In Finland, bar can be used as a generic name for any kind of pub, club, restaurant etc.
depending on where you're from. You can find a bar of some kind in almost every densely populated
community. Even if a store or post office can't be found anywhere near the place,
you can count on the fact that it isn't a long way to the nearest bar. Most of the bars out of
town belong to the type which is called "kyläbaari" ("village bar" 1). I have sorted here the different types of
bars in Finland.
Kyläbaari (village bar) is the most common form of a Finnish bar. It's usually a small place in the
countryside, where people come to spend time and have a few beers (or sometimes more than a few).
Some spend most of their time in the bar, not necessarily drinking but they eat there and talk
bullshit. Every kyläbaari has it's own community, and they often arrange darts- or pool- competitions, sometimes
against other bars. Slot machines are a common entertainment in these places, although the
infamous pajatso (pajazzo) has been forced to retire. The poker- and black jack- machines are more popular these days.
Village bars often don't sell beer from taps, only in bottles, but it's a lot cheaper than in pubs.
This is a place for middle-aged and older people. A word of advice: If you're an outsider,
don't get into a fight with anyone or you'll get everyone in the bar at your back.
Gas station bars have become almost extinct because of the self service stations. In the 70's
bars were a part of almost every gas station. They were a lot like village bars, except that
bypassers often came to get a cup of coffee while refueling their cars. "Shellin baari" (Shell's
bar) is still a legend, a concept made known by the Finnish band Eppu Normaali.
A Pub. In Finland a pub is usually an Irish- type of place where there's a lot of wooden furniture.
Pubs have a better selection of beer than any other type of bars. They sometimes brew their own
label, though this has been less popular lately. Pubs exist only in towns, and the age of their
customers depends much on what type of music is played. A word of advice: Since they usually sell
a lot of different brands, when you're ordering don't just say: a beer.
Karaokebaari (karaoke bar). Although karaoke nights are often arranged in village bars, there
really are bars that have focused their whole business idea to this sort of culture. A heaven for
those who think they can sing even (or especially) when they're drunk and that others love to
hear them sing. A nightmare for the rest of us. A word of advice: DON'T GO THERE! (unless you
really like them, in which case I'm really sad for you.)
A strip bar is somewhat of a rarity in Finland because the authorities keep shutting them down (strip bars are legal, but unpaid taxes and illegal workers are not incommon in these places). There aren't many
bars where strippers perform all day long, but many places have strippers at least a couple of
nights a week. Most of the performers, especially in the eastern part of Finland, are Russians.
The quality of the performances varies a lot, mostly depending on the size of the bar.
In some places a bar can also mean a disco or a club. Some restaurants serve food during the day
and in the evening they are just like every other bar. And there are naturally bars which only
play certain type of music like metal bars. The most common beers served in Finnish bars are
Lapin Kulta, Karhu and Koff. The food served in bars is usually nothing glamorous. Village bars
sell mostly "lihapiirakka", which is a kind of a Finnish version of a hot dog. Gas station bars
often sell small meals also.
1 "village bar" is a direct translation of "kyläbaari". Kyläbaaris do exist also
in small towns and the suburbs.