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Experience the Turku region
3 minute read
Turku Cathedral by river Aurajoki

Credits:: Timo Oksanen

Discover some of the best things to experience in Turku and the archipelago around it

Founded almost 800 hundred years ago, Turku is the oldest city and the former capital of Finland. The city takes pride in its long cultural history and relevance as a gateway to the west.

The lively city has been said to have the soul of a metropolis in a body of a small town. Here’s a selection of some of the best things to experience in Turku and the archipelago around it.

a woman standing at the front of Turku Castle
Credits: : Julia Kivelä
Old building by the Aurajoki river
Credits:: Samu Valleala

Walk, drink, eat & explore along the Aurajoki river

The river Aurajoki is the heart and soul of Turku – the city originated on the eastern shore of the river in the early 13th century. Today, the riverbank is known as a lively meeting place for locals, which is why a walk along the waterside is a great way to get to know the city and its residents. A walk from the cathedral to Turku Castle gives a great overview of ​​Turku's cityscape. Along the way you’ll find many interesting museums, like Aboa Vetus Ars Nova, which exhibits a quarter of the town discovered underground during archaeological excavations. The riverbank is also home to some of Turku’s most popular restaurants and cafés.

A fish based a la carte dish on a plate
Credits: : Elina Sirparanta
A fish based a la carte dish on a plate

Visit the “prison hill” at Kakolanmäki

Since 1853, Finland’s worst villains and murderers were locked inside the walls of Kakola, a former regional prison located on a hill that’s named accordingly. Today, the area attracts a different type of crowd with its atmospheric hotels and trendy restaurants. Spend a night in what was once solitary confinement at Hotel Kakola, or on the site of the prison’s psychiatric hospital in the Forenom apartments. Enjoy delicacies cooked over an open fire in the restaurant Kakolanruusu or taste the products of the local brewery at the KBC Taproom – there’s even a bakery and a coffee roastery in the area. To learn more about the prison’s history, visit Kakolanmäki Hill Museum, which gives guided tours throughout the year.

Hotel room with bars made of an old prison cell
Credits: Anssi Tiusanen / Riku Niemi

Have a fun ride with great views

One of Turku's best-known landmarks is a little orange city ferry called Föri. It takes a couple of minutes to sail from shore to shore, offering great views free of charge. Föri operates between Tervahovinkatu on the east side and Wechterinkuja on the west. Funicular, a cable car that runs from the old prison, offers amazing views and an accessible way to reach the top of Kakolanmäki hill, a route with no other public transport. The funicular runs between Linnankatu and Graniittilinnankatu at Linnankatu 55b. You can get on or off at both stations. Travelling on the funicular is free of charge and one-way trip takes about one minute.

a cable ferry full of people crossing the river Aurajoki
Credits: Krista Keltanen

Enjoy urban nature in Ruissalo

The Ruissalo island is located 12 km south-west of the city and has everything from beautiful oak forests and nature paths to pastel-coloured villas – even a spa hotel. The former boatyard now homes numerous cafés and restaurants. The Botanical Garden at the University of Turku sits in the middle of Ruissalo and grows vegetation from all over the world to view. Connected to the garden is Ruissalo Info – Guidance and Advice. The island can be accessed by car, bus or bike. There is also a ferry operating from Martinsilta in the city centre.

An aerial view from sea Ruissalo Spa
Credits: : Ruissalo
a woman being massaged relaxes in the spa
Credits:: Ruissalo
People having a picnic in a park at the Ruissalo coast
Credits:: Ruissalo

Go island-hopping on the archipelago trail

The Turku archipelago trail (also called the archipelago ring road) is a 250 km circular network that can be explored by road. Bridges and ferries connect the islands along the route, passing by picturesque villages, national parks, lighthouses and more. The trail offers plenty of restaurants and places to stay overnight – either camping or in hotels and guest houses – as well as opportunities to get off the beaten track and discover hidden coves and beaches. The services are best available during the summer. For those intending to travel the entire trail by car or bus, at least two nights are recommended, and those riding a bicycle should prepare for a seven-night stay.

People cycling in Finnish countryside
Credits: Juho Kuva

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