Traveling to Helsinki, Finland with Food Allergies City Guide

Helsinki ferry boat with snow

Helsinki often escapes the lists of top cities to visit in Europe, however it should be at the top, especially if you’re traveling to Helsinki, Finland with food allergies. Trust me, after traveling all over the world with many severe food allergies, I was incredibly impressed with Helsinki. It is a mecca of gluten-free and celiac options, and is also extraordinarily food allergy aware.

This guide will lead you through my favorite allergy-friendly finds and experiences in the happiest country on Earth! 

Flying to Helsinki, Finland with Food Allergies

We were already in Europe when we flew to Helsinki. A common airline for flying to Helsinki is Finnair. They will not serve bags of nuts upon request and will let others around you know not to eat nuts if you notify them. Make sure to bring your own food and do not risk airline meals while flying. Read more about their policies here (scroll down the page to read about severe food allergies). 

To read more on how I handle flying with food allergies go here.


Arriving at the Helsinki Airport (HEL)

Airports are not usually known as an easy place to find grocery stores and fresh food, however Helsinki has great travel options. They even have a 24 hour grocery store. Watch my video here to learn more about the selection of foods available.
*Airport Note: If you are flying from Helsinki to other areas within the country like Uvalo, you can keep your water bottle through security.


Transportation in Helsinki

Helsinki’s main train station, Helsinki Central Station, is centrally located in the city. The public transportation is well labeled and easy to navigate. We took the train from the airport straight to our hotel and it was about 35 minutes.

What to Wear in Helsinki, Finland

In Finland, it’s ALL about the layers! This is a new category for me to share in a blog post, since I don’t often travel to places that are as cold as Finland in winter. My fiancé and I packed tons of layers and were actually very well prepared for the cold temperatures.

Each day before leaving, we put on double layers of everything including, shirts, pants, socks, gloves, etc. The temperatures fluctuated a bit, but only between freezing and less freezing.

To see what I wore, take a look here.

How to Keep Epi-pens Safe from the Cold

What about my Epi-pens? Depending on what we are doing and how long we were outside, either I kept them in my inside jacket zip-pocket close to my body or in an insulated bag in my crossbody purse. This has seemed to work well. I would check on them regularly to make sure the wind was clear and that they didn’t feel too cold. See this video for guidance.

Where To Stay in Helsinki, Finland with Environmental Allergies

Scandic Hotel Grand Central

Scandic Hotel Grand Central is a perfect hotel for anyone with environmental allergies, but that is not all that makes it a unique hotel stay! It is a beautiful hotel located centrally with the easy access to the airport via public transportation. Especially if you are going to Helsinki in the winter, the less distance you have to wheel your suitcase through the snow, the better. When you enter the hotel, you will notice stylistic similarities to the train station next door. The hotel was built by the same architect and was originally an office building. Since becoming a hotel, there are many original details that are reveled in unexpected ways, such as the exposed paint, original furniture and even an original metal frame that was even integrated into the dining room area. There are doors from the original offices that remain open in front of the hotel room doors, making quite an exceptional picture and exciting place to stay.

Hotel Rooms

I am rarely impressed by allergy awareness in hotel rooms, but the Scandic Grand Central is in a league of its own with their dedicated allergy-friendly hotel rooms that you can book. Room highlights include synthetic pillows and blankets on the bed and fragrance-free and minimal ingredient soaps (that even work with my food allergies). There is also a mini fridge, which is perfect for storing my allergy-friendly snacks.

The Scandic Grand Central has five dedicated allergy-friendly rooms that are located on a separate floor or corridor from fur animals guests.

The rooms have:

  • Wooden floors
  • Pillows, blankets and mattresses that are made with synthetic material (no feathers and no extra decorative pillows due to dust)
  • Sheets and towels that are washed with fragrance-free detergent
  • Non-scented bathroom products with few ingredients
  • A special cleaning procedure that is followed for allergy rooms

I’ve never seen a hotel that caters so specifically to environmental and pet allergies.

Hotel Breakfast

There is a breakfast buffet each morning. With food allergies, buffets can be especially challenging. I found that it was not quite as simple as I was hoping to navigate with my food allergies. There was some fresh fruit I could have, but nuts were common throughout most of the buffet. After speaking to the chef, he made eggs for me separately, which I appreciated. There were too many nuts and cross contact risks in the kitchen he felt like to be able to make anything else safely for breakfast. 

