SHOPPING IN FINLAND (HELSINKI)
Finland has taken a bold, creative lead in the highly competitive world of interior design. Search out ceramics and glassware (Arabia is famous), hand-woven articles, hand-carved wood, jaunty fashions, and rugs.
Textiles and jewelry also bear the distinctive stamp of Finland, and toy stores brim with educational toys for each stage of a child's development. Souvenir possibilities include decorations made from reindeer skin, costumed dolls, baskets, and pungent berry liqueurs made from yellow cloudberries, cranberries, and Arctic brambleberries. Of course, you'll find all your sauna needs here as well.
Most stores are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm and Saturday from 9am to 2pm. Sometimes stores stay open until 4pm on Saturday, especially in the summer.
The most important shopping neighbourhoods are in the centre of the city. They include Esplanadi, which offers the finest of Finnish design -- but at high prices. Even if you don't buy anything, it's a delightful street for promenading in summer. Airline offices, banks, and travel agencies share the street with shops filled with the best of Finnish crafts, as well as a number of art galleries.
A walk around the Esplanadi reveals most of FinlandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best-known design stores, including Artek (Alvar AaltoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s store), Aarikka (jewelry), Design Forum Finland (cutting-edge furniture and accessory design) and Marimekko (fashion). Stockmann and Sokos are the best known department stores. Forum, Mannerheimintie, is the city centreÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s largest shopping centre, while ItÃƒÂ¤keskus, the largest shopping centre in Finland, can be found a short metro ride from the city centre. The new KÃƒÂ¤mp Gallery, adjacent to the hotel of the same name, offers a range of big name stores, while the Kisaleff Bazaar specializes in handicrafts and souvenir goods. Finnish jewelry is available at TillanderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in Aleksanterinkatu. For smaller, one-off boutiques, Fredrikinkatu is the street for nick-nacks and fashion and Annankatu for antique furniture.
Esplanadi leads from the commercial heart of town all the way to the waterfront. Bordering the water is Market Square (Kauppatori), a fresh open-air market open Monday through Saturday. In summer, peddlers set up trolleys and tables to display their wares. Most of the goods for sale are produce (some of them ideal for picnic food), but there are souvenir and gift items as well.
Market Square is also the biggest and best, along with the nearby Old Market Hall, where shoppers can purchase wonderful fresh food and handicrafts. The market is open Monday-Thursday 0800-1700, Friday 0800-1800 and Saturday 0800-1500. Hakaniemi Market Hall has everything from Sami dolls to reindeer skins and is probably the best place for visitors to find more unusual souvenirs. At the end of one of HelsinkiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most upmarket streets, the Bulevardi, is the Hietalahti Flea Market, where rich HelsinkilÃƒÂ¤iset discard their designer gear. The range is huge, with covetable purchases including Russian accordions, second-hand jewelry and general junk. Hietalahti Market Hall is an organic produce market located in a newly restored building in art nouveau style and open Monday-Friday 0800-1800 and Saturday 0800-1500.
Other shopping streets, all in the centre, include Iso Roobertinkatu and Bulevardi, lying off Esplanadi. Bulevardi, starting at the Klaus Kurki Hotel, winds its way to the water.