Turku

Turku (Swedish: Åbo) is the oldest city and former capital of Finland. It was settled during the 13th century, making it one of the only few – and by far the largest – medieval cities in Finland. Turku is the cradle of Finnish culture, since over the years it has played an important role as the gateway to Finland for international influence.

Bisecting Turku city centre, the river Aura is the heart and soul of the city: this is where Turku was born and a large part of city life – museums, sights, restaurants and cafés – still concentrates around the banks of the river. The river banks, together with the island of Ruissalo with its oak forests and 19th century villas, form a national urban park allowing for a pleasant stroll from, say, the national shrine of Finland, the Turku Cathedral, to the Turku Castle, which used to house Swedish Kings. Turku is at its best in summertime, when it hosts a great number of festivals, including rock festivals, chamber music festivals and a medieval fair.

In addition to the cultural sights and museums, Turku attracts visitors due to the Archipelago Sea, which stretches all the way from Turku to Åland and on to Stockholm, forming the largest archipelago in the world by the number of islands and islets.

Understand

Turku Cathedral.

History

See also: Nordic history

Turku is Finland’s oldest city and one of the oldest in the entire Nordic region. The city came into existence at Koroinen on the banks of river Aura, a few kilometres north from the Turku market square. Trading took place on this historic site as early as in the 1150s, and in 1229, the bishopric was transferred there as well. Aura river valley had already been a prosperous and relatively densely populated area since the Iron Age. The Finnish name, Turku, is an archaic Russian word for 'marketplace' – the city's market has long been one of the largest and finest on the south coast. The etymology of the Swedish name Åbo is unclear.

The year 1229 is regarded as the year in which the City of Turku was founded. In recent years, excavations in different parts of the city centre have provided more light on the city's history. The construction of Turku Castle began in the 1280s, the Dominican monastery of St. Olof was being built on Samppalinna Hill and Turku Cathedral was consecrated in the year 1300. From this point on, the city held an important position in the Swedish state and it had staple town charter (the right to conduct foreign trade), assuring that trading was brisk. The German bourgeoisie of Turku held a major role in the early development of the city, and Turku had a community that was part of the Hanseatic League, which dominated trade along the coasts of Northern Europe.

During Swedish rule, Turku was the largest and most important city of its region, as well as being a major city of the Swedish Kingdom. Queen Christina of Sweden founded the first university of Finland in Turku in 1640. At that point it was only Sweden's third university following Uppsala University and the Academia Gustaviana in Tartu. Turku remained the Finnish capital until the year 1812. Russia, after overtaking Finland from Sweden 1809, moved the capital to Helsinki, which was closer to Russia and farther from Sweden. Turku still remained Finland's largest city until the end of the 1840s, but its ambitions were dealt a death blow in 1827, when a raging fire destroyed most of the city. "Turun palo" is still the largest urban fire in the history of the Nordic countries. The city was almost completely destroyed, and the rest of the major institutions with the exception of the archbishop's seat were moved to Helsinki. The burnt city needed an altogether new town plan, which was drawn up by German architect Carl Ludvig Engel the following year.

In 2011 Turku was the European Capital of Culture along with Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Afterwards Turku has seen a huge boost in both domestic and foreign visitors

People

Turku remains a regional capital of Finland Proper and is the third most populous city-region in Finland and the eighth largest urban area in the Nordic countries, with around 330 000 inhabitants living in the Turku sub-region. Nowadays Turku is a major academic town for Finland: there are two universities (one with Finnish, one with Swedish as its language), a technical college, two business schools (part of the Finnish and the Swedish university, respectively), a law school, and a medical school. Consequently, you will find that the city is bustling with young adults. The great number of students means that restaurants, live music clubs and nightlife are ample. A true local speciality you will find in no other Finnish city are the floating bars in the river Aura. There is a cultural spirit in the city, and some of the proud residents are still irked that Helsinki took over as Finland's capital back in 1812. In other parts of Finland people from Turku are stereotypically thought of as being bit reserved and uppish in their views of their hometown. However, if you have a coffee at the Market Square and chat with the locals, you will soon find out that this is not the case. The Turku dialect has many influences from Swedish, and it can from time to time sound even a bit like Estonian. The city is also famous throughout Finland for its processed mustard called Turun Sinappi, though ownership and production was controversially moved abroad.

Read

Turku Castle.

Watch

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) -2 -2 2 9 16 20 22 21 15 9 3 0
Nightly lows (°C) -7 -8 -5 0 5 9 13 12 7 3 -2 -5
Precipitation (mm) 61 42 43 32 39 59 79 80 64 78 76 70

Averages of Turku (1981–2010)

Turku, as the rest of Finland, has four distinct seasons. Situated by the Baltic Sea and sheltered by the islands of the Archipelago Sea, Turku has a humid continental climate. Like much of southern Finland, the city experiences warm summers, with temperatures ranging up to 30°C (85 °F), and winters with frequent snowfall and temperatures down to about -25°C (-15 °F). The best time to visit is definitely the warm period from late May to early September. If visiting in wintertime and meeting slush, ride somewhat more inland (a local bus can get you far enough) and you will probably find the snow.

Current weather forecasts can be checked at the Finnish Meteorological Institute website.

