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Bikes, Fika, Gasques and Nations – A Pocket Guide to Uppsala, Sweden

Photo 1 (River)

Wondering what to expect when you get to Uppsala? There are four things you’ll be surrounded by as soon as you arrive in Sweden; bikes, nations, gasques and fika!


Bikes are one of the most popular forms of transport in Uppsala. You’ll use them to get to class, the supermarket, the nations and other student housing areas to visit friends or attend a corridor party. If, like me, you haven’t been anywhere near a bike since you were nine years old you may want to do a bit of practice before arriving in Sweden (and if not, don’t stress! You’ll learn quickly). There are bike lanes almost everywhere and some cool bike routes to explore around the city.

Photo 2 (Bike Lanes)
There are bike lanes all around Uppsala.



Nations are associations that students are able to join that provide pubs, clubs, student housing, study areas and more. There are thirteen nations in total and each one has its own facilities. Exchange students are able to join up to two nations, but are still able to attend other nation’s events. You will be spending a lot of your time in nations to meet other students, get a cheap meal or in a pub socialising.

Photo 3 (Group)
Poorly lit photo of us at one of the nation’s pubs



Fika is the Swedish tradition of having coffee and cake (or biscuits and sandwiches). There are a variety of places that serve fika and you are sure to find somewhere if you have a sudden craving for it. In fact, I am writing this after coming home from a fika at one of the nations!


In Sweden, it’s common for students to meet for a fancy dinner, known as a gasque, with assigned seats and cocktail dress. There are strict dress codes for gasques, including dress length and style. They even specify whether or not dresses can be sleeveless! These events are organised by nations and are generally very popular. The first International Student gasque organised was sold out before university even started. It is common for locals to advise exchange students to attend at least one gasque as “they are an essential part of the Swedish experience”.


Yvonne Owen


Bachelor of Information Technology

Uppsala Universitet, Sweden

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