Helsinki might not be an obvious destination for those who work online. It’s not as affordable as other digital nomad hot spots in Vietnam or Thailand. It doesn’t have the exotic appeal of Bali. Nor the all year round moderate weather that seduces remote workers to Lisbon. The city vibes are also not as disruptive and alternative as Berlin. But that doesn’t mean that the capital of Finland doesn’t have a lot going for it!
Helsinki is a very well organized city. The center is rather compact and easy to get around. It has a relaxed atmosphere yet, if you know where to look, there’s plenty happening. Local people are friendly and welcoming. And, even though the national languages are Finnish and Swedish, you can get by extremely easily talking in English.
Winters are indeed very harsh in this Nordic country, but if you tend to procrastinate, you never know if this could even work in your favor, inspiring you to stay indoors and get some work done. In the summer, though, the city comes alive and everyone likes to spend time outdoors. The fact that the sun will set at around midnight during the warmers months, will also allow you plenty of well lit working hours to do wonders! Life in Helsinki is expensive, but if you have the means to stay here comfortably for a while, this city will reward you with possibilities to enjoy a great quality of life.
I experienced Helsinki as a digital nomad during the month of June. Many would agree that this is one of the best times to be around here. During that period, I worked online from cafes, libraries and a few co-working spaces. Finding free WIFI in Helsinki is an easy task. Most shopping malls offer free internet and so does the city itself, in multiple locations around town – see the “Helsinki City Open WLAN” details below.
But apart from free internet, one needs a little something more to get the productive juices flowing. A pleasant space, decent seating and lighting, strong coffee and a combination of other factors make the following places stand out.
These are the best places for digital nomads in Helsinki:
Co-working Spaces in Helsinki
While there is no shortage of co-working spaces in Helsinki, it seems like many of them are geared towards local start-ups or permanent residents. There aren’t many options that allow daily walk-ins, which I assume is the preferred option for digital nomads like me, who are transient and value flexibility. As such, here I have only included a couple of co-working spaces that welcome daily visitors, with no minimum time commitment.
If you are going to experience one co-working space in Helsinki, may Microsoft Flux be it!
This space is very near the popular Esplanadi park, a regular meet up point for locals. The building itself is not obvious as it doesn’t have a big sign outside or anything or the sort. This is what the entrance looks like:
Flux has everything you may need to work. And the best part? It is 100% free. You can breathe in happening vibes at Flux, as local start-up people and freelancers from all corners of the planet work under the same roof. There are different environments depending on what gets you going. The main area as you walk in is an open space, with different types of chairs and seating. This is also an area for socializing and play. There’s a pinball machine and foosball table – perhaps, a good way to break the ice with your coworkers?
If you are working with other people and you need something a little more private, there is a meeting room. Even though it is free, you need to reserve it, for a maximum of one hour. Apart from this one, there is another room with a large communal table. In here, you’ll also find several screens which you can use, at no charge. Just plug in and get going. Better office chairs with adjustable height would definitely be a bonus here, though. But you know what they say: don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Just like regular co-working spaces, there is a common kitchen and dining area, where you are welcome to help yourself to coffee, tea and drinks. There are a few permanent office spaces for local start-ups just behind the kitchen. Even tough these may be of no interest for you as a digital nomad not living in Helsinki, these offices are worth checking out. They are very well designed, with a variety of low and high tables, where you can work standing up, as well as closed booths for added privacy and calls.
It is obvious that this place was developed to welcome creative minds. The Makers Hub invites you to be inventive in the offline world. This is the spot where you’ll find a couple of 3D printers and a laser cutter to play around with. Everyone is welcome to try these out, once again, at no charge. Apart from what you’ll find at the Maker’s Hub, Microsoft Flux has several other devices which you can borrow. You can find the full list of what’s available here.
Microsoft Flux is comfortable, inspiring and very well lit all through-out the space. Even the bathroom has a fun touch, as there is a TV in a corner playing old Microsoft ads, as well as messages in the mirror, meant to make you feel good (if you don’t read the below part, that is!):
It’s definitely a pleasure to work here!
Where: Korkeavuorenkatu 35, Helsinki
Timings: 10AM – 6PM, Monday to Friday during Summer. 9AM – 9PM, Monday to Friday during Winter.
