Lund, Sweden: A Gorgeous Old University Town With a Youthful Vibe

In this destination trip report we guide you around the university town of Lund in Sweden.

Visiting Lund

For some reason I always wanted to visit the town of Lund in Sweden. I’ve seen countless of beautiful pictures and heard many great stories about this old Swedish university town. Since then, it firmly got a spot on my Scandinavian travel wish-list.

During the last autumn I needed to make a trip to Stockholm, which got me puzzling a bit. Sure, I could hop on a direct flight to Stockholm, but what is the fun of that?

Instead, I found a cheap Wizz Air flight to Malmö, a city located just 20 kilometres (12 miles) away from Lund. Given that Lund is located on the Malmö to Stockholm railway line, it made for a logical itinerary and good excuse to finally visit the town.

Although I would have half a day only to visit Lund, I thought it would be sufficient enough for a good impression given the relatively small size of the town (it has less than 100,000 inhabitants).

So how did the trip turn out to be? And is Lund really a recommended destination to visit? Let’s find out!

Flight

For my flight from Bucharest to Malmö I only paid 45.7 RON (9.40 EUR) – an absolute steal. However, given that it was an early morning flight I opted to pay an extra 120 RON (24.7 EUR) for a window seat, as I really appreciate and need the plane’s fuselage to rest my head on for a nap.

Besides, it being the midst of the corona pandemic, I wanted to be one of the first to disembark the plane in case Swedish passport control would take long. The last thing I wanted was to end up at the back of the queue and to miss the infrequent airport bus to Malmö’s railway station.

Fortunately, all went extremely well. The flight was on-time and actually quite pleasant despite the early 6am morning departure. Being seated on the starboard side, it also meant that I had some excellent sunrise views from the window.

On arrival in Malmö, there were only two border guards to handle our arriving plane. Fortunately, they were in a cheery mood and just briefly glanced through each passport. I made it to the Malmö-bound bus with time to spare!

Quick note: Normally, there should be a direct bus as well between Malmö Airport and Lund, although this was (temporarily?) discontinued.

boarding gas mask
Boarding for my flight to Malmö, although this guy was dressed more like he was headed towards Verdun or Ypres. ©Paliparan
sunrise plane
A lovely sunrise from the window during my morning Wizz Air flight to Malmö. ©Paliparan
sunrise plane window
Wizz Air sunrise view. ©Paliparan
Malmö landing
Final approach towards Malmö Airport. ©Paliparan
malmo landing
Final approach towards Malmö Airport. ©Paliparan
malmo airport bus
The Flygbussarna bus between Malmö Airport and the central railway station. ©Paliparan
Malmö train station
Arriving at Malmö’s central railway station. ©Paliparan

From Malmö to Lund

Travelling from Malmö to Lund cannot be easier as there are trains departing every five to ten minutes. Most frequent are the local and regional trains operated by Öresundståg and Skånetrafiken. Intercity trains operated by both Snälltåget and national railway operator SJ run as well between Malmö and Lund. Both SJ and Snälltåget also operate services between Lund and Stockholm.

It’s pretty straightforward to buy your ticket online, although you can easily do it at a ticket machine or ticket office at the station as well. No matter the train you select, the costs will be around the 50 SEK (5 EUR) mark.

Interestingly enough, each operator allows you to book tickets for the competitors as well, which seems to be a Swedish regulated market thingy. You can buy your Öresundståg ticket at the Skånetrafiken website, or your Skånetrafiken train ticket on the SJ website if you like!

I bought a ticket for a Pågatåg train operated by Skånetrafiken, which turned out to be quite sleek for a local train. Some 15 minutes after departure, the train already rolled into Lund Central Station.

food hall malmo
A food hall in the old part of the railway station. ©Paliparan
sj x2000
SJ X2000 InterCity trains at the bay platforms of Malmö’s central station. ©Paliparan
malmo central station
The modern part of Malmö’s central station. ©Paliparan
through platform malmo station
Most local and regional trains depart from the underground through platforms. ©Paliparan
Skånetrafiken Pågatåg
Inside a Skånetrafiken Pågatåg train, which is fitted with power sockets and WiFi internet. ©Paliparan
lund local train
The local train to Lund. ©Paliparan
Pågatåg train
The modern Pågatåg train at Lund’s central station. ©Paliparan
lund central station
Lund’s central station. ©Paliparan

Exploring Lund

Lund is a compact town which you can easily explore on foot. If you arrive from the train station, it takes just minutes to reach the heart of the old town.

On the walk from the station into town, you will already get your first glimpses of what makes Lund such an attractive place. The cobbled streets and old half timbered houses ooze tons of charm. Besides, with all its parks and foliage Lund is also a very green city.

cobblestone street lund sweden
Lund’s old town is full of wood panel houses and cobblestone streets. ©Paliparan
lund sweden
It doesn’t take long to appreciate the old character of the town. ©Paliparan
lund old town
Walking from the train station to the old town centre. ©Paliparan
lund city centre
A street in the city centre of Lund. ©Paliparan
park lund
There are tons of parks in the city centre of Lund. ©Paliparan

Cathedral

Lund’s old town centre is built around its twin-towered Cathedral (Domkyrka). This Romanesque church was built in the 11th Century by the Danes, who back then ruled this part of southern Sweden.

