Welcome to Helsinki, the vibrant capital city of Finland known for its rich culinary traditions and unique food and drink offerings. Helsinki is a food lover’s paradise, offering a diverse range of traditional Finnish foods and beverages that will tantalize your taste buds.
Finnish cuisine is heavily influenced by the country’s natural resources, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from forests, lakes, and farms. From hearty soups to mouthwatering pastries, there is something to suit every palate.
In this article, we will take you on a gastronomic journey through Helsinki, highlighting the must-try traditional Finnish dishes and beverages that define the city’s unique food culture. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this guide will help you navigate the city’s bustling food scene and discover the best places to satisfy your cravings.
Prepare to indulge in Helsinki’s signature flavors, from savory reindeer dishes to sweet cinnamon buns. Along the way, we will also introduce you to some popular Finnish beverages that pair perfectly with the local cuisine.
Join us as we explore the culinary delights of Helsinki and uncover the hidden gems that make this city a food lover’s paradise.
Traditional Finnish Foods
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the Finnish food culture is by trying some of the traditional dishes that have been enjoyed for generations. These dishes showcase the simplicity and purity of Finnish ingredients, often prepared in traditional ways that have been passed down through families.
Here are some traditional Finnish foods that you shouldn’t miss when visiting Helsinki:
- Cinnamon Rolls (Korvapuusti): These mouthwatering pastries are a staple in Finnish bakeries. Made with a sweet and buttery dough, generously sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and topped with pearl sugar, every bite is a heavenly delight.
- Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto): Finland, known for its pristine lakes and rivers, is the perfect place to enjoy fresh and delicious salmon. Lohikeitto is a creamy salmon soup made with potatoes, onions, dill, and often garnished with a dollop of sour cream. It’s a comforting and flavorful dish that warms the soul.
- Rye Bread (Ruisleipä): Rye bread is a staple in the Finnish diet and has a special place in Finnish culture. It’s dark, dense, and packed with nutty flavors. Whether eaten plain, topped with butter and cheese, or used as a base for open-faced sandwiches, rye bread is a must-try when in Helsinki.
- Karelian Pies (Karjalanpiirakat): These traditional pastries are a Finnish delicacy. They consist of a thin rye crust filled with a mixture of rice and butter. Karelian pies are typically enjoyed as a snack or appetizer, and they pair perfectly with a dollop of butter and topped with egg butter or smoked salmon.
- Sautéed Reindeer (Poronkäristys): Reindeer is a popular meat in Finnish cuisine, and Poronkäristys is a classic reindeer dish that shouldn’t be missed. Thinly sliced reindeer meat is sautéed to perfection, resulting in tender and flavorful bites. It’s often served with lingonberry jam and mashed potatoes.
- Licorice (Salmiakki): Finnish licorice, or salmiakki, is a unique and acquired taste. It’s made with ammonium chloride, giving it a distinctive salty and slightly bitter flavor. For those adventurous enough to try it, salmiakki is a beloved Finnish treat that locals can’t get enough of.
- Mustard Herring (Sinappisilli): Herring is a staple in Finnish cuisine, and Sinappisilli is a popular pickled herring dish. The herring fillets are marinated in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and mustard, resulting in a tangy and slightly sweet flavor. It’s often enjoyed as a side dish or part of a traditional Finnish smorgasbord.
These traditional Finnish foods are a true reflection of the country’s culinary heritage and offer a delightful blend of flavors and textures. Be sure to try as many as you can during your visit to Helsinki to fully experience the local food culture.
Cinnamon Rolls (Korvapuusti)
When it comes to Finnish pastries, cinnamon rolls, or “Korvapuusti” in Finnish, reign supreme. These delectable treats are a beloved staple in Finnish bakeries and cafes, and no visit to Helsinki is complete without indulging in one.
Traditionally, Finnish cinnamon rolls are made with a sweet dough infused with cardamom, which adds a unique and fragrant flavor to the pastry. The dough is then rolled out and generously sprinkled with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Finally, the dough is tightly rolled up and sliced into individual rolls, which are baked to golden perfection.
The result is a soft and doughy pastry bursting with the warm and comforting flavors of cinnamon and sugar. The aroma that fills the bakery as these rolls are baking is simply irresistible.
One unique characteristic of Finnish cinnamon rolls is their shape. Unlike the classic spiral-shaped cinnamon rolls found in other countries, Finnish cinnamon rolls are oval-shaped, with a slightly elongated and twisted appearance. This gives them their distinctive look and makes them easily recognizable.
Finns take their cinnamon rolls seriously, and the quality and taste of these pastries can vary greatly from one place to another. While you can find cinnamon rolls in many cafes and bakeries around Helsinki, some places are renowned for their exceptional version of this classic treat.
One popular spot that locals and tourists alike flock to for cinnamon rolls is Café Regatta. This cozy and charming cafe, located by the seaside, serves up some of the best Korvapuusti in town. Enjoy your fresh pastry with a cup of hot coffee while taking in the picturesque views.
