On Monday 16th July Crystal Palace will visit Halmstad BK, the club where Roy Hodgson began his managerial career in 1976.
I won’t beat around the bush, I’ve been to Halmstad a number of times because my former employer had an office there, there isn’t a great deal to do!
Halmstad is much like any small town in England and has a population of about 65,000, which is about the same as Guildford, Chatham or Shrewsbury.
Naturally, it all boils down to what you are interested in as to what there is to do in Halmstad and I’ll come on to that a little later on.
Unlike the Helsingör game where tickets went on sale as soon as the game was announced, tickets for the Halmstad game are conspicuous by their absence on the Halmstad BK website. In fact, there is no mention of the game on the club’s official website whatsoever, which is a little strange.
I put this down to the fact that Halmstad are still playing competitive league football until the beginning of July so they are marketing their home games but it is a little strange that there is no mention of the game anywhere what with their connection with Palace manager Roy Hodgson.
Getting to Halmstad
There are two ways you can get to Halmstad from the UK.
The first way is to fly with RyanAir from London Stansted to Gothenburg Airport and from there take the train into the city and then on to Halmstad. I have no experience of that route but I can say that I wouldn’t fly with RyanAir unless I was fleeing a war zone and even then I’d think twice!
The second way and my suggestion is to fly with EasyJet from London Gatwick to Copenhagen, the exact same route you’d use if you were going to the Helsingör game. From there instead of taking the train into Copenhagen and then on to Helsingör, you take the train in the opposite direction into Sweden and on to Malmö.
The train that passes through Copenhagen Airport goes from Helsingör to Gothenburg. From Kastrup (Copenhagen Airport) to Halmstad will take about 2h30m.
Should you take this route you will pass over the Öresund bridge that is featured in the Scandinavian police drama The Bridge.
What is there to do in Halmstad?
As I mentioned earlier, what you think is interesting to do in Halmstad will depend on what your interests are. Halmstad is a beautiful town with a nice feel to it because of the river running through it.
Instead of me reeling off a list of things to do it’s best that you visit the Crazy Tourist website who does a better job than I can.
Alcohol regulations that differ between England and Sweden
It’s worth noting that there are some differences between England and Sweden for the football tourist.
For example, you can’t buy alcohol anywhere except a shop called System Bolaget, the state-run ‘off-licence’ which opens between 10.00 and 18.00, Monday to Saturday.
You can buy ‘light’ beer in supermarkets which contains up to 3.5% alcohol but no spirits or wine. It was only fairly recently that Systemet opened on Saturdays.
Of course, you can buy alcohol to drink on premises. Everywhere that sells alcohol must also sell food. This means there are no pubs in Sweden, in the English sense, just lower end restaurants or pizzerias that exist to mainly sell alcohol.
I am not sure if drinking alcohol on the streets is illegal or not but I never see people doing it. Sometimes there are the town’s alcoholics drinking in the park and I have seen police confiscate beer from them on occasion but I don’t know the reason for it. It could be that it is legal to drink light beer only, I’m not sure.
Sweden can be considered to be an expensive country, though cheaper than Denmark. However, I think this is largely an outdated myth.
For example, ‘income tax’ is around 30% (it differs a little between districts) which seems high. However when you look into it that 30% contains not only income tax but National Insurance, council tax, funeral tax and church tax (if you are a member). Everyone born in Sweden is born into the Swedish church but you can opt out of it.
So, the UK currently has an income tax rate of about 20% plus National Insurance at about 11% and council tax which works out to be higher or lower depending on your income, people in your house, etc.
When I left the UK in 2001 I worked out my ‘income tax’ for that year was 45%!
My point is, when the TV and papers compare income tax between countries, everything isn’t equal because the UK has so many add-on taxes.
But that aside, a beer will set you back about £4 for 0.5l, more if you want anything that isn’t domestic or if you want a bottle of beer but then anything in a pub/restaurant will be expensive.
Hotels will be expensive. If you can find anything for under 1,000 kronor (about £90) you’ll be doing well, especially in summer. A hostel will be about 500 kronor (£45) though I admit I am not up to date with the exchange rates.
Taking in both games?
As I mentioned before in a previous post, if you are taking in both games I would make your base in Helsingborg. It’s cheaper than Denmark and is just across the water from Helsingör and 51 minutes on the train from Halmstad.
Lund, just north of Malmö but south of Helsingborg, is a beautiful old town! I wouldn’t stay in Malmö, it has a lot of problems and besides that, it isn’t a place to be if you wear red and blue!
Malmö are the arch rivals of Helsingborg who play in red and blue so… Well, imagine walking around Brighton in Palace colours and you’ll get the idea.
If you are feeling adventurous you can move around. Arrive in Copenhagen, then spend a couple of days there then move on to Gothenburg and fly back from there.