With strong influences of northern Italian and German Medieval architecture, the Cathedral is rather dark from the outside but has more colourful details on the inside.

Perhaps most famous is the 15th Century astronomical clock. Each day at noon and 3pm, the clock’s wooden figures come alive to the sounds of an in-built organ.

The crypts below the Cathedral are also well worth a peek. Look out for the stone statue of a giant named Finn, who according to local legend helped constructing the church!

lund cathedral
Lund’s Romanesque Cathedral. ©Paliparan
lund cathedral
The exterior of Lund Cathedral. ©Paliparan
lund cathedral
The interior of the Cathedral looking towards the altar. ©Paliparan
altar cathedral
The altar of the Cathedral. ©Paliparan
lund cathedral astronomical clock
The Cathedral is famous for its astronomical clock. ©David Castor
clock cathedral
Another old clock inside the Cathedral. ©Paliparan
cathedral aisle
One of the aisles of the cathedral. ©Paliparan
lund cathedral crypt
The crypt is the oldest part of Lund Cathedral. ©Paliparan

Central square

The streets around Lund Cathedral are full of shops, cafes and bars and make for a great place to wander around. In this area of the city centre, you can also find the main squares of the city.

Stortorget, on which city hall is located, is Lund’s main square. Perhaps more interesting is Mårtenstorget, which features a daily market. At one side of this square you can also find the Saluhall (Market Hall).

Inside, you can find many delis and restaurants, as well as a branch of Systembolaget, the Swedish state alcohol shop which has a monopoly on the sale of alcoholic beverages.

lund street
A city centre street in Lund. ©Paliparan
lund street
The city centre of Lund is full of shops, restaurants and pubs. ©Paliparan
Mårtenstorget
Mårtenstorget (Martin’s Square). ©Paliparan
market square
Mårtenstorget functions as a market square during the day. ©Paliparan
lund market hall
Lund Market Hall. ©Paliparan
lund market hall
Lund Market Hall is full of deli shops, cafes and restaurants. ©Paliparan
market hall
Lund Market Hall. ©Paliparan

A youthful Scandinavian city

From Mårtenstorget, I walked towards the Botanical Garden. In these streets surrounding the city centre you can clearly see what an extremely liveable town Lund must be.

Although Lund is an old city (Sweden’s second oldest, to be precise) it is also one of the youngest and most youthful when looking at the population. This is in large part because of Lund University, the oldest and perhaps the most prestigious in Sweden.

Needless to say, the many students have a big impact on the vibe of the town, with many coffee bars and pubs catering to the city’s youngsters.

It’s not only students though, as there were plenty of young parents walking or cycling the streets with their children. Lund felt like a typical Scandinavian city in this regard, as it seemed to have a proper cycling infrastructure such as special cycling lanes, as well as a good public transport network.

There were certainly more people out on foot or on bike than in cars, making the town centre feel delightfully car-free.

street
Lund city centre street. ©Paliparan
lund bikes
Lund is certainly a bicycle-friendly city. ©Paliparan
lund houses
Many houses in Lund are painted in bright colours. ©Paliparan
lund old town
A typical old town street in Lund. ©Paliparan
bikes
You can find parked bikes everywhere in town. ©Paliparan
lund street autumn
Even on a Friday, the streets were delightfully empty as there were almost more cyclists than cars. ©Paliparan

Botanical garden

Perhaps my favourite part of Lund was the city’s botanical garden, although for sure the lovely autumn foliage played a huge role in this. The autumn colours of the tree leaves were just absolutely superb on this late October day.

Besides the usual trees and plants common to this part of Sweden (Scania), there are also many plants from other parts of the world to be seen in the Lund Botanical Garden, with some of them being kept in greenhouses.

The park is freely accessible to the public. On the southern tip of the botanical garden there is also a small cemetery, which looked a little bit eerie in the gloomy autumn weather.

lund botanical garden
Lund Botanical Garden. ©Paliparan
autumn foliage
The autumn foliage was absolutely superb. ©Paliparan
lund botanical garden autumn
Lund Botanical Garden in autumn colours. ©Paliparan
autumn tree
This tree in particular looked just amazing. ©Paliparan
botanical garden
Lund Botanical Garden. ©Paliparan
botanical garden
Walking through the botanical gardens. ©Paliparan
lund botanical garden
There are also a few greenhouses with plants and flowers which are less well-suited to the cold Swedish weather. ©Paliparan
graveyard
At the southern end of the botanical garden there is also a small graveyard. ©Paliparan
botanical garden cemetery
The cemetery at the southern tip of the botanical garden. ©Paliparan

Cobblestone streets

The area between the botanical garden and the main university buildings is perhaps the cosiest part of the old town. With its cobblestone streets, traditional shop facades and old, low-key houses, it has a particularly high amount of old world charm.

