If you’re after a gluten free haven then you need to get yourself to Helsinki. I was in awe at the amount of ‘G’ signs I saw on the menus and restaurant boards. Gluten free is a huge thing out in Finland, you’d be surprised. That and also in Estonia – of which I really recommend hopping on the ferry and visiting Tallinn – who are also great for GF diets. The bigger issue boils down more to dairy free. Most things are ‘lactose free’ naturally as they prefer lactose-free milk. You just have to re-iterate ‘dairy free’ multiple times. In the end, it wasn’t too bad overall and I managed to eat and drink quite easily.
As with my other guides, I have grouped the places I found in Helsinki into breakfast, lunch, dinner and sweet treats/bakeries. The initial inspiration for this guide was from Sight Seeing Coeliac’s awesome blog (that you should definitely check out for traveling abroad) which I then bulked out with my own research. There is also an interactive map at the bottom of the guide. This guide has been updated in March 2022 so please be aware that some places may have changed or may no longer be suitable. If this is the case, please contact me.
Overall, I highly recommend visiting Helsinki, or even Finland in general. Not only is it an absolutely beautiful and bustling city, but they have some really unique cuisine. It was my first time trying reindeer steak when visiting and my palette has changed so much. A few years ago I’d never of thought of it, but couldn’t not dive right in. Oh, and there’s plenty of vegan places around too – they actually seem to be in abundance.
Hope you have a lovely travel and safe dining xx
- Green Hippo – think smoothie bowls, breads, pancakes and yoghurt bowls. I went here for dinner but actually wish I had hit it for breakfast too. I saw the bowls in the fridge cabinet and they looked awesome.
- Kulma – a buffet breakfast which is surprisingly good for gluten, dairy and egg-free options. Whilst there can often be cross-contamination in the UK, the Finns are much better in following rules and being cautious of allergies and using separate utensils.
- Flat no 14 – open for breakfast every day. As well as a popular lunch spot, make sure to check these out for breakfast. It is a ‘tapas style’ where you can bag yourself various breakfast and brunch items from morning until the afternoon.
Lunch and Light Bites
Traditional Finnish Cuisine
- Kappeli – this cafe bar has everything you could want. It is situated in the main centre of Helsinki, in the most beautiful building. Very common as a meet-up place for locals and tourists alike. Ideal for the light lunch of soup and GF bread.
- Salutorget – fancy Finnish cuisine with a lunch menu of the day. Whilst allergens aren’t marked on the menu, the staff are clued up and ready to help. It is very easily adaptable and a real up-market treat if you fancy.
- Friends & Brgrs – everything that will hit your burger cravings can be found here. They’re a small chain found in Finland, located in the heart of Helsinki. We popped in for a late lunch one day and were surprised to find out all the burgers are naturally GF with the change of a bun. You can also get GF nuggets and the chips are fried separately. Definitely worth checking out instead of the usual McDonald’s.
- Just Vege – A completely vegetarian establishment which was the first place I visited when arriving in Helsinki. They have GF pittas and more (wrapped separately to avoid CC). Safe to say I was stuffed full with the falafel pitta I bought. One for on the way to Keila Puoti bakery.
- Waffdaddy – a pleasant surprise. One of the cheaper places we ate in Helsinki, but the quality was still great. Everything is 100% gluten-free (with a vegan waffle base option available). There is a selection of both sweet and savoury to choose from. Perfect for a quick lunch-time pick me up.
- Green Hippo – there are plenty of Buddha bowl-like lunches here. That as well as noodle salads and avocado pasta. The portions are very generous and will fill you up on a more hungry tum.
- Pupu – think nutrition here. Salads for a nice light and refreshing lunch. There are a couple dotted in Helsinki, so easy to find. The one I passed a lot was in the main central Stockmann. If you’re in a hurry, they also do take away options.
- Flat no 14 – open for lunch every day with a ‘build your own tapas’ style. The prices are set, and you just choose the amount you’d like. Most things are gluten and lactose free with lots of vegan too.
- Goodwin – whilst I would personally say this is more of a dinner place, due to the size of the meals, they also have a set lunch menu. Most of the options are gluten free, but dairy is a little trickier here. Just check with your server before ordering for any adjustments.
- Kulma – similar to breakfast, Kulma have a great lunch buffet offering of salads and more. No need to fear the dreaded buffet here, they are clued up on allergens and are well recommended.
- Nolla – a zero waste concept where they can easily cater for GF. It isn’t marked on the menu, but they can adapt if you ask (especially in advance). All produce is fresh and seasonal so the menu is subject to change. Perfect for lunchtime tapas.
- Sandro – Moroccan cuisine with plenty of GF options. A very good lunch menu, in terms of price and offering. The set menu changes each week so make sure to keep a look out on the website.
Traditional Finnish Cuisine
- Kappeli – was the place I was told ‘not to miss’. It is in a stunning building right in the centre of Helsinki. When I visited, it was under renovation so I wasn’t able to pop in. However, reviews state just how great they are for allergens. This includes, and I quote, ‘some of the best GF bread ever’. Just make sure to book in advance as I heard it gets full quick.