At the buffet, they do have an entire wall that is dedicated to gluten free foods, along with alternative milks available for those who are vegan or have dairy allergies. If I was celiac, I would have had plenty of safe options. A big positive though was that I was able to drink the lattes, after checking the coffee and milk ingredients and they were delicious! Since I am more of a coffee morning person anyway, this worked out well.

Other Hotel Features

The Scandic Hotel Grand Central has a gym & sauna for guests. There is also beautiful co-working space on the main floor of the hotel.

Where To Eat in Helsinki, Finland with Food Allergies

Helsinki, Finland is accustomed to different food restrictions and diets and therefore also more aware and accommodating than most cities when it comes to food allergies. I ate very well on this trip and found that my food allergies were understood and taken seriously. As always, I packed plenty of safe snacks and options in case I had trouble dining out with food allergies, but I did not end up eating the majority of what I packed.

So, where to eat in Helsinki, Finland with food allergies? The restaurants I’ve listed below were willing and able to safely work with my food allergies. Make sure to bring a translated chef card and trust your instincts. I had brought chef cards in both Finnish and Swedish, along with always having a copy in English.


  •  Alderfelt is a really exceptional restaurant where ate lunch. It is located on Suomenlinna Island, which is a short ferry ride. Known for its responsibly chosen ingredients and creating inspiration from Suomenlinna’s food culture and traditions. Lunch is always a challenge for me with food allergies, but I ate a safe three course lunch here. Our server Veera, went through which dishes would work best with my food allergies. The restaurant was well-prepared to take care of my multiple food allergies safely. Since we let them know ahead about my food allergies and included a copy of my chef card, they were able to think through what would work safely prior to our arrival. We were greeted with a warm cloudberry juice (common Finnish berry), followed by freshly made sourdough and Finnish archipelago bread, a starter of beef tartare, a main dish of ox tail stew and even a safe dessert with cream, white chocolate and lemon. I enjoyed the entire experience and it was the perfect way to warm up after being outside in the cold exploring the fort on Suomenlinna Island. To see my experience at the restaurant, go here.
  • Way Bakery is a beautiful little lunch spot in Helsinki. It has breakfast and seasonal pasta dishes for lunch, along with drool-worthy baked goods and fresh wine list. Since they were aware that I was coming ahead and knew about my food allergies, they were even able to make a safe brownie for dessert along with my pasta dish, keeping everything separate from any cross contact in the kitchen. Be aware that they do have nuts in the kitchen.
  • Kappeli Restaurant stands out when walking on the Esplanadi, a park area in Helsinki. The architecture, art and history of the building, giving it an old world charm, make it an interesting dining or drink spot, and captivated our attention enough to stop and take a look at the menu. We ended up deciding to ask if they could work with my food allergies without having a reservation. They were able to accommodate my food allergies for a salad and soup dish. I would recommend making a reservation if you’re hoping to have a bigger meal, but it was perfect for what we were looking for that evening.
  • Ravintola Savotta is an authentic Finnish restaurant in Senate Square. It was recommended by a few people with food allergies, so I figured it was a good place to try. We had an appetizer that had bear meat and then elk meat for dinner. They went over the dishes that were safe and I felt like they understood food allergies well. It was a fun dining experience in a great location.

Other restaurants that were recommended that we did not have time to visit include:


Food Allergen Labeling in Finland

Finland is known for its celiac prevalence and awareness, so you may notice a lot of celiac friendly brands and food options. It also follows the EU food allergen regulations and guidelines. This means that they label for the top 14 allergens. On packaged food you will notice that these allergens are labeled in bold type, italics or in capital letters. Statements for “may contain…” should be present on packages, however if you have any questions, contact the manufacturer.

Top 14 allergens:

  • Grains (containing gluten)
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Crustaceans
  • Soybean
  • Tree nuts
  • Sesame
  • Celery
  • Mustard
  • Peanuts
  • Sulfites
  • Lupin
  • Mollusks

Foods that May Contain Top Allergens

There are some foods that may not be expected to have top allergens but that actually often do. These include foods like bakery products, sausage, spice blends, and already prepared foods.

Grocery Stores in Helsinki, Finland

Since we were staying in a hotel, I was planning to do as much dining out as I could. However, I did get some snacks at the grocery store and popped inside a few different ones. Overall, there were plenty of fresh foods everywhere. You will notice most of the same brands that you can find at other grocery stores around Europe.
This includes:

* Remember to always read the ingredients, check the manufacturing (it is different in other countries) etc.

