Lund travel guide
Instantly likeable, Lund is a small, attractive city that’s overflowing with history and charm. On the one hand it’s a relic – along with Sigtuna, this is Sweden’s oldest city, with roots stretching back to the tail end of the Viking Age. On the other hand, Lund is a thoroughly modern little city. Buses running on biogas rumble past eco-friendly cafés serving locally produced food, and the huge student population helps support a lively arts scene and some important scientific research. It’s here that the huge ESS super-microscope is being built, allowing scientists to improve their understanding of basic atomic structures.
Lund’s university was founded way back in 1666 and it remains one of the country’s largest and most respected places to study, with a whopping 40,000-odd active students – many of them visiting from as far afield as the USA, Australia and China. This, combined with the abundance of wow-inducing university buildings and carefully preened parks, makes Lund feel like a Swedish version of England’s Oxford.
Like its next-door neighbour Malmö (and the rest of the southern region known as Skåne), Lund once belonged to Denmark. You’ll find traces of that country’s lasting influence in the cute medieval buildings dotted around the city centre, which survived the overenthusiastic bulldozing campaigns of the 1950s and 60s relatively unscathed. Lund’s cathedral, now more than 900 years old, is the most obvious place to start exploring. It’s not only one of the most visited churches in Sweden, but also the city’s main landmark and meeting place, surrounded by tall trees and shopping streets lined by half-timbered buildings.
Close by you’ll find some excellent galleries and museums, such as Historiska Museet (the history museum), which houses rare items from the university’s vast collection, including treasures from Egypt, the South Pacific and beyond. The restaurant scene in Lund can’t quite compete with Malmö and Copenhagen but there are still some excellent places to refuel while sightseeing.
Coffee shops are a big deal here, as in the rest of Sweden, but you’ll also find smart restaurants serving food and drink from all over the world. Lund is an easy day trip from Malmö but you’ll need a few full days to really do the city justice. Fortunately there are some great places to stay, including one well-run hostel. The downside is that beds across town can sell out quickly, especially around graduation time when parents are in town to visit students.
Aside from Malmö or Copenhagen, there are some easy excursions to be made from Lund. The countryside east of town is flat but beautiful, with meadows, forests, farm shops and easy-going villages waiting to be explored. One such village, Dalby, is home to the oldest stone church in Scandinavia. For a real summer treat, try cycling through the countryside on the old railway that begins in nearby Björnstorp.