Visitor information

Turku's official tourist agency is Turku Touring

Get in

By plane

Turku Airport (TKU)

Passengers boarding Finnair flight to Helsinki at Turku airport.

  Turku Airport (IATA: TKU) is a compact airport with 2 terminals for check-in located 8 km north of the city centre.

The national carrier of Finland, Finnair has a connection between Turku and Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport every few hours. Scandinavian Airlines services Turku from Stockholm and Kittilä. AirBaltic has a connection between Turku and Riga. All these carriers use Turku Airport's terminal number 1.

Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air serves Turku from Gdańsk and uses terminal 2 at the airport.

In addition there are two carriers, Turku Air and Nextjet, that operate a route between Turku and Mariehamn.

Transport to/from Turku Airport

Bus line 1 departs from the airport every 20 minutes and goes via the market square in the heart of the city to the Port of Turku. Several hotels happen to be along the route. Tickets are available on board for €3/1.50 (free transfers for two hours). The line operates from 05:20 AM to 00:50 AM. Days' last bus has flexible time schedule for passengers' convenience.

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL)

Turku is well connected domestically, but sparsely connected internationally. That's why one of your options is to fly to the internationally well connected Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport (IATA: HEL). Turku is 166 km away from Helsinki and it takes around 1 hour and 40 minutes to get from Helsinki to Turku by the Finnish national road 1 (E18).

There is an almost hourly ExpressBus coach connection from Helsinki-Vantaa to Turku bus station operated by Pohjolan Liikenne and Vainio, departing from platform 13 in front of the international flights terminal.

The service operates round the clock, although there may be a gap of two hours between services in the small hours of the night. The trip takes between 2 h 15 min and 2 h 55 min, depending on whether the service calls in towns on the way. In some cases, there is a change of coach at Lommila, but it is well co-ordinated and easy.

By train

Turku Central Railway Station.

VR, the state-owned railway company, operates all the domestic routes as well as the connections to Viborg, Saint Petersburg and Moscow in Russia. Turku has three VR operated Railway stations: the  Central railway station ("Turku", service M-F 08:30–17:00, Sa 8:30–15:30) on the northern edge of Turku's central business district,   Kupittaa railway station ("Kupittaa") in the eastern part of the city and   Turku harbour railway stop ("Turku satama") in Turku harbour on the western edge of Turku centre. Trains arriving from the direction of Helsinki first stop at Kupittaa and then arrive at the central station, while trains from Tampere only stop at the central station. Some of the trains continue onward to the harbour, which is handy if you are connecting to a passenger ferry towards Stockholm or Mariehamn. Kupittaa has limited service (tickets bough in advance, from a machine or on board), the harbour none. From the central station you can purchase all domestic train tickets and train tickets from Finland to Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Viborg and InterRail cards to Europe.

Links between Turku and the rest of the country are frequent and excellent, although not hourly anymore. There are connections to Helsinki (travel time 1:58) and Tampere (1:45), onward to such domestic cities as Jyväskylä (3:36), Kuopio (05:32) and Oulu (7:04). Onward from Helsinki you can also reach Saint Petersburg (5:36) and Moscow (15:19). There is also an overnight car and sleeper train connection to Rovaniemi in Lapland (9:51–14:40).

Finland is not easy to get to by train from most of Europe, since the Baltic Sea is between Finland and the south-western part of the continent. If you want to travel by train to Turku from abroad, except Russia, you have to first travel to Stockholm, and take a ferry cruise from there. This can be a scenic and environmental friendly option, and if you travel by rail otherwise, most of the European railway companies offer discounts for the ferry connection.

By ferry or yacht

Viking Grace passing Ruissalo island on its way to Stockholm.

Perhaps the most scenic way to get to Turku is by taking a passenger ferry across the Baltic Sea, from Stockholm or from Kapellskär, Norrtälje, in Sweden. The   Port of Turku is situated next to Turku Castle and is easily accessible on bus line 1, which travels between the port the the airport via the centre. The port also has its own railway and bus station, and some trains and buses depart at the port. With light luggage, strolling along the river to the centre (3 km to Kauppatori, buses within reach all the time) can be a nice option.

The two biggest ferry lines are the Finnish Viking Line and the now Estonian TallinkSilja. Both operate two departures each day from Stockholm via Åland: one in the morning, arriving in the evening, and one in the evening, arriving in the morning. For a scenic view, and less expensive prices, a morning departure is advisable. Going in the night, you avoid one night at a hotel, but the effective sleeping time is quite short, as you are probably waked up for cleaning of the cabin well before arrival. Evening departures provide adequate night club activities on board if you want to cut loose before arriving. All ferries between Turku and Stockholm make a brief stop in Åland, in either Mariehamn or Långnäs. Due to this stop, plus a Finnish-demanded exception to European Union rules, passengers can make purchases on the ferries tax-freely.

For those with vehicles (e.g. a car or bikes) there are also more quiet ropax ferries from Kapellskär (either directly or via Långnäs) to Naantali outside Turku, by Finnlines. As for Viking and Silja, looking for special offers may save a lot of money.

