Helsinki is a shopping paradise for design lovers. Picture: Jussi Hellsten / Visit Helsinki Media Bank
Shopping in the centre of Helsinki is a pleasant experience, since the department stores and small design boutiques are all located within convenient walking distance.
The best-stocked shopping streets in the downtown area are Mannerheimintie, Aleksanterinkatu, Kaisaniemenkatu, Iso Roobertinkatu, the two Esplanades (Pohjoisesplanadi and Eteläesplanadi, divided by the park), Bulevardi, and Fredrikinkatu.
Department stores, many chain stores and the large supermarkets are normally open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 11 a.m. or noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
The department stores in the heart of the downtown area are Stockmann (Aleksanterinkatu 52 B, on the corner of Mannerheimintie, and with access from Keskuskatu and Pohjoisesplanadi), Sokos (Mannerheimintie 9), and Aleksi13 (Aleksanterinkatu 13).
If your time for shopping is restricted, then Stockmann and its immediate environs on Aleksanterinkatu and Mannerheimintie is a sensible choice.
The imposing edifice of the Stockmann store contains within its several floors a comprehensive selection of Finnish fashion and design articles.
The cosmetics department on the ground floor has for instance the flagship outlet for the renowned Finnish cosmetics manufacturer Lumene.
The store also has an extensive array of products by Finnish brand names such as Fiskars, Iittala and Arabia, and souvenirs from Finland can be found in abundance.
Stockmann’s basement contains the Herkku food market and delicatessen, with an assortment that will satisfy the needs of even the most demanding culinary buff.
Renowned for high quality, jeweller’s Esko Lindroos Oy serves customers on the seventh floor of Stockmann.
The extensive selection includes jewellery and diamonds of the highest quality, watches, and Finnish and international top brands.
Next door to Stockmann on the other side of Keskuskatu is Academic Bookstore (Akateeminen Kirjakauppa), located in a building designed by the celebrated architect Alvar Aalto.
The bookstore is one of Europe’s largest, and has Helsinki’s most comprehensive assortment of foreign-language literature and a large press section.
An underground passageway links the two establishments, or you can just step across the street.