Coffee culture has taken off in Finland, and in some parts of Helsinki it is practically impossible to turn a corner without passing by a café or three. These are just some of the best and most unique cafés you can find in the city.
Cafe, Finnish, European, $$$
Café Vanille, Helsinki | Courtesy of Café Vanille
Located in the Russian merchant’s quarter of the Suomenlinna island fortress, this café has an old fashioned European aesthetic, which looks like something from a fairy tale or a Jane Austen novel. It serves coffee and some traditional Finnish cakes, such as sweetbuns, as well as offering custom made cakes for parties. If you are visiting Suomenlinna, it is an ideal place to stop and rest your feet after a walk around the town.
If you want to try Russian food and drink but can’t afford the visa, Blinit is a great alternative, and reportedly serves some of the best Russian food outside of the country. As well as hot and cold Russian drinks, they also serve Russian meals and snacks. The most popular is blini, a type of pancake that comes with traditional sweet toppings or savoury varieties exclusive to Finland, and makes an ideal snack to go along with your afternoon pick-me-up.
Strindberg, Helsingfors | Courtesy of Strindberg Café
This high-class establishment located in the city centre not only includes a café but a restaurant with spectacular views of central Helsinki, and even a library bar. The kitchen serves both international and Nordic foods. Thanks to its location, Strindberg Café is an ideal place to stop and rest, or to buy some of the café’s own coffee blends.
Open since 1852 and still maintaining a classic aesthetic, Ekberg is so popular and famous in the city that it also includes a bakery, pastry shop, and catering service. As one of the more high-class and traditional cafés in Helsinki, it is great for seasonal cakes or deserts for special occasions, a place to try Nordic food, or just dropping in for coffee.
Brooklyn Café, Fredrikinkatu | Courtesy of Brooklyn Café and Bakery
Brooklyn is one of the only cafés and bakeries in Helsinki where you can find quality cupcakes that are also available for catering, with a new special flavour on sale every day. You can also find many American themed foods, such as bagels, brownies, cookies, or waffles, which make a nice break from Nordic or European food.
Bear Park Café, Helsinki | Courtesy of Bear Park Café
There are many affordable, low-key cafés in the Kallio district, which is known for its youthful population, but Bear Park Café has a particular significance as the best gay bar in Finland. Located next to Bear Park and an iconic bear statue, this café started life as a kiosk, but is now one of the centres of the Kallio gay community, with regular events, live music, and even a yearly Drag Bear Race. The café maintains a laid-back atmosphere with more affordable prices than the cafés in the city centre, but without losing any charm or quality.
If you prefer Italian coffee, Signora Delizia is a specialist deli and coffee shop that has a much more Mediterranean feel to it than the Nordic cafés of Helsinki. Located in a historic building just opposite Tove Jansson Park, the café sells Italian coffee and food, while the shop sells many Mediterranean products.
Hunaja Café, Helsinki | Courtesy of Hima Happiness
Finland may be a nation of meat lovers, but that doesn’t mean there are no places to find a light vegetarian lunch. Hunaja Café is one such place in Helsinki, selling vegetarian and vegan food, organically grown coffee, and fresh smoothies. The café also has an incredibly relaxed, homey feel, requiring visitors to leave their shoes at the entryway, and with the interior more closely resembling a living room. If more fancy establishments aren’t to your taste, or are out of your price range, then head to this café instead.
Mumin Kaffe Kruununhaka, Helsinki | Courtesy of Mumin Kaffe
Any fan of the Moomins should definitely stop by this café! It caters mostly to families and children, with books, play areas, and child-sized seating. However, it also has appealing Scandinavian design, a relaxed atmosphere, and some of Tove Jansson’s Moomin artwork for adults to enjoy. The success and unique charm of the café means that there are already a few more locations open throughout Helsinki, with a few more due to open in the next few years, including one near the Jansson family’s former home.
Good Life Coffee Oy, Helsinki | Courtesy of Good Life Coffee
Their slogan is ‘avoid bad life’ and fittingly, as this roastary and coffee bar in Kallio is dedicated to selling high-quality coffee, along with pastries from some of the best local bakeries. All of this effort allows customers to enjoy good food and drink in a laid-back atmosphere, while Good Life even sells its own brands of coffee and merchandise.