Top 9 Souvenirs To Buy In Helsinki

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is a seaside city of beautiful islands and lush nature. Helsinki is one of the greenest capitals in the world: over one-third of the city consists of parks and other green areas. Helsinki (and Finns) might seem somewhat quiet and reserved at first, but dig a bit deeper and you’ll uncover a vibrant nightlife, an exceptional design scene, and beautiful architecture.

 

And all of that while witnessing some of the most magnificent sunsets over the Baltic sea…

 

Here are our top picks for souvenirs from Helsinki:

 

1. Moomin Memorabilia

Photo by Kentaro Ohno on Foter.com

Photo by Kentaro Ohno on Foter.com

 

Moomins are are a family of white, round fairytale characters with large snouts that make them resemble hippopotamuses. Moomins have originally been released as a series of books and comic strips, but have since then been the basis for numerous television shows and movies (and even a theme park in Finland). They have taken off to become central aspects of a wide-ranging array of popular products that are both practical and decorative.

 

This extensive range of products includes glasses, coffee cups, handbags, placemats, t-shirts, towels, bed linens, pillow cases, email cards, puzzles, book stands, etc.

 

These products are perfect gifts not only for children but adults too. You can find Moomin-themed accessories and gifts all around Helsinki, and there’s even an online shop where you can browse for souvenirs.

 

While you’re in Helsinki, grab a good cup of coffee at Mumin Kaffe at Liisankatu 21 or Mechelininkatu 3.

 

Click here to buy

 

2. Sauna Bucket & Ladle

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

 

Finns are known for their love for saunas. In fact, it is estimated that there is one sauna per household in Finland. Saunas are places for relaxation and socializing.

 

Throughout Finnish history, the sauna was the holiest room in the house and the one most closely associated with their well-being.

 

The Finnish parliament even has its own sauna chamber for MPs to debate in, and all Finnish diplomatic and consular missions around the world have their own sauna.

 

Real Finnish saunas are dimly lit, there’s no music or smells except for fresh birch and natural tar.

 

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. Sauna buckets and ladles are sold in the department stores and other shops.

 

Click here to buy

 

3. Design Pieces

Photo Credits: Eva Rinaldi, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credits: Eva Rinaldi, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Finland and Helsinki, in particular, are bursting with independent designers.

 

If you fell in love with the simplicity of Scandinavian design, head to the flagship store of Finland’s most popular fashion brand, Marimekko, at the Galleria Esplanad. Marimekko is one of the most known design brands in Finland. Finnish people have been raised wearing Marimekko.

 

Another great souvenir to pick up is a piece of homeware from littala. Iittala’s glass factory was founded in 1881 in the small village of Iittala, some 120 kilometers from Helsinki. The new store measures 217 square meters and showcases the whole Iittala product line, glass art objects, as well as more singular items.

 

Marimekko or littala pieces are great souvenirs to bring back home or gift to someone who appreciates good design.

 

Click here to buy

 

4. Kuksa Cups

Photo by Jaro Larnos on Foter.com

Photo by Jaro Larnos on Foter.com

 

Kuksas are a type of wooden drinking cups made by the Lapps or Sami people in northern Finland. They have been carved for centuries in Lapland, and are light, bounce if dropped and have better-insulating properties than porcelain or enamel. Usually, birch bark or burl has been used in traditional kuksas. They are very easy to clean – just rinse them with hot water. When purchasing a kuksa, check if yours is just for decorative purposes or can be used for drinking hot and cold beverages.

 

This could be an ideal gift for an outdoorsy friend or a great conversation-starter if you use it as your office or home coffee mug!

 

Traditional kuksas are harder to find and more expensive. You can find more affordable ones in department stores and shopping malls. Check out the Kamppi Shopping Complex at Pohjoisesplandadi 33 and Kiseleff House at Aleksanerinkatu 26-28 by the Helsinki Cathedral.

