One thing you’ll learn pretty quickly when you arrive in Gothenburg is that the Swedes are big coffee drinkers – they even have a word for the coffee break – it’s called Fika. Fika can mean a cup of coffee or a social event where you meet friends or colleagues for a coffee and a chat. If you want something sweet to go with your coffee, there are no shortage of delicious cakes and buns to choose from. When you’re in Gothenburg you’ll want to take a break from the sightseeing and find a cosy bolthole in winter or an interesting courtyard in summer to watch the world go by, so here are some of our favourite Fika spots from our trip to Gothenburg;
In the picturesque old working neighbourhood of Haga, we found a weekend Christmas market going on all along Haga Nygata, the main street on which you’ll find Cafe Kringlan, marked by the golden bagel hanging outside. After listening to an impromptu student choir on a street corner and following a marching band up the street we squeezed into Cafe Kringlan for a restorative milky coffee. The place was packed and I liked to look of the pretty room at the back but after queuing at the counter laden with the traditional cinnamon buns and other tempting pastries we carried our glass mugs of coffee the only free seat by the door. Outside cakes and buns were also being sold including the golden saffron buns that are a speciality at Christmas time. Cafe Kringlan is at Haga Nygatan 13.
Cafe Husaren is also in Haga, just a few minutes from Cafe Kringlan and is reputed to the the place where they invented the Cinnamon buns that are a traditional Gothenburg treat and are served in many of the cafes around the city. The buns are so enormous that they’ll probably keep you going from breakfast until dinner if you have one with your late morning coffee. You can see the cinnamon buns prettily piled up in the window of Cafe Husaren as you pass by on Haga Nygata. Cafe Husaren is at Haga Nygata 28.
Le Petit Cafe
Much further down Haga Nyata is Le Petit Cafe where we ended up one early evening when everything else was closing in Haga. I like the vintage feel of this friendly cafe with a traditional Swedish feel of painted wooden furniture, pretty turquoise chinoiserie wallpaper and lots of antique finds scattered around. There are benches with cushions but we sat at the stools in the window with a coffee and slice of chocolate cake, watching the dusk fall in Gothenburg. Le Petit Cafe is at Haga Nygata 2.
Cafe Kronhuset is set in a different area of the city to the cafes mentioned in Haga, in the Nordstaden neighbourhood close to the port and the Maritiman Maritime museum. The Kronhuset or Crown house is an old artillery store, built in the 1650s in Dutch style with red brick walls and distinctive copper roof and window shutters and is reputed to be one of the oldest buildings in Gothenburg. In the courtyard next to the Kronhuset are a number of small craft workshops as well as Cafe Kronhuset which is very cosy in winter and has tables in the courtyard to sit in summer. We sat inside near the back where a fire was burning next to the old anvil and the cafe is a great place for a light lunch of open sandwich or salad as well as coffee and cakes. You can hear us talking about the Fika in Cafe Kronhuset in my Gothenburg Podcast. Cafe Kronhuset is at Postgatan 6-8, 411 13 Göteborg
Da Matteo seems to be the local’s Fika choice for great coffee and there are three different branches in Gothenburg that we found. In Victoriapassagen is a small coffee shop where you can sit on a bar stool and watch the world walk along the passage, or the two branches in Magasingaten, one of which is the bakery where they make the bread at the back and grind the coffee – I hear the pizzas are great here at lunchtime. If you’re in Magasingaten on a weekday lunchtime do also look out for the Strömmingsluckan herring cart selling traditional Swedish Fried Herring with mashed potato and lingonberry sauce.
I don’t know whether the Fika concept will stretch to include hot drinks other than coffee but if chocolate is your passion then the place for you is Cafe Kanold by the canal. The Cafe was only opened last year by Jeanna Kanold who runs the Kanold chocolate shop just around the corner and I’d highly recommend the hot chocolate with chili flakes which is just the thing to provide protection against the cold Gothenburg winds. I challenge you to leave without trying a few other chocolate treats such as the Gothenburg truffle which has sea salt on the top, invented by Jeanna Kanold and inspired by the ocean and seafood that if so beloved by Gothenburgers. Read my article about Cafe Kanold. Cafe Kanold is at Grönsakstorget 1.
More things to enjoy in Gothenburg
Visitor Information for Gothenburg or Göteborg
- The local tourism site Göteborg.com is full of information on the best things to see and do
- For information on West Sweden visit the West Sweden Tourism site or follow them on Twitter @WestSwedenTB or on their Facebook page and you will find their blog at ExploreWestSweden.com
- Another useful site for all things Gothenburg is I Love Göteborg
- If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing it’s worth getting the Gothenburg City Card which will allow you entrance to all the major attractions as well as public transport. Look out for the deals that some hotels offer that include a Gothenburg Card with the hotel booking.
- We stayed at the classic 5 star hotel, Elite Plaza Hotel which is in the Inom Vallgraven district and walking distance from most of the sights of Gothenburg. Check for the best hotel prices in Gothenburg and book here.
- We took flights to Gothenburg from London Heathrow with Scandinavian Airlines who have 2 flights a day to Gothenburg’s Landvetter airport, a 30 minute taxi or bus ride from the city.
- If you’d like to use a guidebook during your visit to Gothenburg I’d recommend the conveniently sized Thomas Cook Gothenburg Pocket Guide which we used.
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