restaurant and Café: Malmö Konsthall, 011-46/40-50-50-35, entrées from $14. Ost Huset: Skomakeregatan 12, 011-46/40-12-60-98.
Trains across the Øresund strait run at 20-minute intervals in both directions between Copenhagen's Hovedbanegård (the main station) and Malmö's Central Station, from 5 A.M. till about 11:30 P.M. The ride ($26 round trip) is about 40 minutes and crosses the Øresund Bridge, known for its 670-foot-tall pylons--the bridge offers great views of the water and ships down below. Schedules at rejseplanen.dk. Passports aren't generally checked, but bring yours just in case.