Even on this rather cold and rainy autumn day, the streets still looked immensely colourful and atmospheric.

traditional store
Traditional storefront. ©Paliparan
lund street
One of the streets in the area around the University of Lund. ©Paliparan
lund old town
Old houses in the city centre of Lund. ©Paliparan
lund sweden
A beautiful cobblestoned street in the centre of Lund. ©Paliparan
old town building
Old town building with its wall partly covered by leaves. ©Paliparan

University

Founded in 1666, the University of Lund is not only Sweden’s oldest institute of higher education but even that of all of Scandinavia. Looking at some of the impressive university buildings in the city centre, you can clearly see how prestigious the university is.

The Kungshuset (King’s House) was donated by King Charles XI to Lund University in 1688 to serve as its main building and library. It however turned out to be too small for the growing number of students, after which a new main building was inaugurated in 1882.

Called the Universitetshuset, this white neoclassical building is a major Lund landmark and features four sphinxes on the roof.

university building lund
One of the university buildings in the city centre of Lund. ©Paliparan
lund university
The Universitetshuset is the main building of the University of Lund. ©Paliparan
Universitetshuset
Universitetshuset. ©Paliparan
odeum
The university odeum. ©Paliparan
bikes university
Bikes in front of one of the university buildings. ©Paliparan
lund city centre
Lund University is located in the heart of the city centre. ©Paliparan
university lund
A city centre park close to the university. ©Paliparan

Fika

Having walked around for a few hours, it was time to search for a nice little café to have a fika. In the Swedish language, fika is the name for a coffee break with a small snack, and Lund is the perfect city to find a good spot for it.

There are many cosy cafés throughout the city centre and they all look equally inviting. I just entered a random place and ordered some black coffee with a traditional cinnamon pastry, which certainly made for a tasty snack.

cafe lund
Lund has many cafés which are perfect for a fika, the traditional coffee-and-snack break in Sweden. ©Paliparan
fika
Enjoying a cinnamon pastry and a coffee. ©Paliparan

Back to the station

Unfortunately, my time in Lund had come to an end as I had to go back to the railway station to catch my train to Stockholm. Although I easily managed to visit all the main sights of Lund in half a day and get a good impression of the city, I would have loved to stay longer.

Lund seemed like the typical town where you can linger around for quite a while. Given that there seemed to be so many cosy cafés and nice restaurants, there are certainly worse places in Sweden to spend some time than Lund.

lund train station
Unfortunately, I had to go back to the train station after half a day to catch my onward train to Stockholm. ©Paliparan
lund stockholm train
Waiting for my train to Stockholm to arrive. ©Paliparan

In short

It’s easy to see why Lund is considered to be one of Sweden’s most beautiful cities. With its cobblestone streets, half timbered houses and red-brick buildings, the old town of Lund packs tons of charm.

Although you can easily visit the main sights of Lund such as the university, the botanical gardens and the Cathedral in half a day, it is definitely a place where you want to stick around for a while longer.

The vibrant town has a great, youthful atmosphere thanks in part to the many students living there. It is therefore no surprise that there are tons of appealing cafés, pubs and restaurants to visit.

With its location in southern Sweden, Lund makes for a logical stop on any itinerary between Copenhagen/Malmö and Stockholm, even if it is just for (half) a day.

That said, even though many tourists visit Lund as a day trip from Copenhagen or Malmö, I can easily see the appeal of Lund as a city break destination in its own right! The town certainly left a great impression on me.

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Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

2 thoughts on “Lund, Sweden: A Gorgeous Old University Town With a Youthful Vibe

  • January 17, 2021 at 9:45 pm
    Permalink

    Another great report Koen!

    I’ve passed through Lund a number of times – one nephew lives in Copenhagen and another (his brother) lives in Stockholm, both invite their old uncle to visit often so I’ve traveled by train between the two places quite a few times. If you are reviewing the SJ X2000 I’ll be interested to know what you think.

    If we’re ever allowed to travel again (which is what it feels like at the moment), next time I’m in Copenhagen I will make a point of going to Lund for a day.

    Reply
    • January 17, 2021 at 10:38 pm
      Permalink

      I hope to have a Snälltåget review coming up tomorrow! Ancient rolling stock compared to the SJ X2000, but it did have a lovely old school dining car. On that trip to Lund from last autumn, I only took the X2000 for the short hop between Stockholm C and Arlanda to catch my flight back.

      Given that my travel opportunities are pretty limited as well currently, I hope to be back in Sweden next month and do a proper ride on the X2000 for a full review.. it’s one of the few countries I can visit without needing a PCR test or any isolation, and Sweden does have some cool destinations for a winter trip.

      I hope we can both travel again more easily in the future! The problem for me is that although there are no government restrictions here in Romania from stopping me, the number of countries I can freely visit is very low. And although I got Mexico and Tanzania firmly on my mind, I want to wait and see first how the situation in Europe will develop in the next weeks as so many countries/airline suddenly demand PCR tests even for a transit (Netherlands, France – Merkel apparently considering toughening of restrictions in Germany as well). Don’t wanna be stuck on Zanzibar or in Oaxaca trying to arrange a sudden PCR test!

      Reply

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