Another must-visit destination for cinnamon rolls is Fazer Café. Fazer is a famous Finnish brand known for its high-quality chocolates and pastries, and their cinnamon rolls are no exception. Their version is moist, flavorful, and generously sized, offering a true cinnamon lover’s delight.
Whether you choose to enjoy your cinnamon roll alongside a cup of hot coffee or as a sweet treat on its own, the warmth and coziness of this Finnish classic will bring pure joy to your taste buds.
Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto)
With its vast lakes and rivers teeming with fresh fish, it’s no surprise that salmon holds a special place in Finnish cuisine. Lohikeitto, or salmon soup, is a traditional Finnish dish that showcases the natural beauty and flavors of this prized fish.
Lohikeitto is a hearty and comforting soup that is perfect for warming up on a chilly day. The base of the soup is typically made with a combination of potatoes, onions, and salmon, which are simmered together in a rich and creamy broth.
The key to a delicious lohikeitto lies in the freshness of the ingredients. Finnish salmon is known for its exceptional quality and flavor, and using fresh, locally sourced salmon is essential to achieving the best taste. The salmon is typically cut into chunks or slices and added to the soup, resulting in tender and succulent pieces that complement the creamy broth.
In addition to the salmon, lohikeitto often includes other ingredients such as leeks, dill, and sometimes carrots or peas for added color and flavor. The soup is seasoned with salt, pepper, and sometimes a hint of lemon juice to enhance the taste of the fish.
One popular variation of lohikeitto is the addition of a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche. This gives the soup a rich and velvety texture and adds a tangy element that balances out the richness of the salmon.
When it comes to enjoying lohikeitto, it is often served as a main course, accompanied by fresh bread or crisp rye crackers. The combination of the creamy soup and the hearty bread makes for a satisfying meal.
If you’re looking to sample some authentic lohikeitto in Helsinki, head to one of the local restaurants specializing in Finnish cuisine. Ravintola Nokka, located by the seafront, is known for its focus on Finnish flavors and offers a delicious rendition of lohikeitto.
Another popular spot is Kappeli, an iconic Helsinki restaurant situated in Esplanade Park. Their lohikeitto is made with high-quality ingredients and is served in a picturesque setting, surrounded by lush greenery and stunning architecture.
Whether you’re seeking comfort on a cold day or simply want to taste a quintessential Finnish dish, lohikeitto is a must-try when visiting Helsinki. The blend of fresh salmon, creamy broth, and aromatic herbs will leave you feeling satisfied and nourished.
Rye Bread (Ruisleipä)
In Finland, rye bread, or “ruisleipä,” is not just a staple food, but a symbol of the country’s culinary heritage. This dark and hearty bread has been enjoyed by Finns for centuries and holds a special place in their hearts and stomachs.
Ruisleipä is made primarily from rye flour, which gives it a distinct flavor, dense texture, and deep brown color. It is traditionally prepared using a sourdough starter, which adds complexity and tanginess to the bread.
Finnish rye bread is often baked using traditional methods, with long fermentation times and slow baking processes. This allows the flavors to develop fully and gives the bread its characteristic crust and dense crumb.
When it comes to enjoying rye bread, there are endless possibilities. It can be enjoyed in its simplest form, topped with creamy Finnish butter, cheese, or your favorite sandwich fillings. Open-faced sandwiches, known as “voileipä,” are a popular way to showcase the flavors of rye bread, with various toppings such as cold cuts, fish, or vegetables.
One of the most traditional ways to enjoy rye bread is by having it with a spread called “leipäjuusto” or “vaisa,” which is a Finnish squeaky cheese made from cow’s milk. The combination of the nutty rye bread and the slightly sweet and creamy leipäjuusto is simply delightful.
When in Helsinki, you can find rye bread in almost every grocery store, bakery, and cafe. The city is home to numerous bakeries that take pride in their rye bread creations.
One renowned bakery is Karl Fazer Bakery, known for its high-quality baked goods. Their rye bread is made with the utmost care and attention to detail, resulting in a truly exceptional product.
For a unique experience, head to the indoor market hall, Hakaniemi Market Hall, where you can find traditional Finnish food stalls and a variety of rye bread options. Explore the different sellers, chat with the vendors, and find your favorite rye bread to take home or enjoy right there at the market.
Whether you’re a bread lover or simply looking to experience Finnish food culture, rye bread is a must-try when in Helsinki. Its robust flavor, hearty texture, and rich history make it a true culinary treasure.
Karelian Pies (Karjalanpiirakat)
When it comes to iconic Finnish foods, Karelian pies, or “Karjalanpiirakat,” are at the top of the list. These traditional pastries have been enjoyed in Finland for centuries and are considered a true national delicacy.
Karelian pies are made with a rye dough that is rolled out thin and shaped into small, oval or boat-like discs. The filling is traditionally made from a mixture of rice and butter. The rice filling is slightly sweet and buttery, creating a perfect balance of flavors in each bite.
One distinct feature of Karelian pies is their characteristic rye crust. The crust is thin, crisp, and slightly chewy, providing a delightful contrast to the soft and creamy rice filling.
