Canoe In Finland

Finland, Feel the difference.

Mouthwatering Finnish Food and A Bonus Traditional Recipe!

The popular perception about European food is that it is quite bland and unimaginative. But Finland proves quite an exception to that case! The Finns are extremely proud of their culinary heritage, and rightly so since traditional Finnish food is as tasty as it is interesting.

The basic ingredients in most traditional dish will comprise of either fish or meat—almost always accompanied by potatoes, rye bread—which is the staple in Finland, and different kinds of berries.

Finland is the land of many rivers and streams and the fresh waters of Gulf of Bothnia are home to very fertile fishing grounds. Salmon is quite popular, and in most pubs or restaurants, you will find “Lohikeitto” featured on the menu, which is a soup with salmon, leek and potato. It’s very tasty and filling, and makes for a meal by itself.

Lohikeitto

Lohikeitto

 

Another popular salmon dish is “Graavilohi” which means salt cured salmon. Apart from that, they have a very traditional Finnish fish pie called “Kalakukko”, which is a thick rye crust stuffed with herring fish.

Lastly, we cannot talk about fish in Finland without bringing up crayfish, the national favourite. Known as “Rapu”, the crayfish are small fresh water lobsters which are very expensive and available only for a short season every year. The Finns love to hold crayfish parties to enjoy the season with their friends and family.

In the meat department, beef, chicken and pork are all traditionally consumed in Finnish households but reindeer meat is quintessentially Finnish fare. Called “Poronkaristys”, the dish is typically served with mashed potatoes and/or lingonberry jam and eaten all year round.

Poronkaristys

Poronkaristys

 

The Finns take their breads very seriously. Cinnamon buns and crepes and pancakes are all very popular and consumed with great alacrity, but the Finnish staple, and the bread closest to a Finn’s heart, is “Ruisleipa”. It is a wholegrain rye bread, made with sour dough. It is quite flat, quite dense, and very heavy. It is traditionally had during breakfast, with butter and cloudberry jam, or also during lunch with soups.

Come summer, the Finnish countryside bursts into a cacophony of different coloured berries, of which blueberries are the most abundant. Finns enjoy these in jams or as blueberry pies, and the jury is still out on whether the Finns make the best blueberry pies in the world.

Mustikkapiirakka

Mustikkapiirakka

 

“Mustikkapiirakka” is a traditional, gluten free blueberry pie, best consumed with homemade vanilla ice cream. Blueberry buns called “Mustikkapulla” are also quite popular. Lingonberry is another kind of berry found in Finland. It’s quite tart and is used as an accompaniment to many savoury dishes as a jam. The most divine of them all, however, is cloudberry. They are a deep orange colour and very sweet, and enjoyed in Finnish households either as jams or by themselves.

Other traditional Finnish snacks that you might want to look out for in Finland are “Leipajuusto” which is a type of oven baked cheese cut into thin wedges and serve with cloudberry jam, and “Karjalanpiirakka”, which is a rice pie stuffed with rice porridge and potatoes and served with munavoi, which is an egg and butter mixture. These are popular items to watch out for at the local market. But if you are lucky enough to sample them at someone’s home, then don’t miss the opportunity to experience the authentic flavours!

If you want to bring the taste of Finland in your own kitchen, then perhaps you might want to tackle a traditional salmon soup. The ingredients are easily available at supermarkets around the world.

  • To start with, chop a couple of onions or leeks and sauté them in butter till they are golden brown.
  • Add around 6 cups of water to the pot.
  • Dice around 1 kg of potatoes into cubes and add those to the pot with some salt and pepper and 1 bay leaf.
  • Let the mixture simmer for 15 minutes, and stir only occasionally.
  • Then add 500 grams of salmon fish fillet. They must be de-skinned and cubed.
  • Immediately, add 4 cups of heavy cream and some freshly cut dill.
  • Cook for only 5 minutes, as salmon doesn’t take long to cook.
  • Add a tablespoon of butter and stir till it melts in the soup.
  • Fish out the bay leaf and discard it.
  • Serve the soup hot with a garnishing of dill and accompanied with some rye bread for an authentic Finnish meal.

Top Ten Museum Attractions In Helsinki

Helsinki is home to more than 80 museums. Some are big and spectacular, others are small and limited, but all have great style and are very interesting. A lot of them have great interactive features, which makes the learning experience even more fun.

Some museums have free entry all year round while others are free on a particular day every month. Most remain closed on at least one day a week. Yet others are discounted or free if you have a Helsinki card.

