Market Square just maybe a good place to begin or end your stroll on the Esplanade. Look for the brightly colored tent tops and you can't miss the market. This outdoor market just near the harbor is an excellent place to find local produce, fish and baked goods offered for sale by the friendly Finns. Smoked herring is one of the many favorites. At the market you'll also find crafts and souvenirs from the far north of Finland, known as Lappland. (Lappland was an optional but expensive shore excursion that would have been great to take!!)
If the weather isn't cooperating, have a look in the Market Hall where you will also find an excellent collection of produce and other goods as well as crafts/souvenirs and a nice atmosphere. Quite a nice place to experience and reminds me somewhat of Pike Place in Seattle, Washington, or the French Market in New Orleans.
At the edge of the market at the harbor you will find the ferries (Nordic Jet Line) which will sail you to the Estonian capital of Tallinn. (Thanks to JohntheFinn for the correct info here.)
Vanha Kauppahalli, the old market hall, is one of those classic market halls with little old wooden stalls. It is pretty small compared to its European counterparts or even Finnish ones like in Tampere. However, its original architectural style has been preserved. In some ways, it still looks like on its opening day back in 1889. Good place to buy local products at more reasonable prices than at the market square. Try things like fish specialities or Mustamakkara (blood sausage, although that's more a Tampere thing). If you are lucky, you may get discounts on fresh products towards the end of the day. Unfortunately, Vanha Kauppahalli's opening times are quite limited and prices for non-food souvenirs are exhorbitantly high.
Helsinki's market square has little of the classic romantic market squares you find all around Europe. First, it is not located between Cathedral and town hall, but directly at the seaside with the town hall and other important buildings such as the presidential palace, the Russian Orthodox church and a military fort separated at least from a street. Second, it is a mixture of traditional stalls and tourist-oriented stalls such as souvenir shops and somewhat overpriced food stalls which sell reindeer meat with lingonberry sauce for 10 EUR. That doesn't mean that I didn't buy it... Beside that, you will find other tourist-oriented offers such as people dressed as Santa Claus in summertime or boat tickets to nearby islands, including the ferries to Suomenlinna. The monument in the middle, bearing the two-headed eagle of Russia, was placed in hounour of the tsar's and the tsarina's in 1835. It consists mainly of a red granite obelisk and is known as the keisarinnankivi (tsarina's stone). The two-headed eagle and the globe it is sitting on were stolen by Russian sailors in 1917, but replaceed in the early 1970s.
It's a nice place if you are looking for souvenirs and a popular stop for anyone visiting Helsinki, but becoming a little too touristy. If you want to see the square with more locals than tourists, come early – the first market stalls are already open by 6:30 am.
Helsinki's Wanha Kauppahalli (Old Market Hall) and Kauppatori (Market Square) face each other near the harbour. They are excellent places to buy food, both fresh and prepared.
The Old Market Hall, which would be worth the detour if only for a photo shot, is like a permanent farmers' market. It also has some cafes and some take-out restaurants. It is open Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In the Market Square you will find more local produce, handicraft and other souvenirs, as well as some food stands. The Market Square is open Monday-Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Kauppatori is a central square that is hustling and bustling with life, market sellers and tourists. It runs along the busy harbour (look out for the small boats selling their wares) and it is from here that one can take a ferry to Suomenlina.
We Finns are shy and sometimes it's difficult to find a living Finn from our Towns :) and that is the reason this is one of my favorite places in Helsinki, here is Life!
You don't need to have anything in you shopping list, take a coffee or tea, eat a sausage, hot dog, salmon plate or just wander around and watch people. I think that there are many exotic issues here, fried salmon and white fish is my favorite but I see fancy dreams about that full-fat-meat-pie I have found only in Finland. Helsingin Toripojat (Market boys of Helsinki :) is one of the sellers, current price 2,50€ (and they even make the coffee with old way (not filtered).
