Helsinki's Top 10 Cocktail Bars And Old-School Pubs

Rainer Mesi

The Finnish capital of Helsinki lies on the Baltic Sea coast and is a youthful and exciting city filled with energy and modern design. We’ve picked the top ten bars to help you settle into the unique groove of this Finnish metropolis.

Slow GM

1. Bar Bäkkäri

Bar, European, Pub Grub

Tapas at Bar Latva
© Hirotomo T/Flickr
If you are looking for the real hard rock vibe then the Bäkkari is the place for you. The venue has its own nightclub upstairs with live gigs every weekend but the bar downstairs is free and full of character. The pub has a wild look to it, its walls are adorned with all kinds of rock memorabilia; tour posters, signed records and artwork. This is the place where metal-heads and all people fond of rock gather in the Finnish capital. Remember to check out their Facebook so you don’t miss out on any gigs that might be happening upstairs.

2. Bar Latva

Bar, Restaurant, Spanish

© hirotomo t / Flickr
Latva, meaning treetop in Finnish, is ironically situated in the basement of an old apartment building. Best described as a hip Finnish-styled tapas bar, Latva is a wonderful place to escape the Friday night clubbing crowd. The ambience here is very civil and the bar offers quality micro-brews and an excellent wine selection. You cannot go wrong if you have lunch here either, the food is superb and they offer unlimited coffee.

3. Liberty or Death

Bar, Pub Grub, European

Llama bar Helsinki
© Bart van Poll/Flickr
The best cocktails in Finland, and arguably in Scandinavia, are found in the charming and intimate Liberty or Death in the centre of Helsinki. The dimly lit small bar only serves cocktails, but the barmen at work are extremely skilled and passionate about what they do. The staff will happily talk you through the extensive menu as in addition to all the classics, the bar serves some original and very good cocktail-creations.

Bar Llamas

A South American-styled tapas bar that probably offers the best mojitos in town. The bar is incredibly popular among locals and visitors, which comes as no surprise because visually, Llamas is one of the more unique bars in Helsinki. The decor is very eclectic and even has a couple of swings hanging from the ceiling. The best part about Bar Llamas though, besides the tequila selection, is that it is open until 2am every day.

Bar Llamas, Iso Roobertinkatu 14, Helsinki, Finland +358 400353223

4. Bar Loose

Bar, Pub Grub, European

With Helsinki being the metal capital of Europe, it is no surprise that there are plenty of rock bars to choose from. Loose however, is one of the best around. Catering to a more mainstream crowd than the city’s other great metal hangout, Bar Bäkkäri, Loose is an ideal all-night venue. Downstairs there are live gigs on certain nights; upstairs though in the bar area, you can enjoy a great rock themed vibe every night.

Bar Molotow

Heading over to Kallio district, Bar Molotow is probably one of the more upmarket drinking establishments in the area. The music is a mix of rock, indie and punk and the ambience is considered ‘chilled’ and relaxed. The decoration of the bar is themed around the golden age of rock with a fusion of Scandinavian functionalist design. The drink selection is praiseworthy and some of the cocktails like the Molotov are really good.

Bar Molotow, Vaasankatu 29, Helsinki, Finland, +358 401234567

5. Musta Kissa

Bar, Pub Grub

If you are looking for a perfect lounge experience and want to get to know local Helsinki culture a little better, then Musta Kissa is a great place to start. The name means ‘the black cat’ in Finnish, and this lounge bar is styled with 1960’s-70’s kitsch Finnish furniture to compliment an atmosphere that is joyfully bohemian.

6. Rytmi

Restaurant, European

Melting Hearts
© Antti T. Nissinen/Flickr
A café for freelancers by day and a live music venue by night, Rytmi is frequented by the local art crowd, so you are sure to meet some interesting people. The walls of the bar are often used as an exhibition space by local artists, so stop by to indulge in culture or just enjoy a cappuccino.

7. Siltanen

Bar, Restaurant, Finnish

© Antti T. Nissinen / Flickr
Combining a live gig venue, a restaurant and a bar, Siltanen offers an all-encompassing experience in Helsinki’s north. The brunch on offer is wonderful and fairly priced; the drinks are at a premium but they go down well when accompanied by the regular live bands, local or international, who play a variety of different genres.

8. Sivukirjasto

Bar, Pub Grub, European

Whether Sivukirjasto is a bar or a library is still undecided. However, for all intents and purposes you can consider it one of the most unique beer restaurants in Helsinki’s Kallio district. The walls are lined with bookcases filled with reads to swap or buy. On the drinks front, Sivukirajsto serves over 100 different beers from around the world, so there is plenty to choose from.

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