Allergy-friendly Chocolate and Sweets in Helsinki, Finland

I am lucky to have a food allergy mom follower who lives in Helsinki and told me about the brand Brunberg that has chocolate kisses that should be safe for nut allergies. There are two flavors I tried, the strawberry and the mocca. I loved the mocca! Of course check out their site and see if you feel comfortable. After a bit of my own research, I felt comfortable trying them. There is also a shop that you can visit about 40 minutes outside of Helsinki (but I didn’t have time to make it there on this trip).

What To See & Do in Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki has countless things to do and see. Below are some of my favorites from the trip as well as some popular tourist spots.

Activities & Museums

  • Hotel & Restaurant Museum goes through a historical timeline of food and beverages in Finland. It was exciting to see a few particular references to gluten free options, food allergies and other dietary needs starting in the ’90’s. Someone even mentioned not being able to dine out safely until this restaurant Rosso opened. I loved seeing a glimpse into Finnish culinary history and a better understanding of their allergy awareness. This museum is a great experience for adults and children to learn about the culture around food in Finland.
  • Suomenlinna Island and visit Suomenlinna Sea Fortress Have you ever taken a ferry through the ice? It was is a beautiful and brief 20 minute journey to get to Suomenlinna Island. I loved being able to see Helsinki from the sea and have a different city perspective. Although it was quite cold, the sun was shining. We had a fun and knowledgeable guide, Sofia, who took us on a tour of Suomenlinna Sea Fortress. She gave us a history of the island, including the food.
  • Temppeliaukio Church, also known as the Rock Church, is an absolute must-see when you visit Helsinki. This Lutheran church opened in 1969 and is located right in the Töölö neighborhood of Helsinki, Finland. It was built by architect brothers, Timo Suomalainen and Tuomo Suomalainen, who won a design competition. The interior of the church was excavated out of the solid rock that surrounds it. With skylight windows surrounding the copper dome roof, light enters the church. A large pipe organ stands in one corner, tranquil music plays on the speakers and the beautifully exposed edges of the rock walls actually create a sense of calm. Something to note: Look up the concert schedule ahead of your visit to Helsinki. It has excellent acoustics and is often used for concerts. I wish I could have attended a concert while I was there and it is definitely on my list for my next visit to Helsinki!
  • Hakaniemen Kauppahalli is a food market hall in Helsinki, Finland. When I travel, I love visiting market halls in other countries because I think it gives such an interesting glimpse into the food culture and traditions of a place. This experience was extra special because I was able to try a selection of foods including smoked ham and reindeer, three different local cheeses, and two kinds of Karelian pies, which are a popular Finnish breakfast pastry. 
  • Oodi Library is definitely the coolest library I ever seen. Not only is the architecture unique but this library is an experience. I enjoyed exploring each floor and I have never seen a library that was so focused on community and having something for everyone, from entire sound studios to reading spaces and game rooms, this library has it all. Honestly, I was ready to move to Helsinki after visiting here!
  • Löyly Helsinki is a unique sauna and restaurant by the sea. Time Magazine even said it is one of the world’s greatest places! Sauna is a huge part of the Finnish culture, so it is important to have a sauna experience and we really enjoyed this one. It was fascinating to see how different the experience was compared to the saunas we’ve been to in the past. In Finland it is more of a social event, whereas in other places, it tends to be something that is more of a solo or couples experience. We even went into the freezing cold Baltic Sea, where I was literally moving an iceberg away to get into the water for a cold plunge! It is a fun experience and we finished it with a drink at their bar. I can imagine how beautiful the restaurant is in summer and plan to go back! 
  • Lux is a light festival at the beginning of January with light art and installations on some of the most famous buildings across the city. It’s free and it’s really fun to walk around the city and see all of the displays.

Other Places to See in Helsinki

There are many places to go and things to see, but here are a few others in particular to check out.

Trips from Helsinki

If you have time to explore Finland outside of Helsinki, I highly recommend taking a visit to Lapland. I had the most incredible trip with Aurora Holidays. In case you missed my videos about it, please take a look below.

*If you decide to visit Aurora Holidays for the 2024-2025 season and book before May 2024, please tell them Allie sent you for a free snowshoe excursion.

Visiting Helsinki, Finland was an exciting, fun-filled, and allergy-safe experience. Thank you to My Helsinki for hosting me in your beautiful city inside the happiest country in the world, Finland!


  1. I enjoyed reading this post. I am allergic to sesame, peanuts, and most tree nuts. I haven’t thought much about going to Helsinki before, but know I want to go.

  2. This is great – I want to plan a trip there, and this will be helpful in my planning process. Appreciate you sharing this detailed information!

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