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Helsinki Food: 28 Traditional Foods You Must Try in Helsinki

Helsinki, the understated capital of Finland, is known for its vibrant design district, rich sauna culture, and numerous green spaces. But what about the food in Helsinki? If you’re wondering what to eat in Helsinki, read on to discover 28 must-eat Helsinki food favorites that will entice your taste buds and expand your culinary horizons when visiting the Finnish capital. Dive in, and let your taste buds explore!

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What is Traditional Helsinki Food?

Unlike many other European countries, Finland never had a strong bourgeoisie with the wealth and leisure to develop rich culinary traditions. 

The nation’s food history is a tale of austerity. Finland’s isolated rural economy and harsh climate, with short summers and long winters, meant that traditional Finnish food is primarily a blend of austerity and practicality. 

In the early days, Finns were hunter-gatherers, foraging for berries and mushrooms, hunting game, and fishing in the abundant lakes and coastal waters. These elements—fish, game, berries, and mushrooms still form the bedrock of Finnish cuisine.

Yet, Finnish food is far from monolithic. It’s a delightful blend of native traditions and outside influences, particularly from its neighbors, Sweden and Russia. 

Though Finnish cuisine often cops a lot of flak for being too bland, Finns are proud—and rightly so—of many of their culinary specialties. A well-documented example of this pride was seen when in 2005, during negotiations over the location of the European Food Safety Authority, then-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made disparaging comments about Finnish cuisine. 

He reportedly joked that Finns ate “marinated reindeer” and that he had to “endure” Finnish food, suggesting that Italy would be a better choice for the EU’s food standards agency because of its superior cuisine. 

The normally thick-skinned Finns took umbrage to Berlusconi’s comments and in response, a Finnish pizza chain, Kotipizza, created a new pizza named “Berlusconi,” which was topped with smoked reindeer and Finnish chantarelle, among other ingredients. In 2008, this pizza went on to win America’s Plate International pizza contest in New York, beating the Italian competitor.

Helsinki Food: Appetizers & Snacks

1. Karjalanpiirakka (Karelian Pie)

Helsinki Food: A basket of traditional Karelian pies

A culinary gem from Finland’s eastern province of Karelia, Karjalanpiirakka, or Karelian Pie, is one of the most beloved dishes of Finnish cuisine.

The oval-shaped Karelian Pie features a thin, crispy rye crust that beautifully cradles a filling of creamy rice porridge or mashed potatoes. Fresh out of the oven, the pie is brushed with melted butter and is usually enjoyed as a hearty breakfast or lunch. 

Traditional Finnish Food: Karelian Pie with munavoi

Karelian Pie is often topped with munavoi—an irresistibly flavorful spread of mashed hard-boiled eggs and whipped butter, which melts over the hot pies, enhancing their flavor with an indulgent, creamy layer.

Traditional Finnish Food: Woman tasting Karelian Pie with munavoi

Karelian Pie is Jacky’s favorite Finnish food. I love how the pie’s crust is delightfully crunchy, offering a pleasant contrast to the warm, soothing filling.

But it’s not just the delectable taste that makes Karjalanpiirakka one of the must-eat Helsinki foods; the pie is a bite into Finnish culture and tradition.

2. Ruisleipä (Rye Bread)

Traditional Finnish Foods: Different types of rye bread on display at a market stall in Helsinki

Ruisleipä, or Finnish rye bread, is more than just a national staple – it’s a cherished symbol of Finnish culinary tradition, deeply intertwined with the country’s culture and history. 

Rye bread is the Finnish food that Finns living abroad miss the most. This coveted bread is even sold at Helsinki Airport to meet popular demand. Here travelers can pick up a last-minute gift for their friends and family, or make sure they have enough in stock when spending time outside of the country.

Baked predominantly with rye flour, this robust bread can last for weeks without spoiling, making it a testament to the practicality of traditional Finnish households. Ruisleipä has a high fiber content and low GI index and is noticeably lighter than varieties from Germany and the Baltic Region.

The bread acts as a delightful canvas for a variety of toppings such as smoked salmon, cheese, or pickled herring. 

During my time in Finland, ruisleipä’s hearty texture and distinctively tangy flavor grew on me which is weird because I’ve never been too big on bread. 

