Turku – The beautiful city on the Finnish Archipelago Sea

Modern and lively Turku is worth a trip, especially in summer. Then various events and festivals attract thousands of tourists to the place.

In addition, the popular city on the Aurajoki River also offers a lot of Finnish history and culinary delights. A vacation in Finland’s oldest city is worthwhile to learn more about this beautiful place on the Finnish Archipelago.

Turku in Finland
Turku in Finland, source: Curioso Travel Photography/bigstockphoto.com

General information about the city

Turku, the oldest city in Finland, has been on the map since 1229. It is located on the southwest coast of Finland, directly on the Aurajoki River. It takes just under two hours to get here by train from Finland’s capital Helsinki.

The city is known mainly for its castle, which houses a history museum, its cathedral, which houses a royal tomb and a museum, and the old market square, which is lined with magnificent buildings.

This is one of the reasons why Turku, together with the Estonian city of Tallinn, was chosen as the Capital of Culture in 2011.

Turku Cathedral – landmark of the city

In the middle of the city center, right by the river and idyllically surrounded by trees, stands Turku Cathedral, known far beyond the city limits.

Probably the most famous landmark in the city, it is also the national shrine of Finland and witness to many important historical events in Finnish history.

Today, the cathedral is considered Finland’s oldest preserved church. It is also the main church of the Evangelical Lutheran Christians in Finland as well as the seat of the Archbishop of Turku.

The side chapels built in the Middle Ages contain the tombs of many important figures in Finnish history.

Turku Cathedral
Turku Cathedral, source: RnDmS/bigstockphoto.com

Other must-see sights

Besides the landmark of Turku, there are other sights that are worth seeing culturally as well as historically.

Turku Castle – Turun Linna

Turku Castle was built in the late 13th century and is now one of the largest preserved medieval castles in Finland.

No wonder it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. Particularly worth seeing are the magnificent dining room and the two dungeons.

Turku Castle
Turku Castle, source: sikaraha/bigstockphoto.com

Museum Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova

The Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova Museum is a museum of history and contemporary art.

Visitors are invited to discover the medieval history as well as the culture of Finland through a successful combination of old and new. In addition, the Aula Museum Café offers a delicious jazz brunch every Saturday.

The Pharmacy Museum & Qwensel House

The Qwensel house was built in 1700 and is therefore the oldest preserved wooden house in the village. It is divided into the Pharmacy Museum and the former private residential part of the pharmacist.

The exhibits, which are over 200 years old, as well as the real laboratory and pharmacy rooms, give visitors an insight into the history of Finnish medicine. The residential part from the 18th century puts visitors directly into the life of that time.

Luostarinmäki Open Air Museum

How did the Finns actually live in the past? What did their houses look like? How did they dress and what did they eat?

Visitors to the Luostarinmäki Open Air Museum will learn the answers to these and some other questions.

The Museum of Arts and Crafts is located in the middle of a district of wooden houses. It is the only part of the city that was spared from the great city fire in 1827.

Therefore, the houses, some of which date back to the 18th century, are in their original condition and in the same place as before.

Today, the Museum of Arts and Crafts, with more than 30 workshops and studios, shows the history of arts and crafts in the village, as well as the houses of the craftsmen.

Wooden house in open air museum Turkus
Wooden house in open air museum Turkus, source: pixabay.com

Maritime Museum Forum Marinum

The Forum Marinum is located directly on the shore of the Aurajoki and shows on an area of 850 square meters, among other things, the history of the Finnish Navy as well as maritime trade in Finland.

On the banks of the river there are numerous different ships that make the hearts of marine and seafaring enthusiasts beat faster.

Turku for gourmets

Turku has long been considered a center for gourmets. There are a variety of restaurants here to suit every budget and taste. Some have made it to great fame and enjoy particular popularity.

For example, MAMI, which is one of the best restaurants in the country and is famous for its European and Scandinavian cuisine. Here you can find especially delicious regional fish.shortcode

Activities in the city

When the historical hunger for knowledge is satisfied, there is a lot more to see in Turku.

The market hall

When walking through Turku, a visit to the popular market hall in Eerikinkatu is of course a must.

There is always a cheerful hustle and bustle here and the forty or so stalls offer traditional Finnish food as well as regional specialties. The special atmosphere can be enjoyed especially well, during a break with a coffee.

The lively city center

A stroll through the bustling city center takes you past historic buildings and pretty little cafes.

The shopping streets with their creative stores entice you to do more than just window shop, and the many restaurants invite you to linger as well as try completely new culinary delights.

Old wooden houses in Turku
Old wooden houses in Turku, source: RnDmS/bigstockphoto.com

Neighborhoods with old wooden houses

Since there are a lot of forests in Finland, it used to be obvious to build the houses out of wood. Even today, in many Finnish cities, you can find entire neighborhoods of thesewell-preserved wooden houses with their own unique charm.

This is also the case in Turku. The Port Arthur neighborhood is a well-preserved 19th century wooden house district and also one of the most expensive residential areas in the town.

