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Why is this Swedish town the world's capital of fika?

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Cinnamon rolls and Alingsås. Photo: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se/DavidJ/Flickr.com
12:36 CET+01:00
Obsessed with fika? Apparently you should head to Alingsås in west Sweden, which hopes to put itself on the map as the world's 'Capital of Fika'.

Situated 40 kilometres north-east of Gothenburg, Alingsås may not be the first place that jumps to mind when international readers think about Swedish tourist hotspots, but the picturesque town boasts one thing that speaks directly to the Swedes' famous sweet tooth: it has the most cafés per capita in the country.

Tourism bosses and cafe owners now hope that their new English slogan, 'Alingsås – The Capital of Fika', launched this week, will help attract foreign visitors to the west Sweden municipality of around 39,000 residents and the 30-something cafés lining its cobblestone streets.

"Our fika tradition in Alingsås dates back until a time when we had a lot of industries in the town and workers didn't have time to bake themselves, so they ate out at cafés," Sandra Grönkvist, co-owner of Nygrens Café in Alingsås, told The Local of the three-centuries-old tradition on Thursday.

What's fika? Well, if you've lived in Sweden for more than five minutes you'll be well aware of the almost-daily coffee-and-something-sweet routine. But the phenomenon has also been going global in recent years, with more and more Nordic coffee shops popping up abroad.

READ ALSO: Is Sweden's fika trend going global?

Tourism chief Gunhild Reteike, one of the people behind the 'Capital of Fika' campaign, told the regional GT tabloid that she is already fielding questions from global media about the hype.

"I have visits by journalists from the US, Germany, England and Norway booked in this spring," she said.

Grönkvist meanwhile says she would welcome more visitors from near and far, adding that she has already noticed that her town and Swedish fika are attracting more attention.

"We already have a lot of foreign tourists and the fika concept is only getting more and more popular, both among Swedes and internationally."

"I've told them [the tourism bosses] that the best thing about this is that we're getting journalists from all over the world visiting us to write about this. If you know that people have got their eyes on you, you want to become better and better. I hope we live up to their expectations," she said.

A new addition to the Alingsås calendar are the regular 'fika tours' between April and October, where participants walk from café to café to munch on Swedish goodies such as cinnamon rolls and marzipan cakes (it's essentially like a pub crawl, but with the difference that you can bring your kids).

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"I'm a pretty boring person, I think a really good bun is hard to resist. I'm not much for other Swedish fika pastries like 'kladdkaka' [a sticky chocolate cake] or carrot cake. A good cup of coffee and a bun that has been baked with love, that's perfect," said Grönkvist.

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