Souvenir Shopping (Self Guided), Helsinki

It would be a pity to leave Helsinki without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Helsinki, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.
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Souvenir Shopping Map

Guide Name: Souvenir Shopping
Guide Location: Finland » Helsinki (See other walking tours in Helsinki)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
Author: Daniel
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Iittala Glassware
  • Kalevala Koru
  • Sauna Market Finland
  • OKRA Arts, Crafts & Design Gallery
  • Kluuvi Shopping Centre
  • Helsinki Forum
  • Alko
  • Kamppi Shopping Centre
  • Ruoholahti Shopping Centre
1
Iittala Glassware

1) Iittala Glassware

What to buy here: Iittala Glass.

Iittala glassware is famous throughout the world for their distinctive, carefully crafted and eye-catching shapes which tend to add grace and elegance to dining rooms, living room, and dens. The vast roster of products are noted for their functionality and decorative uses. They’re also considered quite sturdy and long-lasting.

The many products can be used for eating, drinking and cooking as well as for dressing up key areas of a household. Dinnerware, cutlery and serving utensils are available as well as various mugs, casserole dishes, pitchers, mugs, bowls, pans, pots, etc. Fun and playful objects, like whimsical glass birds, are a particularly popular feature. Vases and jewelry boxes are among many other items.

Iittala glassware is sold at many stores throughout Helsinki. Here are the starting prices for three popular items: Glass kivi candles - $20; Glass Aalto mini bowls and votives - $24; and Glass Kart Tumblers (set of two) - $20.

If you intend any major purchases, it might be worthwhile to venture a bit out of the design center to the factory outlet for discounted merchandise.

Ittala Glassware is located in Pohjoisesplanadi 25.
2
Kalevala Koru

2) Kalevala Koru

What to buy here: Kalevala Jewelry.

Designs of Kalevala jewelry, renowned for their vivid and bold shapes, are often derived from the Kalevala, the colorful national folk epic. Some models are also replicas of ancient Iron Age jewelry discovered by archeologists.

The jewelry items are all quite striking and likely to attract attention due to their distinctive design. They make excellent gift items, especially for occasions like anniversaries and birthdays.

Among the many items are necklaces, pendants, earrings, brooches, bracelets, charms, etc. Tie pins and cufflinks are also available for men. Bronze, silver and gold are the basic materials used. Gold, silver and bronze are the basic materials used. Hooks in bronze earrings are made of gold-plated silver. The jewelry is free of nickel and other allergenic material.

You can find Kalevala jewelry and items at many stores, with prices range from

$40-50 up.

Some stores to check out in particular are: Kalevala Koru at Pohjoisesplanadi 25 and Strombergintie 4; and Figaro at Lauttasaarentie 28-30.

Operation hours: Monday - Friday: 10 am - 4 pm.
3
Sauna Market Finland

3) Sauna Market Finland

What to buy here: Sauna Bucket & Ladle.

Consider that roughly five million Finns own over two million saunas and you get an idea of how popular these units are in Finland. But their popularity is now worldwide. Ancient in use, saunas are virtually sterile environments where one can cleanse their body of impurities but also use the steamy rooms to prepare food and even give birth.

Many visitors to Helsinki try either a wood stove or smoke sauna, experiencing the dry heat, a refreshing shower, and then a repast of sausages with beer.

The wooden buckets and ladles used to throw water over one’s body in the cleansing process are made of birch wood, often with invisible seams, and topped with strips of decorative wood. They can be smooth to the touch. Some will have form-fitting and removable plastic inserts to hold water, which might be for a gallon. The beauty of the wood is retained while the unit has a much longer life.

Sauna buckets and ladles are sold in the department stores and other shops. Figure on spending $15 up. Try the Sauna Market Finland at Aleksanterinkatu 28.
4
OKRA Arts, Crafts & Design Gallery

4) OKRA Arts, Crafts & Design Gallery

What to buy here: Kantele.

Kanteles are a traditional string instrument native to Finland. Their roots go back to antiquity. They’ve been compared to a zither or lap harp.

Made of wood they have a triangular shape with the strings running across the top of the instrument. The older types might have five or six horsehair strings, with the instrument carved from one piece of wood. More modern versions have metal strings and often a body made from several blocks of wood. Kanteles are used in concerts, and those instruments tend to have more strings. The ones visitors are likely to buy have 15 or fewer strings, perhaps five to 10. Listen for a bell-like sound. One can learn to play the kantele if you’re so inclined, but they’re also quite useful as a decoration and as a sure-fire conversation starter.

Kanteles aren’t sold in many stores. Try the OKRA Arts, Crafts & Design Gallery at Unioninkatu 26.

Operation hours: Monday – Friday: 10 am – 6 pm; Saturday: 10 am – 4 pm; Sunday: 12 am - 4 pm
5
Kluuvi Shopping Centre

5) Kluuvi Shopping Centre

What to buy here: Arabia Ceramics.

Arabia ceramics is a brand name recognized throughout the world. One can choose from among a highly popular range of well-made and innovative products that feature both functionality and decorative style. The various items are made to be both used and displayed. They withstand wear well and are likely to last a long time.

Coffee cups and mugs with Moomin (troll) designs are especially popular.

The inventory includes tea pots, dishes, cups, ovenware, costume dishes, jugs, tableware/trays, salad bowl, candle holders, hors d’oeuvre dishes etc. Anything you find in most kitchens probably has an Arabia prototype or version. Exquisite pottery and vases, as well as lanterns, are among many other products, all showing the same high degree of artistry.