The pass over the Sea of Åland from the Stockholm region is quite short also for small craft. Arriving by an own or rented yacht is quite possible also from Gotland or Estonia. Many people also from other regions spend their summer vacation yachting (to and) in the Archipelago Sea surrounding Turku. There are a couple of guest harbours in Turku.   Turku Guest Harbour is in the Aura river halfway between the port and Kauppatori.   Turku Yacht Club's Guest Harbour and   Ruissalo Marina are both situated on the scenic island of Ruissalo, outside the city centre.

By bus

Turku central bus station seen over Aninkaistenkatu, where local buses pass. The platforms are behind the building.

Matkahuolto operates the   Turku bus station, where long-distance national and international buses usually terminate. The station is located at the northern edge of the city centre within walking distance from the central railway station (1km) and Kauppatori (800m). The bus station also has good local and regional bus connections, whereas Kauppatori is the hub for local buses. Some bus lines arriving at the station continue to the Port of Turku, if needed. If going there, tell that when buying your ticket and when boarding.

Normal bus connections from Kamppi in Helsinki leave for Turku more or less every half an hour during the day and every hour or two during the night. All these connections are either express or special express (there are also a few "regular" connections, if you search for them). Tickets cost around €30 (round trip around €55) for adults, around €20 for children aged 12–16, €15 for children aged 4–11 and Finnish students (ISIC not accepted). Children under the age of four travel for free.

Also Onnibus and Åbus (now owned by Onnibus) have connections between Helsinki and Turku. Onnibus proper stops at Posankka/Caribia by the student village, just north of the centre (good local bus connections to Kauppatori), Åbus stops by the city hall by the Aura bridge near Kauppatori and at Kupittaa. Neither stops at the bus station. Tickets to these buses vary in price, cheapest well in advance on the Internet, €15–20 if bought when boarding (with busy services often sold out).

There is a line from Tampere hourly in daytime, the last arriving 21:30, from Pori about hourly and from Vaasa about every two hours, the last arriving 22:15.

For timetables, for the above mentioned or other connections, see the Finnish Transport Agency service or Matkahuolto. See timetables for Onnibus and Åbus at their own web sites.

By car

Sign at the Turku Archipelago Trail.

Turku is well connected by roads to other parts of Finland. Main routes are highways 1 (E18) from Helsinki, 8 (E8) from Pori, 9 (E63) from Tampere, Jyväkylä and Kuopio, and 10 from Hämeenlinna. Highway 40 is also very important, as it circulates Turku. Highway 1 is a high-speed controlled-access highway all the way to Helsinki. Beginning of highway 8 as well as highway 9 are also high-speed highways. Helsinki can be reached by the highway in around 1 hour and 20 minutes during the summer and 1 hour 40 minutes in winter. The old road from Helsinki, regional road 110, is somewhat slower but allows your seeing more of the landscape.

From Sweden, use the above mentioned ferries, which all take cars. From Åland, you can either take one of those, or use the ferries connecting islands of Åland and the Archipelago Sea with each other and with the mainland. Using the small ferries is more complicated and possibly more expensive, but can be rewarding.

There are a few scenic roads around Turku as well:

Get around

Turku has an excellent public transportation system, and its buses reach every corner of the city. The hub for the local bus traffic is the market square, Kauppatori (Swedish: Salutorget), which is at the heart of the city's central business district. Most main sights are situated within walking distance from there. A bike is the quickest way to get around and bikeways are generally good except in the absolute centre (try a nice trip along the river).

On foot

The vast majority of the city's sights are within a kilometre or two from Kauppatori. The river Aura passes through the centre, and its banks are very popular, allowing for a pleasant stroll from, say, the national shrine of Finland, the Turku Cathedral, to the Turku Castle, which used to house Swedish Kings – or upstream to experience some countryside.

Turku Touring, the official tourist agency of the city, offers different walking tours for visitors. Among them are the following:

By bicycle

The Aura River's banks are very popular among Turku residents, for walking, biking or enjoying nice weather.

The fastest and most flexible way of seeing Turku is on a bike. There are good bike paths mostly as needed, although at the very heart of the city you might have to avoid the busiest streets or get off the bike, unless sufficiently experienced (the best routes may not be obvious). In the winter bikeways and roads are not always maintained sufficiently for easy (in the centre: safe) biking, but local hardcore cyclists are biking throughout the year.

For getting out of the city, bikes can be loaded on the local buses (including those in the Föli regional cooperation) for €6 at the driver's discretion, i.e. probably when there are few passengers. Cost on coaches varies by company, probably about the price of a children's ticket for longer voyages.

Bike rental

The city tourist office can suggest cycling routes and publishes an excellent free bike route map of the city and surrounding towns. They also rent bikes (20 €/day) as do e.g. Polkupyörävuokraamo in the harbour (phone +358 40-372-5310, €12/day, €59/week) or the Tammenterho visitor centre in Ruissalo (€5/4 h or €7/day).

Archipelago trail

One way to experience the Archipelago Sea outside Turku is from the saddle of a bike. The popular Archipelago Trail is approximately 250 km in length, linking most of the main islands of the archipelago via bridges and inter-island ferries. It allows access to the archipelago without a boat of your own – and without backtracking. Along the way you will find local food, local history museums and village churches from the Middle Ages as well as comfortable accommodation. You might want to stay a day somewhere by the sea, with a beach and a boat in reach, as otherwise you will mostly see it only from the ferries and bridges. The circular route can be taken clockwise or counter clockwise, starting from Turku, and continuing through rural archipelago villages and astonishing Baltic Sea sceneries. There are also shorter biking routes which you can choose if you have less time.

