Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying a friend to Uppsala for the day. The small university town is not that far north of Stockholm, just a bit beyond Arlanda airport, and I even know quite a few people who commute up that way for work. I’ve been there only once before for a dinner, and the pouring rain meant I didn’t get much of a chance to see the town before dinner happened and then we headed straight back to Stockholm. Needless to say, I was excited to finally have a chance to see the city properly. Especially after nearly three years of living to close by.
Transit to Uppsala is quite easy, as the pendaltåg (commuter trains) do go that far north, requiring an extension ticket and taking about an hour depending on where you travel from. Your other option is to take the SJ Regional train, a bit more direct and fancy, travelling from Stockholm Central to Uppsala Central (with a couple stops between) and taking about 40 mins. A ticket on this route is 95:- each way. But the comfortable seating, even in second class, provided a good chance on our early start to enjoy a coffee and a chat while watching the sunlit scenery flash by.
Uppsala Central station puts you close to pretty much everything you would want to see. As I said, it’s a university town and the non-residential parts are all very close together, restaurants and hotels near the station and shops and such a short walk away. After some necessary errands we walked from the station to a primary walkway (Östra Agatan) with a river (Fyris) down the middle, reminding us both of Amsterdam in a way. As it was sunny we enjoyed a sit in the nice weather before deciding on where to get lunch.
Lunch found us at Gamla torget, a little square in town where we found a nice Italian restaurant called Ristorante Villa Romana. They had a great lunch deal on, which is typical in Sweden (lunch is a better time for eating out given the cost), and included coffee, bread, salad, etc. We gathered our additional sides inside before taking a seat on the expansive patio and enjoying our main dishes. I had the sej, a white fish kind of like cod, with a mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes. It was excellent, I would definitely go back.
For our afternoon fika we went to the most fantastic cafe called Guntherska Hovkonditori & Schwiezeri. The patio was packed full by this time, so we sat inside among the plush furniture and mismatched coffee cups. The tiled walls and chandeliers made me flashback to Portugal, two completely different places I’d visited there but each with their own charm, and already I was in love due to nostalgia. And at the case was a plethora of unbelievable goodies to have with your coffee. I treated myself to something that was such an abundance of chocolate I actually couldn’t finish it (I think it was called dansk choklad but can’t recall for sure). But it was a very lovely place for fika, with plenty of varied sitting places inside, like little rooms added on to each other. They even have an inner courtyard of sorts, but given it’s still snowing on occasion in Sweden it wasn’t yet set up.
After fika we walked across the river and a little up the hill to the Uppsala domkyrka, the converted Catholic church in Uppsala whose spires can be seen from nearly everywhere it seems. Now controlled by the Lutheran Church of Sweden, it is open to visitors for free and has a board of information describing the church’s history complete with pictures of how the building and especially the spires have changed with time. It was pretty cool and was very impressive inside, especially the two massive and beautiful organs. But then I am a music person.
Our last wander down by the water was towards the various university buildings. They still sport flags from the time when Uppsala was the only university in the country and the students from the different parts would house together under their regional flags, sort of like fraternities. It’s cool to see all the old buildings still there, though we didn’t get around to seeing the main buildings. Perhaps another trip, another day.
And then it was time to get back home, running to make the train at the last minute. They do run about every half hour, so if you miss it you can always grab a coffee or something while you wait for the next one. And you can get your ticket ahead of time for a specific trip or buy it right beforehand, which is perfect for a day trip of unknown adventures!
All in all a very good place to see and I definitely want to take future visitors back for fun fancy fika and all that. I was glad to have the chance to accompany my friend there. It’s an interesting contrast to Stockholm for sure, and I like them both. I already can’t wait to go back.