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