By ferry

Föri crossing Aura river in front of the guest harbour.

  Föri city ferry shuttles people and their bikes (no cars allowed) across the Aura River every day from 6:15AM to 9PM, or until 11PM in summer. Föri has served the Aura River for over a hundred years, first taking passengers in 1904. Beloved by Turku citizens, the little orange ferry covers a grand distance of 78 meters and takes about a minute and a half. A running local gag is to ask visitors if they have taken the trip from Turku across to Åbo on the Föri yet; actually, both sides of the river are called the same, Åbo is just the Swedish name. Incidentally, the name comes from the Swedish färja and is related to the English word "ferry".

  Jakke Jokilautta (River ferry Jakke) is a café ferry going up and down the river all the way from the castle to the cathedral. Along the way you can enjoy refreshments and the wonderful views of the city. Some of the cruises are also guided. There are five stops along the river for the ferry: Tintå restaurant, Pharmacy museum, Esposito, Turku guest harbour and Crichton street. The ferry always stops at the Pharmacy museum and Crichton street, and if there are people waiting for the ferry, also on the other stops. Entering the ferry costs €5 for adults and €2 for children (aged 3 to 14). Children under 3 year old can enter for free, and there's also an option to buy a 2 parent plus 2 children family ticket for €12.

Archipelago cruises

Ukkopekka on its way from Naantali to Turku.

There are a number of cruises in and tour boat connections to the archipelago, e.g. to the island Vepsä, a recreational area of the city (1–2 hours), to Utö in the very outskirts of the Archipelago Sea (5 hours; twice a week, overnight stay at the island necessary due to the distance) or to nearby Naantali with the Moomin world, Kultaranta (the summer residence of the President of Finland) and a nice wooden old town. Most ferries taking passengers to the archipelago can be found between Martinsilta bridge and Föri. Some of the tours are available only in summertime, others continue as long as ice conditions permit.

On your way out from the city you can see the old ships by Forum Marinum, Turku castle, the harbour and Pikisaari and Ruissalo with their old charming villas, before you reach the open Airisto.

  s/s Ukkopekka is a family-owned steamship, which takes passengers through the archipelago from Turku to Naantali (day cruises) and to the island of Loistokari (evening cruises) in the summer season. The pier is just downstream of the Martinsilta bridge.

  m/s Rudolfina takes you on a relaxing cruise. On evening cruises, to crown it all, you can see Naantali with it´s charming boulevard by the sea and Kultaranta. Eat, drink, meet friends and let your mind wonder off in the beautiful scenery.

  m/s Lily. With Lily you can depart for a two-hour cruise in the Airisto or spend the entire summer's day on the Vepsä island. The voyage is an hour each way. There is a café on board. The main deck consist of a bright 100-person lounge, with a 40-seater cabinet downstairs and a large deck and sun terrace upstairs.

Jale Line offers several scheduled routes and charter cruises in the archipelago of Turku. m/s Ruissalo operates from River Aura to Ruissalo right next to Turku. m/s Autere makes daily cruises between 1st of July and 11th of August from Kaarina (from 1st to 14th of July) and from Turku (between 15th of July and 11th of August) to the islands of Själö (Seili) and Nagu Storlandet (Nauvo) at the heart of the Archipelago Sea.

By bus

Streets around Kauppatori form the hub for the local and some regional bus lines.

Almost every bus stops at Kauppatori, and bus lines radiate outwards from it. There are no significant 'circle lines', so usually if you need to transfer, you will need to take one bus to the Kauppatori, then transfer there to the bus taking you to your final destination. Buses generally go in two directions from Kauppatori, so make sure that you are taking the correct numbered bus in the correct direction as well. A route planner is available, together with several map views (e.g. one showing the current locations of buses) and tailored timetable views (such as for a specific stop).

Destinations are mentioned in Finnish on some stops (such as at the market square) and on most buses, but you should note the numbers of the lines you intend to use. If going towards Kauppatori it is mostly enough to know on what side of the street to stand.

From July 2014 tickets are harmonized with some of the surrounding municipalities: Raisio, Naantali, Kaarina, Rusko and Lieto ("Föli", a route planner is available, but the one for Turku seems to work better). Tickets are handled as if these were part of Turku. Some routes and bus numbers changed at the same time (if your map may be old, look for lines 7 and 11: if you find the former, the map is new, if the latter, it is too old).

Buses passing the municipality border mostly have 3-digit numbers (notable exceptions lines 6 and 7). Buses not reaching Turku have their number prefixed with a letter (such as L for Lieto; but "P" means Turku lines meant primary for seniors). There are some quirks, e.g. regional buses not primarily coordinated through Föli use stops for coaches. Buses with destinations outside the Föli area may be part of the cooperation inside it, but not otherwise (notably 7xx and 8xx via Kaarina).

A single ticket is €3 (children 7–14: 1.50), and is valid for unlimited transfers within two hours of the ticket's purchase. In the night (23:00–04:00) tickets cost €1 more. Notes of more than €20 are not always accepted. Persons in wheelchair and the person assisting travel for free, as does a person with an infant or toddler in a baby carriage (use the middle door; there is usually sufficient space).

