So you’ve arrived in Sweden and you’ve heard about the absolute social staple that is fika; or maybe you need a place to rest your feet between sightseeing; or perhaps it’s cold and wet outside and you want to absorb some cosy atmosphere while people watching…Gothenburg is absolutely the place for this; with a wealth of cafes on almost every street in the city centre, you won’t have to go far to find a nice place to sit and enjoy coffee.
Related post: Bars in Gothenburg: a guide
I’ve always been a lover of cafe culture, probably stemming from the many lunchtimes sat in Caffe Nero with my mum whilst out shopping. Gothenburg (and Scandinavia in general) has somewhat resisted the spread of Starbucks, which is kind of nice, and instead have their own cafe chain, Espresso House. This isn’t a bad place at all – it’s generally a spacious cafe so you can find a table, and the decor is nice, although I find it’s a bit pricey without necessarily being better than other places. The coffees are much bigger than the independent cafes, where the drinks tend to be quite short, so if that’s something for you then maybe check it out. For me personally, it was a nice place to study without feeling guilty about taking up space, and there were plenty of locations to choose from that were often open until 8pm. Apart from that though, I didn’t find it anything particularly special and the food honestly wasn’t always for me. Kind of like a Costa Coffee, except I’d take a Costa panini over an Expresso House sandwich.
Condeco is a local chain with three locations in Gothenburg and I found it quite similar to Espresso House – big, average quality, but a nice place to be nonetheless. I remember one of the locations also had a salad bar which was a nice touch, becuase I often struggled for affordable lunch options in the city that weren’t a full sit-down restaurant. The real bonus for me was that they tended to be open until 10pm, which was great for late-night studying – rare but not unheard of during my time in Gothenburg. It was also the location of our very last fika with my group of first semester friends before everyone went home – so a little bit emotional!
This post will detail my favourite cafes in Gothenburg – of which there are many – and also a few of my best memories from them. Note – for the more anxious and awkward among us, it may be worth knowing that in Gothenburg, in most cafes you seat yourself and go up to the bar to order and pay. Probably not too alien to those of us in the UK, but you never know!
Manniny Espresso Bar
This cafe featured on Instagram a couple of times during (and after) my time in Gothenburg because – for better or worse – I passed it on the way to and from class many times during Spring and Summer. I was so excited through Spring as the outdoor terraces started to pop up down the street and this cafe placed a few small tables outside. I never arrived to class early enough, but afterwards I used to sit outside in the bright, cold sunshine with a coffee and a lovely Italian pastry. It was a great spot in quite a lovely location with plenty going on on the street outside to watch. Inside, the walls host a lovely selection of artwork by local artists, so it’s equally enjoyable to sit inside or out.
Gothenburg’s own jungle! Kafé Magasinet is a tucked-away cafe-bar that’s a haven for friends and colleagues alike. From the outside you’d never guess that it’s a sprawling cafe with an industrial feel, from the concrete floor to the grungy counter. In the spectaculer covered courtyard are hundreds of plants, making it the perfect green space to study or catch up with friends. The staff are always friendly, and the food menu is brilliant too! If you stay long enough, you will see it transform into a warmly-lit casual bar for evening drinks, and it’s needless to say that the atmosphere is wonderful then too. It was a post-lecture favourite for a while when I was based at the nearby campus and needed lunch after uni. Some tables even had plug sockets so I could sit for a while in a slightly different setting and review my lectures.
Just around the corner from Kafé Magasinet, on the famous Andra långgatan (Gothenburg’s bar street/district), is another cafe-restaurant-bar situation. Dirty Records is a record shop, which is already cool, but it’s also so much more. They have a selection of great coffees and food, but also beers on tap. When I visited I also noticed a “no laptops after 5pm” policy, which is a fun way to make sure that the place stays lively and enjoyable in the evening. As a bonus, in summer, their seating spills out onto the street so you can soak up some sun as well as the atmosphere. My favourite part is the higgledy-piggledy stacks of record crates, beer kegs and mismatched tables and chairs which makes for a really interesting space.
This is an absolute Gothenburg institution, situated, as many of these cafes are, in the quaint Haga district of the city. The main street through this area is populated with adorable little cafes and independent craft and gift shops, so, as you can imagine, it’s a must-visit for tourists. Husaren particularly is a popular spot, thanks to its great selection of sweet and savoury snacks and – get this – its giant “Hagabulle” cinnamon buns. The buns are sold in full but you can also buy them in quarters – which are still very big!