 

Click here to buy

 

5. Cloudberry Drink or Jam

Photo by kahvikisu on Foter.com

Photo by kahvikisu on Foter.com

 

Cloudberries are very difficult to find. They are prized for their scarcity and the flavor they bring to a pie or a jam. They thrive in the wetlands in remote Arctic climates. They can be found in Canada and Russia too, but they’re a quintessential Finnish fruit. These berries cannot be grown commercially as they require too much water; so finding them is a treasure hunt, and locals go to great lengths to protect them.

 

For an easily transportable gift, buy a cloudberry jam or cloudberry liquor. There is even cloudberry wine!

 

P.S. For a real Arctic experience, head north and pick some yourself.

 

Click here to buy

 

6. Rye Bread

Photo by wuestenigel on Foter.com

Photo by wuestenigel on Foter.com

 

In Finland, bread is an important part of every meal. Finns love their rye bread, which tends to be less oily and moist than its German counterpart, and less spicy than its Swedish counterpart.

 

First cultivated in Finland over 2,000 years ago, rye grain’s adaptability to various soil types, coupled with its ability to ripen over the short northern summer, has long seen it a staple of the local cuisine.

 

Rye bread is notable for its resistance to spoiling; it may store for weeks or months. This makes it a good gift or a souvenir.

 

You can also learn to make it so it can become a souvenir that keeps giving.

 

Rye bread also features a whole list of health benefits including preventing cardiovascular disease, colon and breast cancers, fighting diabetes and obesity. How’s that for a souvenir?

 

You can even pick it up at the Helsinki airport as a last-minute gift!

 

Click here to buy

 

7. Liquor

Photo by Northsky71 on Foter.com

Photo by Northsky71 on Foter.com

 

Finns are somewhat notorious for heavy alcohol consumption during the weekends.

 

Depending on your luggage restrictions, grab a bottle or two of the following:

 

  • Lakka (the aforementioned cloudberry liquor) is produced by soaking cloudberries in alcohol and has a very distinct flavor.
  • Finlandia Vodka is one of the most popular drinks amongst tourists. It’s produced from rye barley and has 80% alcohol content.
  • Sima is a mead-like drink fermented with lemons, various types of sugars and sometimes raisins.

 

Beyond liquors and other strong drinks, Finland produces some of the world’s greatest beers (e.g. Koff and Karhu).

 

8. Coffee Cup

Photo by ansik on Foter.com

Photo by ansik on Foter.com

 

You wouldn’t think of Helsinki when you think of European coffee capital, but Finnish people consume more coffee per capita than any nation in the world. Eight or nine cups a day is normal in the country.

 

Coffee is served to guests, and it’s considered rude to leave a restaurant before everyone’s finished their coffee. For Finns, coffee drinking is very much a social activity.

 

Helsinki’s coffee scene is bustling. Grab a house roast from one of the indie coffee shops or buy yourself a mug to remember the avid coffee drinking culture in Finland.

 

To name a few, there’s Kuuma, Ihana Kahvila, and the sleek Maja Coffee Roastery near the Alvar Aalto Museum (and, of course, don’t overlook Good Life Coffee). Helsinki’s coffee scene is dazzlingly boundary-pushing (get yourself a cacao infused oat milk latte).

 

Click here to buy

 

9. Salmiakki

Photo by termie on Foter.com

Photo by termie on Foter.com

 

Whether you love them or you hate them, this salty licorice is widely consumed in Finland. They are seasoned with ammonium chloride, so people not accustomed to it might find the taste physically overwhelming and unlikeable.

 

Salmiakki can be found in practically every variety bag of sweets sold in Finland and is an ingredient in chocolate, ice cream, and liquor among other things.

 

If you do wish to try it, just to see what it tastes like, it isn’t difficult to find salmiakki candies in any supermarket or corner shop in Finland. Salmiakki comes in different strengths. If you’re a beginner or you wish to buy it as a gift, get the Pantteri candies sold by Fazer. They are one of the milder varieties and recommended for first-timers.

 

Click here to buy

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