If you intend to take the bus more than twice a day (read: in more than two two-hours periods), it becomes economical to ask the bus driver for a 24 hour ticket, priced €7.50. The equivalent, for the same price, can be bought by sending an SMS of "LIPPU24" to 169003 (not by prepaid SIM:s, as it is invoiced later). The bus office at Kauppatori and the tourist office sell cards for one day and more, costing €7 for the first day, €3 for each additional day up to a week, €30 for two weeks and €5 + €52 per thirty days (€20 for ten additional days). Those staying longer or travelling as a group may want to check other options also, e.g. "value cards", with which trips cost €2.20/1.20, plus €1 in the night; a value card is economical for 3 adults doing 3 trips or 3 minors doing 6 trips (both €5+20; children using a card for adults pay full price). For groups of more than three, ask for a group card. Show the card once for each person the first time, once for all the group at transfers. The tourist office sells Turku Cards (of 24h and 48h varieties) which, as well as providing free admission to most sights, also provides you free bus rides for the validity period.

Once upon the time modifier letters (as in 12A and 12B) got removed and numbers changed (in this case to 32 and 42). The lines are ordered according to these associations: 1, 2, 2A, 3, 30, 4, ... Often the associated lines behave the same most of the route, but have different destinations in one end. In a few cases the destination varies without any change in line number (e.g. 13 going to Impivaara, "uimahalli", half of the time), usually with a sign in the front window of the bus. The corresponding notes in the timetable are often incomprehensible without some understanding of the individual lines, but usually you know when you need to understand them and can ignore them otherwise. The worst trap is some extra rush hour buses on long lines stopping prematurely: check that you get the one going all the way to your stop.

Timetable booklets give starting times at the ends of the route and at Kauppatori, and an estimated duration of the trip to or from Kauppatori. Some lines are (only or additionally) listed in groups, with information for common (possibly intermediate) destinations. The timetables at major stops instead give the estimated passing time of the bus (and line number, as lines are grouped together). A timetable booklet can be bought from the bus office at Kauppatori (€1). It includes a miniature route map. A decent map is for sale separately (€2; not including the neighbouring towns, nor the extreme points of Turku). School buses, night lines, rush hour lines and lines serving the elderly, and the quirks of these, are partly handled in their own maps, chapters and booklets, although tickets are valid as usual.

By taxi

Aura street in central Turku.

Taxis are abundant and easily available throughout the city and they are of high standard. They are pricey though, and there are three crunch times when they might be problematic: the morning and evening ferry departure times (particularly in summer), around 8AM and 9PM, and the bar closing times (particularly on weekends) around 4AM.

You can recognize a free taxi in dark, since the taxi sign on the top will have its light on. Hailing taxis on the street is rare, however, and may not even work; calling the central dispatch is the common method. There is a central dispatch for all Turku taxis at phone number +358 2 10041, and bookings can be made in advance for an extra charge (€7), though more than one day in advance is unnecessary. Advance bookings less than 30 min before desired departure time are not accepted — in that case, just phone the dispatch when you are ready to go. Outside the worst rush hours, a taxi usually takes no more than 5 minutes to arrive. If you are out late at night, plan ahead. During weekend bar closing hours, wait times in excess of an hour are not unheard of.

A normal taxi will carry 4 people and a moderate amount of luggage. For significant amounts of luggage, you may want to order a "farmari" taxi, an estate/wagon car with a roomier luggage compartment. There is also a third common type of taxi available, the tilataksi, a van which will comfortably carry about 8 people (many also equipped for wheelchairs). The fares are the same, but you might have to wait longer.

Taxis charge a base fare of €5.90 or 9.00 (daytime in the week respectively nights, Sundays and holidays), about €1.50–2.15 per kilometre, depending on amount of passengers (more passengers, higher mileage charge) and about €0.72 per minute waiting time. Quick 1–3 km trips will cost in the €8–15 vicinity. All taxis accept major international credit cards. Generally you can trust taxis with both prices and the route taken. Because of the high flag-fall charge, they are better off having many trips and will prefer the quickest route. At the railway station and similar places there may also be a "Kimppataxi" offering rides together with strangers (cf minivans in some countries), which in some cases is considerably cheaper.

By car

Parking lots by the street are sparse at rush hours, but otherwise you should be able to park your car for a while quite near the place where you are going. Parking halls, such as the underground   Louhi near the Market square (€1–2/h), usually have plenty of free space. Q-Park also operates several parking halls in central Turku. Most of the largest hotels have their own parking halls as well. When parking in the street in winter and spring, note times reserved for maintenance.

See

TurkuCard

TurkuCard is a Tourist discount card with which you´ll gain free access to major Turku sights in addition to other benefits. Card holders have free access to almost all museums and the Turku Sightseeing Tour along with free travel aboard local buses. You´ll also receive discounts at many places including restaurants, shops, hotels and cruises. It is available from the tourist office or any participating attraction. You can choose from three different Cards: 24h card €21 / 48h card €28 / 24h Family card €45.

The vast majority of the city's sights are within a kilometre or two from Kauppatori. Two sights in the city are considered above others: the medieval castle, which is the symbol of Turku, and Turku cathedral, the national shrine of Finland, but there are several more modest pearls to find. Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova invites visitors to explore the medieval history and culture of Turku and to reflect upon thought-provoking contemporary art. Luostarinmäki is the only larger part of the city that survived the great fire of Turku in 1827. Nowadays it houses an open air living handicrafts museum, with local artisans working in traditional ways.

