A pub crawl in Helsinki – the bars not to be missed
Karaoke, a pub on a tram and a stunning sky bar – Helsinki is a treasure trove of excellent, fun and unique bars. Join this group of Norwegian friends on their pub crawl through the Finnish capital.
There are many ways to experience a new city: one can take a jog, visit a museum, or indulge in a delightful meal.
But if you truly want to delve beneath the surface of a new metropolis, it's often best to sample its nightlife and make entirely new acquaintances and see what they have to offer.
We joined a group of Norwegian friends on their weekend trip to Helsinki, where they crafted their own pub-to-pub route through the city's many watering holes.
"The Finns are very friendly and open, especially once they've had a bit to drink," chuckles Jørgen from Norway.
Helsinki's best and funnest bars
Here is the list of the group's pub-to-pub journey through Finland's largest city. Consider staying at a hotel within Strawberry during your Helsinki trip, and you'll be close to everything the capital has to offer. Hotel Fabian, Klaus K, and Hotel F6 are all excellent options if you want to be close to nightlife, restaurants, and attractions.
1. Sky Room at Clarion Hotel® Helsinki
Address: Tyynenmerenkatu 2
If you're staying at the Clarion Hotel® Helsinki, it's an obvious choice to start the evening with a delightful cocktail and the city's best view. The Sky Room is located on the 17th floor of the hotel in the new and exciting Busholmen district.
"Simply enjoy the view from the top of Helsinki with a mojito in hand," smiles Tord.
Here, delicious cocktails are served by skilled bartenders, accompanied by lively beats. On weekends, it's open until 2:00 AM, and there's often DJs or live music.
2. Karaoke Bar Restroom
Address: Tehtaankatu 23
After being up so high, it's nice to get back down to ground level. A fifteen-minute walk from the Sky Room, you'll find one of the city's most legendary karaoke bars, Karaoke Bar Restroom.
Karaoke culture is strong in Finland, and, according to the lads, it's a big experience when visiting Helsinki.
"There's no karaoke like Finnish karaoke," is the verdict of the Norwegian group.
Karaoke Bar Restroom plays on the fact that the bar is located in what used to be a public toilet, which today offers cold beer and friendly service.
If the 'performers' get to be too much, there's a small outdoor space where you can rest your ears.
3. Fly AF Bar
Address: Annankatu 4
If singing isn't your thing, but you'd rather enjoy a cold beer in hand and good music in your ears, Fly AF Bar is the place for you.
LGBTQ-friendly and centrally located, they serve up a DJ almost every single night. The music varies, but there's a lot of funk, RnB, and lounge.
"Eccentric with a fun clientele. It's a very pleasant place with an engaged and friendly bartender. There are also many locals here, which is fun. There's also great music here," says Jørgen.
We grab a beer here before continuing our odyssey.
4. Grotesk Helsinki
Address: Ludviginkatu 10
"Grotesk is a trendy place with a diverse clientele. There's a lounge atmosphere and an amazing beer garden," says Espen.
The venue also has a restaurant section, so you can eat your fill before dancing off the calories on the dance floor.
5. Wintergarden Bar at Hotel St. George
Address: Yrjönkatu 13
One hidden gem which is well worth the trip is the Wintergarden Bar at Hotel St. George. Here, bar manager Tuomas Hämäläinen and his team serve innovative cocktails with inspiration and methods from molecular gastronomy. The bar menu has undergone a revamp in 2023, and has a brand-new, minimalist concept that no other bar in the country employs.
"For instance, we're the only bar in Finland that doesn't use any lime or lemon juice in our drinks," Hämäläinen explains.
Instead, they make all their own mixer solutions, often based on ingredients they've foraged themselves.
"This was something special. Well worth the trip," say the group of friends.
6. Kämp Bar at Hotel Kämp
Address: Pohjoisesplanadi 29
On the ground floor of the dignified and stylish Hotel Kämp, you'll find the Kämp Bar. The bar is one of the city's oldest, having opened its doors way back in 1887. Both hotel guests and locals meet here for classic cocktails in elegant surroundings.
In the summer, Kämp Bar has an outdoor area with views towards Esplanadi Park. This is the ultimate spot for indulging in people watching.
7. SpåraKOFF - Pub on Tram Tracks
Address: Mikonkatu 17
Our next stop on the tour is quite unusual. In celebration of Sinebrychoff Brewery's (a major Finnish brewery) 175th anniversary, a tram was transformed into a mobile bar. It was only supposed to be in operation for two years but was a roaring success - and is still running today.
The tram runs through the streets of Helsinki during the summer months. It's an easy hop-on, hop-off, but our tight pub-to-pub schedule means we have to get off quickly.
"That was absolutely brilliant. Next time, we'll have to stay on for the entire tram route," says Espen.
"I thought it might be a bit tacky, but it was incredibly fun. A lovely and comfortable way to see the city," adds Mathias.
8. Holiday Bar – Last Stop
Address: Pohjoisesplanadi 29
The clock is ticking towards late evening and the last stop on our route through Helsinki's nightlife is the Holiday Bar. In addition to being a bar, Holiday is also an excellent restaurant and a natural choice for a late-night meal.
Furthermore, it has a big outdoor serving area and is open until 03:00 and 04:00 on weekends, with a DJ spinning hits old and new.
"Holiday is the place to be for dancing to bangers late into the night. A perfect conclusion to a city tour," say the group of friends.