Helsinki is one of the most fascinating European cities I’ve ever been to: it’s vibrant, it’s coloured, people are trendy and easy going, and the food is just amazing. The secret of the local chefs is choosing the best of the seasonal and local ingredients and combining them to create unique dishes, sometimes very simple, but with flavour that will surprise you.
The city is so dynamic that restaurants, coffee shops and eateries are open pretty much every day, bringing joy to a city which is already happy by itself. I am happy to share with you some of the best experiences I had during my trip. Follow me in this amazing journey and you’ll find yourself in the need of booking the first flight available for Helsinki.
To start off your day with a special Finnish style breakfast, check out Cafe Regatta, an institution in Helsinki with its spectacular view over the Baltic Sea and the small interior built inside a wooden cabin.
Tarjalanpiirakka (the Finnish cinnamon bun) and the blueberry pie are a must try.
The karjalanpiirakka, or karelian pies too, a rye pie filled with rice and a mixture of butter and boiled eggs spread over the top.
In need of something more local? Then head over to Lauttasaari and look for Mutteri Kahvila, a local café where you can have amazing cakes and sandwiches, not to mention the coffee.
Don’t leave Helsinki without having tried Sandro, a modern restaurant by the young Richard McCormick located in Kallio, one of the coolest parts of the city. The menu includes lots of modern style African dishes with vegetarian options; do not miss the the saffron bread, the specialty of the house.
If you want to have a light lunch, Finnish style, then Kauppatori market is what you need to check out: located on the harbor of Helsinki, the daily market is the place where you can get fresh food at a lower price than normal. Try the muikku (fried vendaces), the grillimakkara (Finnish sausages) and the lohikeitto (salmon soup).
Dinner is sacre for Finnish people, and this is the moment of the day where you can really satisfy yourself, indulging in some of the best cuisine of Europe.
If you’re in the mood for a Michelin star restaurant, then head over Chef & Sommelier where you can go for a 3, 4, 5, 7 or 9 course menu (wine included). It’s not cheap, but it’s an experience to be tried if you want to come home satisfied and happy.
There are a lot of ravintola (restaurants) everywhere in Helsink, but do not miss the minimalism of Grotesk, the traditional food served by Ravintola Tori and the Lapponian food at Lappi where you can taste the reindeer with potatoes or also eat bear and elk.
Fazer is the institution for desserts in Helsinki. They offer different types of cakes and pastries, and the famous salmiakki ice cream made with black salty licorice you won’t find anywhere else.
For a post dinner drink or just an after work drink, Cargo is the right choice: situated outside the touristic area, Cargo is located in an industrial space, and when the weather is good, you can enjoy a local beer on the terrace!
Kaisla is a local place where you can enjoy a beer and a chat with people from Helsinki, while in Bruuveri your drinks will literally made on site.
Just remember, Finnish people drink a lot, especially in winter time, so I guess after a day of food and drink you’ll need some rest to be ready to start again tomorrow …
I’m an Italian, but Dublin based, food and travel writer. I decided to start my food blog in 2010, when I moved to Ireland. Since then, I’ve been working with brands, companies, tourism boards and magazines producing content, strategies and taken part in cooking shows and events all over the world. Among them, Jamie Oliver, Barilla and many many more. I plan and write while my husband and business partner Giuseppe takes care of the pictures, both food and travel side.