One Perfect Day In Port: Helsingborg, Sweden

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Heading into Helsingborg via the ferries that operate daily between Sweden and Denmark.

A gift from Danish king Knut the Holy, Helsingborg was founded in 1085. No question that Helsingborg is a city with a history, but don’t expect a dusty old city that appeals only to historians and scholars.

The “Pearl of the Sound” is also one of Sweden’s most popular contemporary cities. Situated in southern Sweden, Helsingborg enjoys a milder climate than Stockholm or points further north. Summers, you’ll even find palm trees on the beach, although admittedly, the trees are potted.

Situated on the strait of Öresund (the Sound), Helsingborg is separated from Helsingør, Denmark by a mere 2.5-mile stretch of water and a 20-minute ferry ride. Each represents the 10th largest towns in their respective countries. The similarities and differences of the two towns make visiting each worthwhile. “Round the Sound” allows visitors, particularly those on pre- and post-cruises from Copenhagen, to visit both countries in one day.

If you are arriving on a large ship, you’ll likely dock in the South Harbor, less than two miles from the city center, while small ships are able to dock within an easy walk to the city center.

Stroll the pedestrian street Kullagatan (Sweden’s oldest pedestrian street) for department stores and boutiques. Shops to make you stop: Stenströms, Royal supplier of Swedish men’s shirts; Carl Hof, jewelry designer; and Sigurd Persson, featuring Swedish design.

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Built in 1885, Sofiero Castle is situated at the top of a rhododendron ravine, with more than 10,000 in bloom during the month of June.

Castles and Kings

Only 15 minutes by bus from town, Helsingborg’s best-known tourist attraction is the newly restored Sofiero Castle, built in 1885. It was the royal summer residence until 1973 when King Gustav VI Adolf died and Helsingborg town inherited the castle.

Sofiero is situated at the top of a rhododendron ravine. During the first weeks of June, more than 10,000 rhododendrons are in full bloom all over the castle park.

The estate was bought in 1864 by King Oscar II and Queen Sofia and was given to their grandson Gustaf Adolf in 1905 as a wedding present. Both Crown Prince Gustav and his English wife, Margaret, were passionate gardeners and created of one of the finest gardens in Sweden.

Centenary year celebrations include flower shows, exhibitions and concerts.

Dominating the city skyline, Kärnan Tower dates from the medieval ages. You’ll want to visit Kärnan (pronounced something similar to “Shannon”) during your visit ashore. Kärnan, the keep tower, is the symbol of Helsingborg and one of Scandinavia’s most famous medieval buildings. For nearly 700 years, the old fortress tower has kept watch over the town and the Sound.

Museums

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Dunker Culture Center, designed by the Danish architect Kim Utzon, whose father Joern designed the iconic Sydney Opera House.

Helsingborg’s Fredriksdal open-air museum features an old farming community, botanical garden, 450 species of roses, a romantic English park and a striking French park. Plays are presented during the summer.

On the waterfront, in the North Harbor (Norra Hamnen) is the beautiful Dunker Culture Center, designed by the Danish architect Kim Utzon, whose father Joern designed the iconic Sydney Opera House. Opened in April 2002, the Center includes an international art museum, a town museum and a concert hall with a panoramic view of the Öresund, the body of water that separates Sweden from Denmark, only 20 minutes away by ferry.

Excursions

From Helsingborg, it’s easy to do the Castle Tour of North Zealand; and North Zealand’s Royal Parks and Public Gardens; and on the Swedish side, the scenic tour of Northwest Skåne and the Kulla peninsula; Castles in Skåne; and Seal & Speedboat safari on Kattegat.

Avid Cruiser Posts, Photographs and Videos Featuring Helsingborg.

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