On a lovely day in August with light drizzles, I set out to explore the most crowded central square of Helsinki. Which, is the vibrant open-air Finnish marketplace lounging lazily on the shores of the Baltic Sea. For first-timers, it’s a distinctive blend of the farmers-flea market, bedecked in the orange and white fabric. Set with amazing ‘Kauppatori’ stalls selling food, indigenous fur clothing, handcrafted goods and some unique souvenirs.
Besides, open Mondays through Saturdays, Helsinki Market Square offers incredible views of cruise ships, City Hall, Guard House and the Presidential Palace from its edge.
Situated a light walk from the marina shoreline, this tradepost is also a fantastic choice for shoppers as it sells goods at a much lesser price than the expensive Finnish stores. From fresh fruits, vegetables, local dishes, handcrafted wooden items to primitive coats, you will find it all here.
Even though, the food items you must seek are the Reindeer meat, (strictly for non-vegetarians) fresh-caught salmon and caviar. (Finnish doughnuts for a vegan alternative) Aside from that Helsinki Market Square has established a reputation for selling the best meat pastries in Finland. I tasted a couple of these dishes and I have to say, the Finnish flavour does stand out.
Which Souvenirs to buy from Helsinki Market Square?
Helsinki Market Square is a hotspot of exclusive souvenirs. Primarily because, this arena is ruled by, the skilled artisans’ who display the best artwork at affordable prices. At first glance, you want to buy everything! I mean who wouldn’t if the collection comprises of rare Viking bottle caps, Reindeer Horn cheese slicers, bottle openers, Lapp hats, Moomin toys or the Finnish Vodka right?
Either way, the price range starts from EUR 5 and can go up to EUR 500; depending on what you choose to buy. I highly recommend the traditional Kuska bowls, wall-hangings, Reindeer skin rugs, Russian hat, or Puukko, the Finnish hunting knife.
Helsinki Market Herring Festival
On the first Friday of every month, Market Square puts up a mega car show for its guests. Even though, it’s the annual herring festival of Helsinki which takes the cake; featuring a traditionally authentic food experience for you to remember for a lifetime. Herring are forage fish, mostly found around fishing banks of the Baltic Sea. I found Herring to have a peculiarly pungent taste, which was quite delicious in its natural flavour. Considering the market square is close to the boarding and disembarkment points of the cruise liners, passengers in transit get a fair chance to stall the market within a restricted time frame.