- Lappi Ravintola – if you’re looking for something a little more ‘up market’ and traditional, then this Finnish cuisine is for you. They have everything from reideer and salmon to salads. The former two are classic dishes in this country. Just be prepared to book in advance and notify them of any allergies/intolerances/coeliac before arriving.
- Salutorget – fancy Finnish cuisine which must not be missed. Definitely on the more expensive side, but placed in a great central location in town and plenty of room for adapting the menu to a GF diet. A highly recommended visit on Trip Advisor.
- Savotta – hands down the best restaurant I ate at in Helsinki. It has a gorgeous traditional cuisine and the service was second to none. I booked in advance (which I strongly advise as they book out) and also gave my dietary requirements then too. They can make gluten free options on the spot but need time to adjust for dairy. No extra costs and it never seemed a hassle either. Hats off to them.
- Friends & Brgrs – the ideal fast and easy dinner for when you’re short on time. A burger restaurant which is coeliac-safe (think separate prep, fryers etc). When we mentioned gluten free, they said ‘yes’ without hesitation. No surcharge for GF buns too!
Small Plates & Tapas Style
- Flat no 14 – an all-rounder really, being suitable for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just check before going, as the evening menu is only on for certain days of the week. The majority is gluten free (or optional) with lots of lactose free and vegan. The prices for dinner are set per dish instead of the ‘pick and choose’ lunchtime options.
- Nolla – a zero waste concept which uses fresh, seasonal produce. This establishment has been highly recommended to me by a local. Slightly pricier but absolutely exceptional. Make sure to send a message in advance to ask for GF adaptations.
- Yes Yes Yes – this one was highly recommended to me by several people – especially the evening tasting menu (which can be both gluten free and vegan). They have light bites and are also known for their cocktails. I was desperate to try here on my visit, but it was unfortunately shut on the day I wanted to go. I hope you love it as much as others have told me if you make it there.
- Green Hippo – I ventured here for dinner one evening and loved it. The atmosphere was calm and enjoyable. The food was so prompt and fresh too. The ‘healthier’ vibe of this cafe chain was right up my street.
- Goodwin – perfect for that meat hit. A classic steak house where basically everything is gluten free (however lots contains lactose). Just make sure to triple check the fries are cooked separately before ordering.
- Koti Pizza – the largest pizza chain in the Nordics. Lots of GF options (if you’re willing to pay the surcharge). Just make sure to check for cross-contamination due to prep.
- Pueblo bar y taqueria – how can you go wrong with Mexican cuisine? We all know tacos are often GF, and Mexican is pretty great for us all round. Maybe not the most traditional place to go to whilst visiting Helsinki, but they do have rave reviews.
- Sandro – as well as a lunch menu, this Moroccan restaurant has an A la carte menu too. The allergens are clearly marked on the menu for easy ordering. Perfect for when you fancy something comforting.
- Fazer Cafe – this coffee shop chain has a few GF options to choose from. Whilst the stocks may vary in each place, there is often something for you. All allergens are also clearly marked.
- Gelato 14 – a short walk from the centre to this ice-cream stop. They have plenty of vegan ice creams which taste just like regular. When visiting, I did ask for them to use fresh tubs to avoid contamination and this was no issue. Heads up the portions are huge too. Definitely get your money’s worth here.
- Happy Waffle – the first bubble waffle in Helsinki, well actually in Finland. Stuffed full of everything you could want. All of the waffles are naturally gluten free, with plenty of lactose/dairy-free and vegan options.
- Kelia Puoti – you cannot go to Helsinki and miss out on this 100% gluten free gem. A beautiful bakery in a central market. They have a whole array of vegan and lactose free options. I honestly wish I had purchased more from here. Their pastries are exquisite.
- Petris Chocolate – cafe and shop serving a wide range of chocolate goods. Most are naturally gluten-free as they use almond flour in the baking. There are a couple of vegan chocolates in the shop, but this is more for the GF-only group I’d say.
- Waffdaddy – located in the central shopping centre, this is a quick and easy lunch or dessert stop. The sweet waffles are fab – not to mention are 100% GF! Surprised I didn’t visit here more with the very reasonable price.
Markets, Supermarkets & More
- Kelia Puoti – as well as sweet treats, you can grab your everyday staples from here. A 100% gluten free stall in the market with offerings of fresh bread, pasta, baking mixes, cereals and more. Helsinki can be quite an expensive place to dine out, so a little tip is to stock up on the bread from here and take yourself some sandwiches on the go.
- K-Market – you’ll be surprised how many gluten free goodies you can find in this Helsinki supermarket. They are dotted everywhere, and often have their own ‘aisle’. Everything from biscuits, pastas, crackers and even ice creams (vegan options too).
Places to Visit:
I thought I would add a little section here at the end of places to tick off the bucket list whilst in Helsinki. Whilst there is so much to explore, we managed to fit the majority of this list into 3 days in the city. I’ve also added these to the map in red so that you can find a nearby eatery.
- Temppeliaukio Church
- Helsinki Cathedral
- Old Market Hall (Closed Sundays)
- Upenskin Cathedral
- Suomelinna Ferry and Sveborg Fortress
- Wooden House District
- Seurasaai Island and Open Air Museum
- Observatory Hill Park
I also highly recommend the walking tours which will give you a great history of the area. Hope you have a brilliant time and enjoy the food and places listed.