Turku is situated in the southwest coast of Finland. The city is surrounded by the most beautiful archipelago and unique cultural landscapes. Turku is also the oldest city in Finland. The founding year of the city is recorded as 1229 when Finland was a part of the Swedish empire. Nowadays Turku is the sixth biggest city in Finland by its population (183.000 people) and it is the center of the Finland Proper region. Turku is a bilingual city, official languages being Finnish and Swedish.
Nowadays culture is a strong definer of Turku, as it was the European Capital of Culture in 2011. Turku has a vibrant music scene with classical music events and several famous DJs, clubs and festivals. In general, the art, literature and theatre life in Turku is vivid. You can find, for example, DJs playing in riverboat restaurants, live poetry performances in public libraries and pubs and performances in the Aura riverside.
The best way to experience the summer atmosphere is to walk by the beautiful riverside and visit the restaurants, galleries, museums and boutiques. One can visit the unique archipelago by taking a boat trip leaving from River Aura or take a bus to the nature-beauty Ruissalo Island. In the old city centre, the Turku Cathedral and Turku Castle are the most popular tourist attractions.
Best way to run across cosy cafés and intimate restaurants is to walk by the beautiful riverside. Restaurants offer tasty lunches at reasonable prices starting from 11 a.m. on weekdays. Dinner is served until night at many places. Some restaurants at the riverside are very popular and require a reservation to get a table especially on summer season and weekends.
Turku is famous for the riverboats anchored to the Aura River. Every summer the riverboat restaurants are crowded. Just come and enjoy, take a drink or two, socialize and follow what is going on!
The city centre is surrounded by shops, supermarkets and department stores which are generally open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. On weekends the opening hours might be limited. However, in the central area many smaller grocery shops are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. also on weekends.
The Finnish currency unit is the Euro. You can exchange foreign currency and traveller’s cheques in the Forex currency exchange company (Eerikinkatu 13, near the Market Place). Banks are open from 10.00 to 16.30 on weekdays and closed on Saturdays and Sundays. There are numerous cash machines (ATMs) open around the clock and accepting all major credit cards. Major credit cards, in particular Visa, Eurocard and Mastercard are widely accepted almost everywhere.
Main Sights in Turku
In Turku there is a lot to see and a lot to do. The social programme and the optional tours will provide good opportunities for the delegates as well as their guests to get acquainted with the many historical sights of the city.
The history of Turku Castle goes back to the 1280s. In the course of the centuries, a fortified base built for the royal governor of Finland and his troops gradually expanded into a massive grey stone castle. Today, the castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Finland. The castle is also a venue for meetings, banquets, temporary exhibitions, concerts, and children’s events.
Turku Cathedral was consecrated as a Cathedral Church in 1300. It is the mother church of the Lutheran Church of Finland, and a national shrine. It is one of the most highly valued monuments in Finnish architectural history. The Cathedral is still regularly used for divine service.
The Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova
Aboa Vetus displays 1,400 square metres of an unearthed authentic, medieval town block. Ars Nova exhibits 1,200 square metres of contemporary art in an old Palace. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum displays both domestic and foreign art of a high quality.
Maritime centre on the west bank of the River, near the harbour and the Castle; maritime history exhibitions, museum ships and events.
Art Museum of Turku
The Turku Art Museum has an outstanding collection of Finnish visual arts. It covers two centuries including turn-of-the-century classics, as well as more recent works of contemporary art. The temporary exhibitions cover a wide and varying range of art.
Wäinö Aaltonen Art Museum
The Museum’s collections include both Wäinö Aaltonen’s works and contemporary Finnish art. The museum arranges temporary exhibitions, as well as related events and concerts.
The river Aura
The river Aura is the heart of Turku and full of life. Walking on the riverbanks, you can enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, complemented by the restaurant boats, musical events and many other happenings. Or if you fancy a beer in a school, a bank or a public lavatory, Turku can offer even these peculiarities.
Arts and shopping in Turku
Turku is an ideal town to do shopping and enjoy cultural events at the same time, since everything is within walking distance. In between designer boutiques and department stores, you can pop into cosy cafes or exiting art galleries.
The surroundings of Turku offer many further opportunities for excursions e.g. the picturesque town of Naantali attractively located around its guest harbour, cruises to the beautiful archipelago with its thousands of islands, one-day fishing trips, guided sauna tours, tours to works by architect Alvar Aalto, route of seven old churches.
The Turku Archipelago
The Turku Archipelago is an internationally unique environment. More than 20,000 islands and islets has risen out of the sea after the Ice Age.
The beauty of the archipelago was created by the continental glacier that thousands of years ago slid over the bedrock giving it the permanent, beautiful shape. The archipelago comprises thousands of kilometres of shoreline.
The Turku archipelago is easily accessible by boat, car or even by bike. By road you can cross from one island to another by excellent bridges, ferries or boat connections. The Archipelago is close to Turku, and the distances are very short. You can stay in a comfortable hotel or bed & breakfast accommodation, in a rented cottage, at a camping site or, for instance, in a light house. We warmly recommend a visit especially in June, when the nature shows all its beauty.
The archipelago offers unique experiences in nature, interesting histories, indigenous culture and peace. There are idyllic marinas, island villages, old churches and a variety of programme. The archipelago Ring Route is almost 200 kilometres long and traverses most of the regional communes.
Please visit also Visit Turku website for more information.