It is best to check the website of the museum you are interested in for all these details before your visit.

1. Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

This was built with the intention to educate the public about contemporary art, especially Finnish art. It has a great interactive style with activities you can do to identify and learn more about a particular artist etc. The Museum has a café which serves more than decent coffee, so you can relax after a hectic half day at the museum, contemplating the great works you were just able to appreciate. In the summer, there is outdoor seating, with pretty views of the gardens.

2. National Museum of Finland

National Museum of Finland

This museum is better than a library stuffed with books on Finland to learn more about the history of this Nordic country. The exhibits take you from Finland of the Stone Age to the Present. The rooms are themed according to the era, and you can see the evolution of both—the elites and the royalty, as well as the Finnish peasants. At the end of the tour, there’s a souvenir shop with an assortment of Finnish memorabilia. Entry is free for Helsinki card holders.

3. Aalto Home

Aalto Home

Aalto Home

Sweden’s IKEA has made the country famous for modern and cutting edge décor, but minimalist and modern architecture is quite popular in Finland as well and things like décor and planning and furniture etc are taken quite seriously in Finnish homes. In that vein, Aalto Home is the museum of minimalist architecture. Quite a few architects visit it regularly for inspiration. It was built in 1936 and is not exactly housed in an imposing building. In fact, the building itself is a specimen of minimalist architecture. It has guided tours available, and you can always book one on the spot.

4. Helsinki City Museum

20160118 Kaupunginmuseo uusi museo lasten kaupunki Kuva: Marja Väänänen

20160118 Kaupunginmuseo uusi museo lasten kaupunki Kuva: Marja Väänänen

This is a museum dedicated exclusively to the evolution and emergence of Helsinki as a major Scandinavian city. You can see through photographs how the city has built and evolved over the years. It also has a separate room that screens a historical documentary on the subject. It’s a must visit, if only because it has free entry for all, all year round!

5. Suomenlinna Toy Museum

Suomenlinna Toy Museum

There are six museums located on the island of Suomenlinna, of which the Toy Museum is perhaps the most adorable and interesting. It has exhibits on toys from the beginning of the 19th century right up till the 1960s. It gives a rare and valuable insight into life under a Finnish childhood. Another plus point is, the Museum café serves a delicious pulla, which is traditional French dessert bread. If you visit in the summer months, try the one with blueberry!

6. Ateneum Art Museum

 Ateneum Art Museum

Ateneum Art Museum

This is the largest permanent collection of art in Finland. It is interesting because it also holds workshops in painting, ceramics and other crafts inside the Museum. Visitors under the age of 18 have free entry. The museum also has a café and a gift shop. If you are not interested in the workshops and just want to have a look around, then audio guides are available at the entrance.

7. Haltia – Finnish Nature Centre

Haltia – Finnish Nature Centre

Haltia – Finnish Nature Centre

This is a little distance from the city of Helsinki but right adjacent to Nuuksio National Park. It is located inside a house which is a prime example of sustainable architecture and minimalist design. Some sections around the area have free entry but the main exhibits have an entrance fee. You can see splendid views of the park from the café.

8. Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum Finland

Natural History Museum Finland

This museum houses the most comprehensive exhibits about nature in Finland. It tells you a lot about the flora and fauna of the Nordic countries generally. This is one of the more interactive museums and a lot of fun for families to come to.

9. Seurasaari Island and Open Air Museum

Seurasaari Island and Open Air Museum

Seurasaari Island and Open Air Museum

This is one of the islands near Helsinki. It is very beautiful in its natural environment. The museum is an open air exhibit spread out in the island so walking through it feels like walking in a set from a fairytale movie! It gives great insight into Finnish houses and lives of peasants and craftsmen from 18th century. The view of the midnight sun from here is magical, if mostly because it is not obstructed by any buildings and such.

10. Amos Anderson Museum

Amos Anderson Museum

Amos Anderson Museum

This museum exhibits from the private collection of Amos Anderson, and it’s the biggest private art museum in Finland. Anderson built the house in which it is housed, himself. While the modern art collection is quite interesting, the house also has a private chapel, a walk through which is also enjoyable.

Top Restaurants In Finland For All Budgets and Tastes

Finnish cuisine includes a lot of fish and meat, downed with a great wine or beer. Eating out in Finland as a rule is quite expensive, so if you’re forking out all that money, might as well make it worth your while right?

