The originally rural Kaarina now has 32,000 inhabitants and regards itself a town since 1993. Many of the inhabitants work in Turku. Though officially monolingual, Kaarina has a growing Swedish minority of about 5 %, with its own comprehensive school.
The former main village of Kaarina is part of Turku. The present Kaarina has a few distinct centres.
The municipality is named after the Katariina church, named after Catherine of Alexandria (Saint Catherine of the Wheel). The former main village, by the church, is Nummi. These are since 1939 part of Turku, like some other former parts of Kaarina. On the other hand Kuusisto was annexed to Kaarina 1946, Piikkiö 2009. Littoinen was the biggest settlement in the 1960s, with some industry and a train station (on the Turku–Helsinki railway, now out of use). The modern centre is where the road to the archipelago (Saaristotie, Skärgårdsvägen) used to start, by the then main road to Helsinki.
The remains of a 12th century church were found in Ravattula in 2013. This is the oldest known church in Finland. There is an exhibition about the findings in Luostarinvälikatu near Turku Old Great Square (2015). The Kaarina parish is mentioned 1309 and the wooden predecessor of the Katariina church was taken into use in 1351.
Get in and around
Kaarina is well connected to Turku. The former main road from Helsinki (now regional road 110) passes by the Kaarina and Piikkiö centres. The motorway from Helsinki also goes through Kaarina, but at a distance from the centre. Road 10 (from Hämeenlinna) passes through the northern parts of the municipality (by Auranlaakso and Ravattula).
Most coaches from Helsinki to Turku (even most express buses) leave the motorway in Kaarina and use the former main road to drive by the Kaarina centre. The nearest stop is "Paraisten tienhaara". To transfer towards Pargas (e.g. going to Kuusisto), either this stop or "Piispanristi" at the Turku border is used (depending on service, mostly the latter).
Kaarina takes part in the Turku region "Föli" bus cooperation, which means bus tickets are treated as if Kaarina was part of the same municipality as Turku, Raisio, Naantali, Rusko and Lieto. Most regional buses (such as to Pargas, Kimito and Salo – look for line numbers or a "Föli" sign) can be used with the same tickets as long as you stay in the Föli area. A single ticket with two hours unlimited transfer costs €3 (children 7–14 €1.50). For other ticket options, see the bus section in Turku#Get around.
The main bus lines from Turku to Kaarina centre are number 7 (from Naantali via Turku) and 801 (Turku to Pargas). Also e.g. 701 and 702 (Piikkiö, Kimito, Salo) pass by Kaarina centre and can be used in the same manner. Internal buses (often minibuses) have a number prefixed by "K". These latter zigzag by any residential areas on their way, so are good for a kind of sightseeing, but not very fast, and have limited schedules.
The Turku route planner is equally useful for getting around by bus in Kaarina.
Kaarina has good bike routes by the main roads. Distances are suitable for bike trips, but for getting around you have to budget quite some time, as the points of interest are spread around.
- Kuusisto Castle (Kuusiston linna). Ruins of a castle from 14th century. Located nearby is Kuusisto manor from 1738.
- Birdwatching in Kuusisto Bay (Kuusistonlahti) (Eastern part of Kuusisto island south of Kaarina). Kuusistonlahti is a Natura 2000 special protection area and a great place to observe nesting and resting birds. There is also a birdwatching tower.
- Hotel Kivitasku, Aittakatu 1, ☎ +358 2 242 4920, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located in the town centre, Hotel Kivitasku offers also single and triple rooms. 88 €.
- Hostel Tuorla (Tuorlan majatalo), Tuorlantie 1, ☎ +358 2 472 6625, e-mail: email@example.com. 62 €.
- Kavalto Farm (Kavaltontila), Kavaltontie 11, 21500 Piikkiö, ☎ +358 2 4750000, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. An alternative to the city hotels, Kavalto Farm offers bed and breakfast in Finnish countryside
Kaarina a good starting point for the Archipelago Ring Route.