Enjoying Karelian pies is a unique experience. They are typically enjoyed as a snack or appetizer, often topped with a generous amount of butter. The butter is spread over the pie, creating a rich and indulgent combination of flavors.
You can find Karelian pies in many bakeries, cafes, and supermarkets in Helsinki. One popular spot that specializes in these traditional treats is the Hakaniemi Market Hall. Here, you’ll find various vendors offering freshly baked Karelian pies, often made using age-old family recipes.
Another popular destination for Karelian pies is the Lotta Svärd Foundation Café, located in the heart of Helsinki. This charming cafe not only serves delicious Karelian pies, but also supports a great cause, as the profits from the café go towards supporting veterans and other charitable endeavors.
Whether you enjoy your Karelian pie on its own, or topped with a dollop of creamy butter, it’s an experience not to be missed. The combination of the delicate rye crust and the buttery, rice-filled center is a true taste of Finnish culinary tradition.
Don’t forget to savor each bite and embrace the history and heritage that these pies represent. They are a true reflection of Finnish culture and a testament to the country’s love for simple yet delicious foods.
Sautéed Reindeer (Poronkäristys)
When it comes to unique and traditional Finnish dishes, sautéed reindeer, known as “Poronkäristys,” holds a special place. Reindeer meat has been a staple in the Finnish diet for centuries, particularly in the northern regions, and sautéed reindeer is a classic way to enjoy this lean and flavorful meat.
Poronkäristys is made by thinly slicing reindeer meat and then quickly sautéing it in butter until it becomes tender and slightly crispy on the edges. The result is a dish that is rich in flavor and has a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Traditionally, sautéed reindeer is served with lingonberry jam, mashed potatoes, and pickled cucumber on the side. The tartness of the lingonberry jam complements the richness of the meat, while the creamy mashed potatoes provide a comforting base.
One of the highlights of trying sautéed reindeer is experiencing the unique flavors of this wild game meat. Reindeer has a distinct taste that is both rich and slightly gamey, making it a true delicacy for adventurous eaters.
In Helsinki, you can find sautéed reindeer on the menus of many traditional Finnish restaurants. One such place is Restaurant Savotta, located in the city center. This cozy and rustic restaurant offers a variety of Finnish dishes, including their renowned sautéed reindeer. The warm and inviting atmosphere adds to the overall experience of enjoying this traditional delicacy.
Keep in mind that reindeer meat is a seasonal ingredient, so its availability may vary throughout the year. However, many restaurants in Helsinki ensure a steady supply of reindeer meat, allowing you to savor this unique dish at any time.
Sautéed reindeer is not just a delicious dish; it also holds cultural importance for the indigenous Sami people of Finland, who have herded reindeer for centuries. By savoring this dish, you are connecting with Finland’s rich heritage and honoring the traditions of the Sami community.
Whether you’re a meat lover or simply looking to try something truly authentic, sautéed reindeer is a must-try when visiting Helsinki. The combination of flavors and the opportunity to experience a unique ingredient will make for a memorable culinary experience.
When it comes to unique and acquired tastes in Finnish cuisine, licorice, or “salmiakki” in Finnish, takes the spotlight. Finnish licorice is not your typical sweet treat; it has a distinct flavor profile that sets it apart from licorice found in other parts of the world.
Salmiakki is made with ammonium chloride, which gives it a unique and slightly salty taste. It can be an acquired taste for some, but for many Finns, it is a beloved treat that they can’t get enough of.
Finnish licorice comes in various forms, including hard candies, chewy candies, and even chocolate-covered versions. It’s characterized by its dark color and intense flavor, which can range from mildly salty to incredibly strong and pungent.
One popular way to enjoy salmiakki is in the form of small, round pellets known as “salmiakki pastilles.” These bite-sized candies pack a powerful punch of salty licorice goodness, leaving a distinct taste in your mouth.
Visiting a Finnish candy store is an excellent way to explore the world of salmiakki. You’ll find an array of licorice candies, each boasting its own unique blend of flavors and intensity levels.
When in Helsinki, a great place to explore the world of Finnish licorice is the candy store called Suomikauppa. Located near the city center, this store offers a wide selection of salmiakki candies, allowing you to find your favorite variation.
For a more interactive licorice experience, you can try participating in a salmiakki tasting session where you’ll have the opportunity to sample different types of Finnish licorice candies and learn about their history and production.
Whether you’re a licorice enthusiast or a curious first-timer, trying Finnish licorice is an experience like no other. It’s a true reflection of Finnish taste preferences and will give you a glimpse into the unique flavors that captivate the locals.
Just be prepared for the strong and distinctive flavors that salmiakki offers. It’s an acquired taste for many, and you may find yourself either loving it or deciding it’s not for you. Either way, delving into the world of Finnish licorice is an adventure in itself.
Mustard Herring (Sinappisilli)
Mustard herring, or “Sinappisilli” in Finnish, is a popular traditional Finnish dish that combines the salty richness of herring with the tangy kick of mustard. This unique and flavorful combination has been enjoyed by Finns for generations and is a beloved part of their culinary heritage.
