From a traditional post-sauna beer in the countryside to a new urban craft brewery, a time-honoured coffee house to a cutting-edge roastery and bars serving ciders, wine and liqueurs, drinking is an integral part of Finnish social life. Nightlife is most vibrant in Helsinki, followed by large cities such as Tampere, Turku and Oulu, which all have clubs and live music.
Coffee is the hot drink of choice. Finland produces some excellent beers, ciders and spirits, as well as berry wines.
The Finns lead the world in kahvi (coffee) consumption. While the distinctive standard Finnish brew can be found everywhere, smarter cafes and restaurants will have espresso machines. Cafes are ubiquitous, ranging from 100-year-old imperial classics to trendy networking joints and simple country caffeine stops.
Beer, Wine & Spirits
Finns drink plenty of olut (beer). Among the major local brews are Karhu, Koff, Olvi and Lapin Kulta. The big brands are all lagers, but you'll also find speciality brewers including Malmgård, a 1614-established, hydro-powered estate. Its beers can be found around Finland. Craft breweries and microbreweries produce excellent light and dark beers: look for the word panimo or panimo-ravintola. Cider is also popular, as is lonkero, a ready-made mix of gin and fruity soft drink, usually grapefruit. Finns don’t tend to drink in rounds; everybody pays their own.
Beer, wine and spirits are sold by the state network, Alko. There are stores in every town. The legal age for drinking is 18 for beer and wine, and 20 for spirits. Beer and cider with less than 4.8% alcohol can be bought at supermarkets, service stations and convenience stores. If you buy cans or bottles, you pay a small deposit (about €0.20). This can be reclaimed by returning them to the recycling section at a supermarket.
Wine is widely drunk, but very pricey in restaurants. Sparkling wine is very popular in summer and keep an eye out for locally made berry wines.
Other uniquely Finnish drinks include salmiakkikossu, which combines dissolved liquorice sweets with the iconic Koskenkorva vodka (an acquired taste); fisu, which does the same but with Fisherman’s Friend pastilles; sahti, a sweet, high-alcohol beer; and cloudberry or cranberry liqueurs.