If you are thinking of going shopping in Finland, you should know that the prices are similar to those of the rest of the Nordic countries: quite high. However, it is almost impossible to set foot in the country and not get hold of some of its unique winter clothes, Christmas items or any typical souvenir, which reflects the wider culture and its customs. It has become a widely accepted tradition to bring home a small piece of a foreign country that someone visits, in a form of some sort of souvenir.
A big variety of shopping malls and boutiques are located in the Finnish capital, Helsinki. Flea markets and fairs also take place in different parts of the city, where you can find anything from the most prestigious brands such as Karhu, Nanso and Marimekko to sauna-related items and culinary curiosities.
This article will serve you as a guide to unique things to buy throughout food products, art and clothing, and practical and decorative items related to nature and culture. You might get surprised by what products are Finland famous for!
The Best Souvenirs From Helsinki In Finland
Marimekko wall hangings
Marimekko fabrics are internationally famed for their wildly inventive patterns and exuberant designs. They’ve made such an imprint throughout the world that their products can be quickly recognized. Marimekko’s wall hangings come in different sizes. They can be as much as eight feet wide and five feet high, thus occupying a good part of a wall. Smaller wall hangings can brighten a kitchen nook, while some wall hangings are specially made for children’s bed and playrooms. They make excellent gifts.
Original Christmas decorations
Finland is a country with the greatest Christmas spirit. After all, this is where Santa lives. Even though Helsinki is in a separate region, you can find all the typical items of the season here: postcards, tree balls, socks or Christmas hats. As the Christmas season approaches, the capital fills up with numerous markets where you can buy all kinds of items. One of the best known is that of Saint Tomás, located in the center of the city and made up of various wooden huts where you can buy sweets, trees, Christmas decorations and Christmas carols.
These markets are only available from November until January, although a few shops keep the Christmas spirit alive during the rest of the year too. One of them is Kankurin Tupa. The basement level of this store on Pohjoisesplanadi hosts a unique year-round Christmas shop and showroom – something nowhere else to be found in Helsinki. Visit to feel the Christmas Spirit even on the hottest of summer days and while you’re at it, choose a perfect souvenir for a loved one.
Cups And Glasses
Finland is famous for its glassware, and one of the most iconic and valuable brands is Iittala, which has been creating glass decorations since 1881, and has now filled virtually every Finnish home with a piece of glassware. They last so long that it is common for people to inherit Iittala items from their relatives. The designs are simple but direct and made by some of the best artists in Finland. It is a great gift for someone who just moved into a new place, or simply anyone who wants to liven up their living space.
Kuksas are a type of wooden drinking cups made by the Lapps or Sami people in northern Finland. They have been carved for centuries in Lapland, and are light, bounce if dropped and have better-insulating properties than porcelain or enamel. Usually, birch bark or burl has been used in traditional kuksas. They are very easy to clean – just rinse them with hot water. When purchasing a kuksa, check if yours is just for decorative purposes or can be used for drinking hot and cold beverages. This could be an ideal gift for an outdoorsy friend or a great conversation-starter if you use it as your office or home coffee mug!
Traditional kuksas are harder to find and more expensive. You can find more affordable ones in department stores and shopping malls. Check out the Kamppi Shopping Complex at Pohjoisesplandadi 33 and Kiseleff House at Aleksanerinkatu 26-28 by the Helsinki Cathedral.
A puukko is a traditional Finnish hunting knife, usually sold in a handmade sheath that can be attached to a belt. It may sound unusual, but it is legal to sell these in street markets in Finland. They are good not only for hunting but also for general purposes, which include fish preparation, skin work and wood carving. It is considered a great honor to receive a puukko as a gift, similar to receiving a Swiss Army knife.
Sima is a Finnish fermented low level alcoholic drink and soft drink. It is a form of mead, an alcoholic beverage produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water, although nowadays the honey is usually replaced with different kinds of sugar, mostly syrup. It is traditionally served during Vappu (the Finnish Labor Day), along with the funnel cake.
If you happen to be in Helsinki on the 1st of May, which is when the celebrations take place, we highly recommend grabbing some snacks and heading to a park. It is the biggest celebration that crowds the streets and parks in Finland and especially in its capital Helsinki. Also, it is a good time to find some good quality sima. However, you can still find sima in many stores throughout the city.
A typical alcoholic drink, which derives its flavour from the cloudberry fruit. The word lakka means cloudberry in Finnish. At various stages of ripeness, the berries are hand-picked for different uses. By steeping cloudberries in neutral grain alcohol for two to six months, Lakka takes a sweeter, almost floral approach compared to the herbal aquavits of the region. After soaking in oak barrels for months, natural sweeteners, like honey, and spices, like cinnamon or clove, are added to the alcohol. Lakka’s alcohol content may differ by the producer.
Kalevala and Aarikka Jewellery
Jewelers Kalevala and Aarikka are inspired by jewellery and brooches found throughout the eras in Finnish history. Most of the collections consist of replicas of the Iron Age, the beginning of the Christian era and the prosperous Viking age with a modern twist to suit our present time. Kalevala offers more traditional pieces in silver and bronze, while Aarikka offers modern handmade wooden pieces. Both companies use only Finnish materials to stay true to their heritage.
The stories and comics imagined by the writer Töve Jansson are known worldwide. Even though unique in its own way, the comics do have some similarities with Miyazaki’s Totoro in their philosophy. As you can imagine a myriad of products have been derived from the series. Jansson’s cute trolls (they look more like hippos) appear on mugs, T-shirts, posters, books and all kinds of objects. It is a perfect gift for a little one.
More Tips On Where To Buy Gifts And Souvenirs
Shopping in Helsinki for an extraordinary range of tasteful and distinctive products is made simple and easy with the creation of a design district in the heart of the city which has many department stores, shopping centers, and boutique shops bunched together. Some of the shops to visit:
- Design Museum (a shop located inside)
- Marimekko store
A store that is already known worldwide for the distinctive color of its clothes also finds itself in Helsinki: Marimekko. During your visit here, feel free to explore and play with colors, shapes, details and fabrics.
- Lokal Café & Shop
Art and coffee combine at the exceptional Lokal, which fuses hand-crafted ceramics, furniture, textiles, art pieces and the like with a pinch of coffee roasted by Helsingin Kahvipaahtimo
An artisan studio and shop for delicate and unique jewellery pieces.
Markets in other districts
Apart from high-end shops, you can explore various markets. In Helsinki, there are a number of them which sell food, artwork, and vintage furniture, and help to support local merchants and artists.
- Market Square (Kauppatori)
The central Market Square is also known as Kauppatori in Finnish. It is Helsinki’s international, and its most famous market, located near the city centre, a very accessible location for tourists where many cruise ships dock.
- Hakaniemi Sunday Flea Market
- Old Market Hall
Establihed in 1889 and situated in Eteläranta and next to the Market Square, the Old Market Hall houses a variety of local and international delicacies that will stimulate your taste buds and provide a great opportunity to purchase some culinary goods for your friends and family.
- Hietalahti Flea Market
If you want to experience the unique feel of Helsinki, visiting Hietalahti Flea Market gives a perfect sense of the area, as it is one of Helsinki’s most popular marketplaces in the summertime. Located near the stylish Design District and the trendy area of Kamppi, you can find some local artworks including handicrafts, jewellery, and ceramics.
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