Sinappisilli starts with pickled herring fillets that have been marinated in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and mustard. The marinade infuses the herring with a tangy and slightly sweet flavor, while the mustard adds a distinct and bold kick.
The result is a tantalizing dish that combines the brininess of the herring with the zesty notes of mustard. The flavors are perfectly balanced, creating a harmonious taste experience that is both delicious and unique.
Mustard herring can be enjoyed in various ways. It is often served as part of a traditional Finnish smorgasbord, where it can be enjoyed on its own or paired with other dishes. It is common to see the herring fillets served on a bed of crisp lettuce, garnished with fresh dill or finely chopped onions.
One of the best ways to enjoy Sinappisilli is on top of a slice of dark rye bread, known as “ruisleipä.” The nutty and slightly sweet flavor of the rye bread pairs perfectly with the tangy herring and mustard combination, creating a mouthwatering taste sensation.
You can find mustard herring in many traditional Finnish restaurants and local food markets in Helsinki. It’s always worth seeking out restaurants that specialize in Finnish cuisine to experience the true authentic taste of Sinappisilli.
When visiting the city, make sure to explore the local markets, such as the Helsinki Market Square and Hakaniemi Market Hall. Here, you’ll find numerous stalls offering a variety of pickled herring options, including the coveted mustard herring.
Whether you’re a fan of herring or a newcomer to this unique fish, trying mustard herring is a must when visiting Helsinki. It’s a classic dish that reflects the love for bold and contrasting flavors in Finnish cuisine, and it’s sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.
Popular Finnish Beverages
In addition to its delectable food offerings, Finland is also known for its unique and refreshing beverages. From traditional warm drinks to craft beers, Finnish beverages have a character of their own that reflects the country’s rich culture and natural resources.
Here are some popular Finnish beverages that you should try during your visit to Helsinki:
- Glögi (Mulled Wine): Glögi is a beloved Finnish holiday drink that warms the soul during the cold winter months. It is made by heating red wine with a blend of spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Almonds and raisins are often added to enhance the flavor. The result is a fragrant and comforting drink that is enjoyed by people of all ages.
- Sima (Traditional Finnish May Day Drink): Sima is a traditional Finnish fermented lemon-flavored drink that is closely associated with the celebration of Vappu, or May Day. It is made by combining water, sugar, lemon, and active dry yeast, which gives it a slight fizziness. Sima is typically enjoyed with a sweet, homemade doughnut called “tippaleipä” during the festive season.
- Finnish Craft Beers: Craft beer has gained popularity in Finland in recent years, leading to the emergence of numerous breweries across the country. Finnish craft beers often showcase unique ingredients and flavors, using locally sourced berries, herbs, and other natural elements. Whether you prefer hoppy IPAs or smooth stouts, Helsinki offers a thriving craft beer scene where you can sample a variety of innovative and delicious brews.
- Lonkero (Finnish Long Drink): Lonkero is a refreshing alcoholic beverage that originated in Finland and has become a staple at summer events and festivals. It is a mix of gin and grapefruit soda, creating a crisp and citrusy thirst-quencher. Lonkero is known for its light and refreshing taste, making it perfect for warm summer days.
- Cloudberry Liqueur (Lakka): Cloudberry, or “lakka” in Finnish, is a golden-colored and tart berry that grows wild in the northern parts of Finland. Cloudberry liqueur is made by infusing these berries with alcohol, resulting in a sweet and tangy liqueur. It is often enjoyed as a digestif or used as a flavoring agent in cocktails.
Whether you’re looking for a comforting warm beverage, a unique craft beer, or a refreshing summer drink, Helsinki has something to offer. Explore local bars, restaurants, and breweries to discover the full range of Finnish beverages and experience the flavors that make them distinct and unforgettable.
Glögi (Mulled Wine)
When it comes to warming up during the chilly winter months in Finland, there’s no better beverage than glögi. Glögi, also known as mulled wine, is a beloved Finnish holiday drink that warms both the body and the spirit.
Glögi is traditionally made by heating red wine and infusing it with a blend of aromatic spices, such as cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods, and orange peel. The mixture is simmered gently, allowing the flavors to meld together and create a fragrant and soul-soothing concoction.
What makes Finnish glögi unique is the addition of almonds and raisins. Once the glögi has been prepared, it is often served with these deliciously plumped raisins and a handful of blanched almonds, which add a delightful textural element to the drink.
Glögi is not just a drink but a cherished part of Finnish holiday traditions. It is particularly popular during Christmas markets and celebrations, filling the air with its enticing aromas and comforting warmth.
During the winter season in Helsinki, it’s easy to find glögi in cafes, restaurants, and even outdoor stalls. Many places offer variations of this classic beverage, some even adding a twist with additional spices, such as ginger or star anise.
In addition to the traditional warm version of glögi, you can also find a non-alcoholic version called “glögi mukib,” which is perfect for those who prefer a non-alcoholic alternative or want to share the joy with younger family members.
