Turku is a fantastic mixture of Finnish culture, the beauty of nature and picturesque bars, cafes and restaurants.
Turku is considered as the birthplace of civilized Finland. The city was founded in the early 13th century to house the Bishop of Finland, in a world where Catholic Sweden was ruling over the Finnish peasant population. Since those days, Turku has served as the port to the West. The city of Turku has a population of about 200 000, which makes it the 6th biggest city in Finland.
The city center lives of its green parks and the River Aura that flows right in the middle of the historic center. Turku shows its true beauty in summer, when the leaves of countless lime trees express their most vivid colors. In summer, people gather for a picnic around the river banks to enjoy warm summer days. Traditionally in July, the vibrant summer city hosts one of the biggest music festivals of Finland, Ruisrock, at the seaside in Ruissalo.
Where to stay
Turku is not a big city, so it's easy to visit the key sites on foot. The city center is located between the picture tags 5, 8 and 11. If you stay on that area, you can easily reach the best selection of restaurants, bars and the most important sites on foot.
Things to do in Turku
Turku Castle is a 700-year-old former fortress, situated just outside the city center, right by the sea. The medieval castle is one of the oldest buildings still standing in Finland. The castle was built as a fortress and administrative center for the Swedish crown, which Finland was a part of during that time. Guided tours are organized daily in summer, but less frequently in other seasons. Check their website for more information.
Turku Cathedral is the Mother Church of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and the seat of the Lutheran Archbishop of Finland. As such, it’s considered to be the most important church of the country. Originally built as a catholic church, Turku Cathedral’s construction was finished roughly at the same time with Turku Castle in the 13th century.
Address: Tuomiokirkonkatu 1
How to get: The cathedral is situated in the city center on the East bank with a multitude of bus connections. If you’re using a bus, please check the timetables: reittiopas.foli.fi
Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova
Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova is a combination of two completely different museums in one location. Ars Nova is a museum of contemporary art. During its construction, a series of medieval artifacts and structures were discovered from the ground beneath, which lead to the opening of Aboat Vetus Museum. At the archeological side, there are lots of interactive things for children.
How to get: The museum is located in the city on the East bank, about 500 meters away from the cathedral.
Turku Art Museum
Turku Art Museum, with a collection of 7,000 marvelous art works, is housed in a national romantic style granite building. The most famous Finnish painters, such as Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Helene Schjerfbeck, Juho Rissanen and Hugo Simberg among others, have their work here on exhibition.
How to get: The museum is located right in the city center, one block away from the Market Square.
Naantali is a little sister town of Turku, known as the sunshine town, located only 17 kilometres from Turku. It is a true summer town and the President of Finland traditionally spends time here in July or August in the summer residence Kultaranta.
How to get: The buses 6 and 7 go to the center of Naantali from the Turku Market Square. The journey time is about 50 minutes (journey planner).
Naantali is famous for Moomin World, based on Tove Jansson’s children’s books. Moomin World has lots of themed games and activities for children to get involved. The main attraction is the five-story Moomin House, a blue tower known from the books and cartoons.
How to get: Moomin world is located 1,8 kilometers away from Naantali center. You need to take a taxi or walk from the center. In summer, there’s a Moomin Bus operating from Turku Harbor and hotels in Turku City Centre. More info on their website.
Forum Marinum Maritime Centre
Turku has strong maritime traditions. The leading maritime museum of Finland is housed in Turku. The Forum Marinum Maritime Centre is a lively and versatile center for maritime activities. The museum occupies two former government warehouses. Moored at the quay outside, there are heritage boats to visit. The main attractions include two beautiful ships, Suomen Joutsen and Sigyn. Suomen Joutsen is a steel-hulled, full rigged ship, with three square rigged masts. Sigyn, built in Gothenburg in 1887, is the last remaining wooden barque used for trade across the oceans. The museum ships are open during the summer months only.
How to get: The bus nr. 1 goes from the Market Square to the museum. The Forum Marinum bus stop is located shortly before the museum, and before the Turku Castle stop.
The Pharmacy Museum and the Qwensel house
The Qwensel House displays the life and home of the gentry in 18th century Turku. The city's oldest surviving wooden house holds stylish halls and chambers as well as Finland's oldest pharmacy interior.
Address: Läntinen Rantakatu 13b
How to get: Located right in the city centre next to the City Hall at the river bank.
The river splitting the city offers a perfect setting for a lunch with a view. The river banks gather a variety of restaurant choices, from budget restaurants to fine dining.
Shopping and what to buy in Turku
Hansa Quarter is the key shopping spot right in the city center of Turku. There, you'll find the department store Stockmann and Hansakeskus shopping center.
On its southern side, you'll find the Market Hall, where the local butchers and fishmongers sell their fresh products. Get enchanted by the aroma of cheese sellers and stop by a cafe for cup of coffee and a Bishop's doughnut. Elsewhere in Finland, that sugar-coded pink doughnut is known as Berliner Doughnut. Here, however, it only has one name, the one and only Bishop’s doughnut - Piispan munkki.
Continue southwards along the riverbank. The next parallel street, Linnankatu, is full of smaller designer shops. One of the hippest shops is KUI design, whose specialty is Turku-themed clothing & accessories. The shop is located on the way to the river bank.
Website: KUI design
Prices in Turku
The prices of restaurant and hotels services in Finland are above the average in the European Union. The hotel prices in Turku are steady throughout the year.
Below, there are some examples of restaurant and hotel prices in Turku. Costs of hotel rooms are median prices at Booking.com.
Pizza in restaurant
Steak in restaurant
33 cl beer in restaurant
Hotel room, 3-4* (April)
Hotel room, 3-4* (July)
How to get to Turku
From Turku airport:
Bus is the only option: reittiopas.foli.fi Line 1 runs between the airport and the harbor (close to the castle). If you want to get off at the Market place in the center, it’s indicated as Kauppatori in Finnish.
From other cities or airports:
You can find all options for trains or buses here: matkakeisari.fi. VR means train and all others are buses.
Weather in Turku
Winter: The winter months are cold in Turku and the breeze from the sea chills you to the bone. Temperatures in December vary on both sides of 0°C. December is often slushy and rainy. January and February are drier months and it snows more frequently. Temperatures vary on both sides of 0°C but can drop to -15°C, so it's better to observe the weather forecast.
Spring: March can still be snowy, and temperatures are close to 0°C. In April, there’s sunshine more frequently and the snow starts to melt, as temperatures surpass 0°C. May is still mild with temperatures around 10-15 degrees.
Summer: June, July and August are the sunniest and the warmest months in Turku and an ideal time for a visit. On average, July and August are warmer than June. Temperatures are at 20°C and above. During the hottest days, temperatures may rise to 30°C. However, the weather changes a lot, and temperatures could just as easily drop to 10°C.
Autumn: It rains frequently in September, and temperatures drop back to 10-15 degrees. In October, temperatures may drop to 0°C and it snows occasionally, but the snow will melt away. November and October are a part of the slush season, with a lot of rain and occasional snow. Temperatures are close to 0°C during day time.