Ihana Kahvila literally means wonderful coffee in Finnish, and a visit to the tucked-away seaside cafe definitely lives up to the name.
I’ve lived in Helsinki for a few years, yet somehow only recently ventured to Ihana Kahvila. The literal translation from Finnish is wonderful coffee, and a visit to the tucked-away seaside cafe definitely lives up to the name. Set off a winding path through construction sites, it’s a decent walk- but worth every step. You’ll find outdoor tables, deck chairs and hammocks, with a view over the water to the Helsinki Cathedral.
The easiest way to reach Ihana Kahvila from the city center is to take the metro to Kalasatama. From the metro walk along Arielinkatu until you reach the junction with Parrulaituri. Then you should see a sign pointing to the cafe. From here it’s around 1km, with further signposting along the way.
Construction along the way
Old ships form a nearby bar
The cafe is created with converted shipping containers
Indoor market halls are an institution in Helsinki. Not only can you buy delicious fresh produce but there are plenty of cafes with a mouthwatering selection of sweet and savoury snacks and hot meals.
Market halls are an institution in Helsinki. Dating back to the 19th century, they’re often housed in beautiful old buildings with a range of delicious, fresh and often organic produce, fish and meat. You’ll also find many traditional cafes and shops selling Finnish homewares, books and souvenirs. Most market halls in Helsinki are open every day of the week except Sunday.
Here are three of the most famous market halls in Finland’s capital
1. Hakaniemen Kauppahalli
The Hakaniemi market hall has recently moved to a newly built “temporary” market hall next to the old building. You’ll find this market between the city center and the trendy neighborhood of Kallio (see this post for things to do in Kallio). In summer there are many stalls outside, selling fresh produce and hot food. Once a month there’s also flea market with second hand clothes and antiques. In winter the indoor cafes provide a welcome refuge from the snow.
2. Vanha Kauppahalli (Old Market hall)
This gorgeous old building dates back to 1888 and was the first indoor market hall in Helsinki. If you only get the chance to visit one market hall, I’d recommend this one. It’s right in the tourist area, next to Market Square and has a range of produce and cafes on offer. For further information see this site.
3. Hietalahti Kauppahalli
Unlike the other two market halls above, the Hietalahti hall has no fresh produce. Instead, the two story building contains a plethora of mouth watering eateries. From burgers and kebabs to Filipino, Japanese and Italian cuisine, there’s sure to be something for everyone. There are also a few stalls selling hand-crafted wares.
In summer the car park outside the hall becomes a monthly flea market- the perfect spot to bag a bargain!
Helsinki’s Kallio district is one of the trendiest areas of Finland’s capital, with a bunch of ridiculously cool cafes, bars and vintage stores. Here’s 10 brunch spots you’ll want to try for yourself.
Saturday brunch or brunssi in Finnish is a tradition I’ve all too happily embraced in my new home. Brunch buffets are very popular in Helsinki, featuring an extensive and decadent array of savoury and sweet treats. While the buffets can be quite expensive (20€-30€), many cafes also serve smaller “breakfast sets” that may interest you if you’re looking to save money or have eaten in the past 24 hours!
Helsinki’s Kallio district is one of the trendiest areas of Finland’s capital, boasting a stack of ridiculously cool cafes, bars, vintage stores and saunas. This makes the district the perfect place to spend a lazy Saturday, indulging in brunch and exploring the neighbourhood. If you’re looking for something to do in Kallio, have a look at this post.
Here are 10 brunch spots in Kallio you’ll want to try for yourself.
Breakfast at The Way
Delicious Finnish pastries
Hard boiled eggs with a smile
1. The Way
With hearty slabs of freshly baked bread, thick slices of ham and cheese, hard boiled eggs with cute faces, excellent coffee and a delicious selection of sweet options, this place is a must visit. If you come for a late breakfast it’s pretty tempting to stay for a few hours and trade your coffee for wine as the bakery becomes a wine bar in the afternoon.
