Airports can often feel like places without a real sense of identity. Resembling a giant global chain of generic shopping malls, you often find the same luxury brands dominating the aisles in every city.
To balance this feeling of displacement, there are, of course, the shops catering to tourists looking for regional flavor, selling anything from national stereotypes and funny knick-knacks to fancy local designer goods.
We went on a tour of the airport shops in Helsinki trying to find the finest fruits of Finnish exoticism.
So if you want to take a piece of Finland with you, here are the best and oddest Finnish souvenirs from the Helsinki Airport:
Big game in a small tin
A busy cosmopolitan traveler might not have the time to go trekking around the bountiful Finnish wilderness, but thankfully the great animal kingdom of our northern forests is also available in practical tins.
For a taste of Finnish gourmet game, grab a can of elk stew, reindeer meat, or bear paté. Bon appétit!
Bear paté, elk stew, reindeer meat, and sautéed reindeer available at most Helsinki Duty Free shops (Gates 13–14, 22 and 30) and Finefood shops (Gates 20, 30 and 32).
An adventure gadget for tech heads
This piece of Finnish engineering and design expertise is bound to please every adventurous tech head and wannabe secret agent.
Named after a revered Tibetan holy mountain, the Suunto Kailash wrist computer is made by hand in Finland out of some of the toughest materials on earth like titanium and sapphire glass. The watch includes GPS location and tracks your travel route through different sites and zones on an Adventure Timeline, which you can also visualize on your smart phone with an app.
Suunto Kailash wrist computers from Lindroos (Gates 27 and 33).
Moomin-mania for every situation
The white, potbellied Moomin characters created by illustrator and writer Tove Jansson are one of the most successful cultural exports ever to hail from Finland. The Moomins and their wondrous and wistful world have garnered fans across the globe for over seven decades – and lent their brand for all sorts of products.
In fact, there seems to be a Moomin knick-knack for any situation you might encounter: from nail files and lip gloss to dish rags and sauna seat covers – you can even put out a small fire with a Moomin themed fire blanket!
Pictured Moomin products available at the Moomin Shop at Gate 26/27.
Lapland leisure for the plane ride
Though the Helsinki Airport is a far cry from the rolling hills and roaming reindeer packs of Lapland, travelers looking for a bit of arctic exoticism can find commercial relief within the airport’s shopping aisles.
Release your inner arctic shaman on the next flight by lining your seat with a real reindeer hide and sipping your sparkling from a traditional wooden kuksa cup.
Reindeer hides and kuksa cups available at most Finefood shops (Gates 20, 30 and 32), Helsinki Duty Free shops (Gates 13–14, 22 and 30) and Kankurin tupa (Gates 26 and 35).
…and then there’s this weird gnome
If your loved one appreciates hand-made gifts but you don’t have the time for arts and crafts, we recommend you surprise them with this slightly offbeat wooden gnome figure.
Hand-painted on a piece of sawed off pine branch, it looks endearingly like something out of a children’s woodshop class, not a product of mass consumerism.
For a touch of DIY feel, grab this wooden elf from Helsinki Duty Free shops (Gates 22 and 30).