Sweden in London: Taxis, the Tube, Gothenburg-style cafes, zombies and IKEA

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By Bengt Bjorkberg, Project Manager and part-time brainwashed zombie. Archway (ex Swede)

On a random Friday about a decennium ago I decided to leave the shores of Sweden in search of a new place to call home, and thought I would stop by London on the way. Ten years later I am still in London, and now I can both drive like a London cabbie (my car has the scars to prove it) and navigate the Tube system in rush hour (sometimes I don’t even get bruised by it). In short, London is my home now; I am a Londoner in all but accent.

London is overcrowded, but the fact that it is overcrowded is also what well and truly makes London one of the most vibrant and entertaining places in the world. Gothenburg has its small little streets with wonderful cafes all set to the beautiful backdrop of the Atlantic, Stockholm has its archipelago and lakes, London has its people and its ever-changing soup of cultures and influences.

If you happen to like hard hitting-beats because they are likely to turn you into a brainwashed zombie, you will find like-minded people in London to share the experience. If you are really interested in a specific technique to fold napkins, used to send coded messages in the Vatican during the 4th century (a technique only hinted at in a lonely paragraph in a book about masonry), London is the place where you will find someone who shares your interest, and there is most likely even a museum dedicated to napkin folding that you can meet up in. You can find any kind of food, from any country, region or city, sometimes even from a single village. You can spend your whole life in London finding new things to try and new things to experience, and that is why I never left London.

For those who want to sample Sweden in London:

  • National food: IKEA has a Swedish food hall, try the flatbread
  • Regional food: There is a stall on Borough Market that sells west coast fish, try the west coast salad
  • Swedish city experience: Scandinavian Kitchen, it’s almost like going to a real Gothenburg cafe, try their taster “Swedish Smorgasbord”
  • A Swedish village: Garlic and Shots in Soho, the founding “Olson Brothers” are from a one-horse village in the darkest end of Sweden, try the blood shot if you dare

What’s your experience of Sweden in London? Tell us in the comments below.


  1. Maria says:

    I moved to London seven years ago. There’s so many things to do and opportunities here that you don’t get in Sweden – you can get a job in London on the strength of your personality alone! Since living here I’ve had loads of fun, worked and lived in different places and met people from all around the world who have become lifelong friends. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there’s still so much more to explore…
    Swedish things to check out are the Nordic bar, the Swedish Church – which holds a fantastic Scandinavian Christmas market each year, and IKEA.
    Maria, 30, ex-Gothenburg

  2. Johan says:

    I moved to London mainly because of the music scene. I’ve lived here for 11 years now
    I love the offer of entertainment, multi diversity and cultures.
    I started eating Kalles Kaviar, which I hated when I lived in Sweden. And we still try to celebrate Midsummer, eat Crawfish in August and have Christmas parties (on the 24th).
    Johan, ex-Stockholm

  3. Elin says:

    I grew up watching all the British series, like Monty Python, Blackadder, Absolutely Fabuolous, The Young Ones … And I loved mostly British bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure and the whole ‘Madchester’ era.
    I lived in London for the first time back in 97, and have since then moved back and forth a few times, I just knew that’s where I wanted to be.
    I think it’s a Swedish thing to like London, it’s so special and ‘cool’ to be able to say to people back home that you live in London, work there and everything you get up to in London is so much more impressive than doing the same things in Stockholm!
    My group of friends (Swedish and other cultures) often celebrate major holidays with lots of Swedish foods (bought at IKEA of course) and TV shows. And teaching my friends and boyfriend Swedish expressions and words always has hilarious outcomes!
    Elin, ex-Stockholm

  4. Magnus says:

    It’s a pure coincidence that I’m living in London. After university I
    figured it I should go live abroad, and England seemed like a good
    idea at the time. I love the chaos that is London and all that it
    offers. I enjoy wandering around, getting lost, not knowing what I’ll
    find next. And if I’m ever homesick, I can always go to IKEA.

    – Magnus, Software developer, Brick Lane (ex-Östersund)

  5. magnus says:

    I’d like to add “Totally Swedish” (Swedish groceries) and “Garbos” (nice restaurant with Swedish food), both on Crawford Street, W1H.

  6. Nic says:

    love garlic and shots – particularly the blood shot and the teensy downstairs bar. trick is to make sure all the friends you’ll be talking closely with for the night are there :)

  7. Caz says:

    Diska eller dö!

  8. Zoe Craig says:


    Today and tomorrow, get a taste of Sweden in London’s Soho Square. Fika is the Swedish equivalent of high tea and this event is to promote the beautiful region of SkÃ¥ne in Southern Sweden. Reserve tables for up to 6 in advance.

  9. Jenny says:

    Swedish night at Kumo, every Thursday from 1 Dec 2011. Press release promises complimentary Swedish Kopperberg Cider for all and free shots of Schnapps with purchased drinks!