You made it all the way to Finland? Respect, just for that. I’m sure you will want to bring back a great souvenir for your friends, your family or just yourself to remember this trip by. Finnish design may not be as well known as Swedish or Danish design – what we generally consider to be Scandinavian design – but it is still worth checking out. On top of that there are a few known brands which originate here. And of course there are always items of historical, cultural or culinary interest.
A kuksa is a traditional Sami drinking cup made from a birch burl. The semi-nomadic Sami people of northern Fenno-Scandia and Russia have been crafting these cups for over a thousand years and when preserved well make an excellent hiking companion. You will find these especially in Lapland, e.g. in Rovaniemi, but be aware that many are made very cheaply. Be prepared to spend a few more euros on a handcrafted Kuksa (if you wish to purchase one), but also know that you support the livelihood of the Sami people through the purchase.
A puukko is a traditional Finnish belt knife used for various purposes such as carving, cutting meats, etc. The handle is often made from birch, but other possible materials include oak, ash, horn (e.g. moose or reindeer) or bone. It is considered an every-day tool with a short blade and not a weapon, but in any case consult the import regulations before bringing them on a plane.
3. Sauna supplies
The land of a thousand lakes should rather be called the land of an inappropriately huge amount of saunas. And because Finns love their sauna so much, you can get sauna supplies (towels, oils, ..) just about anywhere. You don’t need to shell out a lot of money in a souvenir shop – Just check out the next home supply store.
4. Berry Galore
My favourite souvenir to bring back for my mother is cloudberry jam. Cloudberries, along with other berries such as buckthorn, grow best in arctic climates and are harvested here in Finland during the summer. But because they are so rare, the prices can be somewhat outrageous – be prepared to spend about 7€ on a small jar of cloudberry jam. Alternatively you could also go for fruit syrups, shower gels, body scrubs, moisture lotions or other skin care products (e.g. by Lumene).
5. Finnish Liqueur
Finns like to drink – a stereotype that mostly holds true. Also, Finns have weird tastes. So bring back a liquorice vodka. Or mint vodka. Or just a normal bottle of plain Finlandia vodka. If vodka is not your thing, try some Finnish beer – only not Lapin Kulta. Please, for the love of God, no Lapin Kulta. And if that still doesn’t tickle your fancy, try a locally distilled bottle of Teerenpeli whisky – totally recommended.
6. Moomin dishes
Tove Jansson’s Moomin characters are a favourite of all Finnish children and of mine. Yes, I have a somewhat ridiculously extensive collection of Moomin mugs. They are easy to find and very sturdy so you don’t have to worry too much about transporting them in a suitcase. And of course they are really, really cute.
7. Marimekko prints
Marimekko debuted in 1951 and has been a Finnish favourite ever since. From dishtowels, to bags, to dresses, to wallets, to plates and bowls – Marimekko prints can be found almost anywhere. If you don’t want to go all out, a small tote bag makes a lovely little gift for a friend.
8. The Aalto Vase
The first time Mihir met my family, he proudly handed my mother a beautiful Aalto Vase, also known as a Savoy Vase. Perhaps she could not appreciate the full extent of the gesture at first, but was happy to learn how it really was an iconic piece of Finnish design. It has recently inspired adaptations by several contemporary designers and continues to shine a bright light on Finland and Finnish design.
9. Fiskars scissors
Oh you brought me a souvenir from Finland? Really, you shouldn’t have. What is it? Scissors? Really, you shouldn’t have..
Oh well. This may seem like a somewhat odd recommendation for a souvenir, but Fiskars scissors are so essential to Finnish households, Finns cannot imagine scissors without orange handles (never mind the fact that our personal Fiskars scissors have pink handles…). They are very sturdy and will serve you well for several decades – a really considerate gift, actually.
Speaking of being considerate, in Finland you will see many people running about with dangly things on their coats. They are not price tags the people have forgotten to take off, but reflectors which will keep them safe from oncoming traffic during dark winter nights. Keep your friends safe too!
Now, what do you think? What have you brought back from your travels to Finland? Is there anything we have missed? Share your thoughts and pictures with us. Let’s stay in touch!