In the second of my series on the Finnish capital, Helsinki we're going to build upon the information in my previous article. By now, we've made it from the airport to the city centre, managed to locate our digs so what's next? Nourishment, of course...
Where to eat
As I've mentioned before, Helsinki isn't a budget destination so coming in a close second to hotel costs will be food and drink; especially so if you like a sip of alcohol.
Finns seem to have their main meal of the day at lunchtime (which seems to be a moving target of between 11am and 2pm) and so many restaurants capitalise on this by having deals at lunchtime. These can be "Lounas Buffet" (Lunch Buffets) or a set menu for a fixed price - normally €8 to €15 so these are worth taking advantage off. Helsinki has a wide range of restaurants which cater for most tastes, so keep an eye out for these deals.
If you just fancy a burger, Helsinki has its fair share of McDonald's outlets, but hey, this is Finland, and they have Hesburger. While a little different to McDonalds in some ways, I must admit that I find the food superior and I would opt for them any day. The double burger meal gets a particular thumbs up.
If you're looking for something in the evening, here's my pick of the crop:
- The Helka Hotel's Restaurant has consistently impressed me over the years with its superb food. The set menus, while not cheap, are equally not bank-breaking and offer something to tantalise your tastebuds. Last time I dined there, they had a nettle themed menu which positively blew me away.
- Next up, is the Empire Plaza Chinese Restaurant in the Kamppi Centre. Once again, I haven't picked the cheapest outlet because I feel you pay a little extra and you get a little extra here. The WonTun Soup and Kung Po Chicken can't fail to impress.
- The Graniittilinna Restaurant at the back of the Scandic Paasi in Hakaniemi is quite an upmarket affair with prices to match too. You can save several euros by using Scandic Restaurant Vouchers, but don't expect change out of €40 for a main meal and drinks. The reindeer and marbled steak are highly recommended.
- For a bit of fun, the Zetor Restaurant opposite the Marski Hotel is a tractor/farm themed eatery where the food's pretty good and the atmosphere a laugh. The Meatballs and Salmon receive two thumbs up from me.
- The Maya Bar and Grill on the north of Railway Square has an Aztec/South American feel to it and the food's not too bad either. Check out the char-grilled chicken with chimmichurri sauce!
- Vespa, an italian place at the west end of the Esplanade does pizzas and does them well. Make sure you get a seat downstairs.
- The Manhattan Steak House in the Forum Shopping Centre - no prizes for guessing what they do well, but beware the 9pm closing time.
So now you're fed, you need to know what to do in the day and in the evenings... coming up in Part 3.