Helsinki: a Finnish gem ....
This northern European capital has a design ethos that runs very deep and which is palpable across the city. It can also be witnessed at its striking airport
Like other airports in Europe close to Russia, the CIS states and Asia, Helsinki-Vantaa Airport has benefited from its eastern proximity. Its main hub airline, Finnair, is a partner in the Oneworld alliance and has been developing its route network by marketing its faster flying time to many Asian destinations compared with other European hubs.
According to the airport operator Finavia, Helsinki-Vantaa is the leading long-haul airport in northern Europe with over 120 non-stop destinations around the world. About 90% of Finland’s international air traffic uses the airport, not surprising when you consider that a quarter of the country’s entire population lives in the greater metropolitan area of the capital.
As a regularly award-winning airport that’s also proud of its architecture and interior design, it comes as no surprise that a strong design theme infuses the shopping offer; but first the regular duty free shopping. There are three Helsinki Airport Duty Free stores which sell the three duty free staples of liquor, tobacco and perfumes/cosmetics plus another two units called Airport Shop where you can find more perfumes/cosmetics, a wide variety of sweets, and gift items as well as Finnish-made gourmet products. Finnair’s Shop Tax-Free store has a similar offer from well known international brands.
But stick to design and you won’t go wrong. Head for Luhta where you can find plenty of fresh Finnish design, clothes and things for your home. An essential stop is Marimekko, whose famous bright graphics are featured on all their fashion items, accessories, handbags and gifts. The interior design retailer, Pentik, also has a store at the airport packed with its in-house designed dining and tableware, accessories, candles, gift items and interior decoration products.
Pick up the perfect souvenir • whether it’s for a child or not • from The Moomin Shop where the rather weird and wonderful Moomin characters, created by Swedish-Finn illustrator Tove Jansson, adorn a range of goods from toys and books to more practical Moomin dishes and glasses.
Stockmann, Finland’s best known department store retailer has three units at the airport; two of which sell the usual women’s and men’s fashion, accessories, plus world-renowned Iittala products and Arabia glass, while the other, Stockmann Herkkumyymälä, offers an extensive selection of Finnish and foreign delicacies, including reindeer meat, salmon and caviar.
Widening out to Scandinavia, there are two ARG Airport Fashion stores that stock a healthy variety of northern European labels (including jewellery) mixed in with more recognisable international names. So take your pick from the likes of Sand, Snö of Sweden, Malene Birger, Long Island, Park Lane, Björn Borg, Tiger of Sweden, Oroblu, Esprit and Day, as well as Boss, Gant and Guess Jeans. If you really need your fix of international high-end brands there is Luxbag where labels like Loewe and Celine are sold, while Mulberry and Lacoste are also present in their own stores.
For watches and jewellery fans there is the prestige Aseman Kello store or Timanttiset, a Finnish jewellery chain retailer, where brands like Guess, Gant, Esprit, Nomination, Pandora, Thomas Sabo, and Gucci can be found. Finally, one of Finland’s fading, but still iconic, brands is Nokia and at the Air-Foto store its latest phones can be bought or hired.
With the shopping done, it’s worth remembering that Helsinki-Vantaa also has one of the best airport spas anywhere so before you take off, have some down time and relax with a treatment • anything from 10 minutes to a half an hour • or have a traditional hamam bath. You can also choose from four different saunas: spruce or stone from the Alps, a steam sauna and traditional Finnish sauna which has views to the aircraft taxiways. There’s also a pool if you fancy a dip to round things off • but don’t forget you have a flight to catch!
- Passenger traffic 2011: 14.8m
- Airlines: 33 of which the main international airlines are Finnair and subsidiaries, Blue1, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Ait Finland, TUIfly Nordic, Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia
- Recent Recognition: Style and culture magazine Monocle named the airport best for connections while Skytrax was voted top airport in Europe in 2010.
- Design matters: Helsinki has been selected as the World Design Capital for 2012 and Helsinki-Vantaa is going to a main partner in the project when it comes to town.