Helsinki’s Coolest Bars & Nightlife
Helsinki’s small city size shouldn’t be a deterrent for visitors looking for big-city nightlife. With an internationally diverse population and quite a few students, the city has more than its fair share of great bars and clubs. While there are only two exclusively gay nightclubs, there are a surprising amount of gay bars, and even more popular are just simply gay-friendly bars. Here were a few of my favorites on a summer trip to Helsinki.
Adams Club & Restaurant
Open since the spring of 2012, Adams Club & Restaurant in central Helsinki has become a hotspot for both Finnish and international artists & DJs. Located in a former movie cinema, the nightclub is open until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays and often hosts gay-friendly parties and events (Check their website for details.). Keeping with the building’s tradition, Adams Club sometimes even screens films or turns on the projector for private parties as well as video art during special club nights. For those who prefer daylight, the in-house restaurant Shanghai Cowboy features a range of Mexican fusion dishes and is open late.
Bar Llamas has an inconspicuous presence on the pedestrian street Roobertinkatu in Helsinki’s design district. The patio outside is small, but often crowded with Helsinki hipsters. Inside, it’s a whole other world than you might expect. Tricked out with wall murals, cosy couches with throw rugs, vintage goods such as a typewriter and even a wooden porch swing in front of the bar, there’s no where else more strangely homey than Bar Llamas. And if the decor wasn’t enough, you can even enjoy actually affordable prices on imported Mexican beers (which is relatively unheard of for most Helsinki bars).
If there’s one bar in Helsinki that’s an absolute must-see, it’s the ever-popular “mbar.” Every summer, the patio bar opens up to thousands of Helsinki locals who enjoy local brews and cocktails every afternoon and evening.
Located steps from Helsinki’s main train station, the mbar is conveniently located in a public plaza which also hosts markets.
Slightly fashionable (albeit lazy) twenty-somethings and graffiti artists use the outdoor Ihana Kahvila cafe as a place to relax. With a hammock hanging from the shipping containers and bean bags surrounding small tables with flowers, the atmosphere here is more than just casual. You can expect to spot children playing in the sandpit, and while there is no alcohol on tap, the refreshing summer drinks and board games make it a great place to hang out. Nearby,on a long stretch of wall along the path to the cafe, artists were painting street art & graffiti murals. Ihana Kahvila has popped up every summer since 2011 and with it’s incredible popularity, you can bet it’ll be back next summer as well.
DTM – Don’t Tell Mama
One of Helsinki’s two gay clubs, DTM is the crowd favorite among younger gays and many lesbians. In fact, the club has received such a great reputation for its weekend parties (including drag shows and foam parties), that it’s not only popular with the gays…it’s become a hotspot for straights too. For better or worse, but that’s a whole other story. The crowd when I visited on a Friday night was mixed, but the beats were good and the fun went on ’til late.