Photo : Daniel Breece/

Coffee, Cake & Curves

On the ‘Swedish Fika Route’, cyclists can take a break in the idyllic cafés along the hilly route and experience the Swedish tradition of fika.

This national custom, an integral part of everyday Swedish life, is full of curious facts and interesting background information. In Ulricehamn in West Sweden, a town with a remarkably high density of cafés, traditional classic patisseries blend harmoniously with modern cafés in the picturesque pedestrian zone in the town centre. One particularly outstanding example is Günthers Brödstuga, whose owner created the wedding cake for the royal wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel.

The Swedish Fika Route is a hilly cycle route with several cafés and farm shops along the way. Shortly after the start in Hulu, the route climbs uphill to the highest point of the route in Kalvhestre. But it's worth the effort, because from there you have a wonderful view of the surrounding forests and meadows. The route continues uphill and downhill. If you need a break to catch your breath, the best place to do so is at the southern tip of lake Tolken. The route leads along country roads with moderate traffic. If you fancy a coffee and cake while cycling, you can take a picnic break at Älvåker Café & Skafferi in Varnum or Ådalens Café in Nitta. The end of the 62-kilometre route runs parallel to Lake Åsunden. The Swedish Fika Route is perfect for sporty holidaymakers who want to take a break and experience the Swedish tradition of fika. A download link for the GPX data is available online. There are also many myths (all of which are true, of course) and curious facts about fika:

  • In many cafés, a ‘påtår’ (a coffee or tea refill) is included.
  • The word ‘fika’ was already in use at the beginning of the 20th century. Its origins are said to lie in a kind of slang or secret language among travelling groups such as peddlers and travelling salesmen. It is assumed that the Swedish word for coffee, ‘kaffe’ or dialectally ‘kaffi’, is hidden in it and thus became ‘fika’.
  • In many Swedish companies, the ‘office fika’ around 3.00 pm is almost sacred.
  • The Swedes drink the most coffee in the world after the Finns: 9.19 kg per person per year, which equates to around 3.4 cups a day.
  • In their free time, Swedes spend an average of 24 minutes a day having a ‘fika’, compared to 12 minutes a day in the office. Men have a fika more often than women, but women take more time. The ‘fikas’ of western Swedes are the longest on average. Swedes spend an average of 11 days per person per year at the ‘fika’ table.

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