Like all Nordic countries, Finland wouldn't be considered as a cheap place for shopping, but for high quality goods it must rank as one of the best in the world. The country has garnered international acclaim in the field of design, and its glassware, homeware, ceramics and furniture are much sought after.
Finland is also famous for its traditional handicrafts, in particular Sámi jewelry, hunting and fishing knives, and handwoven ryijy rugs which are an art form unique to the country - the weaving of these rugs was developed as a folk are in the late 19th century. Visitors are also charmed by the traditional Lappish cups carved from birch wood, known as kuksa. Genuine handicrafts from Lapland can be identified by the Duodji label which shows that the item has been produced in a regional craft workshop. Finland is also known for its furs and animal skins, especially reindeer skins.
Visitors to Finland would be wise to check out the winter wear available, especially for children. The winters here can be severe, yet no matter how cold it is you'll see kids romping happily no matter where you go thanks to the excellent clothing available. The same applies to footwear, and indeed to adult clothing.
Currency Information: Finland is part of the EuroZone, which means that the currency here is the Euro, denoted by the € sign. Notes come in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5.
Currency Exchange: Foreign currency can be exchanged in banks, post offices and at bureaux de change (the most ubiquitous being the Forex chain) which usually have better rates than the banks, and are open longer.
Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs: Shops, restaurants, bars and cafés accept all major international credit and debit cards, and you'll find ATMs in every town and even in small villages, easily identified by their bright orange 'Otto' sign.
Duty-free: Anyone permanently resident outside the EU can claim a refund of 12-16% on goods that cost more than €40 at the time of departure from the EU. Retailers (look out for the 'Tax Free for Tourists' sign) will provide a cheque that can be redeemed at airports, ports or major land borders.
Finns have long had an inherent appreciation and understanding of the cultural importance of art and design. This appreciation is obvious to any visitor to almost any town in Finland, where numerous installations, statues, and monuments abound, and where galleries are almost as plentiful as the stores offering locally fashioned hand-crafted wares.
A country where the difference between the coldest and hottest day in a year can be as much as 70ºC is bound to offer the widest possible range of clothing you can imagine. Finns have to be sensible in how they dress, but nevertheless they display a keen sense of fashion and are often trend setters.
There are three main Department Stores in Finland that have a national presence: Anttila, Sokos, and Stockmann. Of these, Stockmann is probably the best known, in no small part thanks to its landmark store in central Helsinki which is the largest in all of the Nordic countries.
There are just under 30 shopping centres or malls in Finland, the majority of which are located in and around the Helsinki Metropolitan Region, which includes Espoo and Vantaa. Of these, Itäkeskus has the distinction of being the largest in all the Nordic countries.
Finland has long had a reputation for fine craftsmanship and its traditional handicrafts are known throughout the world, particularly that of the indigenous Sámi people whose jewelry is much coveted. The country produces excellent hunting and fishing knives, handwoven ryijy rugs, and some of the most delightful pieces of ceramics and glassware you'll ever see.
Almost every town in Finland features a market square or kauppatori in the town centre, which will usually have its own market hall, or kauppahalli. These markets are both busy shopping areas and centres for socialising, where locals buy the best local produce availble before sitting back and enjoying a coffee and pastry. Of course, the market squares are open only from late Spring to early Autumn, while the halls are open all year round.
Finnish towns often provide antique collectors with unique opportunities to browse and buy, especially those who are looking for rare glassware. Other items that can be easily found are antique dolls, doll houses and the furniture for them, as well as wooden toys. For collectors of military medals, the Order of the Cross of Liberty, the medal of the War of Liberation, and memorial medals of the wars of 1939-1940 and 1941-1944 are all highly sought after.
Finnish interior design, furniture and home furnishings have developed a reputation internationally for quality, simplicity and functionality, while still retaining their unique aesthetic appeal, and names like Iittala, Artek, Arabia and Marimekko are now global brands.
The literacy rate in Finland is one of the highest in the developed world, ranking just below South Korea according to the latest data from the OECD. Finns are avid readers, and as most Finns are least bi-lingual, they read in other languages as well as Finnish, which means Finnish bookstores have foreign language sections.
Buying toys and games for children in Finland can be expensive, international staples such as Lego and Mattel, or modern games for consoles like Play Station and Wii, generally cost more than in the rest of Europe. However, there are Finnish companies which produce toys of very high quality, especially in the field of educational play, that are well worth the money and may not be available elsewhere.