A short break guide to city life in Helsinki

Read more on Helsinki.

Overall rating:3.0 out of 5 (based on 1 vote)
Enjoyable
3
3.0
Useful
3
3.0
Inspirational
3
3.0
Recommended for:
Food and Drink, Short Break, Nightlife, Expensive, Mid-range

Helsinki's cool bars and restaurants are waiting to be discovered. Finnish style prevails, but it doesn't have to be exclusive or expensive.

I have never experienced a city that is so different in summertime than in winter. Helsinki gleams on warm sunny days, and the folk of this Nordic hotspot respond in kind. Beaches and parks are the hotspots when the sun is out, but the Fins don’t turn their backs on their bars and cafés.

The city has great sights and delights for weekend-break tourists, but I've seen them before and I know that the best thing about the place is city life itself. Being free from the obligations of sight-seeing made my weekend refreshing and connected me with real, cool Helsinki life. What's more, most of the places I visited will fit into a winter break just as easily as they did for summer sojourn.

Places to drink

First stop on Friday evening was actually unplanned - A21, a cocktail bar in Punavuori district close to the city centre. I had only just read about it in the in-flight magazine on the way over before we wandered through the open door (it's usually locked and there's a doorbell for entry). The cocktails were delicious but averaged €14 each. Constant references to "worldsbestbars.com" throughout the lounge annoyed me and we left after one drink, with my suspicions of in-flight magazine recommendations intact.

Much more to my liking was a bar called Nolla on Pohjoinen Rautatienkatu. With a slightly stripped-down look of wood tones and white-wash walls, the understated feel of the place is in contrast with a heady atmosphere, beers and great music (Saint Etienne band member Bob Stanley was on DJ duty that night). Highly recommended.

Saturday morning’s sore head was soothed almost as soon as the first few mouthfuls of a cracking brunch at Siltanen where you can choose either the “Berlin” or the “Barcelona” breakfast. Each comes with unlimited bread and croissants so worth every cent of the €9. Siltanen is located slightly away from the city centre in Hämeentie 13 B, but it’s worth the walk. We sat outside on their large terrace bathed in sunshine with ultra-cool minimal house tunes for some tempo. DJs play inside at night, the interior notable for its dentist chair lighting!

Sauna

One of Helsinki’s finest (and very traditional) saunas, Kotihartju, is located nearby. There we drank bring-your-own beers between bouts inside Finland’s largest wood-fired sauna. They even provide fridges for you to store your booze while you're sweating away. It’s a real social get-together and popular with the young and old of the city. It’s €12 including towel hire and you can stay all day.

Places to eat

Nothing brings on hunger like a few hours in the sauna and nothing cures that hunger like a plate of Finnish meatballs and mashed potatoes. And so to Bullman, just five minutes' walk on Fleminginkatu. It’s a fairly basic place, but the food is hearty and piled high. Don’t go here unless you are really hungry. Really.

I can’t believe I even ate anything the following day, but eat we did, at the very cool Bali Hai on Roobertinkatu in the city centre. It’s a bar/café/restaurant with impeccably restrained style. There’s an interesting menu with good prices and everything is served up by smiling staff who seem genuinely pleased to have our custom. If the weather’s good, and you're lucky you can grab a table outside on the street.

After spending the day at a music festival, the weekend’s eating and drinking came to a relaxing conclusion late, late into the night at Bar 9 on Uudenmaankatu. A decent bar that is a great after-hours option, even on Sundays.
 

Save money on booking

flightshotelscar hire

by following our money-saving guides. They are written by our Simonseeks team of travel gurus.

More information on A short break guide to city life in Helsinki:

Author:
Jody O'Dea
Traveller type:
Travel Enthusiast
Guide rating:
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)
Total views:
209
First uploaded:
30 September 2009
Last updated:
4 years 46 weeks 4 days 1 hour 48 min 12 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Food and Drink, Nightlife, Short Break
Budget level:
Mid-range, Expensive
Free tags / Keywords:
bars, food and drink, sauna, city life

What do you think of this guide?

Did it tell you what you needed to know?
Do you agree with the writer's recommendations?

Share your views by leaving a comment on this page.

Community comments (1)

Rating:
3
1 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

This was clearly an intoxicating weekend in Helsinki! A nicely-written guide that flows well and provides a decent guide to bars and eateries, though contact information for these hotspots would be most useful. It would also be nice to know where the writer stayed, and if they could recommend the accommodation to visitors to this site.
Further detail and a longer guide would push this to a four star offering. Which music festival did the writer attend? Is it worth a visit?
The photographs could be better too, and it's always nice to see the smiling face of our writers.

Was this comment useful?