Goodies: Free tea and hot drinks (coffee, cappuccino, hot chocolate, etc) and soft drinks. Free access to scanner, photocopier and 3D printer.
More info: microsoftflux.com
Most of the people working at Hub13 are Finnish freelancers and start-ups in the areas of tech, blogging, finance and more. Among those, this co-working space also receives daily visitors and entrepreneurs passing by Helsinki. If you’re a digital nomad who happens to be in the city and wants to connect with local minds who may think and work alike, you should consider working at Hub13.
Hub13 offers a mix of permanent and flex desks, as well as different sized meeting rooms. The area where daily visitors work at is the same as the one monthly residents with flex passes use. This makes it easier if you want to mingle with locals. This open space offers a variety of seating possibilities. Most of the area is dotted with regular office desks arranged in different configurations. Around these tables, there are two different types of chairs, with and without padding. But no full-on office chairs, which one could adjust. There are also a couple of comfy loungers by the windows, if you’re in the mood to stretch out and work, while seeing the world go by outside.
Apart from the working stations above, there are also two Smartblock booths. These are meant to be used if you need more privacy during calls and presentations, as well as for small meetings. You can connect your laptop using the HDMI cable hooked up with a screen on the wall in one of these blocks.
Daily visitors have access to a well equipped kitchen, where a large communal table invites people to sit down together and get to know each other. Tea and coffee are included in your daily rate.
There is a space for events in Hub13, that often hosts different presentations. While this may be of more interest for resident coworkers, digital nomads passing by are also welcome to attend if they happen to be working at Hub13 on a given day.
Where: Kaisaniemenkatu 13A – 2nd Floor, Helsinki
Prices: Flex desk for 25€/day; 99€/week; 199€/month
Timings: 9AM – 5PM, Monday to Friday
Goodies: Free tea and coffee. Access to printer and scanner.
More info: hub13.fi
Cafes with Good WIFI in Helsinki
What makes a good cafe for digital nomads? For me, it’s a balance between a space that is not too small so that you don’t feel that you are taking up too much space if you sit around for a while; but that it’s also not too busy or loud, so as to distract you from work.
The cafes listed below offer different atmospheres, but they all cover the basics: an easily accessible central location, fast internet, decent seats and the ability to keep you well caffeinated.
This cafe sits in a very central location in Helsinki, 2 minutes walk from the central train station. It’s large enough so that you can stay all day, without feeling like you are taking up space. In fact, there are different areas in the cafe. Up front, several tables take the brightest spots, while there are also several seats at the back and some more a little higher, in a small mezzanine. While tables have regular wooden cafe chairs, you will find some couches at the back too.
The crowd is a mix of locals and tourists, people working on their laptops, as well as those just sitting down for a bite. Roasberg serves coffee, but also meals, desserts, and wine. So if you’re the type of person who could use a glass of wine to get your creativity going, take a seat at Roasberg and feel inspired!
There are several spots with plug-points, there’s non invasive background music and, thanks to the large windows, you will indeed feel like you’re still in Helsinki. You may be working, but that doesn’t mean you can’t soak up the atmosphere of the place you chose to have as a base for a while.
Where: Mikonkatu 13, Helsinki
Prices: Coffee starts at €2.9
Timings: 9AM – 23PM Monday to Saturday. 10AM – 21PM on Sunday.
More info: roasberg.fi
Fratello Torrefazione serves delicious coffee in a super central location. During the day, this cafe receives a mix of working professionals from nearby offices, as well as people just stopping by for coffee or working on their laptops.
Fratello has a mix of seats, ranging from regular chairs around square cafe tables, as well as higher tables with bar style stools, as well as a few couches. For people working on their laptops, I’d recommend sitting by the higher part of the cafe, where there is easier access to plug points, and even a round table for four, ideal if you’re working together with other people.
Apart from coffee, this cafe offers a few daily specials, sandwiches, small sweet bites and ice-cream. There isn’t a lot of variety when it comes to food, but Fratello is inside a shopping mall. That way, anything you may need is just around the corner.
