My Uppsala: ‘Experience a touch of Swedish Cambridge’

The Local took a trip to Uppsala to discover Sweden’s fourth-biggest city through the eyes of two of its international residents.

My Uppsala: ‘Experience a touch of Swedish Cambridge’
Photo: André Dutra in Augusta Janssons Karamelfabrik

André Dutra’s life has changed since moving from Brazil to Uppsala. He no longer works ten hour days or relies on a car to get around. Now he lives in a city that he can easily walk from one end to the other of with a pace of life that’s slower but far from dull.

“What I really like about Uppsala is that it’s a big city but it feels like a small college town. Even the very clichéd shopping street you have everywhere in Europe, here it’s quite cute!”

One of André’s favourite spots is just a few minute’s walk from Uppsala Central Station. Opposite the Linnaeus Museum, the former home of famed Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, is Café Linné, a traditional Swedish cafe on the corner of Svartbäcksgatan.

Photo: André in Café Linné

“It feels very nice inside, you have this feeling that you’re in your grandma’s house,” André tells The Local, recommending that visitors settle into one of the cafe’s cosy corners with a cup of coffee and a traditional Swedish pastry or cake.

READ ALSO: Sweden’s cultural gem is just 30 minutes outside of Stockholm

Just a short stroll from Café Linné is the University Park and home to six ancient rune stones. For André, who comes from Brasilia, a city founded in 1960, they’re one of the city’s most special features.

Photo: Rune stone in University Park, Uppsala

“The ones in the park come from the 11th century. They are quite beautiful, they’re pieces of art. They’re so ancient; this duality, in a modern, environmental city like Uppsala is really interesting.”

For a panoramic view of the city, André suggests wandering up to the viewpoint at nearby Uppsala Castle. 

“It’s not really about the castle,” he explains. “The view from the top of this hill is scenic and breathtaking. You see all different parts of the city. It’s just beautiful on a sunny day!”

Photo: Augusta Janssons Karamelfabrik

He recommends refueling with a cup of Joe from Arrenius and Company, “a tiny place with really impressive coffee,” or indulging with a decadent treat from Augusta Janssons Karamelfabrik, a Willy Wonka-esque chocolate shop where you can’t help but feel like a kid in a candy store.

Start planning your getaway in Uppsala

Wrap up the day, he suggests, with a meal at Hambergs fisk – “The seafood is amazing!” – before a night on the town with a pitstop at Shotluckan — a vegetarian restaurant by day, shot bar by night — or end it on a high note with some live music at Katalin And All That Jazz.

Photo: Shotluckan

‘I adore living in Uppsala’

Historian Arina Polyakova Franzén moved from Russia to Sweden in 2015. After a stint in Stockholm, she upped sticks for Uppsala and hasn’t looked back.

“I adore living in Uppsala. I find it a lot calmer and friendlier than Stockholm, where we lived for three years,” she told The Local.

The city’s rich past and strong academic profile holds an obvious allure for the history buff. Particularly Gamla Uppsala, a village just outside the city easily reached by bus, and home to one of Sweden’s most noteworthy museums, where visitors can experience one of Sweden’s oldest historic sites and take a virtual reality tour of Iron Age Uppsala.

“There’s a beautiful museum in the open air with replica houses like the ones people would have lived in the old days. If you go when it’s warm weather you can see the whole territory; in the winter, you just see the burial mounds. You don’t need a ticket, it’s free.”

Photo: Arina by the River Fyris

That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of history and culture to be found in central Uppsala. With a packed events calendar including Uppsala Reggae Festival in July, barely a weekend goes by that there isn’t something on in the city.

River Fyris, which passes through Uppsala, plays host to a number of events throughout the spring and summer. The highlight of the season is a ‘wacky races’-style rafting event which takes place every year on 30th April, a celebration known in Sweden as ‘Valborg’.

“They do a lot of interesting events involving the river,” says Arina. “As soon as it starts to get warm, people start taking out canoes. It’s very fun to see, you can sit in front of the cathedral with a cup of coffee or warm chocolate.”

Visit Uppsala: Click here to plan your trip

Arina — who holds a PhD in British monarchy — is partial to a cup of tea at Landings, a traditional Swedish cafe in Uppsala’s city centre. It’s a bonus, she adds, that she’s able to take her dog into the cafe with her.

