Literary City Guide | Helsingborg, Sweden
Tour Guides: Iris & Jonas
Originally from California and Skåne, Iris and Jonas met in Hawaii and have been together ever since. Iris is a product manager for a start-up called TalentSky, Inc. in San Francisco and Jonas is finishing up school in Oahu. They live for sun, sand, saltwater, and the travel that brings them together.
Relationship to Helsingborg: Jonas was born and raised here and Iris has spent the past two summers (with Jonas) here.
Writer you'd like to invite to dinner: HC Andersen and Astrid Lindgren
Chef you'd like to prepare the meal: Our friend Isabell Seger, better known to us as Bella. Her new restaurant is our favorite in Helsingborg.
Writing soundtrack: For Jonas it’s Vivaldi. Iris’ changes frequently, but it’s Lucius for the time being.
Pen or Pencil: Pencil for Jonas, pen for Iris.
Coffee or Tea: Coffee if we’re in Sweden, tea if we’re in the US.
Paperback or Hardback: Hardback when at home, paperback everywhere else.
The city isn’t exactly known for it’s bookstores, but like much of Scandinavia there are phenomenal libraries (see below) and some museums with interesting selections. Some of the larger retailers do have stores here.
Helsingborg Public Library. Beautifully situated in the city park among old beautiful trees and open grass where you can sit down and read/write or just have a picnic. During the summer one of the trees is decorated with motifs from children tales. There is a different author every summer who reads out pre-recorded stories from speakers from early morning to sunset. There is also an possibility to borrow a hammock and hang up between some of the trees in park. Inside the Library there a nice little cafe where you can grab some “fika.” Due to the proximity to the University in Helsingborg, there is usually a big presence of both scholars and students. The library is the hub for the northwestern part of Skåne and offers writing workshops and readings from both famous and local authors.
Lund University Libraries Network. This network has a presence throughout Skåne with specialized libraries for the various academic departments.
READINGS & CONFERENCES
Louisiana Literature. An international literature festival at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a quick ferry ride into Denmark from Helsingborg. If can’t make it to Louisiana for the festival, go for the architecture and art collection.
Shakespeare Festival. Since 1816, Kronborg Castle has hosted a number of Shakespeare plays and festivals.
Helsingborg Public Library. The library hosts lectures and readings for all ages. In general, Sweden is very child-friendly, which has probably catalyzed its prolific contributions to children’s literature. Many of the readings and events at the library are geared towards children.
Kronborg Castle. Better known as Elsinore from Hamlet, the castle is a 20-minute ferry ride across the strait and is visible from much of Helsingborg.
HC Anderson’s childhood home. About an hour away in Odense, Denmark.
Sofiero Castle. The former summer residence of the royal family, Helsingborg’s castle is famous for having the best garden in Europe and also home to one of the coolest concert venues in Sweden.
Koppi. It’s on a charming street corner and it’s a lovely space for talking, working, or writing. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet owners and Swedish barista champions Anne Lunnell and Charles Nystrand. Jonas used to live in the apartment upstairs!
Fahlmans. Famous for its “Fika,” or afternoon coffee and pastry. It’s in the middle of the city and was once Ingmar Bergmans go-to place when he was the director of the local theater in Helsingborg. Falhmans is an excellent place for people-watching in the city.
A PROPER MEAL
Fridas. Jonas’ friend Bella has trained in some of the most elite kitchens in the world, including Noma in Denmark. During the winter, Fridas is one of the coziest spots in town and during the summer, it’s the perfect spot to sit and watch people on the street as the sun goes down over Helsingborg.
Pålsjö. One of several great options along the beach where you can have lunch, an afternoon drink, or dinner. Each has a unique take on summer beachfront dining.
Trappan. A newly opened restaurant situated in the middle of Helsingborg that can brag about having the best location in town in terms of view and facilities. It is located next to the medieval fortress Kärnan and housed in “Terrastrapporna” that bridges Kärnan with the town.
Tura. A favorite past time of people living in the city is to do a so called “Tura” which basically means you take the 20 minute ferry ride across to Helsingør back and forth while filling your belly, mainly with treats from the ocean.
As Helsingborg is the most densely populated town with restaurants, bars and pubs per capita in Sweden, there is never any real problem of finding things to eat or drink
Pålsjöpaviljongen Cafe & Vaffelbageri. Swedish waffles with homemade jam and whipped cream, best enjoyed in the small little cafe situated in the clearing of a beech forest in Pålsjö
Cookiebuffet is served at most pastrycafes. Yes, it is as it sounds--a buffet of cookies! For example, in Helsingborg you can enjoy endless small cookies at the 125 year old Kafferepet. If you don't mind a little roadtrip across the landscape of Skåne you can also find Cafe Annorlunda situated at Stenshuvud in Österlen.
Iris & Jonas's 5 Favorites
1. Favorite view: Gröningen is the prime-time of people watching in Helsingborg. The top of Kärnan is the best panoramic view of the city and across the strait to Denmark.
2. Favorite place to write: Seated on the floor at home, or at the city library.
3. Favorite museum: Dunkers kulterhus, situated very nicely next to the ocean.
4. Favorite coffee shop: Koppi, which has been chosen as the 1st or 2nd best coffee shop in Sweden year after year.
5. Favorite thing about Helsingborg: Summer, when people come out of the woodwork and the city comes alive. Also, the proximity to basically everything--there is never a need to take a taxi. It’s a mix of bars, coffee shops, parks, castles and so forth and all within a walking distance.