The atmosphere is pleasant, not loud at all, and the internet runs well. Definitely a good spot to sit down for a strong cup of coffee (some of the best I had in Helsinki!) and get some work done.
Where: Yliopistonkatu 6, Helsinki
Prices: Coffee starts at €2.8
Timings: 7.30AM – 8PM Monday to Friday. 10AM – 6PM on Saturdays. 12PM – 6PM on Sundays.
More info: latorre.fi/en/location/fratello
Robert’s Coffee shares the same internet connection as Fratello’s above, as they both use the connection of the mall they are at: Kluuvi.
Robert’s Coffee could be considered the Finnish version of Starbucks, even though this would be giving Starbucks’ coffee a little too much credit. Quality of beverages aside, you are likely to come across different outlets of Robert’s Coffee all over the city. The one featured here is the Kluuvi store.
The seating is pretty standard for a cafe, with a mix of regular tables and chairs, and some fluffier couches. There’s a mix of artificial and natural light, and some access to plug points.
This particular Robert’s Coffee, at Kluuvi, has very good internet.
Where: Yliopistonkatu 6, Helsinki
Prices: Coffee starts at €2.5
Timings: 7AM – 8PM Monday to Friday. 9AM – 8PM on Saturdays. 11PM – 7PM on Sundays.
More info: robertscoffee.com
If hipster spots are your thing, you’ll enjoy working at Savy. This small cafe in the Kallio area of Helsinki seems to be loved by those who enjoy the company of a laptop, tablet or book. The place breathes a certain creative air, but shortage of plug points may be a problem if you need to stay connected after a while. Look behind the black couch for those almost hidden treasures, if you’re in need!
Other than that, Savy is an interesting spot to work at for some time. There’s a good amount of natural light, excellent coffee and fast internet. Seats are a mix and match of wooden cafe chairs, benches with cushions but without back support, and also a couple of couches. Background music is light and pleasant. The basic needs for digital nomads may be covered here, maybe just not for way too long.
Where: Aleksis Kiven katu 12, Helsinki
Prices: Coffee starts at €1.9
Timings: 7.30AM – 18PM Monday to Thursday. 7.30AM – 17PM on Fridays. 10AM – 16PM on Saturdays. 11AM – 15PM on Sundays.
More info: kahvilasavy.fi
Other Free Places for Digital Nomads in Helsinki
There are many public libraries in the Helsinki metropolitan area. While most will have WIFI, Library 10 stands out for its easy to spot location, right in front of the central railway-station.
Apart from offering the regular book services any library would, Library 10 has several working areas where you can sit down with your laptop. Apart from free WIFI, there are other services you can take advantage of, for reasonable prices: regular printing, 3D printing, stickers printing, and more. There are also a few computers, but you would only be able to use them for a limited period of time.
Library 1o does tend to get pretty busy, but it’s a good spot to work at if you happen to be in the area.
Where: Elielinaukio 2 G, Helsinki
Timings: 9AM – 8PM, Monday to Thursday. 9AM – 6PM on Fridays. 12PM – 6PM on Saturdays and Sundays.
More info: helmet.fi/library10
Places Covered by Helsinki City Open WLAN
Helsinki City offers a free WLAN service for everyone. To use it, you do not need to register nor enter a password. Simply look for “Helsinki City Open WLAN” on the available networks on your device.
The locations covered by the city’s free internet include indoor spaces such as cultural centers and public libraries (like Library 10 mentioned above), but also outdoor hotspots where access is available 24/7. This means that, if you feel like it, you may be working sitting at a park, outdoors, under the midnight sun!
Check this map to see the full coverage of Helsinki City WLAN.
Even though I didn’t have the opportunity to experience Hoffice during my time in Helsinki, I feel that it’s worth a mention here. Hoffice consists of a network of local people who, on a given day, turn their homes into a shared office. Think of a co-working space, but with way more personal touch. It’s something like the day-time couchsurfing of freelancers and remote workers!
Access to Hoffice is free and, apart from consisting of a space to work at, the main aim is to bring people together in order to inspire each other. There is no regular schedule for Hoffice sessions, depending entirely on who happens to open up their home and organize a co-working day. For further info, keep an eye on Hoffice Helsinki Facebook page.