What to buy in Finland(20 Posts)
I am going to spend some time in Helsinki and I was wondering if any of you have any suggestions about clothes/shoes shopping and, of course, beauty buys!
I am interest both in specific stores that are nice to visit (preferably mid-range price-wise) and brands, either local or that can be found at a good price there.
For example, I heard very good reviews for Lumene cosmetics.
I am no Finland expert (have been to Helsinki once for one day), but if you like Marimekko the shop is good. If you’re a Moomin fan then well you’re made up - it’s Moomin central. ;) I enjoyed a browse in a chemist’s I remember, purely to look at all the brands we don’t get here (Sweden). I think they had Estonian stuff for example. Lumene cosmetics are popular in Sweden too, I’ve tried several things but tbh I haven’t really fallen for them. They do some sort of glow drop foundation serum I keep wanting to get though because it just makes me feel like it should make me gorgeous 😉
Hahah @banivani I so get what you mean about the glow drop foundation serum! Just reading the sentence made my skin glowy I think ...
Thank you so much for your suggestions! I live in a Mediterranean country, so anything scandinavian/esthonian etc is going to be new and a source of excitement to me!
I am also going to look up spas/saunas just in case I have time to book. I am going to make a few business trips back and forth during the next months so I want to make the most of each visit.
Are you staying at a hotel? They will have a sauna I'd wager. The hotel we stayed at that time was advertised as having a pool. Spent a good ten minutes in the lobby looking for it and realised the sign for it just said "sauna" because that's what they care about in Finland. Pool was, therefore, freezing. ;) No soft spa treatment there! Big sign up saying how to do a proper sauna bath the Finnish way.
I was surprised at how exotic I found it all, despite being from next door! Even food!
I would say that visiting Stockmann, the big department store, should be good. They will have all the big Finnish brands too.
There's a giant Iittalla factory not too far outside of Helsinki (accessible by public transport IIRC) that offers factory tours and an outlet that's worth a visit if you like your Scandi design.
I got hooked on Fazer chocolate there, there's a shop in the centre near the big department store. If you like Vodka, they do one with Finlandia vodka in that's apparatus fantastic.
The hotels usually have a spa of sorts, the one at Hotel Kämp was the best I came across. Think you can book in as a non guest too. Got hooked on Joutsen duvets and pillows in this hotel too and promptly brought back some.
This time of year Helsinki is a lot colder than you expect, had a few trips where it was just shuffling quickly between one warm spot to the next to escape the biting chill. It's not that big so the shopping is limited but they often have little craft fairs tucked indoors that are always worth looking out for and the museums are fab. Don't miss out on the food market halls, there are rather a lot of them but have yet to come out of one disappointed.
JOIK cosmetics (Estonian) are really good, I think you can find them in Finland joik.eu/en/
@banivani @botemp @KatharinaRosalie and @StartupRepair thanks so much for all your suggestions!
I haven't booked the hotel yet, so I will take this into account. It's going to be one near the shops anyway.
Messaged a friend in Helsinki this week as a colleague is about to go on a trip there - friend says no snow (!!!) at the moment (almost unheard-of for Helsinki in Jan) but wind and rain. Check the weather before you go. Snow boots and duvet coat essential if it's snowing.
Back to what you were asking... as PP said, Iitala and Arabia for heavenly glass and ceramics. Tricky to transport much of it home though. The Helsinki design district is fabulous for an afternoon's
I am a Marimekko nut, it's the quintessential Finnish design house. Marginally cheaper in Finland than here (and the clothes are no longer stocked in-store in the UK anyway sadly) but still ££.
However there is a fantastic factory shop just outside the centre of Helsinki, easily accessible by train. I could spend the whole day there! Prices aren't rock-bottom but much less heart-attack inducing than the regular stores. I'd still have a mooch around one in town though as they are beautifully merchandised.
Marimekko's stripy tops are classics, as is their Unikko (poppy) design in various sizes and colours. They also do fabrics, children's clothing, home wares and ceramics.
The big department store in central Helsinki (sorry can't remember the name but Google-able) is a bit dowdy compared with most in the UK now, but has an excellent range of the mid-priced Scandi lines you only really find in boutiques over here: Second Female, Selected Femme, Just Female (confusingly), Samsoe & Samsoe, Baum & Pferdgarten etc. Have a look for them online before you go as you may not be inspired by the merchandising in-store!
