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In summer, the midnight sun means fervent all-night partying in the streets, particularly on beer terraces with up to hundreds of seats each. By winter, Helsinki's still-hopping scene heads decidedly indoors (except for smokers). Look for local beers (olut in Finnish), including Karhu, Lapin Kulta, Koff and Synebrychoff. Snaps (schnapps, heavily flavored with licorice, anise or other herbs) will clear out whatever ails you, and local ciders are made from your choice of apple or pear and served on ice. Tips are not expected in most bars, but it doesn’t hurt to leave the leftover change.

Helsinki Nightlife

Arctic Icebar

Chill out, literally, at this intimate bar with ice walls near the main train station. Staff will lend you a parka and your admission fee includes one drink (we suggest vodka, frozen, naturally).

Yliopistonkatu 5, 011-358-9-278-1855
Tags: nightlife | expensive | cover charge | bar

Ateljee Bar

Head to the top of the Hotel Torni for a brew with a view at Ateljee (pronounced like the French atelier). The look is industrial/Art Deco greenhouse, and a balcony allows smokers, lovers, and stargazers to peer across the city. It’s dramatic at sunset, naturally, or after the lights go down.

Kalevankatu 5, 011-358-9-4336-6340
Tags: nightlife | historic | views | bar


Finland’s filmmaking Kaurismaki brothers, Aki and Mika, have another hit with their Soviet-chic café/bar kitted out with around a dozen pool tables, an adjacent vodka bar (Café Mockba) and, downstairs, a cabaret stage (called Dubrovnik) and the Andorra cinema.

Eerikinkatu 11, 011-358-9-7517-5611,
Tags: nightlife | bar | cafe | cinema | billiards


The largest gay and lesbian venue in the Nordic countries offers one-stop shopping: bar, dance floor, drag shows, even an afternoon café, and it’s in the heart of the Design District. Gay and lesbian visitors: even if you end up at one of the half-dozen or so other gay venues around town, you’ll probably pass through here.

Iso Roobertinkatu 28, 011-358-9-676-315
Tags: nightlife | dancing | bar | gay

Finlandia Hall

The nation’s concert hall of record. Look for performances by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, which began in 1927 and is now under the direction of Helsinki native Sakari Oramo. You’re likely to hear something by Finland’s most renowned composer, Sibelius, at any time.

Mannerheimintie 13, 011-358-9-402-4400,
Tags: nightlife | culture | performing arts


Ah, gentle Finland: reindeer, forests, lakes . . . and metal rock music? Believe it or not, this nation’s known for all of these (a Finnish metal band, Lordi, won the Eurovision song contest in 2006). Attend a metal (or other rock) act by local and international performers at this Helsinki institution.

Urho Kekkosenkatu 4, 011-358-9-7746-7420,
Tags: nightlife | cover charge | nightclub | rock music

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