Helsinki city guide

One of Europe's coolest capitals, at your fingertips

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PUBS & BARS:

BARLEY & BAIT

This modern beer bar has 12 taps of deliciousness, featuring a few permanent classics, a rotating selection of local and guest brews, and a cider - there’s always something exciting to try, and there are often events, tastings and Meet the Brewer evenings. 

PHOTO: Barley & Bait

ONE PINT PUB

Established in the mid-90s, this is one of the city’s best-loved beer bars. As well as an impeccable selection of beer from all over the world, there’s a weekly pub quiz, live music once a month, documentary movie nights, and all kinds of fun goings-on. 

PHOTO: One Pint Pub

RÖÖPERIN HOPSTOP

Not only is this place gorgeous inside (think industrial-chic), it’s a mecca for craft beer enthusiasts - there’s the bar, and then there’s the bottle shop, the brewery merch room, and the homebrew shop. Plus, there’s a menu of tasty bar bites to munch on, and the bar’s logo is a cat. A cat! 

PHOTO: Rööperin Hopstop

OLUTRAVINTOLA PIKKULINTU RUTTOPUISTO

Try and say the name of this beer establishment correctly after a couple of pints…! One of three Pikkulintu bars across the city, this one in Ruttopuisto has been serving beer and whisky lovers since 2000. Hundreds of bottles of golden nectar, both whisk(e)y and beer, in a cosy homely environment. Ideal. 

PHOTO: Olutravintola Pikkulintu Ruttopuisto

LIBERTY OR DEATH

One of Helsinki’s best-kept secrets, Liberty or Death is a stunning, intimate, innovative cocktail bar serving up creative drinks made with the trendiest spirits and ingredients from around the world. The interior is peppered with old books, antique bar tools, and other kinds of fun paraphernalia, too, so it’s an all-round really cool place to visit.

PHOTO: Liberty or Death © Venuu.fi

BREWERIES:

RUOSNIEMI BREWERY

Set up by five engineer friends who were growing increasingly bored by office life, Ruosnuiemi makes classic beers with a modern twist. Its core range of beers is extremely interesting - not just because of the flavours and styles, but also because the beer labels feature illustrations of real people, representing the real professions that give the beers their namesake, e.g. Piirimyyjä (Regional Salesman), Insinööri (Engineer), and Tradenomi (Bachelor of Business Administration, BBA). 

PHOTO: Ruosniemi Brewery

HELSINKI BRYGGERI

Helsinki Bryggeri brews its own (huge) selection of beer, and on the premises it also has a very popular ‘beer restaurant’. The mouthwatering food menu is catered to beer lovers, with each dish being paired with one of the brewery’s own beers. Some dishes even have beer added to them. Definitely one to place top of your list when visiting! 

PHOTO: Helsinki Bryggeri

STADIN PANIMO

Stadin Manimo makes great beer, but one of the best aspects of this brewery is its amazing taproom, and the brewery tours given by knowledgeable, experienced, friendly staff. It’s the kind of brewery you want to go and spend a whole afternoon at, looking around its state-of-the-art facilities, drinking its beer fresh at the bar, and tasting the few other special guest brews. 

PHOTO: Stadin Panimo

WHERE TO EAT:

YEASTIE BOI

No, not the Kiwi brewery. This joint makes some of the best bagels in town, with drool-worthy combinations such as a black sesame seed bagel with falafel, coriander & rocket pesto, roasted red pepper, baba ganoush and fried chickpea; or a chilli flake bagel with an egg and cheese omelette, kimchi, and crispy seaweed. The Yeastie Bois also place a huge focus on craft beer, and each bagel has a recommended beer pairing. 

PHOTO: Yeastie Boi

RESTAURANT GRÖN

This beautiful, cosy restaurant has the kitchen front-and-centre, so you can watch the chefs cook your food while you sip some delicious wine. The focus here is provenance, and everything is created with seasonal, local ingredients to showcase the best of Scandinavian cuisine. Vegetables have as much focus as meat and fish here, too - there are only two tasting menus to choose from, one of which is vegan. 

PHOTO: Restaurant Grön

WHAT TO DO IN HELSINKI:

EAT AND SHOP

Not quite a shopping complex, Torikorttelit is an area in the heart of Helsinki consisting of several blocks of narrow streets and courtyards, showcasing the best of Helsinki’s food and drink, independent shops, and cultural highlights, all within the historic buildings, located right by the seafront. You could easily spend a whole day here, hopping from place to place - Helsinki Bryggeri’s taproom is here, as well as several coffee shops, a cocktail and wine bar, a pizzeria, a sandwich shop and deli, and a bunch of cool restaurants. You’ll also find plenty of fashion boutiques, jewellery and gift shops, a museum, a cinema, an events space, a tiny park, and plenty of other things to see and do. 

PHOTO: Torikorttelit

EAT MORE, SHOP MORE 

Over 100 years old, Hietalahti Market Hall (Hietalahden kauppahalli in Finnish) is a historic market now home to a food hall, packed with independent eateries and coffee shops, plus a greengrocer, a deli, a gift shop and more. In the summer months there’s also a hugely popular daily flea market in the square outside. Perfect for a stroll and a bite to eat! 

PHOTO: Hietalahti Market Hall

BUY SOME WEIRD STUFF 

Götan Maailma is an ever-changing wonderland of antiquities, taxidermy, tribal art and historical artefacts. The items themselves are fairly standard fodder, the kind of thing you might find in a museum, but arguably the shop’s main attraction is the wacky way in which the objects are displayed - they’re presented more as tableaus or works of art, and it’s easy to get lost in the shop and spend a good while browsing. Some of the taxidermy animals have little hats made out of newspaper, and I’m not sure if this is incredibly morbid or hilariously adorable. 

PHOTO: Götan Maailma

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