Location: Agricolankatu 9
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 7.30-midnight, Sun 9am-3pm
Cost: starting at 5€ for soft-boiled eggs with sourdough bread and churned butter, this place is budget friendly
One of the few places that serves poached eggs in Helsinki, don’t let the name put you off! This place is cute and cosy with indoor plants hanging from the ceiling and upcycled jar light fittings. The coffee and glogi is also spot on.
Location: Flemingkatu 7
Opening Hours:Mon-Tue 8am-2pm, Wed-Fri 8am-2pm and 5pm-10pm, Sat 10am-3pm, 5pm-11pm, Sun 10am-3pm
Tucked away in a corner just off the main street, Helsinginkatu, this cafe is super cosy and serves one of the best brunches in Kallio. This is particularly a favourite in winter as most of their dishes are hot. There’s also a great dessert table and at 20€ it’s very good value for Helsinki.
Location: Kaarlenkatu 15
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-5pm, Sat 10am-3pm, Sun closed
An absolute Helsinki institution. There are now a bunch of these restaurants around the capital but the one in Kallio was the first and in my opinion the best. The food is heavily influence by Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African cuisines, particularly Moroccan. There’s a huge array of salads and warm dishes and a whole table dedicated to dessert. There’s also many vegan and vegetarian options and weekend brunch comes with a mimosa!
Tip: on weekdays the brunch is around a third of the price as on weekends and while there is no dessert table the savoury food is nearly identical.
Location: Kolmas Linja 17
Opening Hours: Brunch is served 12-4pm Saturday and Sunday and you often need a reservation. They also do amazing a la carte dinners.
Cost: at 30€ for weekend brunch this is the most expensive brunch I’ve had in Helsinki
This beautiful cafe is described by the owners as “a shared living room in the neighbourhood, a cosy place for starting the day or stopping for lunch“ and it definitely feels that way. Split over two levels, with huge glass windows and a large indoor plant vine extending up the stairwell and draped around the top floor balcony, the cafe feels like the open plan living space of my dreams. It’s famous for its slow cooked porridge, freshly baked bread and delicious coffee. On Saturdays they serve “a hefty brunch” from 11-3pm.
Location: Porthaninkatu 13
Opening Hours:Mon-Fri 8am-10pm, Sat 11am-4pm, Sun closed
This is such a vegetarian institution in Kallio that my landlord made a point of mentioning it when I moved into district. As well an extensive daily brunch they also have a large range of coffee alternatives, including matcha, chai, turmeric and even spruce lattes!
Brunch is served from 11am daily and unlike most places in Helsinki, you pay by the weight of food on your plate instead of all you can eat.
Location: Toinen Linja 7
Opening Hours:Mon-Fri 11am-7pm, Sat 11am-6pm, Sun closed
Picturesque and steeped in history, Porvoo is the perfect day trip from Helsinki. During Christmas markets are held in the cobbled snow-dusted streets.
Porvoo is Finland’s second oldest city and one of six medieval towns in the country. It’s not only steeped in history and very picturesque but its also full of cosy cafes, cellar bars and enticing gift shops. My favourites are Petris Chocolate Room and Cellar Cafe and Wine Bar which serves 5 different types of glogi and two types of hot toddy- perfect to warm up on a winters day. Only an hour bus ride from Helsinki, visiting Porvoo is one of the most popular day trips from the capital.
Porvoo is especially enchanting during the festive season, when the town is light up with Christmas lights and markets, selling hand-crafted goods, warm glogi and delicious treats. Snow settles on the buildings and cobbled streets of the old town, and the red houses lining the river make for a peaceful place to wander. It’s not surprising that the street Välikatu, has been touted as one of the 20 most beautiful streets in the world.
Tip:A local bus will cost around 20€ for a return ticket, while booking ahead with Onnibus can be as little as 3€ return and they offer many trips on weekends. In the warmer months (May-Sep) you can also take a traditional cruise from Helsinki’s Market Place to Porvoo for 39€ return.
