Malmö versus Prague

The two cities have a lot more in common than one may think

At first glance, with the myriad of architectural styles it would be easy to mistake the Czech capital city of Prague for Sweden’s third largest city, Malmö, perhaps not in size, but certainly in look and feel. Malmö, at the southern tip of Sweden, has 340,000 people to Prague's 1.2 million.

Prague's Wenceslas Square evokes memories of a downsized Gustav Adolfs Torg, with the walk to the National Museum like the walk to Triangeln. Malmö’s very own Gamla Staden (Old Town) is not too dissimilar to Prague’s Old Town, where colorful buildings and a wide range of ethnicities provide the area with a sense of community and freedom.

Rörsjökanalen is Malmö’s answer to the Vltava. It is by no means worthy of a comparison as it is only a canal but it’s use in the city, to separate the Old Town from the new, shares striking similarities to its Czech counterpart. As far as appearances go, these European cities share much in common.

There’s a sense of community in Malmö. It’s somewhere you can be yourself and go your own way. It is a city full of people from all walks of life and come together to give the city a certain energy.

Prague is much the same. With its geographical location in the center of Europe you can come across people from all over Europe and further afield. The ability to spend time in Prague without learning the language runs true with Sweden too. And, at most times, the large amount of English-speaking people make you feel at home and welcome in Prague.

The comparisons continue into the eateries and services. When you come to Prague or Malmö, you’re surrounded straight away by restaurants, cafes and shops from all corners of the world. The food culture in Prague differs to Malmö, however. Here it is very much a case of wholesome, filling food full of flavor that leaves you with a sense of satisfaction.

Prague menus will consist of local dishes like goulash and svíčková, and portion sizes will be hearty to say the least. As Swedish tradition goes, multiple snacks and small courses will be eaten throughout the day with excessive cups of coffee to boot. Sweden possesses great amounts of shoreline, so seafood is very common while Prague will often look to the less-used cuts of meat, like heart and liver, to satisfy its hungry inhabitants.

A notable contrast is the price of eating and drinking out. In Sweden, going out for a meal can be very dear, which is why smaller meals are eaten throughout the day then dinner is normally eaten at home with family. In Prague, it is often financially cheaper to have dinner out as restaurants and bars offer large portions for a more-than-reasonable price.

More noticeable, however, is the price of beer and other alcoholic beverages. What you would pay for one drink in Sweden could get you five or six of the equivalent in Prague. That is why bars and clubs can be packed from the early hours of the evening, with social gatherings usually happening outside of the home residence.

The laws are far stricter in Sweden. The legal drinking age in Sweden is 18, however at this age you can only purchase alcohol from a bar or club. You must be 21 to obtain alcohol from a shop, and there are only specific shops called “Systembolaget,” where you can do this. Thus, most youths will have alcohol “dealers” so they can stay home and drink prior to heading out. You will struggle to find establishments in Malmö that open past 3 am, while Prague is bursting with nightlife that goes on until the early hours.

Travel around Prague is effective and reliable. The city is far larger than Malmö so the well-run, clean and frequent metro provides the citizens of Prague easy transport around the city. Equally effective and useful is the tram system, which offers the same efficient service, while allowing you to view the city from above.

In Malmö, the bus lines are the best method to travel the city as they are both fast and dependable. However, if you want to avoid spending money then traveling by bike is your best option. The Swedes like to keep healthy. The city is flooded with bicycles, much due to the fact the whole area is extremely flat, but make sure you lock your bike up because it might just get pinched.

A welcome parallel between the cities is the vast array of parks both possess. Prague is home to many while Malmö is even referred to as the “city of parks.” One reason boils down to both countries having a mutual love of dogs, with the parks offering great places to take a light stroll. Secondly it highlights both cities’ progressive contemporary feels with the beautiful parks and edgy museums and galleries echoing the dynamic approach to life both cities conjure.

Overall, there is much admire in both Malmö’s and Prague’s outlook on city living. The free-spirited, multicultural and diverse nature of both cities provide a vast array of activities for people to enjoy. Culturally there are differences but if you ignore that aspect these two European hubs share more in common that at first glance.

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