The main shopping street of Helsinki is named after the Russian Emperor Alexander I – Aleksanterinkatu. Shops of Finnish and world brands of different price categories crowd each other on it. The largest network Aleksi 13 is also named after her, the main representative office of which occupies house number 13 along the street. A favorite of shopping fans, the legendary Stockmann is located here on Mannerheim Avenue and goes to Aleksanterinkatu on one side. Nearby are the Finnish department store Sokos and the shopping center Kamppi, stretching for an entire block. In size, it is second only to Itakeskus in the eastern part of the city and Sello in the western. Check maternityetchic for customs regulations and visa requirements of Finland.
The inscriptions “Ale”, “Alennus”, “Sale” on the stores mean the beginning of sales.
Finnish designer textiles and clothing, Finlayson linens, famous Arabia glassware, Iittala glass and porcelain can be found on the Esplanade Boulevard. Antique and art shops have settled on Bulevardi, Fredrikinkatu and Korkeavuorenkatu streets. An impressive range of electronics is presented in the Verkkokauppa hypermarket. Prizma, Lidl, Alepa, Siwa, K-market, S-market supermarket chains offer a wide range of products, and Alko chain stores offer any alcoholic drinks stronger than 4.5 °.
The Helsinki Christmas sale starts on December 25, and the summer sale starts on the 20th of June. At this time, prices are reduced by 30-70%.
The old Helsinki covered market is the most popular in the capital. It is located at the South Port on the Market Square. Here is the largest selection of souvenirs in the city. Vintage items can be found at flea markets – Valtteri and Hietalahti, as well as in Dallapenpuisto and Pengerpuisto parks in the Kallio area and at the weekend market at the Ice Stadium.
The most profitable way to exchange currency in Helsinki is to withdraw money from a local ATM with a fixed fee. The Forex exchange office is the second most convenient option. Moreover, it is better to change the entire amount of cash at once – the commission is fixed. If you need to change back the excess euros without commission, you need to present a receipt for the initial exchange. The last exchange office at the station closes at 21:00. Exchange at the reception is not possible in all hotels. Banks offer an unfavorable exchange rate, take a large commission and work only on weekdays from 9:15 to 16:15.
Cuisine and restaurants in Helsinki
In Helsinki, as in any European capital, there are many cafes and restaurants with cuisine from different regions of the world. But the townspeople prefer traditional Finnish food, which is easily explained.
Firstly, Finnish products are environmentally friendly, Suomi cuisine is based on natural ingredients. Therefore, the likelihood that the cucumber in your dish will be watery, and the lamb too tough, tends to zero. Secondly, local chefs know how to emphasize the natural taste of products. Just try a traditional roast or fish soup – you will be amazed at how harmonious the taste of the simplest food can be. Looking for innovative dishes? Look for restaurants that offer the so-called Helsinki Menu, designed to introduce traditional and modern Finnish cuisine.
Dinner at a restaurant will cost about 40 EUR with alcohol. You can have a hearty meal for 5-10 EUR – establishments offering buffet meals are popular here. True, most of them work only at lunchtime – from 12:00 to 16:00. During these hours, traditional cafes and restaurants prepare inexpensive business lunches.
You can have a bite to eat, and at the same time buy souvenirs on Kauppatori Square, where on Sundays there is a market with local products. Farmers prepare food right there in giant braziers. What’s in the bowl? Red fish, fried herring, sausages, various vegetables – all mixed up. Portions are big enough for three. On other days, you can try local fish snacks at the many street food stalls.
A separate story is the famous Design District with its restaurants, wine bars and craft breweries. The owners of these establishments know everything about style and sustainability, and the waiter, along with the bill, can easily bring a couple of freshly harvested apples. Just like that, as a gift.
Only in Suomi they drink without snacking. The Finns are perhaps the only nation that can outdrink the Russians.
In the very center of the city, around the Senate Square, there are many cafes, restaurants and bistros. Keep in mind that the most profitable period is considered to be from 11:00 to 13:00 – the time of lunch specials.
Well, true gourmets are waiting for Kappeli – a restaurant that opened in the 60s. 19th century and captivated the public with game dishes. It is unlikely that somewhere you will be able to try such a venison mousse. And one more thing: 4 Helsinki restaurants – Olo, Luomo, Demo and Postres – are included in the Michelin Red Guide. They were awarded one “star” each, but this is quite enough to book a table in advance and go there with the awareness of all the solemnity of the moment.
The main culinary highlight of Helsinki is the restaurant day, which takes place every three months. Anyone can open their own restaurant. Most often, meals are served in the apartment, and if the weather permits, in the park, in the yard or right on the bench. The restaurant concept and menu are limited only by your own imagination.
Locals, like all Finns, are very fond of coffee: Finland has topped the list of global consumers of this tonic for many years. To get into the spirit of Helsinki, order an espresso or an Americano with blueberry pie at one of the many coffee houses in the capital.