Forget IKEA and ABBA; the four most important letters you need to know in Sweden are FIKA. Just as the Swedes perfected flat-packed furniture and pop music (among many other things), they also took the classic coffee break to world-class levels.
The word fika (pronounced feee-ka, used as both verb and noun) translates in English as "to have coffee", but it's about so much more than that. For an authentic explanation of this Swedish cultural phenomenon, we turn now to our Nordic Visitor travel experts in Stockholm:
"Fika in Sweden is when you sit with your family, friends, colleagues, etc. and take a coffee or tea, often with something sweet on the side. Fika is Swedish for a coffee break but it is more about socializing than drinking coffee. Here in Sweden we can fika several times during one day -- we love our Fika! There is a reason why we are the second or third on the list of biggest coffee drinkers in the world." - Sofia
"The best time for a fika is on a Sunday afternoon around 3 o’clock. First you go out for a nice walk and then you come home, snuggle up on the sofa with a cup of dark roasted black coffee and a freshly baked cinnamon bun. Nice company + dark roasted black coffee + cinnamon bun = Fika" - Jennie
So, if you want to feel like a local during your trip to Sweden, you know what to do: fika! You can do it any time of day, at any number of coffee shops, cafés and bakaries (usually called konditori) around the country. Here are a few of our own suggestions for a fine fika:
- In Stockholm, the Gamla Stan (Old Town) area offers a cosy atmosphere. For great people-watching and trend-spotting with your caffeine and sugar, head to the Södermalm district.
- In the Haga old town neighbourhood of Gothenburg try the massive cinnamon rolls (kanelbulle) that are bigger than your head! If cinnamon spice isn't your thing then a variety of cakes, cookies and simple open-faced sandwiches are also acceptable additions to your coffee.