The act of sipping glögi and enjoying its delightful flavors brings people together, creating a cozy and convivial atmosphere. It’s a drink that warms not only the body but also the hearts of those who partake.
So, when you visit Helsinki during the winter season, be sure to seek out a cup of glögi and embrace the Finnish tradition of savoring this soothing and aromatic mulled wine. It’s a true winter indulgence that will leave you feeling merry and content.
Sima (Traditional Finnish May Day Drink)
One of the cherished Finnish traditions is celebrating May Day, or “Vappu,” and a key part of this festive occasion is a traditional drink called sima. Sima is a lightly fermented, sparkling lemon-flavored drink that holds a special place in Finnish hearts during the Vappu celebrations.
Sima is made by combining water, sugar, and brown sugar, and then adding fresh lemon juice and lemon zest for a burst of citrusy flavor. To give sima its unique fizzy character, active dry yeast is added, which gently ferments the mixture, resulting in a natural carbonation.
The fermentation process of sima is relatively short, usually lasting just a couple of days, allowing it to develop a mild alcohol content. However, the alcohol content is usually quite low, making sima suitable for all ages to enjoy.
Vappu is a time of joy and celebration, and sima is at the center of this festive tradition. On the eve of May Day, Finns gather with friends and family, and a glass of homemade sima is the perfect way to toast to the arrival of spring.
Traditional accompaniments to sima are “tippaleipä” and “munkki,” special sweet treats associated with Vappu. Tippaleipä is a funnel cake-type pastry, while munkki is a sweet doughnut-like pastry dusted with powdered sugar. These delightful pastries perfectly complement the refreshing and slightly tangy flavors of sima.
To experience the authentic taste of sima in Helsinki, you can visit local bakeries and cafes that serve traditional Vappu delicacies. You may also come across stands selling bottles of homemade sima, often made by families following treasured generational recipes.
Embrace the spirit of Vappu by raising a glass of sima with friends as you partake in the festivities. The light, sparkling, and zesty flavors of sima bring a refreshing touch to the celebration, symbolizing the arrival of spring and the vibrant spirit of the Finnish people.
So, when you visit Helsinki in late April or early May, be sure to immerse yourself in the Vappu festivities and indulge in a taste of sima. It’s an experience that allows you to connect with Finnish culture and join in the joyous celebration of May Day.
Finnish Craft Beers
Finland may not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of craft beer, but the Finnish craft beer scene has been steadily growing and gaining recognition over the years. Helsinki, in particular, has become a hub for craft breweries, offering a wide array of innovative and delicious brews.
Finnish craft beers are known for their quality, creativity, and use of locally sourced ingredients. Many breweries take advantage of Finland’s vast forests and pristine lakes to incorporate unique flavors into their brews. You’ll find beers infused with wild berries, herbs, and even hints of traditional Finnish spirits.
Whether you’re a fan of hop-forward IPAs, smooth stouts, or refreshing pale ales, Helsinki’s craft beer scene has something for every discerning beer lover. From small, independent breweries to larger, well-established ones, there are plenty of options to explore and taste.
One popular craft brewery in Helsinki is Mikkeller Helsinki. Known for their experimental and boundary-pushing brews, they offer a rotating selection of beers that will surprise and delight your taste buds.
Another notable brewery is Panimoravintola Bruuveri, located in the heart of Helsinki. They pride themselves on producing traditional Finnish beers using local ingredients, giving their brews an authentic and distinct Finnish character.
For a unique craft beer experience, consider visiting the Brewery Tour Helsinki. This guided tour takes you through some of the best craft breweries in town, offering a chance to learn about the brewing process and sample a variety of beers along the way.
Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or just curious to explore the world of Finnish craft beers, Helsinki’s vibrant craft beer scene will not disappoint. It’s a chance to support local brewers, taste unique flavors, and immerse yourself in the dynamic and evolving Finnish beer culture.
So, while in Helsinki, venture into the city’s breweries, taprooms, and bars, and sample the craftsmanship and creativity of Finnish brewers. Raise a glass, savor the flavors, and toast to the thriving craft beer scene that has made its mark in the Finnish capital.
Lonkero (Finnish Long Drink)
Lonkero, also known as the Finnish Long Drink, has become an iconic Finnish beverage since its creation for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. It’s a refreshing and thirst-quenching drink that has maintained its popularity throughout the years.
A traditional lonkero consists of a mix of gin and grapefruit soda, resulting in a crisp, citrusy, and lightly carbonated beverage. It strikes a perfect balance between the bitter notes of gin and the fruity, slightly tangy flavors of grapefruit.
Lonkero gained fame as a refreshing summer drink and became a symbol of Finnish culture. It’s often enjoyed during outdoor events, picnics, festivals, and gatherings with friends and family.
The combination of gin and grapefruit soda not only creates a harmonious taste but also makes lonkero a remarkably thirst-quenching beverage. It’s a perfect choice for warm summer days when you want something light and invigorating.
Luckily, finding lonkero in Helsinki is quite easy. You can spot it in supermarkets, convenience stores, and most bars and restaurants across the city. It’s typically served in tall glasses with plenty of ice, making it a visually appealing and refreshing sight.
