There's a common misconception that Finnish food and, by extension, Scandanavian food, is nothing special and nothing to be missed. This couldn't be further from the truth as many of Helsinki's traditional dishes showcase; with classic flavors that are unique to this region of Europe and ingredients that are just as local as they are unique, there's no way a traveler couldn't find something to love about these foods.

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Finland is known for being the happiest country on earth and in Helsinki, travelers will have access to some of the country's best and most celebrated cuisines. These dishes go back centuries with many having international influences as well as Scandinavian twists, making it far more unique than most people even realize. If Helsinki is the destination, then these dishes should be on the menu or at least on a traveler's radar.

Karelian Pie (Karjalanpiirakka)

While traversing through Finland, it might become obvious that this country is known for its very many pies... and this is no coincidence. Along with being the country that drinks the most coffee, Finland, and Helsinki, specifically, have plenty to offer in terms of pie types. One of the most popular is the Karelian Pie, which is often eaten for breakfast or as a sweet snack. This pie is so popular that it can often be found in any bakery and even in grocery stores; the best way to describe it would be to say that the filling is akin to rice pudding while the crust is thin and made with rye flour to give it a perfect crispy texture.

Blueberry Pie (Mustikkapiirakka)

This blueberry pie isn't the typical pie that you'd find at a summer BBQ or picnic. In Finland, blueberry pie is gluten-free and it's such an iconic staple that it's easily found in most restaurants. This pie is so delicious that you won't even miss the traditional crust of a typical blueberry pie, and its flavors are second to none, making it a favorite of the region.

Runeberg Torte

Don't worry - not all of Finland's most traditional foods are in the form of sweets! The Runberg torte, however, is one that should not be missed. At its core, these tortes are small rum cakes that get topped with icing and jam and share the name of the national poet they're named for, Johan Runeberg. They go great with coffee which, once again, is quite fitting for the country that drinks the most of it.

Pea Soup

Pea Soup in Helsinki isn't just any ordinary pea soup. While the soup isn't all that appetizing to most people, Finnish pea soup is made with pork and mustard which give it a salty bite as well as a hardy tang. It's not unusual to walk into any restaurant in Helsinki and find this soup on the menu and, traditionally, it's served on Thursdays, with a sweet pancake dessert to follow.

Grilled Sausages (Grillimakkara)

Speaking of mustard and pork, grilled sausages, also known as grillimakkara, are another iconic food in Helsinki and are commonly eaten as street food. They're served simply with mustard and are often accompanied with a cold beer, and they're such a popular go-to dinner item that they can easily be found in local markets, completely ready to be thrown on the grill.

Lingonberry Pie

Sure, you could try Lingonberry pie through an Ikea market but you could also try it in Helsinki! This pie is the perfect combination of sweet and tart with most pies falling on the more tart end of the spectrum. They're popular during the summer when lingonberries are in full supply and can be found in nearly every bakery and cafe throughout Helsinki.


The idea of having crayfish for banquets and parties is one that actually originated in Sweden and was adopted by Finland. These small shellfish are usually found at fancy restaurants throughout Helsinki and are the seafood of choice for summer parties, as they're only available seasonally. These shellfish do come at a cost, though, since they're not native to Finland.

Cabbage Rolls (Kaalikääryleet)

Many countries across Europe have their own version of cabbage rolls and Kaalikääryleet is just the version travelers can find in Helsinki. Traditional to Finland, these cabbage rolls contain a mix of beef, spices, and onions. Whereas many cabbage rolls are topped with tomato sauce, these are instead topped with a Lingonberry sauce, making them solely unique to Finland and Helsinki. The recipe itself is very closely related to the Swedish version of these cabbage rolls with the exception of the topping.

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