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In Finnish cuisine, it is of utmost importance to access the freshest ingredients by sourcing directly from local farmers and fishermen. From old fishermen’s markets and trading posts to meat abattoirs, many of Helsinki’s historic food markets are deeply rooted in tradition. These halls started as small outdoor neighbourhood markets for centuries, but they were moved indoors in the 19th and 20th centuries to improve food hygiene and organisation.
Despite the changes over time, Helsinki’s markets remain iconic institutions that maintain their commitments to high-quality seasonal foods and locally-produced artisan products. The emphasis on support local small sustainable businesses emanates the communal qualities of the markets of yore. Within comfortable walking distance from Hotel Indigo Helsinki – Boulevard are three iconic markets, and we’ve added two more for good measure.
Old Market Hall
Dating back to 1888, the church-like Old Market Hall is the oldest and most iconic market hall in Helsinki. It was designed by Finnish architect Gustaf Nyström, who had spent a considerable amount of time studying the market halls of other comparable European cities.
Old Market Hall still offers up a wide selection of fresh foods. Of note are the fish vendors, such as famed third-generation fishmonger Kalaliike Marja Nätti
The hall officially opened in 1889 with 120 merchant stalls selling meats, eggs, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. Today, though with only about 25 vendors and restaurants, Old Market Hall still offers up a wide selection of fresh foods. Of note are the fish vendors, such as famed third-generation fishmonger Kalaliike Marja Nätti, where you can find some of the freshest organic seafood in the city. From fresh and smoked salmon, fried herring, and shellfish to seafood casseroles, canned sardines, and Finland-cultivated caviar, you will be spoilt for choice.
Hietalahti Market Hall
Opened in 1903, Hietalahti Market Hall is housed in an impressive Art Nouveau-style warehouse building in the heart of Helsinki. The market’s 110 wooden shops were designed by architect Selim A. Lindqvist. The market was integral to the city’s economy as a trading outpost until the 1970s, when sales started to decline. In the 1980s, the introduction of a fleamarket at Hietalahti Market Square rejuvenated the market’s economy.
Today, during the summer, the square hosts the Hietsu Flea Market, flooded with outdoor vendors selling clothes, vinyl records, and other knickknacks. Meanwhile, Hietalahti Market Hall has become one of the city’s most popular halls with restaurants and vendors that have withstood the test of time. Fourth-generation local butchers Lihakauppa Roslund have been selling prime cuts of locally-sourced beef and meat products for more than 70 years.
Helsinki Market Square (Kauppatori)
With a prime view of Helsinki’s South Harbour, this famous outdoor market hosts a mix of local and international vendors at the food, flea, flower, and handmade artisan crafts markets. Be sure to try local food specialties such as lihapiirakka, Finnish meat pies.
From its annual Herring fish market, held every October, to the monthly parade of classic American cars, this market is always bustling.
Hakaniemi Market Hall
Another product of the early 20th century, Hakaniemi Market Hall was designed by Finnish architect Karl Hård af Segerstad as a massive brick house. Its food vendors occupy the ground floor with artisans and craft markers on the second floor.
Here you’ll find top-notch fishmongers including Kalaliike Marja Nätti, once again, Ekströmin kalapuoti, Kala Patagónico, Kalakauppa Rosendahl, and Reitin Kala, all selling a variety of fresh locally sourced seafood, smoked fish products, roe, and shellfish. In the square outside, pick up fresh produce from the traditional Sunday farmers’ market.
Rounding out some of Helsinki’s most notable food markets is The Abattoir (Teurastamo). Constructed in 1933 and serving as the city’s abattoir for decades as well for wholesale food trading, the area has been revitalised into a fresh urban food scene amidst the wholesale merchants.