So, you’re on the hunt for the best party destinations in Finland? We can only discern that you’re hopping Scandinavia way to crack open the Finlandia vodka and enjoy the good-time vibes of a nation that’s often rated as the happiest in Europe.
The good news is that you shouldn’t be disappointed. There are actually quite a few pumping party towns on offer in the home of Santa Claus. Most are fueled by resident student populations, though there are some – like Turku and the happening capital – that get a healthy through-flow of backpackers in the summer months.
Talking of the summer months…It’s well known that even the best party destinations in Finland party harder in the middle of the warm season. That’s a top time to be in town, what with open-air beer halls and riverside cocktail bars opening up in earnest. Let’s take a look at the options…
There’s simply nowhere better in the country to get stuck into the nightlife than the capital – sorry Turku! The biggest city in all Finland, Helsinki is where 631,000 people live, work, and play. More than that, it’s got a reputation for being one of the most livable metropolises in Europe, which means that the folks here are sure to know a thing or two about letting their hair down, right? Right…
The two areas you’ll need to know about are Kamppi and the blocks around the main train station. They pump with all sorts of chic, mainstream venues, from the gritty alt rock bar of Tavastia to the funky chill-hop center of Babylon Club. On top of that, this downtown core is the place to be to seek out the prestigious theatres and playhouses of the more cultural side to the Helsinki nightlife.
You should also know that many of the locals like to stick to hipper, more lived-in, out-of-town suburbs for their pre-drink sessions. Bohemian Kallio is probably the one that leads the way on that front. It’s got edgy coffee shops that turn into beer bars in the early evening and plenty of places to watch local bands. Finally, the district of Iso-Roobertinkatu is the LGBTQ+ hub of the capital, and the biggest gay district in the country besides.
A former European Capital of Culture (2011) and officially the oldest city in Finland, Turku shouldn’t be overlooked if you’re keen to party in this corner of Scandinavia. Despite it only hosting 230,000 people, there’s a real buzz about the place and we’d say it’s one of the few options that can actually give Helsinki a run for its money on the nightlife front.
You’ll feel the energy pulsing throughout the downtown core along the Aura River, where the crossing of Aurakatu Street and the pedestrianized Eerikinkatu thoroughfare combine to give a whole Finnish smorgasbord of bars and whatnot. There, be sure to check out the vintage Panimoravintola Koulu beer house, where everything is brewed on site, before moving over to Woolshed Turku for Aussie-themed bites and AFL on the TV screens.
Turku – like most of the best party destinations in Finland – really comes into its own when the summer months swing around. The city is right on the doorstep of a series of headlands and islets that offer up some of the best beaches and swimming spots in the country. That means there are plenty of places to go to sizzle off the hangover, provided you can peel yourself from the hostel bed!
Close rival of Turku for the crown of cultural capital of Finland, Tampere is the capital of the Pirkanmaa region. It’s also the third-largest city in the country and another major hub for students – an estimated 30,000 people come to the town simply to get their degrees, which is great news for partiers arriving when term time is in full swing.
Focus your partying on the areas to the east west of the Tammerkoski waterway that bisects the city and you’re not likely to be disappointed. The options there run the gamut from the neo-Bavarian Heidi’s Bier Bar, a beer hall with neon lights and quirky bar fittings, to the Old Irish Pub, a raucous Gaelic bar that turns into a pulsating nightclub later on (get there early, because there can be queues).
The eastern banks tend to be a little bit more upmarket and are great for starting your day in the sun, so long as it’s shinning, that is. The Pyynikin Brewhouse is a favorite for its on-street tables, while Club Gamouflage pokes out over the river to offer off-the-hook evenings of table dancing and DJ shows.
It should hardly come as a surprise that most people don’t go to Rovaniemi for the nightlife. It’s not often listed among the best party destinations in Finland and it doesn’t have the overload of beer halls and clubs that you get in Helsinki and southern cities. Really, this snow-doused spot in the Arctic Circle is more about watching the Northern Lights and meeting a certain Santa Claus.
But there are SOME things to do when the sun has gone (which is does here dutifully for 22 hours of the day throughout much of the winter season, by the way). Most of the places to drink and dine are wedged into a two-block grid in the heart of the city. To start, check out Bull Bar and Grill for pub eats and international tap beer. Then head to Uitto to shoot back icy Finnish vodkas.
There’s a small club scene to boot – the main discos are Doris and Half Moon, which do chart tunes and even karaoke sessions. However, you might also want to think about retiring to the hotel and seeing if you can catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis with a cold one in hand.
The nightlife in Porvoo, like Porvoo itself, is on the smaller and more low-key side. But that’s part of the fun. The 14th-century city is compact enough that everyone who fancies a bit of after-dark enjoyment usually ends up in the same bar, meeting and mingling and making friends. It’s a top spot if you’re keen to forge new pals on your trip to Finland.
Again, there’s one mainstay area to know about: The district that flows from Piispankatu Street all the way to the Porvoonjoki River. That’s basically the Old Town, which you should be familiar with by sunset since it’s the most immersive area for sightseeing, playing host to Lutheran churches and medieval chapels alike.
But back to the nightlife…No more than five bars are worthy of note here. Hit the Porvoon Paahtimo Bar & Café to sip local Scandi craft labels by the side of the water. Head to Cocktail Bar Kliffa & Klubi for meticulously mixed longballs and a noir vibe. Or check out the Old Town Public House for that ubiquitous Irish pub experience.
Most folks who fly into Finland rather than take the cross-Baltic ferries or land routes from Russia will know of the name Vantaa. That’s because this is the city that hosts the country’s main airport: Helsinki-Vantaa lnternational Airport. But it’s more than just a place for wheels to touch rubber. We’d also put it up there among the top places to party in Finland.
The reason? Mainly, it’s that happening city center core. At once modern and historic, it’s always vibrant thanks to a resident population that work for some of the richest and most upcoming companies in the region – Finnair, Tikkurila Oyj, R-kioski. They come out to play in a clutch of cozy pubs and rowdy sports bars, most of which lurk in the blocks around Unikkotie street.
Of course, the other great draw here is that all the nightlife of Helsinki is just down the road. A quick, 20-minute transfer on the air trains and you’ll be stepping out into the main station area of the Finnish capital, one of the partying hubs of the big city.
Espoo is another of the towns that cling to the outskirts of the greater Helsinki metro area. It’s actually officially the second most populous town in the country, though most of the residents see themselves as dwellers of the capital since it’s so darn close – you’re looking at under 30 minutes in the car and 25 minutes by public transport.
In fact, it’s the closeness of the capital that really elevates Espoo to this list of the most hedonistic places in Finland. You can cruise down the highway to party the night away in aforementioned districts like Kamppi and LGBTQ+ Iso-Roobertinkatu. Just be aware that returning very late on might involve a pricy taxi since trains don’t run all night.
For pre-drinks and pre-partying before making the transfer to Helsinki central, you could consider dropping into the neighborhood sports bar of Pub Satulinna or kicking things off with some pad Thai noodles at T.O.T Bar&Kitchen.