Helsinki has a ridiculously awesome bar scene. From steam-punk themed gin bars, to speak easies, to local dives, there is truly something for everyone. As one Finn told me, in Finland, there is always a reason to drink: it’s dark all the time, it’s light all the time, it’s freezing cold, the summer has finally arrived. The list goes on…
However, it is in the summer that Helsinki shows us its best watering holes. It seems like the city’s bar and restaurant surface area doubles in the summer months, as patios and establishments open up in places that you didn’t know existed. Finns and tourists alike take advantage of the long days in the short summer by flocking to these outdoor bars.
And while there are plenty of excellent places scattered throughout the city, I particularly love to make for the water-side bars to enjoy that port-town feeling and really get the most out of the sun…before it goes away for a long loooong time.
Here is a list of my 6 favorite Baltic Bars in Helsinki!
So, with the summer winding down, be sure to get out to these places, whether you are a local, an expat, or a day tourist.
Who doesn’t love a good alliteration, right?
This title basically did the work for me, so I couldn’t resist.
If history is a main goal, you cannot beat Ravintola Savu. Set on Tervesaaria, a small island connect by a causeway to the mainland, this traditional Finnish restaurant is housed in a 200 year old log storehouse. The inside is particularly charming with low beamed ceilings and that unique smell you can only get from an old log cabin. However, it is the cozy patio that keeps me coming back to this quiet spot. With comfy love seats and plush chairs, it is a great place to gather with some friends, tucked into the trees on this little island for a low-key drink. Order from the little window outside and snag a seat in the sun.
Serving: Beers, Ciders, Wines, Ice Cream, Small Bites
Its a barge. And a bar. So I guess that makes it a bar-ge?
This place has been one of our favorites since we moved to Helsinki. The picture of us is from our first week here, nearly two years ago, and it remains a popular stop to take our frequent visitors. Why? Not only is sipping a lonkero on a deck pretty unique, it also has a nice view of one of Finland’s iconic churches and affords some good people watching. It is extremely central, so it is a good break to take after touring the Market Square and surrounding areas. If you are lucky, you can swipe one of the Adirondack chairs on the stern and lounge away in the sun. Like most out door bars in the city, they provide blankets if the air is chilly.
Serving: Beers, Ciders, Wines, Long Drink
The newly opened Holiday has been jam packed and bumping all summer. Operated by Helsinki’s favorite restauranteurs, Richard McCormick & Ville Relander, it is a safe bet for some smashing sips and fantastic bites. With live music most nights, it is a sure stop for good times and summer vibes. Check out one of their bright cocktails and try to squeeze your way into a table. Or, stand and mill around, like most people do, and opt for some table tennis, instead!
Serving: Beers, Ciders, Wines, Craft Cocktails, Food
A favorite stop for its rows of canvas deck chairs and beautiful view, Mattolaituri serves up a touch of class with its cold bevies. On hot afternoons, you will find this place brimming over its second floor terrace with chic Moet drinking Finns and foot-sore tourists alike. It is, however, generally quiet on week day afternoons. Either way, I am always ready to fight for one of the lounge chairs so I can sit and watch the little sail boats race along on the Baltic breeze as the big cruise liners roll in and out. Extra bonus: good ice cream stands nearby.
Serving: Beers, Ciders, Wines, Basic Cocktails, Small Bites and BBQ on some days
New to the Helsinki scene this year is the new city favorite of Löyly. While I am still working on the proper pronunciation, it hasn’t kept me away from the sprawling wooden terraces in this fascinating, geometric building. With massive bean bags on an upper deck, canvas loungers on the main deck, both low and tall tables spread all over, and deep stairs for the hip and cool to spread out, this place is fully capable of accommodating the massive crowds that keep returning. Add to it the interior dining space, complete with glass fireplaces and the incredible sauna facility, this is a one-stop-shop of Finnish experiences.
If you want to check out the wood and traditional smoke saunas, I suggest making a reservation in advance. Or, you can just sit and be entertained by the squeals and screams as people jump straight from the sauna to the Baltic!
Serving: Beers, Ciders, Wines, Cocktails, Hearty Food
Just beyond Löyly, farther down this seemingly quiet stretch of industrial land, you will find Hernesaarenranta, a dynamic food truck/concert/sauna/bar venue right on the Baltic. This place commonly hosts concerts and events, but is also open most afternoons, with a variety of local restaurants and bars lined up food truck-style around a green-turfed lawn. You can grab a booth in what serves as the VIP area during events, or just settle into a picnic table or lounger. It is a great place for all ages to hang out for the day; I even just brought a book once and enjoyed an Aperol spritz in the sun. As afternoon slips into evening, the music gets a little louder and the crowd gets ready to party.
Serving: Beers, Ciders, Wines, Basic Cocktails, Variety of Food Trucks
Ok fellow Helsinkians, I am sure you all have your favorite patio bars in the city and along the Baltic! I am always ready to find new places, so let me know what your favorites are in the comments section!