Fika is the Swedish custom of taking a break for coffee, usually accompanied by a cinnamon or cardamom bun. More than that, the concept is a social institution, giving colleagues, friends and family a chance to sit down and connect. Here, Culture Trip explores the best places for fika in London.
Hidden away on a small side street in the tourist haven of Covent Garden, Bageriet is worth braving the crowds for. The shop-café is tiny, but the baked goods are wonderful. You’ll find a lot of Swedish classic cakes and biscuits here, such as the Sarah Bernhardt, a smooth dark chocolate truffle on an almond biscuit, or the dammsugare (literally vacuum cleaner), an almond and chocolate sponge filling soaked with punsch (a Swedish liqueur), rolled in marzipan and dipped in chocolate. Bageriet also sells freshly-baked bread, as well as cinnamon and blueberry buns. The cosy café is probably the best place in London for an authentic fika experience.
Launched in Edinburgh by Swede Peter Ljungquist, Söderberg has seven locations in the Scottish city. Since 2019, Londoners can also enjoy the café chain, which opened its first London location on the centrally-located Berwick Street in Soho. With its vintage Swedish furniture, the interior is straight out of a 1960s Swedish living room, and the menu is full of classics, too. Try the almond-filled mazarin tarts, cardamom buns and kladdkaka (mud cake) when it’s fika-time. The lunch menu includes traditional Swedish open sandwiches, as well as meatballs with lingonberry compote and even waffles. In the evenings, the downstairs lounge turns into a restaurant and bar.
While cinnamon rolls abound in London, it can be harder to find their more exotic cousin, the cardamom bun. There’s no such problem at Fabrique, where kardemummabullar are exquisitely baked with subtle spice and a sugar glaze. Tear your eyes away from the buns to take a good look at the bread selection – baked in a stone oven – and take home a loaf or two of levain bread, a rye baguette, sesame toast or fig and walnut bread. Fabrique is so popular that it now has six London locations, so there’s a fika option wherever you are in the city.
Denmark’s Ole and Steen has really doubled down on its London expansion and now has 10 locations in the British capital. It may not be a Swedish chain, but it’s still an excellent choice for fika. There’s a massive selection of cakes and biscuits, made fresh in the stores – try the cinnamon swirl, Sarah Bernhardt puff or coconut puff for a taste of Scandinavia. It’s a good place to go for lunch, with a wide selection of sandwiches, toasties and salads, and it also sells fresh bread. The cafés are simple and stylishly decorated, befitting Denmark’s design heritage.
Additional reporting by Cajsa Carlson.