History and museums

Entrance of Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova.
View from the Old Great Square during the declaration of Christmas Peace.
Sail ship Suomen Joutsen is one of the main attractions in Forum Marinum.
Women with baskets at the Luostarinmäki outdoor museum.
The Qwensel House, with the Pharmacy Museum.
Brinkhall Manor
Ett Hem -Museum

Art

Turku Art Museum
Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art

Children

Moomin House at the Moomin World
Kuralan Kylämäki – Village of Living History

Churches

St Michael's Church.
Interior of the Ecumenical Hirvensalo Art Chapel.

Nature

Evening view at Ruissalo.
Pikisaari on Hirvensalo seen from Ruissalo.

Do

Turku is especially lively during the summer season, from the latter part of May to early September, as well as around the Advent and Christmas period in December. The banks of the river Aura are regarded Turku's summertime living room. The shores are the setting for many urban events and are also popular for picnic and relaxing.

Annual events

Easter egg decorators at Cloister hill outdoor museum.
Tivoli Sariola's carnival is open during Vappu festivities in Kupittaa Park.
A Medieval band playing at the Turku Medieval Market. The river Aura can be seen in the background.

Advent and Christmas

The Christmas season starts more or less with the turning on of Christmas lights in the pedestrian part of Yliopistonkatu a week before Advent. The market at the Old Great Square opens. Department stores and many shops have nice Christmas displays in their windows. Christmas muzak is played. Charity bazaars in many schools, parish halls etc.

Most every choir gives some kind of Christmas concert in or immediately before Advent. The church arranges sing-alongs with collect to their development aid.

The lights on the Christmas tree of the cathedral are turned on the Saturday when Advent begins (programme begins at 17:00).

Many museums, also some that otherwise are closed in winter, have displays or events related to the season; table settings and food of Christmas in different times and social classes are shown at the castle, the Qwensel house and the handicraft museum. Handicraft workshops (such as of making candles) are arranged at the Adventure park and Kurala. There are also events at other institutions, such as candle light swimming at Impivaara and Petrelius.

Independence Day, December 6th, is celebrated by the philharmonic orchestra by two free concerts (12 & 15; tickets are distributed a few weeks in advance). There are services in the churches (mostly at 10:00). The students have a torch parade to the war graves (start 18:00). People light candles in their windows, which makes for a nice evening stroll.

On December 13th, Lucia is crowned in the morning, blessed in the cathedral 16:30 and performing in the Hansa shopping centre 18:00 (programme starting at 17:00; the arrangement has changed somewhat from earlier years). She and her company will be seen on many occasions, mostly in retirement homes and the like, but also e.g. at the Christmas market.

Christmas peace is declared at Christmas Eve 12:00 in the Old Great Square, with thousands of spectators (programme starts 11:30). The Swedish service in the cathedral afterwards welcomes also the international audience. Most people are going to spend the evening and the Christmas Day with their family; the city will mostly close, including bus traffic (last buses leave 14:00). Services in the churches.

Christmas Market at the Old Great Square

Music Festivals

Ruisrock atmosphere in 2008.
M. A. Numminen performs at DBTL.

Expos

Turku hall situated next to the Turku Fair and Congress Center hosts number of big concerts and hockey tournaments.

There's a great number of expos and fairs held in Turku annually. Most of the fairs take place outside the summer season in autumn and spring. Large part of these fairs take place in the   Turku Fair and Congress Center, which is a diverse setting for fairs, meetings, congresses and grand public events.

Sport events

Paavo Nurmi Stadium

Theater, performing arts and cinema

Turku City Theater on the background with a restaurant boat on the front.

Sport arenas

HK Areena

Sports grounds and parks

Slopes at the Hirvensalo Ski Resort.

Swimming

Impivaara Swimming Centre
Ice Swimming at the Ispoinen Beach is a popular hobby among locals during the winter months.

Due to its location at the shores of the Archipelago Sea, Turku has a number of great beaches, some of them really close to the city center. There are also two outdoor pools, a water park, and a number of indoor swimming pools and arena's. Most indoor facilities – and some outdoor ones – are open round the year.

Social dancing

The Uittamo dance pavilion.

You should know some foxtrot. Do your best with other dances you do not know, or just skip them.

Learn

Academy House used to be the main building of the Turku Academy, but nowadays it houses the Turku Court of Appeal.

Turku has a long academic history: Queen Christina of Sweden founded the first university of Finland in Turku in 1640. At that point it was only Sweden's third university following Uppsala University and the Academia Gustaviana in Tartu. Nowadays Turku is still a major academic town in Finland and because of this the city is bustling with students. Around almost 20 per cent of Turku residents are actually students and many of them are exchange students. The universities have many courses in English and some study programs targeted at exchange students.

Buy

There are plenty of opportunities to part with your cash in Turku. The city centre is full of major retail and independent shops. Shopping in Turku is generally more affordable than in Helsinki, but, as with the rest of Finland, it is by no means cheap by international standards. The numerous second-hand and antique stores represent a unique shopping alternative.

