During my trip to Stockholm, I uncovered a Swedish tradition known as fika. To the Swedish, fika is not just the practice of taking a coffee break, but a chance to slow down and set aside quality time for yourself. I embraced this practice while I was there, appreciating each fika I took and the treats I ate. Here are some of my favorites places where I got to do that. 

1. Brioche

sweet, pastry, cake, bread
Lara Taniguchi

Although Brioche is a little far from the city center, its selection of pastries makes it worth the trip. You’ll be licking your fingers when you’re done eating the vanilla cream brioche. It comes drenched and soaked in a light, syrup-like vanilla cream. If brioche isn't your thing, the mazarin, a shortbread filled with an almond paste, is a non-traditional choice and topped with a fine crunchy covering of nuts that gives it extra texture.

2. Chokladfabriken

cream, chocolate, coffee
Lara Taniguchi

Chokladfabriken has some of the best chocolates in Stockholm and a variety of delectable chocolate treats. Settle down in one of the three locations around town to sip on some hot chocolate which comes in three flavors—white, milk, and dark. The dark hot chocolate comes in a huge cup and is not overly sweet or rich, and the house-made whipped cream on top is the icing on the cake. 

3. Chokladkoppen

tea, coffee
Lara Taniguchi

Conveniently located in the square at the heart of the old town area in Stockholm, Chokladkoppen is a must-try. Since the shop is often filled with people, order its hot chocolate to go instead and sit at one of the benches in the square to people-watch. The whipped cream on top immediately starts melting from the piping heat of the hot chocolate, and this incredibly rich and velvety drink is exactly how I like it. 

4. Fabrique

cake, cream
Lara Taniguchi

With many locations throughout the city, make sure to not turn a blind eye on this bakery chain. Its traditional wood-fired baking results in fresh, quality bread that locals and tourists alike adore. Try some of the well-loved cardamom buns and blueberry buns. Or if you’re like me and love your rye breads, the walnut roll is studded with huge chunks of walnuts and has a good chew to it. 

5. Green Rabbit

sweet, bread, cake, pastry, chocolate, dairy product
Lara Taniguchi

Green Rabbit is a bakery that not only specializes in baking quality rye bread, but also focuses on organic ingredients and sustainability. Among the baked goods it has, the smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich consisting of buttered rye bread with savory toppings of your choice, is a food experience many enjoy. The sourdough sandwich with cheese, thinly sliced juicy cucumbers, and a slather of butter is a must-try. 

6. Il Caffe

bread, dough, pastry, sweet, popovers
Lara Taniguchi

A simple but cozy place to take a break, this café is a local favorite for coffee and a pastry. Among the popular cinnamon buns, the cheese roll offers something for those craving a snack that is not sweet. The cheese roll is soft and fluffy and the melted cheese that is hardened on top adds a nice crunchy texture. 

7. Pepstop

cake, chocolate
Lara Taniguchi

A paradise for vegans, this store is packed full of fresh ready-to-go meals, baked goods, and snacks that are all 100% vegan. There’s also a wide variety of raw foods and gluten-free treats so any foodie can enjoy something here. The pumpkin, cardamom, and walnut gluten-free muffin is extremely moist and dense. Take time to savor the pleasant flavor of pumpkin in each bite before you devour the entire thing. 

8. Reload Superfood Bar

cream, cake, cinnamon
Lara Taniguchi

This place is popular for its fresh salad bar but another highlight is the raw desserts. If you want a healthier kick to your fika, try Reload’s take on the semla. Traditionally a cardamom-spiced bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream, this semla has a "bun" made of a mixture of nuts, and a whipped cream made from cashews. The cashew cream is light and not overly sweet and works well to satisfy your cravings.

9. Rosendals Trädgård Café

bread, wheat, flour, cake, pastry, cereal, sweet
Lara Taniguchi

Off the beaten path in the middle of the lush, green island of Djurgården is the Rosendals Trädgård—a garden full of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and a greenhouse café. Grab lunch at the café, or head to the farm shop that sells other treats and fresh baked bread. Try a slice of the buttery and flaky almond cake and enjoy a peaceful break sitting in the orchard. 

10. STHLM Raw

milk, cereal, sweet, muesli, yogurt, oatmeal, dairy, berry, granola, corn, oat
Lara Taniguchi

STHLM Raw specializes in raw, vegan foods and is therefore the perfect place for a fika that is made of high quality, plant-based ingredients. All of its delicious and beautiful cakes are made with berries, dates, and fruit in place of refined sugar, and nuts and seeds in place of flour. Be sure to get the chia pudding which comes topped with granola, coconut flakes, and seasonal berries. 

11. StikkiNikki

cream, ice, chocolate, milk, whipped cream, butter
Lara Taniguchi

The gelato served at StikkiNikki is organic, homemade, and freshly churned every day. With many flavors ranging from the classic chocolate to the less common blueberry lavender, StikkiNikki has an ever-changing range of seasonal flavors. The messmör flavor, a sweet whey butter usually spread on sandwiches, has a refreshing and light sweetness that is very addicting.  

12. Valhallabageriet

pizza, cheese, bacon
Lara Taniguchi

Valhallabageriet is one of my favorite hole-in-the-wall spots in Stockholm. The kokostopp, a coconut macaroon perfectly shaped into a cone, is smooth and crunchy on the outside, but buttery and chewy on the inside. Valhalla’s take on the tosca, a Swedish almond cake, goes over the top with a caramel topping made of slivered almonds, whole hazelnuts and pistachios, and cashew bits. The sticky, syrupy goodness seeps down into the sponge, making it extremely moist and tender.

Fika is something that I am so thankful I got to experience in Stockholm. The pastries were great, but the practice itself is something we should all do more often. One can perhaps find a little more happiness in their day if they take the time to slow down and enjoy that current moment in time for themselves.