In the past few years, the food scene in Finland has been burgeoning by leaps and bounds and you can get a decent meal–even a fine dining experience–at reasonably reasonable rates by Finnish standards.

If you enjoy a themed decor with costumes, or a fancier sit-down dinner, or even the slap-in-the-back bonhomie of a cozy pub, Finland has fine specimen to offer in every category. Below, we highlight the best of them.

Kappeli in Helsinki

Located in the heart of town, overlooking the central Espalanadi park, this establishment in quite visible on the tourist beat. But on no account is it a rip off! The ceiling to floor glass walls on two sides provide an interesting people-watching and scenery-admiring experience as you wait for your food.

The service is quick, friendly, and most importantly, delivered in perfect English. Exotic food is not the most appealing to a first-timer, but if you have your heart set on trying reindeer meat in Finland, then no one prepares it better than Kappeli. For the more conventional minded, the salmon soup seems to be a crowd pleaser. If you want to have a really traditional meal then go for grilled liver with lingonberry and mashed potato.

Kappeli has a very long and illustrious history with a lot of famous artists having visited it. A must visit in Helsinki.

Passio Kitchen and Bar in Helsinki

A cozy eatery again located close to the city centre. All ingredients are fresh and locally sourced. Thus, the menu typically varies quite often according to the seasons and depending on the chef’s mood. With such high standards it’s quite an expensive establishment.

To get the best bang for your buck, it’s recommended that you opt for the chef’s surprise menu with wine pairing. You can choose between a 3-course or a 5-course meal. Their aim is to experiment with different flavours and push boundaries, but the execution is flawless and leaves you with a memorable gourmet experience.

They have their own brewery with unique beer options. The best part is that the wait staff explain the chef’s vision with each course so you get a little insight into what to expect and why. Another reliable hit and highly recommended eatery in Helsinki.

Bryggeri in Helsinki

A different concept from fine-dining, this is a pub cum restaurant with hearty and delicious fare and a great selection of home brewed beer. The barkeep will be happy to explain to you the different kinds of beers and ciders they have, but may we recommend that you definitely try the wheat beer!

All their produce is locally sourced and extremely fresh. If you were a local, your go-to meal would be the pulled pork burger, some fries and a hearty glass of their lager or cider. Their burgers really are quite tasty! You can also get the typical Scandinavian fare, salmon soup here, with large chunks of fish and potato.

The establishment is happy to cater to kids as well. Best part (after the food and beer of course) is that they have free wi fi!

Farang in Helsinki

If local Finnish fare does not appeal to your taste buds, fret not. Farang is a southeast Asian restaurant in Helsinki that has cult status and is one of the more famous establishments in town. Any expat in Helsinki would have visited it at least once, and so should you!

Their speciality is Vietnamese and Thai food. The food is quite expensive and the menu does not change very often from one year to next. So on your first visit, you might want to get a tasting menu, and let the staff recommend the wine pairing to you.

This is a restaurant that cares a lot for quality and experience and again, the wait staff are very eager to explain the chef’s vision with each dish. You will find this restaurant mentioned in almost all guides to Helsinki and with good reason. Definitely worth one visit.

Viikinkiravintola Harald in Tampere

This is a fun, viking themed restaurant, but that does not mean that they take their food lightly. They are famous for having slightly off-centre options on their menu, like reindeer tenderloin, wild boar and duck’s heart. They also have a branch in Helsinki, but the one in Tampere is more famous.

They also have their own home brewed beer selection, which is quite strong. With the wait staff dressed in costumes and viking hats available to customers on demand, this restaurant definitely appears tailor made for the tourists looking for a fun and authentic Finnish experience. However, this is by no means a tourist rip off as it is exceedingly popular with the locals as well!

You will not want to eat anywhere else in Tampere after one visit here, we promise you.

Mami in Turku

Mami is a small, cozy establishment which makes you feel like you’re a local hanging out at a favourite joint. It’s closed on Sundays and Mondays and is packed full on other days so you will most likely always need a reservation to get in.

For lunch, they include a special array of coffees in the menu. All their ingredients a fresh and locally sourced. This means that their menu is never very long but always delicious, and it changes pretty frequently according to the produce that’s available. They are happy to tell you the origin of the meat that you’re eating if you ask.

The location is pretty superb as it overlooks the river and the cathedral, which means you have the option of a nice, postpandrial walk along the scenic route if you please. Most easily the best place to eat in Turku, and one of the highest quality establishments in the country.

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