Traditional Shopping

Turku Market Hall

Shopping Centers

View inside the Hansa Shopping Centre.
KOP-Triangle (KOP-Kolmio) is situated at the corner of the central Market Square.

Department Stores

Stockmann Department Store in central Turku.

Design

Yliopistonkatu next to the Market Square is a pedestrian zone; there are a variety of services in it
This design bag asks in Swedish "Varför Paris, vi har ju Åbo" (Why Paris, when we have Turku)

Vintage

Record Stores

Eat

Turku and other parts of Finland Proper are home to the more western influenced Finnish cuisine, which has features especially from Sweden, Denmark and Germany. The long traditions of farming and fishing in the area have contributed to the local food culture. Fish, especially herring – the regional fish of Finland Proper – has been at the heart of the regions culinary traditions for centuries. It is eaten all year round salted, fried, grilled and smoked. In addition, perch, whitefish and pike are often used. You must also remember to try the famous raisin sausage, a regional speciality which you can buy for example from the Turku Market Hall. Sausages lovers will also enjoy the wide selection of sausages at Makkaraa On the side you can have a slice of another regional speciality, the Archipelago sweet malt bread. As a dessert enjoy a good cup of coffee together with pulla (cinnamon roll) or Piispanmunkki ("Bishops Doughnut"), as people here call the traditional North German pastry Berliner.

For fast food or pizzeria meals, you will generally need to pay under €10 any time, Burger meals are around €5–8 (including drink and fries). Lower end restaurant meals with some simple pasta or soup with water or a soft drink is usually around €10–20. For proper restaurant meals with a high-grade steak and good wine, expect to pay at least €30–60. Generally, proper restaurants are open until 10–11PM, on weekends maybe an hour longer. Fast food chains, pizzerias and other such places are open later at night, some as late as 3–5AM. In some establishments, the bar may remain open for drinks even though the kitchen has closed and no food is available.

Lunch and brunch

Fontana Café is situated in a Neo-Renaissance building opposite City Hall.
Aula Café's summer terrace at the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova courtyard.

Most restaurants have offers at €7–10 at lunch time, mostly at least weekdays 11:00–14:00. There are also lunch restaurants or cafés serving meals only at lunch time, including student cafés and lunch restaurants for big workplaces, often having a very affordable price also for outsiders.

Budget

Hesburger originates from Turku, and is the largest hamburger restaurant chain in Finland.
Meal at the Red Hot Chilis -restaurant.

There are plenty of inexpensive restaurants and cafés on and around the Market Square of Turku. Around the university campus you will found many student restaurants with cheap lunch also for outsiders (but some timing is needed to avoid long queues). Hesburger is the dominant burger chain in Turku, and you will find several of these in the city centre. Pizzerias are frequently kebab-pizzerias, offering both Turkish kebab and Italian pizza dishes on their menu. You will also find a lot of these downtown. Unfortunately, the restaurants offering the finest kebabs are not located downtown. During the lunch time, at least 11AM–2PM, most restaurants have offers for less than €10.

Mid-range

Dessert at Ristorante Dennis.
Meal at restaurant Harald in Turku.


Splurge

Most of the Restaurants, cafes and bars have outdoor terraces during the summer season.

GastroPub

Drink

Restaurants and bars have varying closing hours, but generally, the popular nightclubs and discos are open until 4AM. Last call always occurs half an hour before closing time, and is indicated by the bar staff turning the lights off for a few seconds, then turning them back on. They may repeat this a few times in quick succession to make sure the patrons get it. It's generally smart to leave about ten minutes before the last call, to avoid being caught in the rush of everybody trying to leave at once, especially if you are planning to get back to your night spot by a taxi.

Night clubs tend to have guarded cloakrooms where you can leave any of your outer garments in exchange for a ticket. Using the coat service is generally considered mandatory even if this is not explicitly pointed out. The cloakroom fee is usually €2 or 2,50. Do not lose the ticket; the bar staff will often not want to hash out ticket confusions during closing time when things are at their most chaotic. If you lose the ticket, you may be told to come back the following day to get your things, expect to be able to prove the jacket is your by telling the staff the make of the jacket/colour of lining/contents of pockets.

The legal drinking age in Finland is 18 for mild alcoholic drinks (up to 20%/40-proof) and 20 for stronger drinks than that, but virtually all establishments sell stronger drinks to 18-year-olds as well. The minimum age required to enter bars/pubs/nightclubs differs; legally, one must be at least 18 to enter places that serve alcohol, but many clubs and bars have higher age limits (20–24 yrs).

Cafes

Courtyard of the Pharmacy Museum.

See also Lunch and brunch above.

Pubs

Brewery Restaurant Koulu

Bars

Riverboats

Esposito

Riverboats are a unique feature in the Turku cityscape. In the summertime, it is very popular to spend the early evening until midnight or so on one of them, and when it gets a little chilly, move indoors to a restaurant or night club. They are situated at the riverside of river Aura. Some of them also house fine restaurants while some are mostly just pubs.

Nightclubs

Sleep

Camping

Budget

Ferry Hostel Borea
Bridgettine Convent Guest House is situated next to the Catholic Church.

