It’s time to add Helsinki, Finland to your travel bucket list! Check out our video guide and a few key reasons why everyone should visit Helsinki during Christmas.
What a privilege to travel to Finland during Christmas time, experience their culture and history, and bask in the beauty of shared appreciation for Christmas goodness. Come for the market and nordic vibes; stay for the snow, glögi, sausages, sweets, and Christmas shopping. Here are few of the best reasons to visit Helsinki’s Christmas market this winter.
1. THE LOCATION
The market is centrally located in the city, so it’s incredibly accessible if you stay in the city center. The market is either held by the water’s edge for an excellent view of the harbor or in the center of Senate Square, depending on the year. We’ve visited both locations; they’re equally accessible and tend to lean towards merry moments everywhere you look.
2. THE AMBIANCE
With countless stalls and plenty of live entertainment, there is always something going on at these markets. From Christmas choirs to carolers to circus-style performers, it’s easy to get into the Christmas spirit here. Grab a cup of glögi (mulled wine) or hot chocolate and a gingerbread cookie or two and warm up under one of the temporary chalets that offer heaters and fire pits for a bit respite from the cold as you enjoy the performances.
3. THE FOOD & DRINKS
Treat yourself to cups of glögi (mulled wine) or hot chocolate as you waltz around to weigh your options of best lunch choices. There are so many delicious options that it’s hard to choose what to order. Still, we recommend going with a plate of reindeer and sauerkraut. If you’re looking for something sweet, enjoy decadent waffles, gingerbread cookies, or plenty of homemade candies.
4. THE SHOPPING
Coming from the U.S., you’ll find typical Finnish prices on par with American shops. At the market, you can shop for handmade ornaments, crafted trinkets, warm winter gear, toys, and so much more. Our favorite finds from the market were wooden ornaments and a few hand-knitted scarves for ourselves.
5. THE SIZE
The Helsinki Christmas Market offers plenty of options without feeling overwhelmingly large. We recommend you see it all and enjoy lunch during the day, then come back in the evening to enjoy the sweets and ambiance under the stars and cozy Christmas ligh
NAVIGATING THE LANGUAGE
Finnish is the national language, a Uralic language with Latin script. To the untrained ear, it sounds really similar to Swedish. We found most people we encountered spoke excellent English. If you encounter any language barrier, this can always be quickly remedied using Google Translate. While you definitely don’t need to know Finnish to enjoy Helsinki, here are a few words that are helpful to know while exploring during Christmas:
- Hei – pronounced Hi – means hello (It sounds just like how Americans say Hi!)
- Kiitos – pronounced Kee-Tos – means thanks/thank you
- Glögi – pronounced Gluh-GEE (not Glow-Gee) – means mulled wine
WOAH, THAT’S DIFFERENT!
- If you plan your trip to arrive in Helsinki on the night of the Helsinki Christmas Parade, you are in for a unique treat! This one-of-a-kind parade is truly both jaw-dropping and precious. Spoiler alert: we’ve never seen so many dogs in a parade! Dog-lovers rejoice.
- Try eating reindeer. Hands down one of the best meats we’ve ever eaten in our lives. Reindeer are way more common an animal than you’d imagine in Finland and, therefore, a staple in Finnish diets. It’s most similar to a deer but way more tender. Give it a shot; it’s delicious!
WHERE WE STAYED
- 4-Star luxury at affordable prices in the city’s center and beside the Helsinki Central Station. You can’t beat this location!
- The property is expertly designed with cozy corners, grand hallways, and minimally designed rooms.
- The hotel room had large windows that overlooked the street for wintery city center views.
- They offered a complimentary continental breakfast which was more extravagant than any other. The breakfast itself was worth the stay!