A bit of a background
Turku is on the South West coast of Finland and is Finland’s oldest city. Easily accessible by just about any method of transport. It was, until 1809 (when some not so friendly neighbors called by) the capital of Finland, remained it’s most populous city until 1840 and to this day id the countries 6th largest city.
Why Would I wanna Visit Turku Anyways?
Right, so we know that Turku is Finland’s oldest city – well what comes with age? Culture (and hairy shoulders) that’s what! The city has culture coming out of its Aura.
- Turku Castle – Built in 1280 it is one Finland’s oldest buildings still in use.
- Turku Cathedral – Consecrated in 1300.
- The Biological Museum – A museum of the flora and fauna of Finland.
- Kakolanmäki Hill – This former prison sits atop one of the 7 hills of Turku and affords gorgeous views of the city.
- Sibelius Museum – A museum dedicated to the life and work of Jean Sibelius, composer, violinist and Finn.
Bars and Restaurants
- Pho Ngon – Vietnamese food in the forum shopping centre.
- Delhi Darbar – Indian food
- NIska – Pizzas by the river
- Blanko – Modern European food and occasional concert venue
- Cosmic Comic Cafe – The perfect place to grab a beer and play a game or 5. My personal favorite.
- Cup and pint – Cosy bar come cafe with wide range of beer
- The Old Bank – Huge selection of beers and ciders in, you guessed it, an old bank.
- Three Beers – Home to far more than three beers.
Getting to Turku
One thing I always notice about Finland is the quality of there public transport. There is a myriad of ways to get to Turku, with limited hassle. A bus from Helsinki will take around 3 hours. Or if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can fly in to Stockholm and take this beautiful ferry from as little as 15 euro.
Onni Bus are the only bus company I use in Finland. They have hundreds of connections, comfortable buses, free wi-fi, charging points…. The list goes on. And they’re cheap. They have buses going from Helsinki-Turku roughly every hour and starting at just 3 euro.
There’s not better way to arrive in Turku than by boat. I did it not so long ago and it was one of the most beautiful boat trips I’ve taken. From Stockholm it takes around 9 hours or slow sailing by small wooded islands. Again, surprisingly cheap starting at just 15 euro, when booked in advance here.
Turku has a small airport.Served well domestically but not as easily accessible international. There are regular flights from Stockholm and Riga, that’s about it. Consider maybe flying in to to Stockholm and staking the boat.
Where To Stay
Are you poor? Excellent, me too. I do not have many recommendations for accommodation in Turku, or anywhere in Finland for that matter. Finland is expensive and accommodation too. I have heard tell of a very cool hostel in an old ship on the banks of the river. Airbnb is also a viable option and a quick search tells me there is places starting from 20 euro per person .
Finland is a big country. Very big.
It seems a shame that so many people visiting settle for seeing for Helsinki. Ask any Finn and they will tell you that Helsinki is not the real Finland. Sure there are a couple of nice buildings like the train station and the cathedral. There is also a fine zoo. And a harbor full of cruise ships. But there is nothing uniquely Finnish about Helsinki, as a city she shows the relics of former oppressors and remains a capital city, modern but with that certain socialist flair.
If you want to truly experience Finland you have to leave Helsinki. Go anywhere. Anywhere at all. Except perhaps Vantaa or Espoo and you will see the real Finland. The true beauty of this unassuming gem.