Lisa Fors Källström and James Fancourt round up some the best Nordic-themed shops and cafes in Berlin…
Berlin, as we know, is a multi-kulti city. Each district, or even Kiez, showcases a plethora of international cultures, whether its 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 Nordic-themed outlets, ranging from cafes 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 Nordic interior design.
Below are some of our favourite spots around the city to get a “Nordic” 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 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. 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.
Sanderstrasse 13, 12047 Berlin; Wed – Sat: 10am–6pm Sun: 11am–6pm
This shop (and nearby showroom) located in Prenzlauer Berg is as beautifully designed as the objects it contains – which comes as no surprise once you have met 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 seven years no – there is a newer (one-year old) showroom located nearby on Marienburgerstr, 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.
Shop: Rykestr. 31, 10405 Berlin; Tues – Fri: 11am-6pm Sat: 11am-5pm; Showroom: Marienburgerstraße 2; By appointment
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.
Oslo Kaffebar, Eichendorffstraße 13, 10115 Berlin; Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm Sat: 10am-7pm, Sun: 10am-6pm
Kaschk, Linienstraße 40, 10178 Berlin, Mon-Fri: 8am-midnight Sat-Sun: 10am-midnight
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.
Wühlischstraße 58, 10245 Berlin (Friedrichshain)
Stargarder Straße 58, 10437 Berlin (Prenzlauer Berg)
Both shops: Mon-Tues: 11am – 7pm Wed-Fri: 11am – 8pm Sat: 12pm – 6pm, Sun: 1pm – 6pm
Heading back to Prenzlauer Berg now, our next stop is Café Stockholm. As the name suggests it’s a Swedish-style café, serving up fairtrade 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 – more berries in the summer, apple/pear in the winter. Its style is very much in the vain of Prenzlauer Berg, but with subtle design touches that hint to its Scandinavian roots. They also serve breakfast on the weekend that includes reindeer ham, elk salami and Swedish knäckebröd. Various products are also for sale including their homemade marmalade.
Kollwitzstraße 74, 10435 Berlin; Tuesday – Sunday, 10am-6pm
Tiergarten’ 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 use of 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.
Rauchstr 1, 10787 Berlin; Felleshus: Mon-Fri: 10am – 7pm Weekend: 11am – 4pm; Canteen: Mon-Fri: 10am – 11.30am & 1pm – 4pm
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. It’s been around for eight years and it focuses on the things that make Sweden unique. The store 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 and 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.
Bundesallee 139, 12161 Berlin; Mon-Fri: 09:00-17:00 Sat: 10:00-14:00
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 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 exactly sure what you want then you don’t have to worry, as there’s friendly staff on hand to help you choose the perfect piece.
Lietzenburger Str 65, 10719; Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat 11am-6pm