Helsinki should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s one of Europe’s friendliest cities, it’s easy to get around and you’re guaranteed to have some great meals out.
When it comes to food, Helsinki is a city that’s proud of its history – but it also has a strong vision for its future: sustainability is already a way of life for most of its restaurants, whose ambitious, forward-thinking attitudes are coupled with great passion.
Many restaurants here take on an imaginative plant-focused approach, with the sourcing of local ingredients and preservation techniques playing key roles. Their stance is all-encompassing, with a reduction in the use of plastic, the recycling of materials into furniture or clothes, and the wellbeing of staff, at the forefront of their daily operations.
Some of our favourite restaurants include:
Flavour-packed cooking comes from an industrious team in an open kitchen. Expect a plant based set menu full of originality and precision.
A neighbourhood bistro serving uncomplicated dishes which showcase organic local produce – an ethos which extends to the drinks too.
The chef-owner’s passion and his desire to use every part of an ingredient is admirable. The set menu showcases the finest seasonal dishes and displays an imaginative touch.
The talk of the town! Its name means ‘Zero’ and its whole ethos is formed around zero waste. They even have their own composter and microbrewery.
A ground-breaking place which uses ‘hyper-local’ ingredients grown in the restaurant, including salad from a hydroponic wall and crickets housed in the light fittings!
With its charming art nouveau buildings and busy waterways, Helsinki is certainly a pretty place. The skyline is dominated by the two striking Cathedrals – one white and one red – and you are never far from a work of art in the parks and boulevards. Look out for the 1932 ‘Three Smiths’ statue and that of Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg, set in the charming tree-lined Esplanadi.
Markets are lively and colourful. Worth a visit are the waterside open market where you can buy mushrooms and berries by the litre and the beautiful Old Market Hall, Vanha Kauppahalli, where the fish selection is stunning and a bowl of heartwarming fish soup is never far away.
Helsinki is easy to get around thanks to a frequent and very efficient public transport system. HSL tickets are valid across all services – buses, trams, the metro, trains and ferries. Buy a 1-7 day ticket and download the HSL app. There are also scooters and bikes for hire on many a street corner.
Where to stay
There are plenty of charming boutique townhouses and grand hotels downtown (and, for the budget conscious, some great value places to stay just a couple of metro stops further out from the city centre).
* Hotel Kämp – a timelessly elegant grand palace dating back to the 1880s
* The contrastingly modern Glo Kluvvi
* And the unusual Katajanokka, where you stay in former prison blocks
Click here to view all MICHELIN recommended restaurants in Helsinki