3. Graavilohi (Graved Salmon)

Helsinki Food: Slices of Graavilohi (Graved Salmon) and dill

Fish has always been important in the Finnish diet – unsurprising, considering the country’s myriad lakes and rivers and long coastline. 

Graavilohi is fresh salmon that’s been cured with a combination of salt, sugar, and dill. The fish is then left to rest for a few days, allowing the curing mixture to imbue the salmon with an exquisite balance of flavors.

I love seafood and graavilohi has always remained one of my favorite Finnish foods. Its texture is silky and tender, somewhere between sashimi and smoked salmon but minus the smoky flavor.

The dish’s flavor profile is an enticing blend of the salmon’s natural richness, the subtle sweetness from the sugar, a hint of salinity, and the aromatic essence of dill. Graavilohi is typically served in thin slices, sometimes accompanied by rye bread or small boiled potatoes.

4. Paistetut Muikut (Fried Vendace)

Finnish Food: Man holding a small box of Paistetut Muikut (Fried Vendace) topped with garlic sauce in Helsinki, Finland

Muikku, or vendace, are small whitefish found in abundance in the pristine, icy waters of Finnish lakes and are celebrated in Finnish cuisine for their distinctive flavor and versatility.

The gutted fish are first lightly breaded in rye flour and then pan-fried to golden perfection in butter. Muikku are most commonly eaten in Finland in the summer when they are sold at open-air markets and festivals.

Muikku’s tiny size (they are about the size of an adult pinky) allows you to eat them whole, bones head, and tail. Though the notion of eating a whole fish might sound unappetizing, each bite into a fried Muikku is a unique experience.

The exterior is crisp and slightly salty, while the inside remains tender and almost melts in the mouth. Muikku are often served with a squeeze of fresh lemon, a dollop of creamy garlic sauce, or a simple side of potatoes. They pair perfectly with some chilled suds!

Fried Muikku is one of my favorite Finnish delicacies and in my opinion, is the best finger food in Finland. I highly suggest snarfing some down when you visit Helsinki at some point.

Fun Fact

Muikku is so entrenched in Finnish culture that when taking a picture, Finnish people say “muikku,” just like saying, “cheese!”

5. Paistetut Silakat (Fried Baltic Herring) 

Helsinki Food: A plate of Paistetut Silakat (Fried Baltic Herring) 

While Finnish salmon and fried vendace should not be missed, don’t forget to try Paistetut Silakat (Fried Baltic Herring) as well. 

Baltic herring is a smaller-growing form of the much larger and fattier Atlantic herring. The fish has long been the backbone of fish cooking in Finland and still plays a central part in Finnish cuisine.

The preparation of Silakat involves first carefully gutting the herrings and removing their backbones. The glistening bodies of the herrings are then breaded in coarse rye flour combined with pepper, salt, and sometimes lime zest before being fried in a butter-slicked frying pan until golden brown.

Paistetut Silakat is often served with creamy mashed potatoes and lingonberries (or lingonberry jam). Upon tasting, you’ll experience the thin, crisp coating giving way to the tender flesh and mildly sweet flavor that Baltic herring is renowned for. 

I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of baltic herring, but I do eat it occasionally.

6. Mustamakkara (Blood Sausage) 

Finnish Food: A pair of Mustamakkara (blood sausage) and lingonberry jam

Mustamakkara is a traditional Finnish food, particularly popular in the Tampere region, but can be found throughout the country including Helsinki. It’s a type of blood sausage made from a mixture of pig’s blood, pork fat, crushed rye seeds and flour, after which it is stuffed into a sausage casing and fried until firm.

Mustamakkara gets its name, which translates to “black sausage,” from its signature dark, almost black color resulting from the use of pig’s blood. It might look disgusting but tastes absolutely delicious and it’s one of my favorite sausages of all time. 

Mustamakkara is traditionally enjoyed with a dollop of lingonberry jam, whose tartness provides a pleasant contrast to the savory richness of the sausage.

Finnish Food: Man eating a pair of Mustamakkara (blood sausage) and lingonberry jam at a restaurant in Helsinki

Mustamakkara has a unique taste that’s full-bodied and rich, with the rye giving it a slightly grainy texture and a complex, malty flavor. The blood lends a certain mineral richness without overwhelming the palate. 

Truth be told, once you overcome your apprehensiveness, it doesn’t taste much different than any other sausage in my opinion.

