Helsinki: Shopping Holiday
Although perhaps not the place for the budget-conscious or the bargain-hungry, a shopping holiday in Helsinki is a rewarding experience at any time of year. During the summer strolling through the pleasant boulevards with a shopping bag is as good an activity as any, and the cosy winter Christmas markets in the main shopping streets are a seasonal treat not to be missed.
The main shopping streets likely to attract the attention of a serious shopper on holiday in Helsinki are Mannerheimintie, Aleksanterinkatu, both sides of the Esplanade, Korkeavuorenkatu, Fredrikinkatu and Bulevardi. Each of these streets has its own character and dominant shop type. Aleksanterinkatu is home to an array of Finnish and international chains of clothing and shoe shops as well as high-end jewellery shops. If Finnish design is your passion (and if it isn’t before you visit Helsinki, it will be by the time you leave), then head to Esplanade. Here you’ll find many famous Finnish design outlets including Arabia/Iittala, Finlayson, Pentik, Annikki Karvinen, Marimekko and Artek. Smaller design and interior decorating boutiques are especially concentrated along Fredrikinkatu and Korkeavuorenkatu. If art and antiques are your passion, then a trip along Bulevardi is highly recommended.
Helsinki also has a number of department stores and shopping centres. No shopping holiday in Helsinki would be complete without a visit to the legendary Stockman (if you can’t find it here then it probably doesn’t exist) found on Mannerheimintie along with Sokos and Forum.
Of course, if you prefer all your shops in one place, or the weather is less than friendly, then shopping centres are the place to head and Helsinki certainly has a few of those. To begin with, investigate Kamppi shopping centre, a new complex where the shops are arranged by theme. If your tastes veer toward designer goods and luxury, then head to Kämp Galleria in the business centre of Helsinki. This is a luxury shopping centre housed together with the five-star Hotel Kämp, where the boutiques sell designer goods under a graceful glass roof.
However, for sheer size, try Itäkeskus in eastern Helsinki. Itäkeskus is the largest shopping centre in the Nordic region, and boasts long promenades of boutiques and international chains. A shopping holiday in Helsinki has a lot to offer – just make sure your suitcase has room for everything you buy…