Seasonal food, currently Finnish mushroom season is ongoing and you find those yellow and brown delicacies from many stalls (yellow and funnel chanterelle). And a new star has born, Pakurikääpä (parasite mushroom of birch tree) is sold on market also (expensive, 15€/100g).
Finnish berries (strawberry, blueberry and lingonberry) are currently for sale also,
When you walk a head you find the souvenir, T-Shirt, Reindeer leather, handicraft and knife sellers. Be careful if you are looking items by “Made in Finland”, ask the origin from clerks. My recommendation is on photos, definitely buy a Puukko and Kuksa (knife and wooden mug).
Don’t forget to visit Kauppahalli (Market Hall) , I write later a separate tip, the place is unique (like all Market halls in Finland, the best are in Helsinki, Kuopio and Tampere (in alphabetical order). Runner ups are Turku and Oulu (and this is only my opinion).
There was a Market on, great, I couldn't wait to have a look!
I liked lots here, plenty of different things for sale, so different to "home!'
Lots of very warm looking Furs, beautiful Capes, lots of xmas decorations [ I bought a few], plenty of toys and different types of food to choose from!
Excellent market, make sure you go for a look!
Located at the eastern end of Esplanadi, this spacious square was named Market Square (Kauppator) because of the market it has hosted since its creation. When I visited on a Tuesday in September 2011, there was a small farmers' market which sold interesting seasonal produce and some home cooked dishes. The square itself is bordered by the harbour to the south and the City Hall to the north. The red Orthodox church dominates the view to the east.
After walking around the city and taking in the architectural sights of churches and train station, it was a pleasure to enter the commercial world of the open air market. Vendors offered produce, furs, eats and kitch-like souvenirs for purchase. Some of the items like furs are unique to Helsinki, so it pays to do some homework before visiting the market. We bought a few wooden trinkets and took a lot of pictures. Be sure to include the market on your walking tour of Helsinki.
One of my favorite places, even as a born Finn. I love to go there for a cup of hot coffee, and I always buy a hot delicious and a bit greasy thin meat pie which is the best ever made anywhere in the world. This time I forget my healthy eating...it is just heavenly. There are several booths/cafés, but go to the "Toripojat" (free translation "market square boys") place. They even advertise their meat pies as the best in Helsinki, Finland, and the world :) You'll be sure to get a smile and good and fast service. You can also get an extra (the second) cup of coffee at a cheaper price than the first one.
When zipping the coffee and sitting out in the sun, it is nice either to watch happy people passing buy, follow the sales of the people in the booths, or just enjoy the harbour views with the huge cruise ships (Finland-Sweden). It always makes me on a good mood. I don't even buy any vegetables or anything every time, I enjoy walking around and feeling the sea and the athmosphere of the place.
You can pamper yourself with Belgian wraps and wafels, either salty or sweet, or just by buying fresh Finnish berries like sweet strawberries. Try fresh peas - open them and pour the round green balls to your mouth - they are really sweet in the summer. All domestic fresh vegetable take my tongue.
If you are more hungry, why not to have your lunch here? You can have Finnish traditional food, fish - there are many outdoor/tent restaurants to choose from. Not too expensive either.
When walking more towards the east end of the market square when the food stuff end, you find the booths selling postcards, T-shirts, fur, handicraft and other souvenir. Many of them hand made in Finland. In most places you can buy with credit card too (the souvenir places; not in the usual vegetable booths).
If you have time, don't forget the Market Hall (Kauppahalli in Finnish) nearby; next to the parking area. It is seen to the market place. It is a very unique place with small wooden booths inside; selling practically everything from reindeer, bear, salmon and chocolate to snacks and more usual food. It also has a café and a popular small Japanese restaurant inside. The prices are a little higher than in shops and supermarkets, but the quality is good and the majority of the people are entrepreneurs selling their own stuff. And - it is a good sight to see an no obligations to buy!
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