Helsinki Food: Soups

1. Hernekeitto (Pea Soup)

Helsinki Food: A bowl of Hernekeitto, a mushy split pea soup

No list of foods to eat in Helsinki would be complete without mentioning Hernekeitto (pea soup), a very popular traditional dish that undoubtedly holds a special place in every Finn’s heart. Pea soup remains connected with Thursdays, and it is served as part of school and university lunches all over Finland.

The highly nutritious soup is typically made from dried green peas, which are simmered until they break down and impart a creamy, slightly sweet taste. This sweetness of the peas is beautifully balanced by the savory notes of pork or ham hock that are often added to the soup.

A touch of onions, and herbs, often added during cooking, brings a subtle depth to the flavor, making each spoonful a bit more complex and satisfying. Pea soup has several variations with diced carrots or potatoes sometimes being employed.

Though it looks mushy and, frankly, not all that appetizing, pea soup is surprisingly good. The dish is a perfect example of Finland’s penchant for creating robust, soul-warming meals from simple ingredients.

2. Lohikeitto (Salmon Soup)

Finnish Food: A bowl of Lohikeitto (Salmon Soup) with chunks of salmon, potatoes, leeks, dill, and cream

Lohikeitto (Salmon Soup) is as simple as it is delicious, made with generous chunks of salmon, potatoes, leeks, dill, and cream. The real magic lies in the balance of flavors, which turn these ordinary ingredients into an extraordinary meal.

When you taste Lohikeitto, you’re met with a delightful medley of flavors. The star of the show is undoubtedly the salmon, which lends its rich, oily goodness to the soup, creating a luxuriously velvety broth. The potatoes add a comforting, earthy note, while the leeks contribute a gentle sweetness. 

A generous sprinkle of fresh dill adds a fragrant, herbaceous dimension that beautifully accentuates the salmon’s flavor. The cream binds everything together, adding a touch of indulgence and making the soup satisfyingly rich. Don’t miss it!

Helsinki Food: Main Dishes

1. Lihapullat (Finnish Meatballs)

Finnish Food: A plate of Lihapullat (Traditional Finnish Meatballs) with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam

To start with the main dishes, we have Lihapullat, or Finnish Meatballs – one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. 

Lihapullat are traditionally made from a mix of ground pork and beef, combined with breadcrumbs, milk, onions, and seasonings. The mixture is shaped into small balls, which are then pan-fried until they develop a deliciously crispy exterior while remaining juicy and tender inside.

The meat is often finely ground, resulting in a smooth, almost creamy interior. The flavor is a well-balanced blend of savory meat, subtly sweet onions, and a warming hint of spices like allspice and white pepper.

Lihapullat are similar to Swedish meatballs (Kötbullar) that IKEA has made so popular. However, the meat in Finnish meatballs is often ground to a finer consistency, giving them a smoother texture. Plus, Finnish meatballs are slightly larger in size compared to their Swedish counterparts.

Lihapullat are typically served with a creamy brown sauce, boiled potatoes, and lingonberry jam. The sweetness and tang of the jam perfectly complement the savory richness of the meatballs, creating a comforting harmony of flavors.

2. Poronkäristys (Sautéed Reindeer)

Finland Food: A plate of Poronkäristys (Sautéed Reindeer) with mashed potatoes, lingonberry jam and gherkins

Poronkäristys, the most typical dish of Lappish cuisine and a top recipe of Finnish gastronomy is a must-try for adventurous eaters and especially if you enjoy game meat.

Sourced sustainably from the semi-wild roaming reindeer of Lapland, Poronkäristys involves sautéing thinly sliced reindeer meat in a hot pan with butter, before simmering it with water, beer, or stock, and flavorings like onions, garlic, and juniper berries.

It’s then slow-cooked until tender and the braised thin-cut reindeer is served with super creamy mashed potatoes and lingonberries. 

Reindeer meat is lean yet rich, with a gamey taste that’s more subtle than venison, but deeper than beef. The slow-cooking process allows the flavors of the added ingredients to permeate the meat, resulting in a dish that’s savory, slightly sweet, and subtly spiced.

Being a huge fan of game meat, I really love Poronkäristys. It is an absolute banger!

3. Pyttipannu

Finnish Food: A plate of Pyttipannu, a hash of potatoes, onions, and leftover ham and sausages with a fried egg

Literally translating to “small pieces mixed in a pan,” Pyttipannu is a tasty Finnish dish that is the ultimate leftover food. 