Arabia products are sold in many stores throughout Helsinki. Find a great variety of products at Kluuvi Shopping Centre in Aleksaninkatu 9. Some representative prices: $50 up for a coffee pot; cups and sauces, $20 up; dinner plates, $25-30 up. In the heart of the city Arabia products are commonplace without a significant shift in prices. The best bet, of course, is at the factory outlet.
6
Helsinki Forum

6) Helsinki Forum

What to buy here: Ryija rugs/wall hangings.

A ryija rug is an art form unique to Finland. While there is some similarity to Persian carpets, the ryija knots are farther apart and much larger and longer. Slices and splashes of vibrant colors are used in dyes which add great color intensity and variation. Yellow, green, red and blue are popular colors employed in different patterns but there are many other colors available, too. Geometric shapes are often used along with figures of humans, animals, and birds.

Ryijas can be hung as handsome wall hangings or used as couch or bed spreads. Basically they are a decorative feature which aren’t used on floors. Wool is the basic material used to make a ryija, but new fibers have come into play. This is a question one can ask.

Ryijas are sold in all the department stores, like the Helsinki Forum,located on Mannerheimintie 20, and in other shops. You can shop both by price, size, and color variation, often depending on what the planned use is for. They make excellent gift items.

Figure around $20 up. It’s easy to find a size, color and pattern that fits your purpose. They also make excellent gifts.

Operation hours: Monday -Friday: 10 am - 9 pm; Saturday: 10 am - 7 pm ; Sunday: 12 pm - 6 pm
7
Alko

7) Alko

What to buy here: Finnish Liqueurs | Finnish Vodka.

-Some Finnish vodka bottles are in eye-catching bottles that you may want to keep for decorative purposes after the potent liquor is consumed. Be on the lookout for such bottles which aren’t available in all stores.

Note that Koskenkorva Vodka may be made without sugar and can have more alcoholic content. Finlandia Vodka, perhaps a more famous brand, can have sugar added. Both use rye or barley. Figure on around $10-12 for a fairly ordinary looking bottle of vodka, but there are many intriguing flavor innovations. Finlandia, for example, has vodka flavored with cranberries, mangos, grapefruit and lime. Blueberry, pineapple, tangerine, green apple, and black currant are other possibilities. They all have distinctive tastes as well as their bracing alcoholic content. There’s even a vanilla vodka. The cost of special brands is higher. Some prices: Cranberry Fusion Vodka and Lime Fusion Vodka, each around $20; and Mango Fusion Vodka, $24/25.

-Made from Arctic-grown berries, Finnish liquors aren’t generally found in the U.S. and they aren’t necessarily sold in all the stores in Helsinki. Try the stores listed above for Finnish vodka. They also may come in small, distinctive bottles.

The rich and fruity berries used are brambleberries, cloudberries, lingonberries, sea buckthorn, brambleberries, and cranberries. Their taste is distinctive, heavy and sweet and most likely to be appreciated by those with a sweet tooth. But it’s a sample taste everyone should consider trying once. It’s a taste that will stay with you for a while. These different liquors are often served with desserts and as an after-dinner drink in small liqueur glasses.

Stores to try include Alko, Salmisaarennaukio 1. Operation hours: Monday-Friday: 09:00-21:00.
8
Kamppi Shopping Centre

8) Kamppi Shopping Centre

What to buy here: Moomin Trolls/Placemats.

Moomins are the charming fairy-tale/storybook like family of forest-living characters in a series of books and comic strips that have taken off to become central aspects of a wide ranging roster of popular products that are both practical as well as decorative. This extensive and pervasive group includes glasses, coffee cups, handbags, placemats, t-shirts, towels, bed liners, pillow cases, email cards, puzzles, bookstands, etc. There’s even a Moomin theme park, but it’s in Naantali and not in Helsinki.

The trolls, unmistakable in appearance, convey an aura of fun and serenity at the same time despite their eccentric and odd shapes. They tend to be white and roundish with distinctively large snouts that give them a hippopotamus-like look. Many pithy sayings emanate from them, and you can buy books for children in English about the assorted adventures of the Moomins.

The placemats, which make a fine gift item, are among the most popular items. They’re sold in virtually all the stores, but it’s worth looking around for what catches your eye. Try the Kamppi Shopping Centre, found in Urho Kekkosenkatu 1. Figure on paying $8-10 up for a placemat. Pillows and blankets from $20 up. A Moomin book might go for $7-10.

Operation hours: Monday - Friday: 9 am - 9 pm; Saturday: 9 am - 7 pm; Sunday: 12 pm - 6 pm
9
Ruoholahti Shopping Centre

9) Ruoholahti Shopping Centre

What to buy here: Packed Karelian Pasties.

Karelia is a region in eastern Finland bordering on Russia. The area is deservedly famous for its traditional and tasty pasties which are also called Kirelian piirakkas; note, though that there are other piirakka variations than the Karelian version. A steady consumption of these rich foods, sometimes sold in street stalls, may add some unwelcome weight but visitors are usually quite ready to try one. They can be habit forming as the pasties are simple, hearty and delicious. They also offer different taste sensations.

The pasties are made from a thin rye crust with a filling of rice. Butter, often mixed with a boiled egg, is spread over the heated pastie. Crusty ridges, rising in a small pyramidal shape, can surround the oblong shaped pastie. Variations include being topped with a variety of Finnish cheeses, slices of ham, roast reindeer, shrimp, or Arctic berries like lingonberry, cloudberry, and blueberry. Trying one kind often leads to trying others.

You can find packed Karelian pasties boxes in many stores, such as the Ruoholahti Shopping Centre, situated in Itanerenkatu 21. They’re easily transported, and make excellent gifts. A basic six-piece package with either rice or potato filling will cost around $6-7.

Operation hours: Open 24 hours

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