Seikkailupuisto Adventure Park

For families with children, a trip to Seikkailupuisto Adventure Park in the Kupittaa district is a must. Here there are various freely accessible children’s playgrounds for children between 2 and 10 years.

Excursions in the surroundings

There is also a lot to do in Turku’s surroundings, be it by water, on foot or by bike.

A ride with the Föli Water Bus

With the Föli Water Bus, which by the way is not a bus but a ferry, you can admire Turku from the water .

The trip across the Aurajoki River starts from Martinsilta in the center of Turku and ends after about 30 to 40 minutes on Ruissalo Island. The ferry operates between the end of May and mid-August.

View of Ruissalo Island
View of Ruissalo Island, Source: Curioso Travel Photography/bigstockphoto.com

Hiking on Ruissalo Island

Ruissalo is a peninsula near Turku, about 8 kilometers long, connected to the mainland by bridges. In addition to a golf course, a lido and a campground, there are also many opportunities for hiking on the peninsula.

There are some nice hiking trails, partly through the forest, which are signposted. Unfortunately, the signs are only in Finnish or Swedish.

But you can’t really get lost here. In any case, on Ruissalo Island you can enjoy a little time out in nature when you need some distance from the city.

The Archipelago Trail

The Archipelago Trail is one of the most popular tourist routes in Finland. It can be done by car, motorcycle or bicycle, although most tourists prefer bicycles for the ultimate nature experience.

The route is a network of different routes connected by ferries. On the tour different landscapes alternate from barren rocky landscapes to lush green meadows.

Starting from Turku, the complete route covers about 200 kilometers, although it is also possible to drive only individual sections.

Beginners will also enjoy the Archipelago Trail, as there are plenty of opportunities to take a break and you have to get off your bike during the ferry crossings anyway.

Archipelago near Turku
Archipelago near Turku, source: Arthur Lomarainen/bigstockphoto.com

Popular events in Turku

Summer in Turku is also festival time. Then the city is upside down and there is a lot of celebrating and dancing at various events.

On the last weekend in June, the annual medieval market takes place on the market square. The medieval atmosphere promises visitors a trip back to the “good old days”.

In July, the popular Food & Wine Festival is a time for boisterous partying and drinking.

Music is very important in Turku. Thus, mainly in the summer there are various music festivals for every taste.

From the city’s classical music festival to the Turku Jazz Festival and the legendary Ruisrock music festival, tens of thousands of music enthusiasts celebrate in the city every year.

Medieval festival in Turku
Medieval festival in Turku, source: scandphoto/bigstockphoto.com

Overnight stay in Turku

The accommodation options here are varied. From a comfortable hotel, to a cheap B&B, to your own vacation home, everyone can choose their perfect vacation accommodation according to their personal taste.

Arrival to Turku

  • By plane: The fastest way to Turku is by plane. For example, you can fly from Frankfurt Airport to Helsinki.
    Once you arrive in Finland, you board the bus directly at Helsinki Airport, which goes directly to Turku.
  • With your own car: To be more mobile on site, the journey with your own car via the sea route is a good option. For this you can use the ferry from Travemünde to Helsinki.
    The ferry departs Germany at 3:00 in the morning and arrives in Helsinki after about 27 hours. Turku can also be reached by ferry from Stockholm in Sweden via the Archipelago Sea with Viking Line or Silja Line.


Turku is wonderful for a city trip with good excursion possibilities in the surrounding area. Especially in summer, the many festivals attract countless tourists to the city. The city is also definitely worth a visit from a culinary point of view.

Aurajoki River in Turku
Aurajoki River in Turku, source: Curioso Travel Photography/bigstockphoto.com

Frequently asked questions

How old is the city of Turku?

The city of Turku has been on the map since 1229, making it the oldest city in Finland. With its castle and cathedral, it offers some historical sights and was chosen as the Capital of Culture in 2011.

What are the most famous sights in Turku?

Turku’s landmark is Turku Cathedral, which is also the main church of Evangelical Lutheran Christians in Finland and the seat of the Archbishop of Turku. In addition to the cathedral, Turku Castle, the Pharmacy Museum and the Luostarinmäki Open Air Museum are particularly popular.

What excursions can you do in Turku?

Besides the city itself, with its historic districts and buildings, a trip on the Aurajoki River and a visit to Ruissalo Island are highly recommended. There are varied hiking trails here to enjoy some time out in nature.

What events can you attend in Turku?

Turku has a lot to offer, especially in the summer. It hosts not only an annual medieval market and the Food & Wine Festival, but also the legendary music festival Ruisrock and other popular music festivals.

How can I travel to Turku?

By plane, the journey is easy via Finland’s capital Helsinki and from here by bus to Turku, about two hours away. With your own car you can take the ferry via Travemünde directly to Helsinki or also via Stockholm from Sweden to Finland.

Other cities in Finland

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Ich bin absoluter Skandinavien-Fan und reise schon seit über 12 Jahren in die schönen Länder Skandinaviens. Hier teile ich meine Erfahrungen und Tipps zu den skandinavischen Ländern und der Ostsee-Region.