A cafe or coffee shop can vary so much, from decor through to the quality of the food, beverages, background music and even the crowd it draws in.
It’s an affordable way to enjoy a substantial amount of time away from the chaos of the world around you and it’s my favourite way to explore a new city in an affordable way – you don’t need to book into an expensive restaurant to get a feel for the food scene in a new location, I simply head to the local coffee stop to enjoy some peace and quiet.
A relaxed coffee shop can help me to chill out, warm up, relax, get that blog post written, recharge my batteries after a heavy night of beer drinking or provide a great & affordable meeting place with friends.
A buzzing cafe, serving great coffee and delicious homemade treats alongside a kick-ass soundtrack can MAKE a day to myself or visit to a new city for me.
I’ve travelled around the world a fair bit in the last few years and here’s a roundup of just some of my favourite “thinking places”…
Figbar, Norwich (UK)
This dessert bar in the historic Norwich Lanes is a must-visit. Everything is fantastic here. All their goodies are freshly baked and prepared on site, paired with well thought out wine and champagne selections, as well as hot chocolate, teas, coffees or cold drinks on offer. Indulgent cakes and treats, top restaurant-quality desserts, locally sourced coffee, elegant furnishings, unique crockery to eat and drink from, classy wooden floors and bars to prop yourself against, relaxed tunes, twinkly fairy lights around the bathroom door….
Add it to your food bucket list right now and read my full review here!
Mrs Atha’s, Leeds (UK)
Tucked away down a little street behind the main shopping district in Leeds, Mrs Atha’s is a quirky and independent “hipster” location for a cuppa, brunch or a slice of indulgent homemade cake. I enjoyed eggs benedict and my bearded manfriend tucked into a truly delicious sausage sandwich. The only drawback was the waiting time… 1.5 hours for our food, with no real apology or waiting time made aware. However, I’ll forgive them, as the food was really very good, the coffee was smooth and the decor had us plotting our very own gallery wall in our new home, it’s a cool little place.
Fabrique, Stockholm (Sweden)
Although a chain of traditional wood-fired bakeries throughout Stockholm, Fabrique can be forgiven once you’ve spotted their enticing selection of freshly baked breads, pastries and cakes in the glorious window displays across this vibrant city. I enjoyed a lazy (and snowy!) Sunday morning breakfast at their bakery in the old town (Gamla Stan) where I nibbled on a traditional Swedish saffron bun & freshly brewed coffee (Read all about “Fika” here). The quirky tables and sideboards holding urns of water, the vintage lights flickering above our heads and the huge retro signage on the walls all made this Bakery such a cosy start to a freezing cold day of exploring. Highly recommended, the pastries were out of this world – the scent of fresh buns alone will entice you in…
STHLM Brunch Club, Stockholm (Sweden)
Whilst still in Stockholm mode, let’s talk about this all day breakfast and brunch venue that deserves the 90 minute queue on a Saturday morning! Yep, up to 90 minutes in the snow and icy wind whilst visiting, but they provide you with blankets to wrap up into and a free coffee trolley by the front door whilst you wait. It’s honestly worth the wait if you have to, from pancakes and waffles, bagels with all the trimmings, smoothies, milkshakes porridge and fabulous vegetarian options if you want the full breakfast without meat. It gets busy here at weekends, so you are given a table for 45 minutes which is plenty of time to tuck in and enjoy a bottomless cup of filter coffee with your food.
The Linton Kitchen, Cambridgeshire (UK)
When you’re craving the best of the BEST homemade cake or a worthwhile “treat” lunch then The Linton Kitchen is the perfect retreat. Situated in the chocolate box high street of Linton, a small village on the outskirts of Cambridge. Gemma and her team are passionate about making this a place where people relax, meet new friends and enjoy local and seasonal ingredients within their food. Their carrot cake is something super special, not just a carrot cake, this is a dreamy, creamy, indulgent carrot cake topped with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of love… true story.
Clary’s, Savannah (USA)
In fact, this is the WORLD FAMOUS Clary’s Cafe, as seen in the 1997 film “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” – was once a drugstore, but has since become a popular Cafe serving homemade Southern American breakfasts. With it having free wifi and being dog friendly, this is a chilled cafe to visit ahead of a busy day exploring the city. There were some unusual elements in their breakfast omelettes, such as the apple and cheese version… I ordered it naturally, as I was more than intrigued, but not sure it worked. Plenty of filter coffee refills and a group breakfast got us in the mood for a day of exploring this stunning city on foot in the spring sunshine. I have fallen for Savannah in a big way and I will be back!
New York Cafe, Budapest (Hungary)
For all out opulence, no visit to Budapest is complete without an ornate pot of tea and some intricate cakes to tuck into with the finest silver cake forks, all whilst listening to the resident pianist twinkling away beside you. The walls, floors, ceilings are all dripping with beautiful colours and decor, one of the grandest places to enjoy a civilised afternoon tea in the heart of the city. The Opera cake is out of this world, should you be indecisive over the extensive cake menu…
Fekete, Budapest (Hungary)
You might miss this trendy little coffee shop if walking past, as it’s tucked away within a gorgeous little courtyard between the Inner City and Palace District. If you like your coffee “trendy” then this is the place for you. Serving freshly bottled smoothies and “nitro” coffee alongside a French-inspired menu, I can HIGHLY recommend the Croque Madame for a light lunch out of the heat of the summer lunchtime rush. Although in the city, you feel tucked right away from the bustle here – a perfect thinking place.
C.T Coffee & Coconuts, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
The trendiest and cosiest brunch space I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. This was once an old art deco cinema, now a superb cafe over three levels, each floor offering a vary different feel to the last. Curl up on beanbags at low-level tables, or huddle around tables as a couple or a group to enjoy their beautiful and vibrant food and drink. This is a place to be seen to be believed, a real treat – you won’t want to leave! You can enjoy a varied breakfast menu or just pop in for coffee and homemade cakes made purely for Instagram porn!
Smiths of Bourton, Cotswolds (UK)
This cute little tearoom in Bourton-On-the-Water brings back super happy memories of my first mini break with the bearded one. We popped in en route to a weekend away in Bath and this little place had just opened up. We enjoyed sampling their tea menu with proper tea cups and teapots, on our best behaviour as a family new couple still trying to wildly impress each other with our good manners hehe. Their homemade cake was divine, I don’t normally opt for coconut-based treats, but their lime and coconut sponge was unusual for my taste, but oh my, this was delicious. Every time I think about this place, a smile appears, this is a corner of the world that makes me very happy indeed.
Where are YOUR favourite cafes or coffee shops to recharge around the world?
I’d love to hear from you in a comment below!
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Please note – I am in no means obliged to blog or write about these venues, brands associated to it or their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I wish to do so.
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