Pyttipannu involves dicing potatoes, onions, and usually leftover meat (ham, smoked pork, or sausages), and then frying them together until golden brown. The result is a crispy, savory hash that is traditionally topped with a fried egg and served with pickled beetroot.

Pyttipannu is one of the most-loved dishes in Finland, so much so that you can find a bag of it in every supermarket’s frozen section. It’s considered to be the perfect meal when you’re hungover and I can vouch for that 😉

4. Game Meat 

Finnish Souvenirs: Canned bear and elk meat on sale at a market in Helsinki.

Finland’s extensive forests and rural areas are home to a variety of game animals, including moose, reindeer, bear, hare, and different species of birds. This abundance makes game meat readily available, particularly in the northern parts of the country.

Helsinki offers an array of exotic game meats, showcasing the best of the Finnish wilderness and its culinary heritage. If you are a carnivore and want to try some unique foods, the following are some game meats that you should definitely try in Helsinki (besides reindeer):

a. Moose (Hirvi): Moose/elk is a common game meat in Finland. The flavor is robust and somewhat similar to beef but with a gamey note. It can be found in the form of steaks, sausages, and even ground meat for burgers or meatballs. Yummy!

b. Bear (Karhu): Bear meat is less common but is considered a delicacy in Finland. The taste is rich, slightly sweet, and it has a distinct game flavor. It’s often slow-cooked to tenderize the meat.

c. Wild Boar (Villisika): Wild boar can occasionally be found on menus, offering a more flavorful and robust taste compared to regular pork.

5. Karjalanpaisti (Karelian Hot Pot)

Finnish Food: A bowl of Karjalanpaisti (Karelian Hot Pot), traditional meat stew

Hailing from the region of Karelia, situated in the eastern part of Finland,  Karjalanpaisti is a hearty, slow-cooked stew that’s typically made with a mix of meats. The dish is a quintessential part of Finnish cuisine and is never missing from the dinner table during Easter. 

The stew typically involves a mix of beef and pork, though sometimes game meats such as moose or venison are also used. These meats are layered with onions in a heavy pot or casserole dish, seasoned with salt and pepper, and slow-cooked in the oven for several hours, often overnight. Some versions also include root vegetables like carrots and potatoes.

The long cooking process allows the flavors to meld together, resulting in a rich, flavorful stew. The meat becomes incredibly tender, almost falling apart, and the onions practically melt into the sauce, providing a subtle sweetness. 

Karjalanpaisti is the embodiment of Finnish comfort cooking at its best.

Helsinki Food: Confections, Desserts & Sweets

1. Leipäjuusto (Bread Cheese)

Helsinki Food: Slices of Leipäjuusto (Finnish Squeaky Cheese) with cloudberry jam on a plate

Envision sinking your teeth into a slice of cheese that gives a slight squeak when biting, releases a gentle sweetness, and offers the comforting taste of freshly baked bread – that’s the wonder of Leipäjuusto. Known colloquially as “Finnish squeaky cheese”, Leipäjuusto is one of the most unique highlights of the Helsinki food scene.

Leipäjuusto is traditionally made from cow’s milk, although variants using goat or reindeer milk can be found. The curd is pressed into flat round forms, and then baked, grilled, or flambéed to give the cheese its distinctive charred or speckled exterior. 

The texture of Leipäjuusto is somewhat firm yet springy, and as you bite into it, you’ll notice the way it rubs against your teeth. I love how it offers a mild, slightly tangy flavor with a hint of sweetness, accentuated by its caramelized crust. This cheesy delicacy will win you over in no time.

Warming it up is the best way to eat Leipäjuusto as it releases so much more flavor. It’s commonly served alongside cloudberry jam or enjoyed solo as a dessert.

2. Korvapuusti (Cinnamon Bun)

Finnish Pastries: A couple of Korvapuusti (Cinnamon Buns) on a wooden board

Korvapuusti is Finland’s beloved version of the cinnamon bun. It is a sweet baked roll/bun similar to the Danish kanelsnegl, Norwegian kanelbolle, and Swedish kanelbulle. 

Derived from the Finnish words for “slapped ears” owing to its distinctive shape, Korvapuusti is as quintessentially Finnish as the sauna and a must-try for all those with a sweet tooth.

