Summer is here! The days are getting longer and the city of Helsinki is reinventing itself. Cultural initiatives and festivals abound, filling the most original spaces of the capital. Chill with Helsinki’s cool kids on the terrace of a warehouse-turned-club. Rock out to the sounds of Scandinavia’s best DJs on the swings of a Berlin-style warehouse patio… So many atypical (and very Scandinavian) experiences to be had with this selection of five spots taken from our city guide Indie Guides Helsinki!
Skiffer: Sailor hangout in winter, floating station in summer
In Helsinki, like everywhere in Finland, the decor literally changes with the seasons. Many places have to adapt to the weather, so after the last freeze of the year, the Finnish are happy to revisit places that remained closed during the Kaamos (dark season). This is the case for Skiffer, which has two faces depending on the time of year. In the winter, check out this former sailor’s hangout in Punavuori for a meal at Old Skiffer, and enjoy a pizza in the nautical themed décor. The pizzas are made with seasonal (and rather unusual) ingredients like freshly picked wild strawberries and shrimp.
In the summer, check out Luskaluoto on Skiffer island. Staying true to the nautical theme of Old Skiffer, this place is located on a floating fueling station. Take the little ferry to Merisatama for six euros, and it’s only a two-minute trip to the island, where you can enjoy a snack right in the middle of the Baltic Sea. In the summer season, you can also party at one of their many DJ and club events, taking advantage of the midnight sun. The natural setting plus mobile sauna makes for the perfect rave or pool party…Scandinavian style.
– The Old Skiffer Bar & Restaurant:
Laivurinkatu 10, 00150 Helsinki
Open Monday and Tuesday from 3pm to 1am, Wednesday through Friday from 3pm to 2am, Saturday from 12pm to 2am and Sunday from 12pm to 12am
– Skiffer Liuskaluoto (only open in the Summer):
Liuskaluoto, 00140 Helsinki
Open Monday and Tuesday from 4pm to 9pm, Friday from 4pm to 10pm, Saturday from 11am to 10pm and Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Ääniwalli: 90s rave vibe
In the industrial neighborhood of Vallila, this is where all the cool kids of Stadi (slang for Helsinki) come in the summer to dance on the patio. Multicolored lanterns contrast with the brick walls, while the asphalt shakes to the sounds of drum and bass or minimal. At Ääniwalli, Millennials can step back in time to experience the raves of the 90s every Sunday at VUM Open Air. Night never falls on this open-sky dance floor, open from 3pm to midnight (8 euros before 7pm, 10 euros before 9pm and 15 euros after that). In the winter, they put on super electronic shows inside the warehouse, with emphasis on heavy beats and ambient sounds, featuring artists from the international indie scene. In the cold season, the night never ends with after parties that last until dawn.
Pälkäneentie 13, 00510 Helsinki
Opening hours: see their program
Siltanen: Happy hour in an industrial loft
Located in a former brick factory in Kallio, Siltanen is a hybrid space that is home to a restaurant (Thai bistro Lie Mi), a bar, and a stage for indie concerts of all kinds in addition to open mics. Not to mention the DJ sets that take place almost every night in the little section reserved for lovers of vinyl and old school R&B. The loft-style interior, industrial lamps and signs, big leather armchairs, and amazing wooden deck all contribute to the charm. The prices are a bit high for the neighborhood, but if you come to Siltanen to chill for happy hour, you’re sure to have a good night. After 9pm, the place fills up, the volume turns up, and the vibe gets vibrant. The improvised club atmosphere draws quite a few night owls, but if you’re looking for more, you can head to the two underground clubs, Kuudes Linja and Kaiku, located behind the building.
Kuudes Linja/Kaiku: Alternative shows in a former factory
This former Finnish telephone company Nokia factory is now home to two nightlife institutions for music lovers. Kuudes Linja on the left, Kaiku on the right. The first is for live shows. This is where Weird World Records little darling, Jaakko Eino Kalevi (now all over the international indie music press) played his very first shows. With capacity up to 400, this concert venue highlighting local and international alternative music (indie rock, rap, experimental pop, etc.) promises a frenzied atmosphere perfectly suited to moshing! After the show, head to the basement next door to keep the night going. Don’t be discouraged by the long line, which says a lot about the popularity of Kaiku. This electro-house club with an ambiance somewhere between Lynchian and designer brings in the best DJs of Scandinavia and beyond. Kaiku contains several spaces: a cozy bar on the second floor, a main bar, and several little dancefloors, and the main dancefloor has perfect acoustics. The Berlin warehouse-style patio at the entrance, with swings upcycled from old industrial containers is a great spot to hang when you’re ready to take a break from dancing.
– Kuudes Linja:
Hämeentie 13 B, 00530 Helsinki
Open Monday through Thursday from 7pm to 1am, Friday and Saturday from 10pm to 4am and Sunday from 7pm to 1am
Kaikukatu 4, 00530 Helsinki
Open Wednesday through Saturday from 10pm to 4am
Elmun baari: A patio overlooking the docks
More than just a bar, Elmun is a veritable complex of cultural events, particularly concerts. This club/restaurant was created by the Helsinki Live Music Association, an organization established in 1978 for the promotion of live, local music. With capacity up to 200, the bar still manages to keep an air of intimacy with its soft lighting and terrace overlooking the docks of Jätkäsaari, decorated with heat lamps and wooden furniture. It’s a chill and friendly atmosphere, but that’s not all. Outdoor DJ sets keep things moving during the warmer months, and inside, you’ll find shows ranging from club nights to rock to dance to dub. They also keep it fun with ping pong tables and foosball, so there’s pretty much everything you need for a good time!
Telakkakatu 8, 00150 Helsinki
Open Monday and Tuesday from 10:30am to 2pm, Wednesday through Friday from 10:30am to 2pm and from 7pm to 2am and Saturday from 4pm to 2am
Discover more alternative and cultural spots in Helsinki with our city guide Indie Guides Helsinki.
Photos: courtesy of the places mentioned & Maria Morri (main photo)