There is nothing I like more than being able to "kill two birds with one stone", or in this case, seeing two cities in one trip. When I went to visit Copenhagen, Denmark in February 2022, I decided to take the train from Copenhagen Central Station to Malmö (blog post here) and Lund which turned out to be my best time in Sweden. Lund is very close to Copenhagen as well as Malmö, so you can easily reach Lund for a nice day trip around the town. There are multiple departures every hour and the train journey takes only 45 minutes.
Lund is one of Sweden’s oldest cities and many of the buildings in Lund are historicist creations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries thrives alongside modern buildings. It is said that you can spend your whole life here without seeing all the quiet little corners, all the beautiful buildings and details. Interestingly enough, founding dates all the way back to Year 990 when Lund was then a part of Denmark (there have been so many wars fought between these Scandinavian neighbors that at one point Denmark ruled everything, and then Sweden did, and then repeat).
The convenient thing about Lund is that it is small and compact. I took a stroll around the city and found it very walkable and it had a nice friendly vibe overall. There are plenty of things to do without you having to walk miles. As soon as you get off at the train station, you may start to notice all the cyclist about, quite a common sight for a university city. Another thing you may notice, that I loved, was the abundant cobblestoned streets. It gives the city a very charming feel.
The Lund Cathedral which is one of the oldest stone buildings in all of Sweden, is a landmark on Lund’s skyline. It is distinctively dark, with only small windows to allow sunshine in. It is also a quintessential example of Romanesque architecture in all of the Nordics. It also has a crypt which has been refurbished from time to time and is free to tour.
There is a very special astronomical clock that dates from around 1425. It displays signs of the zodiac and the phases of the moon, and chimes twice a day while the three wise men and their servants pass and bow before the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.
Lund is a city in which the university has an enormous presence, a true student city. Of a municipal population of around 110,000 no fewer than 40,000 are students. The university was founded in 1666 and is one of the foremost seats of learning and scientific research centres in Scandinavia.
The University library opened in 1666 at the same time as the university. Whilst being an imposing brick building on the outside it had a range comfortable nooks and crannies inside, ideal for the budding academic.
St. Peter's Priory is a very old church and was one of Denmark's early monastic houses. The original church was built in 1160s and of sandstone with the rounded arches. It is truly beautiful too.
The Skissernas Museum was a real treat that caught me unaware. In English the museum is described as “The Museum of Artistic Process and Public Art”. This description differentiates it from other art galleries and museums because unlike the usual art museum, they don’t always have a finished product but rather have set out to show how art is created.
The building itself stood on its own looking over a park and was very a modern structure compared to most of the buildings we had seen in Lund and was in distinct contrast to the University which it was once part of.
The entrance into the museum was a normal size door and not the grand entrance at all-however once inside the exhibition hall was huge and struck one immediately as there was a huge 30 feet high statue at one end of the hall , with the walls and ceiling covered in bright works of art with the floor dominated by sculptural works. A real sensory shock and a fabulous start to a pleasant stroll through the cavernous exhibition rooms.
It was founded in 1934 by Ragnar Josephson (1891-1966), during his time as a professor of art history at the University of Lund. His intention was to create an archive of the creative process, the artist’s path from first concept to finished works – that is what the Josephson meant by “artwork’s birth”. The idea was to collect sketches, models and photographs of public art, when it suited particularly well as study because it often requires many studies. The interesting thing is that even famous artists either gifted their conceptual work cheaply because it was the finished art piece that attracted the main income.
This cultural-historical open-air museum Kulturen has around 40 historic houses – some in their original position while others were relocated from various parts of Sweden. They are furnished as would have been typical and thus show how people of various social and economic classes would have lived from the Middle Ages to around 1930.
The Hokeret store is a small 200-year-old architectural masterpiece on the outside, which attracts visitors for its beauty and long history. When you visit this store, you can buy many old-fashioned goods and gifts related to the past, dolls, small souvenirs, simple pendants, as well as sweets and delicious jams. When you visit this place, you will notice on the shelves many old wrapped packages, dating back tens of years.
The Lund Botanical Garden is a historical landmark that had been conceived in 1690. It functions as a garden and greenhouse with over 7,000 plant species. The gardens serve the university within the areas of study such as ecology and botany. Free admission for the public to enjoy at their leisure.
What makes Lund so appealing has to be its abundance of parks and green spaces. This is probably one of the reasons why this greenery is most conducive to student life and the overall appreciation the Swedes have for the outdoors.
As seen all of the above, you can find a blend of old and new, tradition and innovation. I found that even though Lund was smaller, it was a place I found endearing, a place I would like to return to. I obviously feel the same about Malmo, so I am mixed on which Swedish city I like more. As for advice for you, it’s best to see both!