If you saw my post yesterday about quitting coffee, you’ll know that Finland holds the bragging rights to the nation that drinks the most coffee! So it’s not surprising that in Finland’s capital you’ll find a huge range of cafes, which (luckily for me) also offer many other delicious drinks and snacks aside from coffee. If you want to branch out a little from the mainstream downtown cafes then try one of my favourite 5 cafes below. All are located in neighbourhoods surrounding the city center, but also far enough away to feel like you’ve stumbled into a hidden haven. Oh, each cafe also has ridiculously cool decor & vibes.
1. Regatta: a nautical themed cafe open 365 days a year
This place is an institution and it’s not hard to see why. With an incredibly cute (but tiny) interior, complete with all sorts of vintage nautical decor, outdoor seating with post-card worthy water views, and an open fire where you can cook sausages, this place has it all. They have delicious (and very well priced) sweet and savoury snacks and a great range of hot drinks including coffee, several types of hot chocolate, warm juice and glogi. But possibly the thing I love most about this cafe is that it’s open every day of the year. This is particularly noteworthy in Helsinki where many cafes open late on weekends and often not at all on Sundays.
This is one of my favourite cafes in Helsinki, not only because they serve beautiful cakes and one whole wall is dedicated to plants, but also because most of the space is a second-hand store. The racks are divided into slots for people to sell their no longer wanted clothes and shoes, and you can often find great bargains. A section of the store is also dedicated to beautiful homewares and body products.
Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-5pm
This cafe is the perfect place to relax with a hot drink and freshly baked pulla, amidst good music and chic decor. As well as their delicious home-made pastries, there’s also hot and cold daily lunches (with vegetarian options) for around 10€.
This vegan cafe does a perfect sized, delicious and healthy breakfast set and also serves pretty cakes, smoothies and hot drinks. But it’s the upcycled decor that I love most about the place. There’s also a yoga studio attached to the cafe.
Winters in Helsinki are magical- white snowy landscapes, frozen seas, skiing, skating, Christmas trees, cosy interiors and delicious hot chocolate!
However before the snow arrives, October and November can be quite dreary and a little depressing. Drizzly rain, grey clouds and ever darkening days seem to be in endless supply.
I’ve found one of the best ways to ward of the gloomy November feeling has been to take some indulgent time to myself, snuggled in a cosy cafe with a good book and delicious hot drink. If that sounds like your kind of scene then this post is for you!
Here are five of the best places to get a hot chocolate in downtown Helsinki
1. Ihana Kahvia Baari
Ihana in Finnish means lovely or wonderful, and this place definitely lives up to it’s name! Located in the Kluuvi area of town, this cafe provides a cosy vintage atmosphere, a huge variety of music nights and the most delicious thick Italian hot chocolate.
They also have a few other variations- white hot chocolate, original and chili hot chocolate. Then there’s their range of mouth watering cakes, savoury treats, wine, beer and glogi in winter. By far my number one spot in central Helsinki to brighten up a gloomy November day!
Cost: at 4.50€ for a huge cup of any of their hot chocolates
Opening Hours: variable, but generally 10.00-19.00 Mon-Sat and Sundays take your luck
This specialty chocolate shop definitely delivers the goods in terms of chocolates and hot drinks. Unfortunately the atmosphere is a little lacking. The price is also relatively high but worth it as the hot chocolate is velvety thick, delicious and served in a huge bucket cup.
If chai latte is more your type of hot drink they have a bargain deal for a croissant and chai for 4.50€.
This cafe has a modern, cosy, fun vibe, especially with the swinging chairs upstairs! There are two types of hot chocolate, a regular one and a vegan raw chocolate option. They also have a tempting selection of sweet snack and serve a great, mainly vegetarian brunch on weekends.
Cost: 4.20€ regular or 4.90€ raw option
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 7.30-20.00, Sat 9.00-20.00, Sun 10.00-20.00
Housed in one of my favourite buildings in Helsinki, visiting this cafe is a magical experience- there are huge chandeliers, floor to ceiling windows and even turreted corner seats. The cafe is especially inviting on a gloomy evening, when the windows are lit up in creamy peach tones.
While the hot chocolate itself is nothing special, the fact that it’s served in a tall elegant glass, amidst such a charming atmosphere more than compensates. It was also the cheapest hot chocolate I found in Helsinki.