This cinnamon bun is such an integral part of the Finnish daily regimen that it is baked on a massive scale at bakeries and cafés across the country and sold in supermarkets. In fact, there is even a day (Korvapuustipäivä) dedicated to celebrating Korvapuusti, held annually on October 4th!

What makes Korvapuusti unique is the incorporation of cardamom in the dough, setting it apart from other cinnamon buns. The cardamom introduces an exotic, almost citrusy aroma that pervades the pastry, adding an intriguing depth of flavor that lingers on the palate.

From the first bite you’ll be hooked, the golden brown exterior gives way with a gentle crunch, courtesy of the pearl sugar sprinkled on top. Beneath it, the pastry is delightfully fluffy and tender, with a slight elasticity that is extremely satisfying to bite into.

I absolutely love this delectable cinnamon bun and it is probably our favorite Finnish food. Oh drat, I just drooled on my keyboard!

3. Mustikkapiirakka (Bilberry Pie)

Finland Food: Close-up of a slice of traditional Mustikkapiirakka (Bilberry Pie) on a plate

Mustikkapiirakka is a traditional Finnish bilberry pie that’s one of my all-time favorite Finnish foods. Mustikkapiirakka is much cherished by Finns and is a staple during the summer season when bilberries are bountiful. 

Finnish bilberry pie has a layer of fresh, ripe bilberries buried in a creamy custard filling, all on top of a crust that resembles a sugar cookie. Bilberries are smaller, darker, and more intensely flavored than the commonly cultivated blueberries, giving the pie a unique flavor. 

The resulting pie is a wonderful balance of sweet and tart, with the buttery crust complementing the juicy bilberries and luscious creamy topping. Mustikkapiirakka is outstanding either warm or cold and can be served plain, with vanilla sauce, cream, or ice cream.  

Mustikkapiirakka is delightfully moreish and might become your new favorite summer dessert once you try it.

4. Salmiakki (Salty Licorice)

Finland food: Closeup of the infamous salty licorice (Salmiakki in Finnish) on a white plate.

Nothing screams Finland to me more than salmiakki, perhaps the best-known of all of the seemingly odd Finnish food items! 

Salmiakki is an extremely astringent black salty licorice made by combining licorice root with ammonium chloride that is notoriously infamous for its distinctive flavor profile.

For reasons known only to them, all Finns adore salmiakki. It’s so popular in Finland that it comes in various shapes, sizes, and a range of products. 

Closeup of the intense Apteekin Salmiakki by Haganol on a white plate

Although it is most common in candy form, salmiakki can be found in everything from ice cream and chocolate to alcohol and snus. Heck, you can even find Salmiakki-flavored condoms!

Some of the most intense salmiakki products are Super Salmiakki, Sisu, and the infamous Apteekin Salmiakki. These pastilles don’t hold back on the salmiakki flavor and are for hardcore salmiakki enthusiasts.

Finnish Food: The popular Tyrkisk Peber ("Turkish Pepper") candy by Fazer on a white plate

Don’t forget to try the popular Tyrkisk Peber (“Turkish Pepper”) candy. Manufactured by the Fazer company, Tyrkisk Peber is known for its distinctive and potent combination of salmiakki and hot pepper powder.

Describing the taste of salmiakki can be challenging, as it’s like nothing else I’ve tried. It’s a funky blend of salty, sweet, bitter, and umami flavors.

Salmiakki is one of the most polarizing foods I’ve encountered and one that you either absolutely love or absolutely detest. I confess belonging to the latter. I’ve tried salmiakki on many occasions, but the scenario usually ends with the salmiakki being projectiled straight out of my mouth. 

Finns often take delight in giving Salmiakki to foreigners to gauge their reaction to this brutal confection. 

Salmiakki is most likely not going to tickle your taste buds but you’ll need to try and see how you like it! Let me know if you manage to eat it without grimacing.

5. Mämmi (Finnish Rye Pudding)

Finnish food: A spoonful of Mämmi, traditional Finnish Easter pudding made of rye

Mämmi is a traditional Finnish pudding made from a mixture of water, rye flour, powdered malt rye,  molasses, and dried powdered Seville orange peel. These ingredients are mixed together, and then the mixture is baked slowly at a low temperature. 