Mid-range

Park Hotel

Splurge

Hotel Marina Palace

Spa Hotels

Ruissalo Spa

Stay safe

Risks in Turku


Crime/violence: Low
Drunk people on weekend nights, bouncers in clubs, pickpockets
Authorities/corruption: Low
Security guards and nightclub bouncers might be rude and/or violent
Transportation: Low
Traffic culture may be sometimes aggressive
Health: Low
Infectious tick bites in the archipelago
Nature: Low

Turku is generally a very safe city. On weekend nights drunken people may cause annoyance, especially after last call. The River Aura is as dirty as it seems, and is surprisingly shallow. Also the river banks provide very little access to the shore, so it is better not to refresh yourself with a quick dip. Swimming in the river is also considered illegal.

In emergency cases, such as sudden illness, unconsciousness or other life-threatening situation, always call 112, which is the general emergency number for police affairs, fire, medical care and social services. If in doubt as to whether it is an emergency or not, it is always better to call and ask. The emergency medical services helpline advises you on the help you require.

For non-emergency medical care, the City of Turku’s Welfare Division provides medical advice over the phone at +358 2 10023. Lines are open weekdays from 8AM to 3PM. The hearing-impaired have their own service for the evaluation of medical care, counselling and making an appointment at a health centre. This can be contacted during office hours by sending SMS message to +358 44 907 3824.

Turku University Hospital's T-Hospital is now the region’s accident and emergency hospital. It provides everyday 24-hour specialized medical care and treatment to those who have fallen suddenly ill or sustained injury. T-Hospital is situated between the Turku Cathedral and Kupittaa Railway Station at Savitehtaankatu 1.

Respect

Connect

Opened already in 2003, SparkNet is the largest WiFi network in Finland and gives you seamless access to wireless internet in your Home, Office and on the go. You can use it with your phone, laptop or PDA. Its free to all the personnel of the city of Turku as well as the students of the schools and universities in the city. Others can purchase the connection from SparkNet's website.

In addition to the SparkNet much of Turku is blanketed with wifi ("wlan") hotspots. Most cafes and bars offer wireless internet connection without requiring a person to be a paying customer. Some restaurants will do this as well, but may insist that you purchase something.

The city main library (see above) offers public computers with Internet access. Mostly you will find a free one at least for quickly checking e-mail.

Cope

Money

The Old Bank, situated in an old bank, is considered by many to be the best beer house in Turku.

Finland's currency is the euro (€, EUR). Finland does not use the 1 and 2 cent coins; instead all sums are rounded to the nearest 5 cents. The coins are, however, still legal tender and there are even small quantities of Finnish 1c and 2c coins, highly valued by collectors. It is common to omit cents and the euro sign from prices, and use the comma as a decimal separator: "5,50" thus means five euros and fifty cents.

Getting or exchanging money is rarely a problem, as ATM's ("Otto") are common around Turku and they can be operated with international credit and debit cards (Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard, Maestro). Currencies other than the euro are generally not accepted, but the Swedish krona is accepted in the Ferries travelling to Stockholm. Also as an exception, the Stockmann department store in central Turku accepts U.S. dollars, pound sterling, Swedish krona and Russian rubles. Forex Bank has an exchange office in central Turku at Eerikinkatu 13. Forex usually has better rates, longer opening hours and faster service than other banks. Credit cards are widely accepted, but you will be asked for identification if you purchase more than €50 (and may be asked to show it even for smaller purchases). Visa Electron and Visa Debit card readers are found in all major and most minor shops, so carrying large amounts of cash is not usually necessary.

As a rule, tipping is never necessary in Turku or anywhere else in Finland, aa restaurant bills already include service charges. That said, taxi fares and other bills paid by cash are occasionally rounded up to the next convenient number. Cloakrooms (narikka) in nightclubs and better restaurants often have non-negotiable fees (usually clearly signposted, €2 is standard), and in the few hotels that employ them hotel porters will expect around the same per bag.

Press

An assortment of foreign newspapers are available for reading in the main library (see above) and for sale at some locations (e.g. R-kioski at the main railway station?). Expect to find some well-known ones at least in Swedish, English, German, French and Spanish. At the main library there are also some more odd ones, e.g. from Russian Karelia.

Helsinki Times, published weekly on Fridays, is the first weekly newspaper in Finland which provides a source of news and information about Finland in English. In addition to domestic and international news, it includes a review of Finnish newspapers and magazines, as well as articles concerning Finland published in the international press. It also has own sections for culture, sport and lifestyle. The newspaper also offers a weekly events guide as well as a weekly selection of TV programmes in English. Its on sale at many bookstores, newsstands, railway stations, hotels and airports throughout Turku, priced at €3. Its also available on annual subscription for €96, delivered hot off the press to your home.

SixDegrees Magazine is Helsinki Times' sister publication. Its published monthly and is freely and widely available at many bars and cafés, hotels and restaurants around Turku. It focuses more on culture, multicultural events, people, matters and phenomena. It contains Out&See events calendar for Turku as well as reviews of current cultural events, films, literature and music as well as investigative cover stories on business, society and politics.

Consulates

Russian Consulate-General is situated on the II District of Turku.

Go next

Routes through Turku

() Stockholm Mariehamn  W  E  Helsinki Saint Petersburg
Tromsø Oulu  N  S  END
Sodankylä Tampere  N  S  END


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, February 23, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.