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Kauppatori Market and Old Market Hall – Helsinki, Finland

Stats:
Address: Etelaranta and Pohjoisespl., Keskusta/Kauppatori, Helsinki 00130
Located at the city center harbor area bounded by the Baltic Sea Harbor and City Hall at the eastern end of Esplanadi.
The Market area is comprised of the Old Market Hall (Wanha VanhaKauppahall), the indoor market comprised of some 30 specialty vendors, and the outdoor Market Square (Kauppatori) so named for its hosting of the local market since its inception.
Both are year round.
Market Hall: Mon-Fri 8am-6pm; Sat 8am-5pm
Market Square: Mon-Fri 6:30am-6pm; Sat 6:30am-4pm. In summer, Sundays 10am-5pm.

Back Story:

While Finland dates back to the 1500’s it’s history is fraught with being pulled hither and yon by neighboring dynasties. Helsinki was not named as capitol until 1812 and it is in this era that the Market Square was established. The Market Hall was built in 1889. Proximity to the water allows vendors to trade directly from their boats.
Numerous festivals are held year-round including the Baltic Herring Festival the first week in October and displays of old American cars the first Friday of every month.

Impressions:

Since the ferries and cruise ships disembark right nearby, the Markets are teeming with tourists as well as locals. When we visited near harvest time there were several vendors outdoors with huge piles of peas, strawberries and chanterelle mushrooms. Lots of great looking root crops as well. Adjacent is the old market hall, a beautiful little 19th century brick building with hi-varnish wooden stalls offering a variety of smoked fish, cured meats, cheeses and pastries. Oh, and the Laplander delicacies of reindeer and bear. There are boat vendors docked nearby as well where people wait in long lines to get the peppered salmon and herring (and potatoes!) offered there.

The outdoor market boasts numerous stalls of handcrafts such as felted fashion hats and hand-knit items, their creators knitting away whilst minding their inventory.

Snacking along the way makes this a fun place to stroll and watch these great looking Scandinavians (right out of central casting…).

Tourist wise:

Friendly, with English spoken everywhere, it’s a comfortable place to spend time. That said, it can get crowded and the seagulls are vying for a prominent presence. Our last visit was during the long summer days of top-of-the-world light where the biggest concern was a bit of rain. Really can’t imagine this market in the dark days of the long winters.
I hear there are reforms in progress effecting the composition and required locations of the Market vendors, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Travel Tips:

Helsinki is a city easily traveled on foot and by bicycle. The public transportation system, HKL, has many routes servicing the harbor area.

Contacts/Links:

http://www.hel.fi/hki/Heltu/en/Etusivu

Tel. +358 9 310 235 65