During our visit to Finland for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships, we visited both Helsinki and Lahti. We were stationed in a beautiful Airbnb about halfway between the two cities. While our main focus was on the race, we definitely still snuck in a solid amount of touristy activities and excellent meals. Most of our time was spent in Lahti, with one day set aside for Helsinki. Join me as I share the delicious dining experiences that fuelled our trip!
Löyly – Sauna by the Sea (Helsinki)
Address: Hernesaarenranta 4, 00150 Helsinki, Finland
Known for: A unique Finnish experience with seaside saunas and Nordic cuisine.
Löyly is listed as “One of the 100 greatest places in the world” by Time Magazine and I say HECK YES to that. I know this is a post about food and don’t worry, we did have dinner here.. And yes, it was amazing. But the highlight is the views, the saunas, and the sea plunge. The wood-burning saunas, all expertly crafted, provide a range of experiences. From the savusauna, where the gentle heat is infused with the aroma of smoke, to the löyly sauna, known for its aromatic steam, each one offers a unique journey into the world of Finnish sauna traditions. For the cold cycle, you can take a cold shower, do a bucket dump, or my favourite… hop into the Baltic Sea. We spent so much time just bobbing around in the waves!
This place is an absolute must visit, in my opinion.
Allas – Urban Oasis (Helsinki)
Address: Katajanokanlaituri 2a, 00160 Helsinki, Finland
Known for: Outdoor swimming pools, saunas, and a variety of dining options in the heart of Helsinki.
I scoped Allas out as a place to get in a quick swim workout… little did I know we would spend HOURS here! On our day in Helsinki it was sadly pouring rain, but we decided to go to the pool anyways and were pleasantly surprised by the multiple saunas and cozy areas to escape the rain. We had a snack at the cafe, where I ate the best brownie I’ve had in my whole life. GO GET IT!!
This spot is great if you want to do a lane swim, enjoy some sauna time, get a delicious meal and good coffee, and/or take a cold dip in the sea (we did all of the above!).
Kahvila Kariranta – Lakeside Delights (Lahti)
Address: Karirannantie 8, 15140 Lahti, Finland
Known for: Cozy café with lakeside views, freshly brewed coffee, and traditional Finnish treats.
This cafe is in a beautiful location, down by the waterfront in Lahti. It also happened to be right beside T1, and on the run course. So it was a BUSY SPOT during race week! We only got to go twice but I genuinely would have gone 10 times if time had allowed. They had an incredible spread of pastries and cakes – I wanted to try them all.
Kotipizza – Finnish Pizza Haven (Lahti)
Address: Kauppakatu 16, 15140 Lahti, Finland
Known for: Finnish-style pizza with local ingredients and unique toppings.
Pizza so good we had it twice! Conveniently located in Lahti and readily available after the race were not the only reasons we visited. It was also smaaaashingly delicious! I got the veggie plank pizza and was a happy, happy gal 🙂
Café Regatta – Riverside Charm (Helsinki)
Address: Merikannontie 10, 00260 Helsinki, Finland
Known for: Traditional Finnish pastries, hot chocolate, and a picturesque waterfront setting.
Nestled by the waterfront in Helsinki, Café Regatta is a place that captures the essence of Finnish coziness, or “hygge,” as the locals say. It is a charming little red cottage that exudes rustic warmth and comfort. It was the perfect stop to start our rainy day, especially since I was battling a cold. The moment you step inside, you’re greeted by the aroma of freshly baked korvapuusti (cinnamon rolls) and the rich scent of hot chocolate. The tables by the sea offer the perfect vantage point for taking in serene views of the waterfront (enjoyable even in crappy weather!).
Kauppatori Market Square – Helsinki’s Culinary Hub (Helsinki)
Address: Kauppatori, 00170 Helsinki, Finland
Known for: A bustling food market offering a variety of Finnish delights, including seafood, berries, and pastries.
A nice quick stop for some local classics like reindeer steaks, fried vendace, and salmon soup. I’d also highly recommend picking up some berries! I had strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries and they rivalled Ontario’s fruits during peak berry season. If you know me, you know how much of a compliment that is!
Our trip was fairly short and packed with race activities, but luckily we still got a glimpse into Finland’s food scene. We explored some fantastic places, but we’re aware there’s even more deliciousness to uncover. However, these are the spots I’d suggest to anyone visiting, as they made our trip truly special!