Culinary pleasures across Finland

Food innovators combine Finland’s culinary tradition with an international, urban style. The focus is on local food and ecological values.

Here’s our list for anyone who loves food and seeing new places, from local festivals to restaurants that are far from the beaten path.

Oasis of good food and flavourful drinks

On a table there is a glass of red wine, a bowl of salad and a cutting board with sliced beef; hands from two different people are in the process of picking up food.

Photo: Tiina Tahvanainen

Just a stone’s throw away from Kastelholm, a stately medieval castle on the shores of Finland’s autonomous Åland Islands, you can find Smakbyn (Taste Village), an inspiring restaurant in the archipelago countryside, where you can enjoy a good meal and refreshing drinks made of local ingredients. You can also take part in cooking classes or visit the local distillery.

Organic products direct from the producer

A buzzing market has multiple small stalls and people are roaming among them.

Photo: Vesa Tyni/Otavamedia

Almost every city or town in Finland has a market where small producers sell freshly baked products, berries, root vegetables and fish. Younger sellers, in particular, speak English and will be happy to tell you about their products. You can identify Finnish products by the words “suomalainen” or “kotimainen.” Find inspiration for your food!

See and taste the Lapland wilderness

A fancy plate of food sits next to a tree branch on a grey tablecloth.

Photo: Sami Repo

At the top of Ounasvaara, a fell located outside the northern city of Rovaniemi, the Sky Kitchen restaurant offers wonderful views and food inspired by the Lapland wilderness. The menu combines northern purity, frost, sun and soundscapes into a trendy package.

Tampere’s own tribute to good food

At an indoor food market, the shelves are filled with different produce.

Photo: Sara Pihlaja/Otavamedia

Tamperrada – inspired by the Tamborrada Festival in Spain – is Finland’s biggest food festival. For five days, restaurants in the Tampere region serve delicious local versions of small Spanish snacks called pintxos.

Smaku introduces local tastes of Porvoo

People study menus at a long buffet table.

Photo: Henriikka Seppälä

The city of Porvoo, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Helsinki, hosts Smaku, a food festival that offers signature dishes from various local restaurants in the form of small treats. Each establishment creates a tasting version of at least one appetiser, main course or dessert, and visitors can vote for the best dish. The festival culminates in a food feast at Porvoo Art Factory on the final day.

Warm-hearted service

Empty wine glasses and plates of white toast are arranged on a table.

Photo: Pasi Leino

Kaskis, chosen as restaurant of the year in 2018, is located in the southwestern Finnish city of Turku. Kaskis specialises in organic and local food featuring many plants found in the wild. Some are gathered by the chefs themselves.

History and gastronomy

The tables are set in an empty restaurant interior.

Photo: Teemu Lautamies

Once a base for clearing and storing naval mines, Lonna Island is an attraction in itself, but it also happens to have one of the best summer restaurants in Helsinki. You can reach Lonna by ferry (the same boat also goes to the island fortress of Suomenlinna) from May to September.

Enjoy food in historical surroundings

An aerial image of a village shows yellow wooden and red brick buildings amid green parks and forest.

Photo: Fiskars Village

Fiskars Village, founded in the 17th century, is known today as a centre of Finnish art and design. The village has a strong culinary tradition with a varied local and organic cuisine. Fiskars Brewery produces artisanal beers.

Feel at home in the beautiful archipelago

A flower garden stands in front of a red wooden cottage.

Photo: Rasmus Palmgren

Farmors Café (Grandmother’s Café) is a picturesque summer café on the island of Högsåra off the southwestern coast. Surrounded by a lovely garden, the old red cottage is an idyllic summer delight where visitors can enjoy freshly baked cakes and tasty summer dishes.

From waste to food

Two people eat and drink red wine at a small table.

Photo: Restaurant Loop

Loop Restaurant in Helsinki  produces high-quality vegetarian dishes from surplus raw materials collected from merchants and producers. Loop donates 70 percent of the retrieved food to charity. The restaurant also helps unemployed young persons and immigrants enter the workforce. Loop serves lunch every weekday and brunch on weekends.

Local food from a wise old owl

A restaurant plate contains three small, fancy pieces of food.

Photo: Robert Kurki

The Pöllöwaari (Old Owl) restaurant in the central Finnish city of Jyväskylä offers lovingly prepared menus and à la carte dishes made from top-quality, seasonal ingredients. The restaurant is located in the Boutique Hotel Yöpuu.

Experience food, art and design

Two focused-looking chefs are plating multiple similar dishes.

Photo: Julius Konttinen

The Food & Art Festival is held in the beautiful surroundings of Ruissalo, an island outside of Turku. The festival is a multi­sensory event where art, design and gourmet dishes meet in a intimate atmosphere. Visiting chefs from around the world conjure up dishes for everyone to enjoy.

By Marina Ahlberg and Selja Tiilikainen, ThisisFINLAND Magazine 2019