If you’re looking for a unique twist on traditional lonkero, keep an eye out for different variations that some Finnish craft breweries offer. These variations may incorporate additional flavors, such as berries or herbs, creating innovative and exciting deviations from the classic recipe.
Whether you’re a fan of gin or simply looking to sample a quintessentially Finnish beverage, trying lonkero should be on your list when visiting Helsinki. Raise a glass, savor the crisp flavors, and join in the tradition of enjoying this refreshing and iconic Finnish long drink.
Cloudberry Liqueur (Lakka)
Cloudberry, known as “lakka” in Finnish, is a golden-colored and tart berry that grows wild in the northern parts of Finland. One of the best ways to experience the unique flavors of this prized berry is through cloudberry liqueur, or lakka liqueur.
Lakka liqueur is made by macerating cloudberry berries in alcohol, typically with the addition of sugar for a touch of sweetness. The result is a smooth and fragrant liqueur with a distinct balance of tartness and sweetness.
Cloudberry liqueur is a popular choice as an aperitif or digestif, often enjoyed neat or on the rocks. It can also be used as a flavoring agent in various cocktails, adding a burst of tangy and fruity notes to the drink.
When visiting Helsinki, you can find bottles of lakka liqueur in liquor stores, duty-free shops, and many bars and restaurants across the city. It’s a wonderful souvenir to bring home or a unique gift for friends and family.
For a more immersive experience, consider visiting a local distillery or specialty shop that produces cloudberry liqueur. Here, you can learn about the extraction process and even have the opportunity to taste different variations of lakka liqueur.
Lakka liqueur not only tantalizes the taste buds but also provides a glimpse into the wild and pristine landscapes of Finland. The cloudberry is a cherished and rare delicacy, making cloudberry liqueur a true symbol of Finnish craftsmanship and nature’s bounty.
So, while in Helsinki, don’t miss out on the opportunity to try cloudberry liqueur. Whether you sip it slowly to savor its intricate flavors or use it to create a signature cocktail, lakka liqueur is a unique and delightful taste of Finland that will leave a lasting impression.
Where to Experience Helsinki’s Food and Drink Scene
Helsinki is a vibrant city with a thriving food and drink scene, offering a wide range of culinary experiences to suit every taste. From traditional markets to unique cafes and bars, here are some places where you can immerse yourself in Helsinki’s delectable offerings:
- Local Helsinki Markets: One of the best ways to experience the local food culture is by visiting the vibrant markets in Helsinki. Market Square, also known as Kauppatori, is a bustling hub where you can find fresh produce, baked goods, and local delicacies. The Hakaniemi Market Hall is another must-visit destination, offering a wide variety of traditional Finnish foods, including fresh fish, cheese, and pastries.
- Traditional Finnish Restaurants: Helsinki is home to numerous restaurants that specialize in traditional Finnish cuisine. Look out for establishments like Ravintola Nokka and Kappeli, which offer a range of authentic Finnish dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. These restaurants provide a delightful blend of flavors that reflect the rich culinary heritage of Finland.
- Helsinki Food Tours and Experiences: To get a deeper insight into Helsinki’s food scene, consider joining a food tour or culinary experience. Local guides can take you on a gastronomic journey, introducing you to hidden gems and providing fascinating stories about Finnish cuisine. Helsinki Food Walk is one such tour that offers a chance to sample a variety of local dishes while exploring the city’s neighborhoods.
- Unique Cafes and Bars in Helsinki: Helsinki is dotted with unique and trendy cafes and bars that offer a wide range of culinary delights. Café Regatta is a cozy spot by the seaside where you can sip on freshly brewed coffee and indulge in their famous cinnamon rolls. For craft beer enthusiasts, Helsinki has a plethora of breweries and craft beer bars, such as Mikkeller Helsinki and Panimoravintola Bruuveri, where you can sample a variety of innovative brews.
Helsinki’s food and drink scene is diverse and ever-evolving, with something to satisfy every palate. Whether you’re exploring local markets, dining in traditional restaurants, embarking on food tours, or trying unique cafes and bars, you’ll be immersed in the flavors and stories that make Helsinki’s culinary culture so enticing.
So, when you visit Helsinki, be sure to venture out and experience the city’s vibrant food and drink scene. It’s an opportunity to savor traditional flavors, discover new tastes, and create lasting memories of your time in Finland’s capital.
Local Helsinki Markets
When it comes to experiencing the vibrant and diverse food culture of Helsinki, there’s no better place to start than the local markets. These bustling hubs offer a sensory overload of flavors, aromas, and colors, showcasing the best of Finnish produce, delicacies, and culinary traditions.
One of the most famous markets in Helsinki is Market Square, or Kauppatori, located by the waterfront near the city center. Here, you’ll find a wide array of stalls selling fresh fruits, vegetables, berries, fish, cheese, and other local products. Indulge in the sweet scent of Finnish strawberries, sample the creamy richness of Finnish cheeses, or try the freshly smoked fish that showcases Finland’s rich maritime heritage.
