Nestled in the heart of the city, and steps away from iconic spots like Helsinki Cathedral and Senate Square, the fashion-forward Kluuvi shopping center showcases trendy items that aren't available anywhere else in the country. During summer months, the open-air flea market at Hietalahti offers a more bohemian feel and a glimpse of the everyday objects that are desired by many Finns.
But if there's only time for a single excursion, the place to go is the century-old Hakaniemi Market Hall, where 70 shops offer an endless array of knickknacks, such as local delicacies (reindeer meat and blinis), alpaca jackets and other regional specialties from the northern Lapland to the north, and toys and other crafts that have been handmade from local fir.
And finally, no visit to the country is complete without basking in a sauna, where an extra burst of heat is felt every time a shot of water is ladled onto piping hot stones. Saunas are source of national pride and most private homes have them. Many hotels and hostels have them too, so in all likelihood, you'll have access to one as part of your overnight lodging. There's also a new public facility called Kulttuurisauna that was built as a result of Helsinki hosting the 2012 World Design Festival, but admission is 15 euros or about $20.