Food & Drink
fish, potatoes, meat, milk, butter and rye bread are
the traditional mainstays of the Finnish diet, but food
in Finland has been greatly influenced
both by Western (French and Swedish)
and Eastern (Russian) cooking.
Visitors can expect excellent fresh fish dishes on most
menus and include fine examples of pike, trout, perch,
whitefish, salmon and Baltic herring. All are in abundance
through most of the year. Crayfish
(a Finnish speciality) is available from July - August.
One should also try reindeer meat,
smoked or cooked in other forms. Regional dishes include
kalakukko, a kind of fish and pork
pie, baked in a rye flour crust, and karjalan
piirakat, a pasty of rye flour stuffed with
rice pudding or potato and eaten with egg butter. Thick
soups are also very popular.
In restaurants (ravintola), the menu is mainly continental
with several Finnish specialities. Restaurant prices
are moderate if the set menu is chosen and most restaurants
have a special menu for the children, or other half-price
meals. Inexpensive lunches are served at places called
kahvila and baari
(the latter is not necessarily a licensed bar).
Information about gourmet trails may be obtained from
Finnish Tourist Board offices, 2 are
planned one for the east and west Finland. The trails
have been designed so that both can be covered in 2
to 4 days. Visitors on the trails will visit a variety
of eating places from large chain hotels to inns and
farmhouses, with the emphasis on the smaller, more intimate
places. Additionally in Lapland, Lappi
à la carte consists of 3 gourmet routes and an
English route map with details is available from the
Restaurants are divided into 2 classes, those serving
all kinds of alcohol and those serving only beers and
wines. Waiter service is popular although there are
many self-service snack bars. Bars and cafes may have
table and/or counter service.
The Finnish berry liqueurs, mesimarja
(arctic bramble), lakka (cloudberry) and polar (cranberry),
as well as the Finnish vodka, are well worth trying.
Finnish beer is of a high quality and mild beers are
served in most coffee bars. There are strict
laws against drinking and driving. In restaurants,
beer is served from 0900hrs and other liquor from 1100hrs
and all alcohol is served until half an hour before
the restaurant closes. Nightclubs are open to serve
drinks until 0200hrs or 0400hrs. Service begins at 1100hrs
and continues until the restaurant closes. The
age limit for drinking is 18 years, but consumers
must be 20 before they can buy the stronger alcoholic
Prices for alcohol vary according to the restaurant’s
E - Elite price category.
G - General price category.
S - Self-service price category.
A - Fully licensed.
B - Licensed for beer and wine.
Finnish handicrafts, handwoven ryijy rugs, jewellery,
furniture, glassware, porcelain, ceramics, furs and
textiles are amongst the many Finnish specialities.
Excellent supermarkets and self-service shops can be
found all Finland.
railway station has the first underground shopping centre
in the country, where shops are open 0800-2200 hrs (Sunday
and public holidays 1200-2200hrs).
At the Katajanokka boat harbour, there
is a shop selling glass, china, wooden articles and
Anyone permanently resident outside the European Union
can claim back purchase tax at the time of departure.
Repayment can be made on presentation of a special cheque
provided by the retailer at the following gateways:
Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Mariehamn,
Vaasa and Rovaniemi airports;
onboard ferries and ships operated by Polferries,
Silja Line, Vaasaferries and Viking
Line, and at the main checkpoints on the land
borders with Sweden, Norway and the Russian Federation.
Shopping opening hours: Monday-Friday
0900-1800hrs, Saturday 0900-1500hrs. Shops are generally
open on Sunday from June to August. Many shops are also
open 0900-2100hrs during the week and Saturday 0900-1800hrs.
For a full list of special events, contact the Finnish
Tourist Board (see Contact
The following is a selection of special events occurring
in Finland in 2005:
|| Oulu Children's
||Musica nova Helsinki
|| April Jazz Espoo
|| Kimito Island Music
Spelit at Suupohja (folk music festival), Teuva
||Tampere Jazz Happening
Handshaking is customary in Finland. Normal courtesies
should be observed. It is customary for the guest to
refrain from drinking until the host or hostess toasts
their health with a ‘kippis’
or a ‘skol’. Casual dress
is acceptable in Finland. Black tie will be specified
when required. Finns appear sometimes to be rather reserved
and one should not feel alarmed if there is a lack of
small talk during the first half hour or so. Shoes must
usually be removed when entering someone’s house.
A 15 per cent service charge is included in the bill
at hotels. Restaurants and bars have a 14 per cent service
charge weekdays and a 15 per cent at the weekends and
holidays. The obligatory doorman or cloakroom fee is
usually clearly indicated. Taxi drivers, washroom attendants
and hairdressers are also generally tipped.