A visit to the Hakaniemi Market Hall is also highly recommended for a true taste of Helsinki. This vibrant indoor market offers an abundance of local produce, meats, seafood, and baked goods. From traditional rye bread and cinnamon rolls to reindeer meat and Finnish sweets, Hakaniemi Market Hall is a treasure trove of Finnish culinary delights.
As you wander through these markets, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with local vendors who are passionate about their products. They can provide insights on how to select and prepare Finnish ingredients, along with stories and recommendations for exploring Helsinki’s food culture.
Aside from fresh produce, Helsinki markets also offer a wide range of street food stalls and outdoor cafes where you can indulge in local favorites. Try the mouthwatering lihapiirakka, a hot pastry filled with seasoned meat, or the savory karjalanpiirakka, a traditional Karelian pastry filled with rice or potatoes.
Don’t forget to satisfy your sweet tooth with Finnish treats like pulla (sweet cardamom bread), runebergin torttu (almond and rum tart), and munkki (Finnish doughnut). These delightful pastries are best enjoyed with a cup of hot coffee or a refreshing glass of local berry juice.
Whether you’re looking to stock up on fresh ingredients, taste local delicacies, or simply immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, exploring the local markets of Helsinki is a must. It’s an opportunity to connect with the heart of Finnish food culture, interact with locals, and create unforgettable culinary memories.
Traditional Finnish Restaurants
When in Helsinki, exploring traditional Finnish restaurants is a must for an authentic taste of Finnish cuisine. These restaurants pay homage to the rich culinary traditions of Finland, showcasing the flavors and ingredients that have shaped Finnish food culture for generations.
Ravintola Nokka, located by the seafront, is one such restaurant that embraces traditional Finnish flavors in a modern and elegant setting. Their menu highlights local and seasonal ingredients, with dishes like sautéed reindeer, Baltic herring, and foraged forest mushrooms taking center stage. The emphasis on sustainability and local sourcing resonates throughout the dining experience.
Kappeli, situated in the picturesque Esplanade Park, is another must-visit restaurant that offers a delightful blend of Finnish cuisine and historical charm. With its stunning neo-renaissance architecture, Kappeli has been a gathering place for locals and visitors since 1867. The menu features classic Finnish dishes, including salmon soup, smoked reindeer, and Karelian pies, providing a true taste of Finnish tradition.
For a more rustic and cozy experience, Heinätori is a traditional Finnish restaurant that offers homestyle cooking in a relaxed atmosphere. From hearty meatballs and stewed root vegetables to creamy salmon gratin, Heinätori showcases the comforting flavors of Finnish home-cooked meals. Don’t forget to try their delectable Finnish desserts, such as lingonberry pie or blueberry pancake served with whipped cream.
Visiting Finnish restaurants is not only about the food but also about the ambience and the warm hospitality that accompanies each meal. The staff often share stories about the dishes and take pride in serving traditional Finnish fare.
While exploring these establishments, be sure to pair your meal with some Finnish beverages. Local beers, such as sahti (traditional Finnish farmhouse ale) or craft beers infused with unique Finnish flavors, can enhance the dining experience. For those who prefer non-alcoholic options, try lingonberry juice, bilberry kvass, or Finnish-inspired herbal teas.
Immersing yourself in the atmosphere of traditional Finnish restaurants allows you to appreciate the depth of flavors and the cultural significance of Finnish cuisine. It’s an opportunity to connect with the country’s culinary heritage and indulge in the tastes that have shaped Finnish identity.
So, when in Helsinki, make sure to reserve a table at one of these traditional Finnish restaurants and embark on a journey through the flavors of Finland.
Helsinki Food Tours and Experiences
For a deeper immersion into Helsinki’s food scene, joining a food tour or culinary experience is a fantastic way to explore the city’s diverse flavors and culinary traditions. These tours provide guided insights into Helsinki’s vibrant food culture and offer the opportunity to sample a variety of local dishes and delicacies.
Helsinki Food Walk is a popular food tour that takes you on a gastronomic journey through the city’s neighborhoods. Led by knowledgeable guides, you’ll visit local markets, charming cafes, and specialty food shops to taste a wide array of Finnish treats. From traditional pastries to Nordic seafood, this walking tour allows you to discover the rich diversity of Helsinki’s food scene while learning about the city’s history and culture.
Another unique experience is the Finnish Food and Culture Day Tour, where you can delve deeper into Finnish culinary traditions while also immersing yourself in Finnish cultural experiences. This full-day tour combines visits to local food markets, dining at traditional Finnish restaurants, and participating in hands-on activities like bread baking or foraging in the wilderness. It’s a comprehensive and immersive journey that allows you to truly connect with Finnish food and culture.
If you’re a fan of seafood, consider a Helsinki Baltic Sea Food Tour. This tour focuses on the flavors of the Baltic Sea, showcasing the abundance of seafood found in Finnish coastal waters. You’ll have the opportunity to visit local fishing villages, learn about sustainable fishing practices, and savor fresh and expertly prepared seafood dishes in charming seaside restaurants.
