Berlin, as we know, is a multi-kulti city. Each district, or even Kiez, showcases a plethora of international cultures, whether it’s restaurants selling Thai, Spanish or Mexican food or independent shops specialising in French books, African antiques or Czech toys.
Amidst this cosmopolitan Smörgåsbord can be found a subtle but consistent spread of Scandi-themed outlets, ranging from cafés selling tasty fika (Swedish for when you drink something, usually coffee, and eat something sweet), galleries exhibiting works from Scandinavian artists, and homeware boutiques offering the best in Scandinavian interior design.
Below are some of our favourite spots around the city to get your Scandinavian fix…
This is the ultimate place to go to for a fika. In fact, you can find all of the best Scandinavian treats here. Owner Lo opened the Café Valentin three years ago and it has since become a popular place with both Scandinavians and non-Scandinavians. Since Lo is half Swedish and half Danish, you can enjoy both Swedish delicacies such as prinsesstårta and kanelbullar and Danish specialties such as smørrebrød. It’s a great place to explore Scandinavian food culture, relax in a comfy chair with a good coffee and, if you’re lucky, pet the dog (Wilma) who is sometimes around to snuggle with the customers.
Scandinavian Objects is located in Prenzlauer Berg and is as beautifully designed as the objects it contains, which comes as no surprise once you have met owner Sten, a man who once studied furniture and design and clearly knows his stuff. Located on the handsome, cobbled Rykestrasse, the shop — as the name suggests — sells various things sourced from Scandinavian countries, ranging from Fjällräven backpacks to handmade wooden toys.
As well as the main shop, which has been around for eight years now, there is a newer showroom located nearby on Marienburgerstr (visits by appointment only), which is purely for displaying Scandinavian furniture. Not only is the furniture itself beautiful, but Sten speaks of it all with such an intoxicating passion that you can’t help but gain a strong sense of appreciation for the work that goes into creating each piece.
Oslo Kaffebar & Kaschk
Oslo Kaffebar and Kaschk are two Norwegian-style places located in Mitte, owned and run by the same people. Oslo Kaffebar (situated near Nordbahnhof) offers great coffee in a beautiful setting, with an interior blending a clean, modern style with lots of natural wood to give that Scandinavian feel. It also has the bonus of a small vinyl shop in the back of the café.
Kaschk, on the other hand, is part-café, part-bar. It has one of the best craft beer selections in Berlin, which is always rotating to let you experience new beers each week from around the world. It features a similar interior to its sister establishment Oslo Kaffebar, and you can even play the rather obscure game of shuffleboard downstairs.
Herr Nilsson Godis
Swedish people love sweet things. They have a special day to eat waffles — Våffeldagen; they have a day for eating Semlor (a kind of cardamom bun filled with whipped cream and almond paste) — Semmeldagen; and they have a day for eating cinnamon buns — Kanelbullens dag. At Easter, rather than getting a chocolate egg like you might in the UK, you get a massive cardboard egg stuffed to the brim with candy. In fact, they even dedicate every Saturday of the week to it: Lördagsgodis (literally: Saturday candy) is one of the highlights of the week for almost every Swedish kid.
To ensure that no Swede or sweet-toothed individual need go without godis, Herr Nilsson have two shops in Berlin with a huge range of candy available to buy, pick n mix style. You can get everything from sura nappar to kolaremmar and djungelvrål.
Heading back to Prenzlauer Berg now, our next stop is Café Stockholm. As the name suggests it’s a Swedish-style café, serving up fair trade coffee and a range of great food (including of course, Swedish kanelbullar). The cakes are baked fresh each day and vary depending on the season — ie. more berries in the summer, apple/pear in the winter. Its style is very much in the vein of Prenzlauer Berg, but with subtle design touches that hint to its Scandinavian roots. They also serve a breakfast on the weekend that includes reindeer ham, elk salami, and Swedish knäckebröd. You’ll find various products for sale too, including their homemade marmalade.
Tiergarten’s Nordic Embassies comprises six buildings — the five embassies of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway, as well as the communal building known as the Felleshus, which is Danish for “house for everyone”. It’s a great place to visit to get a taste of Nordic/Scandinavian culture and architecture.
The Felleshus itself is an impressive building designed by architects Alfred Berger and Tiina Parkkinen and completed in 1999, featuring beautiful Swedish marble floors, exposed concrete, glass, and maple wood. Inside you can find Nordic exhibitions, and it also plays host to events such as readings and film screenings. Perhaps the best way of getting a “taste” of these countries though is the canteen, which is open to the public and serves up Nordic food during the week. Oslo Kaffebar are also in attendance with a small pop-up café inside.
Even though the owner of Swedish Gourmet is German, he’s a real Scandinavian expert. He’s lived in Sweden for a few years, speaks the language fluently and has a real passion for everything that’s Swedish. The shop has been around for nine years and focuses on the things that make Sweden unique. It mostly sells food, and some of their most popular products include Marabou (chocolate), Bregott (butter), kladdkaka (a type of chocolate cake), cheese, crisps, pickled herring, elk and reindeer meat.
If you don’t fancy something to eat but still want to bring a piece of Sweden home with you, Swedish Gourmet also have mugs, stuffed animals, and various elk-related merchandise.
This furniture and lifestyle brand was established in 2011 in Berlin, and is a German-Danish venture with a design team headed by a Norwegian-Danish duo. Located near Kudamm, the showroom of NORR11 is a beautiful space that perfectly shows off the equally beautiful products within. All of the furniture and accessories are based on Scandinavian design roots, but often also incorporate influences from around the world. If you’re not sure exactly what you want then you don’t have to worry, as there’s friendly staff on hand to help you choose the perfect piece for your home.
Words by Lisa Fors Källstrom & James Fancourt. Photos by James Fancourt.
This article was originally published on Slow Travel Berlin.