Øresund: Scandinavia's New Powerhouse
By Rick Steves
When the Øresund (UH-ra-soond) Bridge, which connects Denmark and Sweden, opened in July 2000, it created the region's largest metropolitan area, surpassing Stockholm. Overnight, the link forged an economic power with the 12th-largest gross domestic product in Europe, and put 3.5 million Danes and Swedes — a highly trained and highly technical workforce — within a quick commute of each other.
The bridge opens up new questions of borders. Historically, southern Sweden (the area across from Copenhagen, called Skåne) has Danish blood. It was Danish for a thousand years before Sweden took it in 1658. Notice how Copenhagen is the capital on the fringe of its realm — at one time it was in the center.
The 10-mile-long link, which has a motorway for cars and a two-track train line, ties together the main islands of Denmark with Europe and Sweden. The $4 billion project consists of a 2.5-mile-long tunnel, an artificial island called Peberholm, and a five-mile-long bridge. With speedy connecting trains, Malmö in Sweden is now an easy half-day side-trip from Copenhagen (3/hour, 35 minutes). The train drops you at the station right in the center of Malmö, with all the important sights within a short walk. The Malmö This Week publication (free from Copenhagen's tourist office) has everything you need for a well-organized visit.