Market Square, Helsinki (Finland)

Market Square, Helsinki (Finland)

At Market Square, known locally in Helsinki as Kauppatori, visitors and locals alike can get everything from fresh salmon steak to reindeer meat. The Market Square is located on the shoreline and offers great food, great views and outstanding atmosphere. The bright orange cloth-covered stalls are a pick-me-up in winter and an even greater delight under Helsinki’s gentle summer sun.

On one side of the bay is the South Harbour, the other faces Katajanokka headland. Turn around and there’s the Swedish Embassy and, to the left, the Presidential Palace.You can catch a ferry to the excellent Helsinki Zoo on Korkeasaari Island. Or, you can stroll through the surrounding neighbourhood to the indoor Hietalahden Tori marketplace.

In the Old Market Hall alongside the Market Square shoppers can buy fresh bread, meat, fish, vegetables and superb berries. Or, you may just want an inexpensive but tasty lunch of reindeer salami or a little coffee and breakfast munkki, a type of Finnish doughnut.  This is a favourite meeting place for Helsinki’s food aficionados and is also a popular tourist attraction.

But there’s much more than just great food at this main city market. Tourists looking for Helsinki souvenirs will find handicrafts, gifts, jewellery and other souvenirs geared towards tourists such as the Russian fur hats or the reindeer skin.  Locals may just as likely be after nothing more than a stylish wooden bowl.  You can find  Lapp hunting knives that closely resemble ones of a hundred years ago that you might have seen in an antique shop. Whatever your taste, literally, there’s something for everyone at Kauppatori.

Everyone comes to Kauppatori!  At some times of the day, you’ll be overwhelmed with the hustle of the modern city which is Finland’s capital.

Since the 18th century, visitors and locals both have enjoyed the sea air and the fine food. They traded goods and swapped stories. Near the obelisk (Keisarinnan kivi) commemorating the Russian Empress Alexandra’s visit in 1833 you can easily imagine the scene during that time.

Great paella in the Market Square - Helsinki

Great paella in the Market Square – Helsinki

Only a few meters away you can take a boat trip to Suomenlinna (Finland Castle), or catch a cruise to St. Petersburg or Turku. Take a walk around and see the Town Hall (Kaupungintalo) constructed in the year of the Empress’ visit. Or stroll over and see the Guard Housenear the Presidential Palace, the first neo-classical building in the city.

Along the Esplanade you can find more shops, restaurants and historical buildings than you could visit in one vacation.  Even here, the huge pan of seafood paellalooked too tasty to ignore, so I had a plate of it. While you have your food you can take in a view of many of Helsinki’s finest historical buildings and do a little people watching.

Among the highlights is the Kappeli restaurant, serving the finest food in Helsinki since 1837. But don’t miss seeing the superb Havis Amanda fountain.  Not far away is Senate Square with many other stellar sights.