Café Culture – Where to Fika in Stockholm

Stockholmers love their coffee and don’t think twice about dropping kronor on expensive cups of latte—in a city where even eating out can often dent the wallet. The frequency with which Swedes seem to indulge in this tradition may perplex visitors, but the actual act of drinking coffee isn’t at its core. It is a long observed social custom called “fika,” which celebrates sharing with friends, colleagues, and family over cups of coffee.

Kungsgatan 55, 111 22 Stockholm, Sweden
There’s a strong coffee culture in Stockholm coupled with a tradition called “fika,” where one shares multiple daily coffee-and-pastry breaks with family, friends, and colleagues. Head over to award-winning Vete-Katten on Kungsgatan to dig into Swedish pastries such as kanelbullar (cinnamon buns), appelkaka (light apple pie) served with vaniljsås (vanilla sauce), and kladdkaka (rich chocolate brownie-like cake). During the winter months of December through March, bakeries offer semlor, oval buns filled with marzipan and whipped cream.
Skånegatan 79, 116 35 Stockholm, Sweden
Let’s face it, Stockholm is three things for travelers: It’s cold. It’s expensive. And it’s home to some of the most gorgeous human specimens on this dear planet of ours. I may have found the perfect place to remedy these issues, should they be considered as such—Gilda’s Café. Set in the heart of the boho district of Södermalm in south Stockholm, Gilda’s is the perfect place to shelter from the cold with a warm cup of coffee in hand, inexpensive pastries (fika, anyone?), and some good old people watching. Trust me when I say that people watching does not get any better than in Stockholm. Locals are very fond of hipster ways. They are relaxed, friendly, and could all be on the front cover of a fashion magazine. Beautiful people aside, Gilda’s is a little slice of heaven on its own. Think unmatched tableware, indie music, eclectic furniture, and delicious homemade dishes. Worlds away from the compartmentalism and practicality of Ikea. The change of scenery is most welcome and enjoyable. Save your precious kronors, daydream about a handsome Swedish Viking while sipping a comforting latte, and go to Gilda’s. It’s the ultimate south Stockholm thing to do, and you won’t regret it.
Adolf Fredriks kyrkogata 10, 111 37 Stockholm, Sweden
Sun streams through the big windows on the third floor of the church, setting the gold detail on the walls and ceilings aglow. The atmosphere is reserved; antique chandeliers and mirrors provide an elegant, refined setting. But even though I’m in a place of worship, I’m here for the coffee and cakes. This café, in the old City Church (City Konditoriet) in Stockholm, is a unique setting to enjoy the café culture. You feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. I’m surrounded by older people sipping their coffee and practicing the lost art of visiting. At least I think so, since I don’t speak Swedish. Coffee is a reasonable 20 kronor, and you can order lunch and brunch items. Get here early on a Saturday and enjoy the one table situated on the balcony.
Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden
In a city known for clean lines, Stockholm’s Södermalm district (“Söder” to locals) is surprisingly nonconformist. A slum in the 18th century, the neighborhood is now home to a mix of clothing and furniture shops; Thai, Greek, and Turkish restaurants; historic falu red cottages; and one famous fictional character, Mikael Blomkvist, the journalist in Stieg Larsson’s bestseller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Linger at a cafe along the main square, Medborgarplatsen, and take in the scene.
Bysistorget 6, 118 21 Stockholm, Sweden
Stieg Larsson singlehandedly burst the world’s bubbled image of Sweden and its conformist society through his riveting best-selling Millennium trilogy. With over 60 million (and counting) copies sold, the late author introduced an edgier side of Sweden to the world beyond long-held stereotypes of ABBA, IKEA, blondes, Volvos, Saab, and meatballs, revealing a multi-layered and diverse country through his fictional protagonists—journalist Mikael Blomkvist and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. Set in Stockholm’s eclectic neighborhood of Södermalm, with its gentrified mix of wealthy, religious, offbeat, and working-class residents all flitting between outdoor cafes and vintage stores, Larsson introduces us to a cutthroat world of greed and crime. Avid fans of Larsson’s books can take two-hour long tours organized by Stockholm City Museum and led by certified guides, on Saturdays at 11:30am year-round. The walking tours take fans through key locations spotlighted in the book, such as Bellmansgatan 1 (Blomkvist’s home) with its views of Stockholm’s Gamla stan and Riddarholmen across Riddarfjärden bay, and the 21-room penthouse on Fiskargatan 9 (which Lisbeth Salander buys with stolen money). During the summer months of June to September, travelers can also take the tours on Wednesdays at 6pm. Visit
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