The city of Turku, located on the southwest coast of Finland, is the oldest city in the country. Turku was the most important city in Finland until the middle of the 19th century, and today it remains an important business centre, thanks to its commercial port and excellent geographical location.
The city is also the administrative capital of the region of Finland Proper, the third most important region of the country. Turku, with almost 200,000 inhabitants, is the sixth city in Finland in terms of the number of inhabitants.
Things to see and do in Turku
Turku was founded in the middle of the 13th century, making it the oldest in Finland. For this reason, the city offers a wide variety of historic places to visit. However, a fire that occurred in the 14th century destroyed much of the city, so few buildings from the 13th century remain.
In the city, you can also find a large number of museums of different types and themes that adapt to all tastes and ages. In addition, it is possible to visit its extensive port and stroll along the banks of the Aura River, which crosses the city of Turku.
Route along the banks of the Aura river
The Aura River runs through the middle of the city of Turku, allowing you to tour the city as you stroll along its banks.
The route connects some of the most important buildings in the city, such as the castle, the cathedral and the port, so it is a quick way to reach all of these buildings.
The path is very well maintained and has a bike path, so you can choose to go on foot or use a bicycle to get around.
Turku Cathedral, in the German Gothic style, was originally built of wood in the 13th century, although its current appearance is made of stone from the 15th century.
It is one of the most important religious buildings in all of Finland and is undoubtedly one of the most beloved churches by the Finns.
It has a tower of more than 100 meters and inside there are 40 side chapels decorated with different works of art.
Its outstanding location, in Turku’s Old Square, and its impressive interior decoration make the Cathedral one of the places you must visit during your trip.
Turku Castle is one of the essential places that you should not miss during your visit to Turku, as it is one of the oldest buildings in the entire city and one of the oldest fortresses in all of Scandinavia.
The castle is open to the public and it is possible to visit all its rooms and rooms. The royal palace, the jail, the warehouse or the military barracks are the main buildings that you can access during your visit.
Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova Museum
The Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova museum is a museum of history and contemporary art inaugurated in 1995.
It is an underground museum where you can visit the remains of different medieval houses and buildings. These remains are kept in the same way they were found in the 1990s.
The remains of these medieval buildings correspond to the Aboa Vetus district, which gives the museum its name. Rich merchants and other wealthy families lived in this part of the medieval city of Turku, so jewellery, pottery and other valuable belongings were found among the remains of the houses.
Moomin World is the amusement park of the Moomin, Finland’s best-known animated characters. The park is located in the city of Naantali, located about 15 kilometres from Turku.
The visit to Moomin World is especially recommended for families travelling with their little ones. Its many activities and attractions will allow you to spend an unforgettable day with the famous characters of Tove Jansson.
Turku Art Museum
The Turku Art Museum houses one of the most extensive art exhibits in the entire country. The museum not only houses some of Finland’s most iconic pieces but also includes contemporary works.
The extensive collection, managed by the Turku Art Society, is considered a national treasure. The collection is made up of more than 7,500 works that include very varied works, such as some from the golden age of Finnish art, surrealism or different portraits.
The Forum Marinum is a large naval museum located on the bank of the Aura River. You should not miss it if you want to know the maritime history of the city.
Outside the museum is a collection of famous boats from different eras. All of them can be visited during the summer.
Wäinö Aaltonen Art Museum
The Wäinö Aaltonen Art Museum or WAM is an art museum dedicated to modern art. The museum is located on the east bank of the Aura River.
The permanent exhibition, belonging to the City of Turku, includes an extensive collection of the works of the Finnish artist and sculptor Wäinö Aaltonen, for whom the museum is named. Temporary exhibitions focus on modern art, both Finnish and international.
The Luostarinmäki Handicraft Museum is located in one of the few areas of the city that were not affected by the fire of 1827, so it allows us to know what the city was like before this event.
The museum is outdoors and its buildings and gardens will allow you to know in-depth what the craft professions were like in the pre-industrial era.
The Sibelius Museum houses the most important music gallery in the entire country. In addition, inside it is possible to visit an exhibition that has an extensive collection of ancient instruments.
One of the rooms is dedicated to the life of Jean Sibelius, the most important Finnish composer in history, who also gives the museum its name.
How to get to Turku
The city of Turku is located about 170 kilometres away from Helsinki, the capital of the country.
The fastest way to get to Turku is by plane. The airport is located about seven kilometres from the city centre, so the journey is not too long. For its part, the flight from Helsinki lasts only 35 minutes, and the Finnair company makes the journey daily.
The long-distance train is the second option to get to the city. The trip, cheaper than by plane, lasts about two hours and has up to five intermediate stops.
Finally, it is possible to rent a car to get around the country and have more freedom to go sightseeing in Finland. It is possible to travel the 170 kilometres that separate the two cities in about two hours.
Nor should we forget that its important port has connections with Sweden, the neighbouring country, so it is possible to visit Stockholm during the trip.
How to get around the city
Although the city of Turku is one of the largest in Finland, its historic centre and the most interesting buildings are located very close to each other, making it very easy to get around the city.
In addition to going on foot, the bicycle is a very interesting alternative to move quickly around the city. The riverbank has an extensive bike path that will allow you to comfortably cross the Aura River, as well as move to the most important buildings in the city.
Having a car can also make getting around easier since you can visit nearby cities, towns and natural parks comfortably and easily. Renting a vehicle is not very expensive and it is not very difficult to park in the city.
Where to stay in Turku
Turku is one of the most important cities in Finland, so there are many alternatives to stay.
There are numerous high-quality hotels to suit all budgets and types of travel. We recommend that you find one near the city centre so that you can move more easily through the major tourist attractions of Turku.
Likewise, there are other alternatives such as hostels, pensions or houses for rent for short stays in which to rest and spend the night.
Where to eat in Turku
The city of Turku has countless alternatives when it comes to eating. The area on the banks of the Aura River closest to the city centre is full of cafes and restaurants where you can rest and eat.
There are alternatives for all tastes. It is possible to find different restaurants that serve typical Finnish food or, if you prefer, you can opt for fast food.
It should be noted that on the riverbank there are some restaurants installed inside old ships, a very interesting and somewhat different option. In addition, in the Turku market, located in the heart of the city, it is possible to try different local products, such as fish, cheeses or sweets.
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