The cafe has indoor and outdoor seating and the interior ceiling is gorgeous, so remember to look up! It became a favourite among me and my friends to sample Sweden’s seasonal sweets – lussekatt saffron buns in December, for example, and sweet creamy semla buns in February. A fond memory is sitting there in the winter with a saffron bun and a cup of glögg (kind of like non-alcoholic mulled wine) before we walked to the St. Lucia concert – which was utterly magical. The windows were all steamed up, our cheeks red, and we were possibly bruised thanks to the slippery road outside.
This one is a bit of a rogue entry, since it’s some way outside of the city, but it was a five-minute walk from my flat in Gothenburg and as such it became a firm favourite. If you find yourself in the south of the city, in the Krokslätt area, it’s a good place to visit! There are some accommodation options in this area, which are more affordable than the city centre, so it’s not unreasonable to think that this would be a useful recommendation! They always had a good selection of freshly-baked French and Swedish coffee pastries and the coffee was delicious. It was the site for many a planning meeting for me and my friends, and when my mum visited it was also one of our meeting points.
Viktors…what a place. This was recommended by a friend soon after I arrived and I was not disappointed. It was a cute, stripped-back little place, with concrete floors, very Scandinavian wooden furniture, and some fun art dotted around. Again, they had a selection of basic sweets like cinnamon and cardamom buns, as well as a few sandwiches. In the summer they had a lovely cold brew coffee as well. This isn’t the place for large groups as it’s a bit…”cosy”! But it is a lovely spot to sit inside or out and have a chat and a bite to eat. It’s not far from Götaplatsen, a central location in Gothenburg and home to the Poseidon statue, but it’s just slightly tucked away on a side street so the road outside isn’t too busy.
I am gutted and embarrassed to admit that I only visited Da Matteo…once? Twice? Not more than that, that’s for sure. It just wasn’t in an area of the city that I passed through often, although that’s hardly an excuse since the city is so easy to get around. And because they had several locations. As such – and it’s unusual for me to write about something I don’t very clearly remember – I don’t actually recall how I liked the coffee, or even the selection of food available. What I do remember is that their space at Magasinsgatan is incredibly beautiful, both inside and out. The showstopper is the large sun trap of a courtyard which is one of the cosiest places to gather when the weather allows. I also passed their location in Victoriapassagen a few times, which had a smaller, closer feel compared to the sprawling outside space at Magasinsgatan. As if all that wasn’t enough, they also have TWO shops selling local produce including bread, kombucha, honey, coffee, tea, chocolate, olive oil, and more.
A43 is the definition of don’t judge a book by its cover. When I first noticed it on a cold, grey, drizzly day in winter, I didn’t think much of its nondescript white plastic sign with black text (in a very plain font). Perhaps I didn’t look close enough or maybe the weather prevented me from glimpsing the interior, but I was actually missing out on a treat. They’re actually a coffee shop that takes their product very seriously, with several beans and brewing methods available, as well as a decent range of lunches and snacks. I’m very glad that I read up online and actually tried this place out a few times, because not only is their coffee delicious, but the staff are very friendly and the cafe wraps around their prep area so you can see them working and interacting. It’s a unique place.
Ahh, Brogyllen. It’s a huge, pretty grand cafe with outdoor seating, big windows, and a mezzanine level to add to the feeling of splendeur. If I were a photographer I’d have loved studying the people sat outside in all seasons, often with little dogs and huge coats, drinking coffee and eating pastries as trams passed them by. It’s right next to Brunnsparken and the city museum, so very well located to break up a day of exploring the city. Favourite memories from this place definitely include sampling my first “semla” – Shrove Tuesday bun. I’d been to the lake that day and swam for the first time in its freezing water, so I sat in the cafe feeling slightly grimy but incredibly rejuvinated. We had hot chocolate – just what the doctor ordered – and then tried these buns. Needless to say, we left feeling ever so slightly queasy but very satisfied. I then went to the cinema to top of a cosy day, and sat through the whole film with warmth radiating from my very bones.
Nöller Espresso Bar
Another Haga cafe. This one was the site of many a winter fika with my friends in semester one, and I think they got quite used to use taking up almost all of one end of their space. I can’t quite explain what it is about this one, but something about it really makes me feel cosy. The staff are always lovely and the coffee is great. I think I also like the range of seating they have in a relatively small space. There are indoor tables, outdoor tables in summer, high seats by the window looking out onto the street, and a slightly-wobbly aircraft seat at one end from which you can survey the whole cafe as well as outside. I’ll look back fondly on sharing meetings their with friends, planning trips, and taking my mum for a fika break amid our Haga shopping day.