Photo: Landings konditori

“It’s traditional and delicious! It’s very cosy to go in and chat with friends and have something sweet. I have a very cute little dog who I like to take along! It’s also one of the oldest bakeries in Uppsala, founded in 1887.”

She heartily encourages tourists to visit Uppsala, particularly those who want to experience Sweden outside of its slick capital.

“If people want to see the calmer Sweden, they definitely have to come to Uppsala and experience a touch of Swedish Cambridge.”

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Destination Uppsala.

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The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager’s dream

Although parts of Sweden are still under snow at this time of year, spring is in full swing here in Skåne in the south of Sweden. Here are The Local's top tips for what you can forage in the great outdoors this season.

The three tasty treats that make spring in Sweden a forager's dream

You might already have your go-to svampställe where you forage mushrooms in autumn, but mushrooms aren’t the only thing you can forage in Sweden. The season for fruits and berries hasn’t quite started yet, but there is a wide range of produce on offer if you know where to look.

Obviously, all of these plants grow in the wild, meaning it’s a good idea to wash them thoroughly before you use them. You should also be respectful of nature and of other would-be foragers when you’re out foraging, and make sure not to take more than your fair share to ensure there’s enough for everyone.

As with all foraged foods, only pick and eat what you know. The plants in this guide do not look similar to any poisonous plants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – or ask someone who knows for help.

Additionally, avoid foraging plants close to the roadside or in other areas which could be more polluted. If you haven’t tried any of these plants before, start in small doses to make sure you don’t react negatively to them.

Wild garlic plants in a park in Alnarpsparken, Skåne. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Wild garlic

These pungent green leaves are just starting to pop up in shady wooded areas, and may even hang around as late as June in some areas. Wild garlic or ramsons, known as ramslök in Swedish, smell strongly of garlic and have wide, flat, pointed leaves which grow low to the ground.

The whole plant is edible: leaves, flowers and the bulbs underground – although try not to harvest too many bulbs or the plants won’t grow back next year.

The leaves have a very strong garlic taste which gets weaker once cooked. Common recipes for wild garlic include pesto and herb butter or herbed oil, but it can generally be used instead of traditional garlic in most recipes. If you’re cooking wild garlic, add it to the dish at the last possible moment so it still retains some flavour.

You can also preserve the flower buds and seed capsules as wild garlic capers, known as ramslökskapris in Swedish, which will then keep for up to a year.

Stinging nettles. Wear gloves when harvesting these to protect yourself from their needles. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Stinging nettles

Brännässlor or stinging nettles need to be cooked before eating to remove their sting, although blanching them for a couple of seconds in boiling water should do the trick. For the same reason, make sure you wear good gardening gloves when you pick them so you don’t get stung.

Nettles often grow in the same conditions as wild garlic – shady woodlands, and are often regarded as weeds.

The younger leaves are best – they can get stringy and tough as they get older.

A very traditional use for brännässlor in Sweden is nässelsoppa, a bright green soup made from blanched nettles, often topped with a boiled or poached egg.

Some Swedes may also remember eating stuvade nässlor with salmon around Easter, where the nettles are cooked with cream, butter and milk. If you can’t get hold of nettles, they can be replaced with spinach for a similar result.

You can also dry nettles and use them to make tea, or use blanched nettles to make nettle pesto.

Kirskål or ground elder, another popular foraged green for this time of year.
Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Ground elder

Ground elder is known as kirskål in Swedish, and can be used much in the same way as spinach. It also grows in shady areas, and is an invasive species, meaning that you shouldn’t be too worried about foraging too much of it (you might even find some in your garden!).

It is quite common in parks and old gardens, but can also be found in wooded areas. The stems and older leaves can be bitter, so try to focus on foraging the tender, younger leaves.

Ground elder has been cultivated in Sweden since at least 500BC, and has been historically used as a medicinal herb and as a vegetable. This is one of the reasons it can be found in old gardens near Swedish castles or country homes, as it was grown for use in cooking.

Kirskål is available from March to September, although it is best eaten earlier in the season.

As mentioned, ground elder can replace spinach in many recipes – you could also use it for pesto, in a quiche or salad, or to make ground elder soup.