Mämmi certainly isn’t the prettiest Finnish food out there. Indeed, the goopy, black-as-tar pudding sort of looks like a pile of dog excrement that has been frozen in a snow drift!

Throughout Finland, mämmi is synonymous with Easter but you can find it year-round in the frozen section of supermarkets. It is very much a love-it-or-hate-it type of food in the salmiakki mold with many being invariably put off by the unappealing brown hue and odd texture.

During my years in Finland, I eventually developed a taste for this Finnish oddity. However, I know that I am in the minority of people who actually rejoice in eating mämmi.

Tasting Mämmi is a unique experience and one you shouldn’t skip. The pudding has a mildly sweet, malty flavor with a hint of bitterness, which comes from the rye and molasses. The texture is thick and slightly grainy, somewhat akin to dense, dark bread. 

Purists generally opt to eat mämmi with the traditional sides of sugar and milk or cream. However, it can also be eaten with vanilla sauce, custard, ice cream, whipped cream, and quark.

6. Specialty Pastries

In addition to the pastries that we’ve listed above, Finland boasts a variety of specialty pastries that are mostly consumed during a specific time of the year. If you happen to be visiting Helsinki during these periods, you’re in luck because they are worth seeking out. 

Finnish pastries: Closeup of Laskiaispulla (Shrove Buns), sweet cardamom buns filled with whipped cream and almond paste

a. Laskiaispulla (Shrove Buns): These are sweet cardamom buns filled with whipped cream and either almond paste or raspberry jam. They are traditionally eaten around Shrovetide, the period before Lent.

Finnish Pastries: Rumeberg's Torte, a  small cylindrical rum cake flavored with almonds and topped with raspberry jam enclosed in a sugar ring

b. Runeberg’s Torte (Runebergintorttu): Named after Finnish national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, this is a small cylindrical rum cake flavored with almonds and topped with raspberry jam enclosed in a sugar ring. It is traditionally eaten on Runeberg’s Day, February 5. I love this and wish it was available all year round.

Finnish Pastries: A tray of Joulutorttu, star-shaped puff pastries typically filled with prune jam

c. Joulutorttu (Christmas Tarts): These star-shaped puff pastries are typically filled with prune jam and dusted with powdered sugar. They are traditionally eaten during the Christmas season.

Finnish Pastries: Tippaleipä, a May Day (Vappu) funnel cake

d. Tippaleipä (Funnel cake): This traditional Finnish pastry is synonymous with Vappu, the Finnish May Day (May 1) celebration. Its name, translating to “droplet bread,” refers to its unique shape resembling a bird’s nest or a pile of yarn. 

Tippaleipä is prepared by dipping thin strands of sweet batter into hot oil, forming delicate, tangled nests. Once fried to a golden crisp, tippaleipä is dusted with powdered sugar. The result is a crunchy, sweet treat, offering a distinctive, almost caramelized flavor.

Helsinki Food: Drinks

1. Vodka

Finnish Liquor: Bottles of the famous Koskenkorva Vodka

Vodka, or “viina” as it’s often called in Finnish, has been produced in Finland for centuries. Its history stretches back to the agrarian past of the country, where it was made from various grains and potatoes. 

Just like in Russia, Finland’s cold climate played a role in the popularity of vodka. This strong spirit was seen as a way to warm oneself during the long, cold winters.

Vodka is deeply embedded in Finnish celebrations and rituals. It’s often consumed during holidays, family gatherings, and traditional events. 

Finnish vodka is primarily made from barley and pure glacial spring water. The continuous distillation process ensures that impurities are removed, resulting in a very pure spirit.

Vodka’s neutral flavor profile makes it an excellent base for a variety of cocktails, from the simple vodka tonic to more elaborate concoctions.

Two of the most iconic vodka brands from Finland are Finlandia and Koskenkorva, both of which have garnered international acclaim for their quality and purity.

Pro Tip

In Finland, alcohol is available for purchase only between 09:00 and 21:00. After these hours, the only place to obtain alcohol is at a licensed bar or restaurant. This regulation stems from the Finnish government’s aim to prioritize public health by controlling and minimizing alcohol intake and its related adverse effects.

2. Craft Beer

Various cans of Finnish craft beer

Forget about sampling run-of-the-mill Finnish beers like Olvi, Karhu, Koff, and Lapin Kulta. Try some Finnish craft beers instead. Helsinki’s craft beer scene has experienced a significant surge in recent years, reflecting a broader global trend of artisanal and craft brewing. 

