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Lund Is Sweden’s Coolest University Town

Travel Insider Guides Culture
by Elodie C. Sep 16, 2019

Lund, Sweden, is home to the largest university in Scandinavia, drawing not just Nordic students but also exchange and degree students from around the world. Lund’s students give the ancient city of 90,000 a youthful energy. You don’t need to be an undergrad, though, to enjoy this dynamic town. With its regal architecture and cobblestone streets, Lund is a perfect place to travel back in time while still enjoying all the advantages of a modern, lively city. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy a day or two in Lund.

Admire the imposing architecture.

Photo: Olesya Kuznetsova/Shutterstock

Lund’s cathedral is one of the most iconic buildings in town, dominating the city center with its twin towers and romanesque architecture. Consecrated in 1145, it is today a symbol of Lund. You can visit by yourself or, if it’s summer, through guided tours; the crypt also holds an exhibition of historical artifacts. The green area around the cathedral, called Lundagård, is an ideal spot to picnic on the grass while admiring the nearby historical buildings.

You’ll find medieval buildings scattered around the city, which was founded more than a thousand years ago. One Medieval building not too far from Lund is the Liberiet, which was built in the 1400s to serve as the library for the cathedral.

Lund University’s buildings, though, date back to the turn of the last century. The school’s main building, an imposing neoclassical structure, was inaugurated by Sweden’s King Oscar II in 1882. Although Lund’s library is over 350 years old, it moved into its unique red-brick building, with huge arched windows, in 1907. Other buildings dating to that period include the regal Grand Hotel Lund near the train station. Lund’s second-largest church, the Allhegonakyrkan (All Saints’ Church), inaugurated less than 130 years ago, is an underrated neo-gothic gem.

Wander the cobblestone streets and enjoy a fika coffee break.

Photo: Olesya Kuznetsova/Shutterstock

The best way to take advantage of the charming streets of Lund is probably to wander and get lost in them. Follow the cobblestone streets and alleys, each with their own distinct personality, as you admire the colorful little houses. In spring and summer, they’re surrounded by flowers. Stop in the hidden shops tucked in between the houses. You might meet a few cyclists or seniors walking their dogs on the way.

When it’s time for a break, stop in a coffee house to have fika, an essential part of any visit to Sweden. Much more than just a coffee break, fika is a cozy moment to chat over sweets and a hot beverage. It’s a cultural tradition that Swedes enjoy at least once a day. Fika is also the perfect chance to try local Scandinavian pastries. Cinnamon rolls and chocolate balls are always good options, and locals say St. Jakobs has the best cinnamon rolls in town.

If you’re there in winter, you’ll find seasonal Christmas candies such as kola (fudge) or knäck (toffee) and Lussekater (saffron pastry) in every bakery or coffee house. Lund has a countless number of coffee houses to try these treats. Both the Coffee Break and Ebbas Skafferi have patios for warm summer days and cozy interiors to warm up in when the weather gets cold. Ebbas Skafferi also has tasty vegan options.

Savor Lund’s food and drink scene.

Photo: Saluhallen i Lund/Facebook

When it’s time for a more substantial meal, Lund has a large, multiethnic variety of choices. If you feel like having Asian food, there are overwhelming options from Indian to Thai, Chinese to Japanese cuisine in this university town. You’ll even find an Asian buffet served daily at lunch in Rosegarden restaurant on one of the main squares, Mårtenstorget.

To best experience Lund’s food scene, visit its indoor market Saluhallen. Even if you’ve only come to look, exploring its alleys full of fresh local products and its various restaurants will make you very hungry. If it’s fine dining and a traditional Swedish meal you’re after, try Gastro Gaspari or Mat & Destillat.

Like in any college town, the nightlife is rich and active, and you can find a variety of bars with different vibes spread around the two main squares, Stortorget and Mårtenstorget, or by the train station. Matt & Destillat has an excellent cocktail bar, but for a more downbeat, student vibe, try Cafe Ariman, which is more of a student pub than the name would suggest. Inferno has an incredible beer selection, and Shotluckan is a place to exercise caution as it specializes in shots.

All the features of a dynamic city within shorter reach

Photo: Kulturen/Facebook

Lund’s central position in the Öresund region, combined with its young population, makes its cultural scene unique. The town has several theaters, the main one being Lunds Stadsteater, with cultural programs and student productions all year. Among Lund’s many museums, Kulturen is the best one to get a glimpse of Swedish life from the past to the present day. Opened in 1892, it’s an open-air museum featuring beautiful gardens and historic houses, as well as temporary and indoors exhibitions.

A short walk away from Kulturen, you’ll find museums like Skissernas, the Museum of Sketches and Public Art, with its extensive art collections and a sculpture park in front. The Historical Museum and the Zoology Museum are smaller museums, both part of Lund University, that hold fascinating collections and are also important research laboratories. Shopping enthusiasts will find several shopping streets and a variety of stores in the city center — including clothing boutiques, Scandinavian home design stores, bookshops, and plenty of second-hand shops.

Nature and green spaces in the city and very close by

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Nature is an important part of the Swedish way of life, and wherever you are in Lund there’s always a park or green space nearby. Beyond the Lundagård cathedral garden mentioned above, two main large parks are worth a visit. The Botanical Garden of Lund has a rainforest, desert, and unusual plants while the Stadsparken, or “city park,” is a good place to enjoy hammocks, a skateboard park, barbecue grills, a lovely pond, and gardens.

If it’s summertime, you could take a bus to Lomma beach. On warm days, it’s filled with local families and students picnicking, sunbathing, or going for a swim. You’ll also get a unique view on the nearly five-mile Öresund bridge that links Sweden and Denmark. You could also take a walk on Sankt Hans Hill on the northwest edge of Lund. This area overlooking the city, far from the busy city center, is a favorite place for locals to run, bike ride, or relax.

A short bus ride from Lund will take you to plenty of wild areas for hiking or day trips. The Skrylle nature reserve area is just six miles away, and some of its hiking paths are part of Skåneleden, an over 770-mile-long trail around southern Sweden. You can also take a bus to Söderasen National Park, one of the largest areas of protected woodland in Northern Europe. Admire its forested views from Kopparhatten; at only 700 feet, it’s nonetheless the highest point in southern Sweden.

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