Alcohol in Finland

Alcohol in Finland

Finland has strict anti-alcohol rules designed to combat the problem of heavy drinking, which is still a serious social problem.

Alcohol sales are still through Finland’s state-owned ‘Alko’ shops. Beer sales are limited to supermarkets – there are small towns with concession shops. Alcoholic drinks can usually only be bought until 9pm; after that, alcohol shops are closed, even if the shop is open late into the night. Some places have traditional rules that only allow you to buy 2 bottles of strong alcohol or 5 bottles of low-percentage alcohol (now up to 4.5% alcohol).

Prices of alcohol
The prices of alcohol, both wine and beer and strong alcoholic drinks are much higher than in countries like the Netherlands, Germany, etc.
You can find the official price list of Finnish Alko shops here. Supermarkets sometimes have offers for beer.

In restaurants there are no limits, but prices can be as high as in bars. It is expensive practically everywhere, so that is why it is a popular habit to buy alcohol on duty-free ships sailing to Talinn and Stockholm. You will therefore see a (large) number of tipsy Finns on these trips.

Leisure time
On weekends, Finns like to spend time at parties; in the evening, you may encounter tipsy youngsters. Because of the expensive booze, some people, even if they are quite mature, have a habit familiar to many students around the world: before going into the pub, they take an introductory dose of alcohol at home. There is no doubt about it – the Finns don’t spill it behind the collar and are heavy drinkers, since a national shortcoming, just like the Polish and Russian people, is the subject of many jokes (for example, “What’s a difference between a Finnish funeral and a Finnish wedding? At a funeral, there is one sober person.”) At this point, we should mention that the Finnish people are not in the habit of communal toasting, but rather drinking. Even before you raise your glass, you should say terve (“To your health/cheers”), kippis (cheers) or maljanne (to your well-being) and take a small bow after the toast.

Driving after alcohol is punished harshly. Mandates are a kind of fine, and their price is consulted based on the accused’s income. The record holder, 27-year-old Jussi Salonoja, son of a millionaire, had to pay 170 thousand euros!

Bringing alcohol if you are from outside Finland
If you’re going on holiday to Finland and want the occasional wine or something similar, it would be wise to stock up before your trip to Finland. There are official limits, but they are hardly ever checked.