From hoppy IPAs, funky sours, and rich stouts to lighter lagers and experimental brews, Helsinki’s craft beer scene is diverse. Finnish brewers often infuse local ingredients, such as cloudberries, birch leaves, salmiakki (of course 😉), or smoked malts, to create unique flavors that can’t be found anywhere else.

Popular Finnish microbreweries in the Helsinki metropolitan area are Salama Brewing Company, Olarin Panimo, CoolHead Brew, ETKO Brewing, and Tired Uncle Brewing.

Some of the best places to enjoy or purchase craft beer in Helsinki are Tommyknocker Craft Beer Bar, Sori Taproom, Bier-Bier, Helsinki Bryggeri Brewhouse, Pien Shop & Bar, Barski Helsinki, and the government-run Alko stores.

Finnish supermarkets offer a decent variety of craft beers. Yet, because of Finland’s strict alcohol regulations, only beers with an alcohol content of up to 5.5% are available in standard supermarkets.

3. Salmiakki Koskenkorva

Finnish Liquor: Bottles of Salmkiakki Koskenkorva which is made from Koskenkorva Vodka and Salmiakki

Salmiakki Koskenkorva, nicknamed “Salmari”, is a unique fusion of two of Finland’s most beloved products – the traditional Koskenkorva vodka and salmiakki, Finnish salty licorice. This drink was originally concocted by mixing salmiakki candies with vodka until the candies dissolved, creating a dark, syrupy liqueur. 

On the first sip, there’s an unmistakable hit of saltiness, which is characteristic of salmiakki. Following the saltiness, the deep, earthy tones of licorice start to dominate. 

Beneath the pronounced flavors of salmiakki, the smooth and slightly sweet characteristics of Koskenkorva vodka can be sensed, ensuring the drink is not overwhelmingly dominated by licorice. 

If you’re adventurous in your taste preferences, Salmiakki Koskenkorva is a must-try when sampling Finnish liqueurs.

4. Lonkero (Finnish Long Drink) 

Finnish Liquor: The traditional gin and grapefuit soda based Lonkero (Finnish Long Drink).

Lonkero, internationally known as the Finnish Long Drink, is an iconic beverage that originated in Finland in the 1950s. Crafted for the 1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics, it was designed to offer a unique and refreshing drink for the influx of visitors. 

The traditional lonkero is a mix of gin and grapefruit soda, resulting in a slightly sweet, tangy, and effervescent drink. It stands out because, unlike many mixed drinks globally, the alcohol content in lonkero is fermented, not distilled. 

This process gives it a distinctive taste profile that’s neither beer nor cider. Over time, variations have emerged, with different flavors and alcohol bases, but the grapefruit-gin combination remains the classic. 

In Finland, lonkero enjoys a ubiquitous presence, often being a drink of choice during summer and festive occasions. I can’t say that I’m a fan though.

Where To Eat in Helsinki?

Here are just a few restaurant, café, and marketplace suggestions in Helsinki for sampling/buying the food we have mentioned above:

  1. Ravintola Salve
  2. Ravintola Sea Horse
  3. Café Regatta
  4. Ravintola Konstan Möljä
  5. Ravintola Kolme Kruunua
  6. Ravintola Zetor
  7. Lappi Ravintola
  8. Helsinki Central Market Hall
  9. Ravintola Saaga
  10. Ihana Kahvila Baari
  11. Konditoria Hopia
  12. Hakaniemi Market Square
  13. Café Engel

Further Reading For Your Helsinki Visit

That summarizes our definitive guide to Helsinki Food. We reckon you’ll also find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Helsinki!

Now, what do you think? What are some of your favorite traditional foods in Helsinki? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

About Mihir

Hello there, fellow globetrotters! I’m Mihir, a passionate travel blogger with an insatiable wanderlust. My journey across the world is fueled by curiosity and a hunger for unique experiences. As a travel writer, photographer, and adventurer, I’ve explored more than 35 countries, aiming to provide readers with a distinctive glimpse of our diverse world. Join me as I blend captivating storytelling with stunning visuals, guiding you through hidden gems and cultural treasures. Besides traveling, my other loves are my beloved cats, architecture, art, craft beer, classic movies, history, and Australian Rules Football (Go Dons!).

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