Hop on a cheap flight to Turku and:
- admire the sculptures and paintings at the Museum of Art
- go for a stroll at Kupittaa Park
- dine at one of the floating restaurants
Perhaps the oldest of Finland’s cities, Turku was also briefly the capital of Finland (in 1809 for a brief stretch of time), before it handed over the right of national centre to Helsinki. Located on the southwest coast of Finland across both sides of the Aura River, Turku has always been and remains today an important seaport for Finland. Today, it boasts a population of 175,000 people, proud of their beautiful city. In 2011 Turku was the European Capital of Culture, an honour it shared with Tallinn. airBaltic flights to Turku land at the local airport, some 8 km from the city centre.
Turku has two official languages, the first being Finnish, which the majority of its inhabitants speak. There is however a sizable population that speaks Swedish, making this the second official language of Turku. English is widely understood and spoken in Turku, so any city-break should not require learning much more than the basics, to get in a little with the locals. You can always say you are from tois pual joke (the other side of the river.)
See and Do
A centre from its very beginning, Turku is an enjoyable destination for several notable sights within the city. Leave the hotel behind and take the cheap Föri ferry across the river (it’s free) or walk along one of the nine bridges that span the water. One of the most compelling attractions in the city is Turku Castle, built in 1280 and the once home to several (in) famous Finnish citizens. Do see as well the nearby Forum Marinum with an interesting overview of the shipping industry and the history of Turku vessels, especially during the wars. Climb aboard the ships outside of the museum. Also within walking distance the archaeological wonder of Aboa Vetus, an excavated medieval village, with the Ars Nova just above, where visitors may delight in a collection of contemporary art.
In the once centre square of Vanha Suurtori stands Turku Cathedral, rebuilt several times after (surprise) fire swept through the town. Inside, the ceiling glistens with stars, so crane your neck and enjoy. Other notable sights include the outstanding Luostarinmaki Handicrafts Museum, an open air museum showcasing original buildings, somehow untouched by fire, the Turku Art Museum which features modern Finnish art in a building itself worth the visit, the covered market and Qwensel Apteekkimuseo the oldest house in Turku - now a Pharmacy Museum with glass bottles and other paraphernalia.
Turku has an enjoyable entertainment scene as well. Head down to one of several boats converted into hip bars in the heart of the city or plan your city-break for Ruisrock, the yearly rock festival that occurs every August. For the kids, just outside the city is Muumimaailma, or Moomin World, an amusement park inspired by a favourite Finnish children’s book.