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outdoor fika tina stafren

The Swedish Art of Fika: Coffee, Cake & Catch-ups

Last Updated: 22/12/2022

Forget IKEA and ABBA, the 4 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.

But what exactly is fika, you ask? Read on to learn all about this much-loved Swedish tradition from Nordic Visitor’s Stockholm-based travel experts.

Nice company + dark roasted black coffee + cinnamon buns = fika."
- Jennie, Sweden Travel Consultant
Fika with cinnamon buns ©Tina Stafrén -
This image & cover image: ©Tina Stafrén -

What is fika?

Fika is a typical Swedish tradition where you take time out of your day to pause and enjoy a hot drink and a snack.

But it’s not just about savouring a good cup of kaffi (the Swedish word for coffee). Fika is a ritual that’s important in Swedish culture, giving yourself a moment to have a break and socialise.

What does fika mean?

The word fika is pronounced “fee-kuh”, and it’s used as both a verb and a noun. In English, fika means "to have coffee" or “a coffee break”, but it's about so much more than that.

Fika in Sweden is when you sit with your family, friends or colleagues, 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 socialising than drinking coffee."
- Sofia, Sweden Travel Consultant
Fika ©Tove Freiij -
Fika ©Tove Freiij -

What time is fika in Sweden?

There is no rule – you can fika any time you like in Sweden! If you’re at work then you might want to take a mid-morning or mid-afternoon fika. You could stop for coffee and cake while you’re out and about. Or you might be at home and fancy an evening fika to wind down before bed.

How long is a fika break?

Don't rush! A Swedish fika is a relaxed affair. Order a sweet treat, rest your travel-tired feet, and enjoy your company. Or use the opportunity to observe Swedes in their natural environment.

Where does the word fika come from?

The word fika can be traced back to the 19th century. During this period the Swedish word “kaffi” was inverted to “fika” as a slang term. Since then, fika has stuck!

Along with takk ("thank you") and hej ("hi"), fika is one of the most important Swedish words to know if you’re visiting the country.

Fika ©Alexander Hall -
Fika ©Alexander Hall -

How many times a day do you fika in Sweden?

You can take as many fika breaks as you like in a day. It’s actually a custom that’s observed frequently in Sweden. 

Here in Sweden we can fika several times during the 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

Fun fact: Sweden has among the highest coffee consumption rates across the globe! Only the Finns and the Dutch caffeinate themselves more than the Swedes.

What do you eat for fika?

Cinnamon buns are a favourite sweet treat for fika in Sweden. But if cinnamon spice isn't your thing, then choose from a variety of other baked goods. Think cakes, cookies, chocolate balls, and simple open-faced sandwiches – all acceptable additions to your cup of coffee.

Fika in the garden ©Clive Tompsett -
Fika in the garden ©Clive Tompsett -

When is the best time for a Swedish fika?

The best time to fika is a personal preference for Swedes. You might find you love a morning fika, an afternoon pick-me-up, or an evening wind-down.

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."
- Jennie

In winter you can enjoy the cosy atmosphere of elegant Swedish cafés. As soon as springtime returns, the Swedes take their fika outside. Join them and indulge in a spot of people-watching as you fika in the open air.

Outdoor fika at Huuva Hideaway ©Tina Stafrén -
Outdoor fika at Huuva Hideaway ©Tina Stafrén -

Where is a good place to fika in Sweden?

You can fika at any number of Swedish cafés and bakeries (usually called “konditori”) around the country.

In Stockholm you can admire the colourful, medieval buildings of the Gamla Stan (Old Town) area while you fika outside. Or for great trend-spotting with your caffeine and sugar, head to the Södermalm district.

In the Haga old town neighbourhood of Gothenburg, try the massive Swedish cinnamon buns (“kanelbulle”) that are bigger than your head!

Did you know: there’s a Nordic-inspired café called FIKA in Minnesota? You can stop for a Swedish-style coffee break at the American Swedish Institute’s Nelson Cultural Center.

So, if you want to feel like a local during your trip to Sweden, you know what to do: fika!

Fika moment ©Tina Stafrén -
Fika moment ©Tina Stafrén -

Are you craving a cup of Svenskt kaffi? If so, get in touch with the coffee-loving, friendly folks at Nordic Visitor for your bespoke vacation in Sweden.

You’ll have a dedicated travel consultant to design your trip and provide personal, one-to-one service. Our Sweden specialists are based in Stockholm and know the country like the back of their hand. They’ll use their local knowledge to plan your perfect getaway.

Contact our Stockholm team and get ready to fika in Sweden!

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Post by: Emma Gillies

Wanderlust has taken Emma across much of the world, but it was Scotland that she made her adopted home. Aside from enjoying countryside walks, campervan weekends and gigs in Glasgow, you’ll often find her writing about European travel and plotting her next trip.

More posts by Emma Gillies

Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way - check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.