Top 5 classic cafés in Helsinki

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As capital of the highest coffee-consuming nation, Helsinki runs on java power. Its oldest cafés brew up a blend of elegance and eccentricity.

 

1 Ursula

Perched between the sea and Kaivopuisto Park, Ursula is popular with strollers. For many, the reward is a classic prawn sandwich or doughnut. Close to Embassy Row, Ursula has served countless diplomats and spies. Established through volunteer efforts before the 1952 Olympics, Ursula still raises funds for charities. Modernised a decade ago, Ursula boasts a prime location, with views of passing ships and Suomenlinna island fortress. There’s a tented terrace with heat lamps and blankets for chilly days and live jazz twice a month.
Address: Ehrenströmintie 3
On the web www.ursula.fi

2 Villa Angelica

Angelica nestles in woods near the Seurasaari outdoor museum and conjures up a Chekhovian atmosphere, with faded antiques, samovars and dried roses. Self-service tables groan with tantalising cakes, savoury and sweet. They’re not cheap, but the cinnamon rolls are huge and there are free refills on coffee and brewed tea – the latter served with jam à la russe. In warm weather, the café sprawls out into porches and gardens.
Address: Tamminiementie 3/8
On the web www.villaangelica.fi

3 Kappeli

An 1867 fantasy of glass and metal filigree in Esplanade Park, “Chapel” takes you back in time. A century ago, this was a hangout of composer Jean Sibelius and cohorts. The view includes classic landmarks: the Havis Amanda statue, the market square and the harbour. Offerings include Kappeli’s Gâteau, a fruity cake that may have inspired Sibelius. After restoration, Kappeli re-opens October 27.
Address: Eteläesplanadi 1
On the web www.kappeli.fi

4 Ekberg

Born in 1852, the grand old lady of Helsinki cafés harks back to a bygone era. Uniformed waitresses bustle around the crowded 90-seat room, delivering Croque Madames and salads to formidable “ladies who lunch.” Some bring their grandchildren, just as their own grandmamas brought them for the legendary breakfast, a Napoleon Cake or rum-soaked Champagne Cork. The decor is simple, with a few Art Deco ornaments and gilt-edged mirrors. The focus is on the food, drink – and heritage.
Address: Bulevardi 9
On the web www.cafeekberg.fi

5 Fazer

Karl Fazer opened his French-Russian Confectionery across from Hotel Kämp 120 years ago. It became the flagship of the country’s premier sweets company. Savoury dishes are pricey but there are reasonable lunch specials. Stop by on a Tuesday or Friday for a fresh potato pastry, packed with chocolate and punch – and bite into the 1890s.
Address: Kluuvikatu 3
On the web www.fazer.fi

Text by Wif Stenger

A version of this article was previously published in Finnair´s Blue Wings magazine (October 2011).

Published September 23, 2011

Category: Local features

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