Libraries can be tricky*. When it’s super quiet and you’re a bit stressed, you end up focussing on the most inane sounds and getting wound up by them. A guy who’s music is leaking through his head phones. The tap tap tap of an old lady next to you who is scrolling through one person’s Facebook profile for half an hour (am I being too specific? Honestly she was annoying and it was weird. I began to think she might be a spy or something. One Facebook profile! Half an hour!). Anyway, my point is, sometimes libraries rock for intensely focussed study, but sometimes other people habits in the library become amplified by how quiet it is….and that’s a buzz kill.
What I find the most productive for me is going to study in cafes where there is a little noise, strong WiFi, the guarantee of outlets to charge your devices, and where food and drinks are reasonably enough priced that you don’t have to worry about nursing one latte for three hours in order to stay there.
Why a cafe?
As Sweden is a culture with very reasonable maternity/paternity leave, a lovely thing about studying in cafes in the middle of the day is you are surrounded by lots of different age groups. Many parents with babies go to fika with friends in cafes during the day, elderly friends meet for a catch up, freelancers set up mini offices. In university libraries, it can sometimes feel as if you’re only spending time with your demographic. When you study in cafes, you get to be part of a more expansive network of people – and animals, when a lot of dogs are also welcome in Swedish cafes. I had a very beautiful friendship for 5 minutes with a labrador in IlCaffé, Hornstull, last week. It was a lovely study break. So cafes are both great places to study, and great places to find genuinely enriching distraction too when studies become a bit dense.
The beauty of *most* Swedish cafes is that once you buy one refill coffee, the rest are free! Maybe try not to end up having 4 in 3 hours and shaking your way through most of the day. But this is a very nice perk if you’re a coffee drinker, and helps keep your studies focussed….very focussed.
Below I’ve picked some cafes which I personally find warm and affordable, if after a few days at the library you want a little change. These cafes are focussed on Uppsala and Stockholm, so if you live elsewhere and have some to recommend, let me know and I can update the blog!
Leoparden – Uppsala
Technically a youth club, who knew! If you’re under 26 years old, you can become a member of Leoparden for 20kr a year, and you get a free tote bag with it! It’s such a good deal? Almost, too good of a deal…. No but honestly, this place rocks. I’m 24 and I feel near the tail end of being too old for this place (lots of teenagers wearing frankly sickeningly fashionable second hand pantsuits), but this place is so cosy, warm and affordable! With your membership, filter coffee is 10kr. You can get a lovely toastie for 20kr, a vegan cake slice for 10kr – honestly it’s so reasonable it’s bananas. There is soya whipped cream if you want vegan hot chocolates. It’s a marvel of a place. Out the back they also have a gallery, which rotates different people’s works or installations, and they’re open to suggestions from patrons! It’s always busy but I always manage to get a seat, and the opening hours are slightly unorthodox: 15:00-20:00, weekdays. I really like this, however. If the after-lunch lull has hit me in the library, I like to take a little walk down to Leoparden and know I can take a more chill reading session here. Or, perhaps, a last-minute essay-writing session….
Konditori Fågelsågen – Uppsala
Breakfast – i.e coffee and a pastry – for 30kr on weekdays! This little cafe feels very authentically Swedish, and is always filled with a real mix of people and bustling with noise. I like to go here if I’m writing something which I really need to zone in on but like to have background noise to distract me. The pastries are plentiful, and in the summertime I love sitting outside with an Iced Latte, enriching my Basic Millennial Soul. But seriously, in the summer it’s a gorgeous place to study: sat outside in the shade a little, enjoying the sunshine as you do your course readings.
Kaferang – Nytorget, Södermalm and Gamla Brogatan, Stockholm
Kaferang, with locations in both central Stockholm and Söder, is maybe if you want a nice treat on a Friday, of a lunch out and a good study spot at the same time. I had this “pumpa brunch” below, which was a delight, and then sat and studied for a couple of hours. The seats are super comfortable and accessible for chargers, making this a really prime study spot.
Kafé 44 – Tjärhovsgatan, Södermalm
Another on Söder, Kafé 44 is a super unique cafe. They have an elevated mezzanine seating area, which really mixes up studying, don’t you think? The food here is very affordable and filling, and the coffee is reasonably priced. On the weekends this place gets busy, so I would recommend studying here on a chill week day afternoon. They also have a Radical Bookshop which is open sometimes which…..depends on your politics I guess, but I believe, is Very Rad. Fun fact: I also had a break up here! And yet I still go back! The food is good, the decor is charming, my heart is strong <3
Vurma – Hornstull, Södermalm
Here is the place to go if you want to focus on reading or writing without distraction – i.e, without WiFi. This place doesn’t have it, but they do have THE most amazing sandwiches in the world. I’ve only ever had the same one because I love it so much. But again, it gets so so busy on the weekends, so I would recommend a weekday day-time visit strongly. It’s a really lovely place to focus and it’s incredibly cosy. They also have pistachio cannolis. Which is outrageous. Outrageous how much money I spend every time I go there.
Kungliga biblioteket cafe – Humlegårdsgatan, Stockholm
So the actual library might be my favourite library in the world. It’s spacious, modern and ornate in different sections, and I actually really get stuff done here. I get stuff done because when you enter you have to put all your belongings in a locker, and your laptop/notepads/books in a plastic see-through bag. Which is great – I leave my phone in my locker and have an amazingly productive day. But if you don’t want to go through that process, the cafe of the library is also super cosy, with loads of tasty snacks to accompany your study.
Do you have any cafe study spots to recommend from your area of Sweden? Or anywhere you want to try once you move here? Let me know in the comments!
*note: I love libraries with all of my heart. Libraries are the beating hearts of countries. But also…I love snacks too?