The Aura river, which dissects the city centre, is an intrinsic part of the Turku cityscape. It is easy to book a city break in a riverside hotel and the city’s most significant sights and landmarks are all found near the river. During a walk along the riverbank and through the cobbled streets lined with old wooden buildings you can sense the historical importance of this old university town.
The 2011 selection of Turku as the European Capital of Culture gave a boost to the city’s already vibrant cultural life. Many visitors spend a few days in Turku on their way to the beautiful Turku Archipelago.
The exact year the city was founded is not known, but it is believed to have been established in the late 1200s. Thanks to the city’s long history, there are many cultural heritage attractions in Turku. The best-known of these are the over 700-year-old Turku Castle and Turku Cathedral, consecrated in 1300. You can easily spend several hours in Turku Castle, which also organises tours specifically for children.
In 1827, the Great Fire of Turku destroyed most of the city, but the old wooden buildings and atmosphere of medieval Turku have been preserved in the Handicrafts Museum. Old excavated ruins are on display in the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova museum, which is also home to a museum of contemporary art. The fascinating, specialist music museum, the Sibelius Museum is also located in Turku. In the Port Arthur city district walk along cobbled streets lined with old wooden buildings, and visit the impressive Mikaelinkirkko Church.
Go for a walk along the banks of the beautiful Aura river and visit various sights throughout the day. Start at the Cathedral, by the old city centre, and carry on past museums, cafés, and sailing ships, such as the famous Suomen Joutsen, all the way to Turku Castle at the mouth of the river. In summer in particular, visit outdoor cafés on the banks of the river in between sightseeing, and cross the river by strolling along one of the beautiful bridges or by taking the Föri ferry, which runs year-round. In addition to cafés, there are many excellent restaurants in Turku where you can enjoy a pleasant dinner. Do your food shopping in Turku’s well-known market, or in the market hall, established in 1896, which also has plenty of places for lunch.
It is easy to travel to Turku, as the city is well served by buses and trains. There are also daily flights to the nearby airport. There are several multi-storey car parks in the city centre, so parking is not a problem for visitors arriving by car. Turku is also the starting point of the Archipelago Trail, which is a circular route that connects islands in the archipelago via bridges and ferries. The journey can be made by car or bike.
Turku’s main attractions can be seen in a few days, but the city also offers many things to see and experience during a longer visit, both in the city centre and the surrounding area. Both children and adults enjoy spending time among the impressive buildings and beautiful scenery on the banks of the river.