Text : Annaliina Niitamo | Photos : Cover photo: Bach Nguyen

Take a detour off the beaten tourist path and head east to the interesting and up-coming district of Kallio! You’ll find yourself amidst harder laughter, a cheaper drink and more curious and engaging locals. Spend half a day in Kallio and get a view of a different kind of Helsinki. 

These days Kallio is known for its bohemian atmosphere, artsy inhabitants and nice, alternative shops and cafés. People talk of the “Kallio-spirit”, which consists of solidarity, tolerance and edginess – a certain openness not to be found in too many districts of Helsinki. These characteristics are all live remnants of Kallio’s industrial past and communal working-class atmosphere. Nowadays the young and creative type move to Kallio in the search for this new urban culture and creativity. One can call this gentrification, as the apartment prices have gone up and old businesses and corner shops are being replaced by new and hip joints attracting new kind of folk.  

Susanna Kesänen / Visit Helsinki

Photo: Susanna Kesänen / Visit Helsinki


What to do in Kallio? Once you cross the Pitkäsilta bridge and come to the Hakaniemi Square, you can pretty much wander off in any direction and stumble upon something interesting. A good idea for where to start off your Kallio tour, is the Hakaniemi Market Hall and square. The orange food stalls serve you fresh products: warm meals, deep-fried sugar buns, fresh vegetable and handicrafts and souvenirs from their original makers. Take a look inside the Market hall – you’ll find Helsinki’s most original culinary culture right here. Pop upstairs where you’ll find handicrafts from woolen garments and Marimekko clothes to carved wood, dishes and jewelry.

From the Hakaniemi Square wonder off to Tokoi shore (“Tokoinranta”), we’re you can walk around a beautiful bay and feed some ducks as you go. If you’re not full of coffee from the market square, enjoy a nice cup on the outside terrace of Café Piritta. From here, it’s easy to continue to walk around the Töölönlahti Bay (“Töölönlahti”) and come back to the city center passing the Winter Garden, Opera House, Finlandia Hall and Music Centre. This’ll cut your Kallio tour quite short, so we recommend you to go deeper into Kallio from the Tokoi Shore. Start walking uphill towards the Kallio church and the Bear Park ("Karhupuisto"). On the way, you’ll find great little café’s, pubs and vintage shops and get a good feeling of the Kallio atmosphere. Torkkelinmäki represents the most prestigious streets of Kallio: a Nottinghill-like environment with lots of green, gardens and beautifully colored stone houses. To get a feeling of the scruffier side of Kallio, visit Helsinginkatu or Vaasankatu streets, which are dotted with pubs and bars. For an original, local evening do a pub crawl in these parts, starting with Bar Molotow (Vaasankatu 29)!

Kallio hosts lots of great spontaneous and organized urban events. In Suvilahti, you’ll find the magnificent Old Abattoir (“Teurastamo”), where they have food events, restaurants and music events almost every day of the week. See our other article on this cultural factory!

Erno Launis / Teurastamo

Top 5

1 - Second Hand & vintage shops: Kallio boasts with it's great vintage finds and second hand secrets. For our suggestions see the article: http://www.helsinkithisweek.com/articles/second-hand-shopping
2 - Kotiharju Sauna: Public sauna open to all. 12€. Tue–Sun 14–20. Harjutorinkatu 1, www.kotiharjunsauna.fi
3 - Culture Sauna: Stylish public sauna close to the Pitkäsilta bridge. 15€. Wed–Sun 16–20. Hakaniemenranta 17
4 - Bar hopping: For a local and somewhat rugged night out, try the bars and pubs in Kallio (they sure are plentiful!). For some DJ music and dancing try Siltanen (Hämeentie 13B), Kaiku (Kaikukatu 4), Kuudes Linja (Hämeentie 13) or Ääniwalli (Pälkäneentie 13; check https://www.facebook.com/Aaniwalli for events). For laidback and simple relaxing try Bar Molotow (Vaasankatu 29), Pacifico (Helsinginkatu 15) or Club Liberté (Kolmas Linja 34; live music and pool tables). 
5 - Sandro (Kolmas Linja 17): Have an amazing North-African lunch, brunch or dinner. Kallio is filled up with great brunch spots (see our article on brunches here: http://www.helsinkithisweek.com/articles/brunchtown )

Valtteri Hirvonen / Eriksson Company Oy

Photo: Valtteri Hirvonen / Eriksson Company Oy / Visit Helsinki 

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