Ystad, Skåne, Exploring Sweden

Ystad, Skåne – Exploring Sweden

Welcome to one of the crime capitals of Sweden. This is Ystad, the home of the fictional police officer Kurt Wallander. This town in southern Sweden has become famous due to the crime novels by Henning Mankell. In reality, this is a historical town with a harbor in the province of Skåne. With around 20.000 inhabitants, it is one of the local commercial centers along the coast of the Baltic Sea.

A Short History of Ystad

Let us skip the origins of the name and just say that there are many theories related to its meaning. It is believed that Ystad has its origins in a trading post for fish that was established in the 12th century. The first known written mention of Ystad dates back to 1244. There are still buildings standing from the time when this was a part of Denmark with buildings from the 16th century surviving until today.

Ystad and the rest of Skåne became a part of Sweden in 1658, which made this a border region towards Denmark. The town eventually become an important gateway for Swedish communication with the other possessions around the Baltic Sea. There was a postal service between Ystad and Stralsund, but also smuggling of goods around the Baltic Sea.

Later developments have included the opening of the railway to Eslöv in 1866 and to Malmö in 1874. The 19th century also saw the establishment of the local garrison in 1812. The military stayed here, with an exception of around 15 years, until 1997. After the closure of the garrison, the main income in the town has changed. Today it is transport, the ferry connections to Poland and the Danish Island of Bornholm, and tourism that has become two of the more important industries. In addition, many people work within the public services, and others commute to Malmö.

Things to Do and See

The stories of the crime novels meet the historical atmosphere with the many timber-framed buildings. Ystad is famous for both. This is a popular tourist destination that combines city life with nearby beaches. For many, it is also the gateway to Europe. From here you not only find ferries to the Danish island of Bornholm, but there are also ferries to Swinoujscie in Poland. If you are not to prolong your adventure on the continent, the ferries still offer some impressive sights as they arrive and depart from the port.


Stortorget is the central square. From here most of Ystad is within reach and the historical atmosphere is felt almost at once. The square is used for small markets and is a good starting point when exploring what Ystad has to offer.


Pilgrändshuset is considered one of the oldest timber-framed houses in Ystad. It dates back to the early 16th century and lies along the street Stora Östergatan. The building consists of both a homestead and a warehouse.


Brahehuset is one of the oldest buildings in Ystad. It dates back to the end of the 15th century and the nobleman Axel Pedersen Brahe.


Änglahuset is one of the older timber-framed houses in Ystad. It dates back to 1573 and has got its name from its decorative angels.

Per Hälsas Gård

Per Hälsas Gård is one of the historical timber-framed houses of Ystad. Well, this is not only one house. It is a whole block with timber-framed houses from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. It is named after the former owner Per Hansson who was running a small soda production known as Helsan here. The estate had earlier been a local trading post.

Sankta Maria Kyrka

The town church was inaugurated in the 13th century. It is a brick building with a high tower to the west. Its current apparence was established first in the 1920s. The church is today a part of the Ystad-Sövestad Congregation within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden.

Lilla Västergatan

Lilla Västergatan is probably the most picturesque street in Ystad. It is lined by several small houses and also includes timber-framed houses. The streets end (or begin) at the central square.

Norra Promenaden

Norra Promenaden, or the northern promenade, is a green oasis close to the center. It is a narrow park that follows a small stream. In the southern part of the park is the local graveyard.

Greyfriars Abbey

Greyfriars Abbey, or Gråbrödaklostret, was one of four Franciscan monasteries in the province of Skåne. The abbey was closed in the 1530s during the Danish Reformation. The building has since been used as a hospital, distillery, granary, and museum. The buildings came into the possession of the town in 1962 and are today used by the Church of Sweden for services and exhibitions.

Ystad Marina

Close to the harbor is the local marina. This is where you can find the guest harbor as well as the motorhome stopover. From the marina, it is possible to view the larger ferries connecting Ystad with the island of Bornholm and Poland.

Gjuteriets Badplats

Gjuteriets Badplats is a beach to the west of the harbor. It consists of a sandy beach that is around 500 meters long. A part of the beach has also been dedicated to pets such as dogs.


Saltsjöbaden is the beach to the east of the town. It consists of a sandy beach that is around one kilometer long. Nearby is also a hotel and other services.

How to Get to Ystad

  • Flights: The nearest airport is Malmö Airport (MMX) to the northwest, there is also Copenhagen Airport (CPH) across the Öresund Strait in Denmark.
  • Car: Ystad is located at the intersection of the roads E65, 9, 13, and 19 in southern Sweden.
  • Bus: Buses from Skånetrafiken connect Ystad with the surrounding area.
  • Train: Trains from Pågatågen go between Ystad and Simrishamn.
  • Ferry: There are regular ferries between Ystad and Swinoujscie (Poland) operated by Polferries and Unity Line. There are also regular ferries with Bornholmslinjen between Ystad and Rönne on the Danish island of Bornholm.

The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:

  • Stockholm – 610 kilometers (6 h 40 min)
  • Gothenburg – 325 kilometers (3 h 20 min)
  • Malmö – 59 kilometers (45 min)
  • Linköping – 415 kilometers (4 h 50 min)
  • Kiruna – 1840 kilometers (19 h 10 min)

Explore More of Skåne and Sweden

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