I really like Paappii and Marimekko clothes. Also Naperonuttu for kids.
Yeah, the department store is quite dull but if the alarm goes off accidentally you get a voucher for free coffee and cake and profound apologies. People are really lovely and warm anyhow, always very curious about tourists and eager to engage.
Above mentioned JOIK makes really nice scented candles, I like the Rose Damascus one.
WRT spas, they take saunas rather seriously and they are rather spartan and I expect the ones outside of hotels will have an enforced no swimwear policy. It's not much of a pamper environment and more slapping birch tree twigs against each other's naked bodies in the cold outdoors type of thing and they're not always sex segregated. I believe there's even a sauna in a fast food chain somewhere in Helsinki
Saunas are a huge deal. There's a mixed/clothed one with an open-air swimming pool in the harbour that DH and my friend's husband took the kids to when we went last year
whilst his wife and I spent the afternoon at the Marimekko factory shop which is less Spartan than botemp describes, so if the weather permits and you're curious to try then that might be worth checking out, the views are amazing apparently. But every new-build flat in Helsinki (and there are LOTS) has one as standard.
Finns are lovely and the perfect English widely spoken puts us to shame - though I guess is what happens when your highly-educated population's native language is spoken by literally no other country on earth! However they don't "do" small-talk and are much more comfortable with conversational silences than we tend to be. All the signposts in Helsinki are in both Swedish and Finnish though which really helps with navigation for a non-Finnish speaker.
Check out the new-ish central library as well, it's stunning and has a cafe and lots of places to hang out and read.
@Zinnia your advice is very helpful, although I am not sure what could simulate snow boots. I don't have any, because I rarely go to the mountains. I have tall classic Uggs (waterproof) and tall nike ankle boots that are completely waterproof and have a little bit of insulation, not fur though. Which pair do you think I should take with me?
@botemp I laughed out loud picturing the finnish version of a sauna I wish I could experience something more pampering than this, preferably in a bikini .. Or at least is the towel big? I shudder to think I could end up enclosed in one of these things, naked along with colleagues and clients....(business trip) I should at least make sure I go to a sauna at a bit further away from the office
Sauna in Finland is such an important part of the culture. It is not really about pampering.
As mentioned the spa at Hotel Kämp is more in line with international pampering spas, although the treatments are not cheap and the hours were limited as they closed early in the evening and it's a bit befuddling to relax in the sauna area and to then crawl to dinner after in the cold when you're all noodle legs.
Going by the rest of Scandinavia most public saunas will be mixed sexes and therefore with suits on or at the very least they won't be puritanical like the Germans and yell at you and threaten to evict you for wearing a swimsuit or towel but expect there will be others not wearing much or anything. If colleagues invite you for a sauna and you don't wish to know them in the nude, best to decline the invite.
Boots, definitely something with profile soles that give you grip. It's not so much snow to be worried about, it's that it gets compacted and becomes icy and very slippery, although IIRC Helsinki has areas with heated sidewalks.
When we finally found the hotel sauna and went in, there was a woman sitting on the top bench, stark naked of course, a can of beer next to her, legs pulled up so we got an eyeful of her entirety walking in. Sex segregated saunas, but my son who was 7 or so was with me (I had sold him on the pool) and he didn't know what to do with himself haha. A stranger! And naked! "Moi" she goes with a brief nod. Note: nothing drunk and disorderly at all, it was just a cool drink.
I thought it was fantastic. Love a sauna.
Uggs sound good enough! Either boot will be fine. Take the ones that are best for walking. But I may be biases, I wear wool socks so my current fave boots are unlined and I manage.
Also nice jelly sweets in supermarkets with beautifying properties, added collagen etc.
Massive fad but good delicious fun
I went to Finland a few years back with my best friend for a placement we did at at uni. The girls we met there were so lovely and spoke the most perfect English.
We stayed quite rurally but saunas were a massive thing and where we were at least, nudity was mandatory, though my friend was so embarrassed she refused to remove her towel and so stood out like a sore thumb. Having an aufguss session and being thwacked, entirely naked, by a man holding a big twig was a little different to say the least!
When I asked some of the trainees we were staying with what I could buy my bf at the time, I was directed accordingly and managed nothing more exotic than a Moomin cup, a moose shaped beer opener and a tin of reindeer meat!
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