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Shopping in Helsinki

Helsinki is wonderful for keen shoppers, offering a vast selection of items to take home.

Key areas

Helsinki’s main shopping streets are Mannerheimintie, Pohjoisesplanadi, Aleksanterinkatu and Fredrikinkatu. All the big names in Finnish design can be found at the boutiques around Esplanad Park and the Design District, including Artek (Alvar Aalto's store), Aarikka (jewellery), Design Forum Finland (cutting-edge furniture and accessory design), Littala (Arabia ceramics) and Marimekko (fashion). For smaller, one-off boutiques, Fredrikinkatu is the street for nick-nacks and fashion and Annankatu for antique furniture. Fans of Finland’s most famous cartoon characters should visit the Moomin Shops inside the city malls.

Markets

The biggest and best market in Helsinki is held at the Kauppatori, a cobbled market square specialising in seasonal Finnish foodstuffs and souvenirs located on the seafront at the northern end of Eteläsatama harbour. Although partly a souvenir market, it is also a bustling produce market. Late summer and autumn bring huge piles of strawberries, lingonberries, cloudberries and blueberries, and food stalls serve up all sorts of Finnish delicacies, including local sausages, herring and salmon and reindeer meat. Nearby is the covered Hakaniemi Market Hall, with stores selling more regional delicacies, including reindeer salami and bear pâté. At the end of one of Helsinki's most upmarket streets, the Bulevardi, is the Hietalahti Flea Market, where rich Helsinkiläiset discard their designer gear and bric-a-brac (closed Sunday). It’s great fun sorting through the piles of hand-me-downs. Nearby are antique and art shops.

Shopping centres

The main shopping centres in Helsinki are Forum, Mannerheimintie 20; Kluuvi, Aleksanterinkatu 9, and Kamppi, Urho Kekkosen katu 1. More glamorous brands are on offer at Kämp Galleria, Pohjoisesplanadi 33, adjacent to the swish hotel of the same name. Stockmann, Aleksanterinkatu 52, and Sokos, Mannerheimintie 9, are the best known department stores. Another one-stop shop for retail therapy is Itäkeskus, the largest shopping centre in Finland, accessible via a 14-minute metro-ride from central Helsinki.

Opening hours

Shops in Helsinki are generally open on weekdays from 0900 to 1800 and Saturdays from 0900 to 1300/1400. Department stores and shopping centres open on weekdays from 0900 to 2100 and on Saturdays from 0900 to 1800.

Souvenirs

There is a lot of choice when it comes to souvenirs: look out for carved wooden bowls, Lapp hunting knives, reindeer skins, Finnish woollens, jewellery, homeware, furniture and textiles.

Tax information

VAT, charged at 17% or 22% dependent on the type of goods, is included in the marked price. Non-EU residents can claim 10-16% tax back upon departure, for items over €40 purchased from stores with the 'Tax Free for Visitors' sign. Presentation of receipts and a passport will be required.

Featured Hotels

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Hotel Kämp

Founded in 1887, the Hotel Kämp has attracted high fliers for more than a century, and its public areas swim with period charm. Restored throughout, the Helsinki hotel offers 179 spacious rooms with luxurious amenities and high-quality dining at the elegant Kämp Café Brasserie & Bar and Yume, which serves innovative Japanese/Scandinavian fusion cuisine. Other facilities include a gym, spa, sauna suite and a stylish bar and nightclub. The hotel has five meeting and conference rooms, plus the flamboyant Mirror Room, with banqueting space for 120.

Hotel Helka

Housed in a building designed by architect Wivi Lönn in 1928 and furnished with furniture designed by Alvar Alto, this inexpensive and comfortable Helsinki hotel also scores points for its convenient location, just west of the centre. Refurbished throughout in 2006, Hotel Helka has 150 rooms, sauna facilities, a restaurant and bar. Limited parking spaces are available.

Hotel Arthur

Offering reasonably priced accommodation in the heart of Helsinki, Hotel Arthur is just a stone's throw from the railway station, the Kauppatori fish market, Esplanad Park and big department stores. There are 182 comfortable and well-appointed rooms with en-suite facilities, plus a large restaurant, a lobby bar and banqueting and conference facilities. Around 18 of its rooms are decorated in an art nouveau style following a refurb in 2012 to coincide with the city being awarded World Design Capital of the Year.

Klaus K

A designer hotel with influences that stray well beyond traditional Nordic design, the Klaus K opened in 2005, bringing the boutique hotel concept to Helsinki for the first time. The 137 rooms are named for the emotions they are intended to inspire - Mystical, Passion, Desire and Envy - and the hotel has two elegant restaurants and a thoroughly Modernist bar and club. Other facilities include a day spa, a gym and meeting space for 12 to 350 people.

Hotelli Seurahuone Helsinki

Established in 1833 as a seurahuone (meeting place for dignitaries), this is one of the most distinguished hotels in Helsinki. Amongst other landmark events, the hotel hosted the first opera performance in Finland in 1852, and the first film screening in 1896. Facing the train station, the hotel still offers a taste of 19th-century grandeur, though the 118 rooms have all the expected modern amenities. Facilities include wireless internet access and a grand restaurant and bar.

CheapSleep Helsinki

This hostel does what it says on the tin, offering affordable accommodation in a notoriously expensive city. The humorous tagline of its website sums it up: "Sleep cheap, stay rich". With 10 private rooms and 118 dorm beds, take your pick from this modern, comfortable and clean hostel, which benefitted from a refurb in 2012. There's free Wi-Fi throughout, a supermarket on the ground floor, kitchen, 24-hour reception and free lockers.