For those interested in learning the art of Finnish cooking, culinary classes and workshops offer a hands-on experience. You can learn to make traditional Finnish dishes like Karelian pies, salmon soup, or even experiment with unique ingredients like cloudberries. These classes are led by experienced chefs who guide you through the process and provide insights into Finnish culinary techniques and ingredients.
Food tours and culinary experiences in Helsinki not only tantalize your taste buds but also offer glimpses into the city’s history, culture, and way of life. You’ll discover hidden culinary gems, interact with local chefs and food artisans, and gain a deeper appreciation for the flavors that define Helsinki’s food scene.
So, whether you choose to explore the markets, join a guided food tour, or participate in a culinary workshop, these experiences will undoubtedly enhance your understanding and enjoyment of Helsinki’s vibrant food culture.
Unique Cafes and Bars in Helsinki
Helsinki is a city known for its vibrant and eclectic cafe and bar scene, offering a plethora of unique and inviting establishments that cater to all tastes. From cozy coffee spots to trendy cocktail bars, Helsinki has an array of options for those looking to enjoy a memorable drink experience.
Café Regatta, located by the seafront, is a must-visit cafe that exudes a charming and rustic atmosphere. Known for its delightful cinnamon rolls and freshly brewed coffee, this iconic cafe offers the perfect place to relax and take in the beautiful surroundings. Enjoy your warm cup of coffee while sitting by the fireplace or venture outside and soak in the stunning views of the waterfront.
For coffee enthusiasts, Good Life Coffee is a specialty coffee shop and roastery that celebrates the art of coffee-making. Their dedication to sourcing and roasting high-quality beans is evident in every cup. The minimalist yet stylish interior creates a welcoming ambiance for coffee lovers to sip and savor their caffeinated delights.
When it comes to bars, Helsinki offers a range of options that cater to different preferences. A visit to the stylish and trendy Holiday Bar is a must for those seeking craft cocktails and a vibrant atmosphere. Located in the hip Kallio neighborhood, this bar boasts innovative concoctions crafted with precision and flair. The knowledgeable bartenders create unique flavor combinations using local and international spirits.
To experience a truly unique bar, head to Trillby & Chadwick – Pharmacy Bar nestled in a converted 19th-century pharmacy. Its vintage décor and avant-garde vibe create a distinctive setting where you can enjoy flawlessly crafted cocktails. Indulge in the creative concoctions inspired by old apothecary recipes and let the expert bartenders take you on a journey that transcends traditional mixology.
For those who appreciate beer, the Bryggeri Helsinki Brewery & Bar is a must-visit. Situated in a historic building, this brewery offers a wide selection of craft beers, including their own brews made on-site. Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or simply want to enjoy a refreshing pint, this bustling and lively spot provides an authentic beer-drinking experience.
From quirky coffee shops to inventive cocktail bars and craft beer havens, Helsinki’s unique cafes and bars are ready to delight both locals and visitors alike. Explore the city’s vibrant neighborhoods and discover the hidden gems that showcase Helsinki’s thriving cafe and bar culture.
So, whether you’re seeking a cozy coffee break, a sophisticated cocktail experience, or a craft beer adventure, Helsinki’s diverse and distinctive cafes and bars offer a variety of options to indulge in memorable and unique drink experiences.
Helsinki’s food and drink scene is a delightful reflection of Finnish culture and culinary traditions. From traditional Finnish foods like cinnamon rolls, sautéed reindeer, and Karelian pies, to refreshing beverages like glögi, sima, and lonkero, Helsinki offers a vibrant tapestry of flavors to tantalize your taste buds.
Exploring Helsinki’s local markets allows you to experience the freshest produce, local delicacies, and interact with passionate vendors. Traditional Finnish restaurants offer a taste of the country’s rich culinary heritage, showcasing dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.
Embarking on food tours and culinary experiences allows you to delve deeper into Helsinki’s food scene, offering insights into the city’s diverse flavors and cultural traditions. Whether sampling a variety of treats on a food tour, participating in a cooking class, or visiting specialty shops, these experiences provide a deeper connection to Finnish cuisine.
Unique cafes and bars in Helsinki offer a range of experiences, from cozy coffee shops serving aromatic brews to trendy cocktail bars crafting innovative libations. Whether you’re an avid coffee enthusiast, a craft beer lover, or a cocktail connoisseur, Helsinki’s diverse selection of cafes and bars cater to all preferences.
In conclusion, Helsinki’s food and drink offerings provide a delightful journey of flavors and experiences. Exploring traditional Finnish foods, indulging in the warmth of glögi, discovering unique cafes and bars, and immersing yourself in the local markets and culinary experiences all contribute to a rich and memorable experience in the Finnish capital.
So, when you visit Helsinki, prepare your taste buds for an adventure that celebrates the country’s culinary heritage, embraces creativity, and showcases the warmth and hospitality of Finnish food culture. Enjoy the rich flavors, savor the unique experiences, and create lasting memories of Helsinki’s vibrant food and drink scene.