Welcome to Turku, the oldest city in Finland and a vibrant cultural hub that offers plenty of activities and attractions for visitors. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie or a nature lover, Turku has something to offer. Follow our 3-day travel guide to make the most of your stay in Turku.
Day 1: Historical Sights and Local Cuisine
Start your day by exploring Turku’s rich history and architecture. The Turku Castle, located on the banks of the Aura River, is one of the most important landmarks of the city. This medieval castle was built in the 13th century and has served as a military fortress, a prison and a royal residence over the centuries. Don’t miss the chance to visit the castle’s museum and see the exhibitions of art, history and culture.
After your castle visit, take a stroll through the picturesque streets of Turku’s Old Town, which is filled with charming cafés, boutiques and galleries. Stop by the Turku Cathedral, which dates back to the 13th century and is one of the most iconic buildings in Finland. The cathedral is known for its stunning Gothic architecture and beautiful frescoes, as well as its impressive organ, which has over 7,000 pipes.
For lunch, head to one of Turku’s many local restaurants and try some traditional Finnish cuisine. One popular dish is «kalakukko», a pastry filled with fish and pork that is a local specialty. Other must-try dishes include «karjalanpaisti», a hearty meat stew, and «salmiakki», a salty licorice candy that is a favorite among Finns.
Day 1 Itinerary:
- Turku Castle
- Turku Cathedral
- Old Town
- Lunch at a local restaurant
Day 2: Nature and Art
Start your second day in Turku with a visit to the Turku Art Museum, which is located in an impressive Art Nouveau building in the city center. The museum showcases a diverse collection of Finnish and international art, from classical to contemporary. If you’re a fan of modern art, don’t miss the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art, which is dedicated to the works of the famous Finnish sculptor.
Turku Art Museum
After your museum visit, take a short bus ride to the Ruissalo Island, which is a beautiful nature reserve that is popular among locals for picnics, hiking and swimming. The island also features a historic villa and gardens that are open to visitors. Don’t miss the chance to try the famous Finnish sauna experience at the Ruissalo Spa, which has a sauna and a hot tub overlooking the sea.
For dinner, head back to the city center and try some of Turku’s international cuisine. The city has a diverse food scene that offers everything from sushi to pizza. If you’re looking for something truly Finnish, try some «poronkäristys», a reindeer meat dish that is a delicacy in Lapland.
Day 2 Itinerary:
- Turku Art Museum
- Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art
- Ruissalo Island
- Dinner at a local restaurant
Day 3: River Cruise and Market Square
Start your last day in Turku with a relaxing river cruise along the Aura River, which is a great way to see the city from a different perspective. The boats depart from the Market Square, which is also a popular spot for shopping and dining. The Market Square is one of the liveliest areas of Turku, and it’s home to many outdoor events and concerts throughout the year.
After your river cruise, take a walk along the Aura River and explore the nearby parks and gardens. The Vartiovuori Observatory, located on a hill overlooking the river, offers great views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
For lunch, head back to the Market Square and try some of the local street food, such as «munkki», a Finnish donut, or «lihapiirakka», a savory meat pastry. If you’re looking for a sit-down meal, check out the restaurant boats that are docked along the river and offer great views of the city.
Day 3 Itinerary:
- River cruise
- Market Square
- Aura River walk
- Lunch at the Market Square
- Vartiovuori Observatory
Where to Stay
Turku has a wide range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. If you’re looking for a central location, we recommend staying in the city center or the Old Town. Some popular options include the Radisson Blu Marina Palace Hotel, the Scandic Plaza Turku and the Solo Sokos Hotel Turun Seurahuone.
Where to Eat
Turku has a vibrant food scene that offers something for every taste and budget. Some popular restaurants include the Kaskis, which serves modern Nordic cuisine, the Blanko, which specializes in Italian dishes, and the Harald, which offers Viking-themed meals. For street food, check out the food trucks at the Market Square or the riverside restaurants.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to explore Turku, consider taking one of the free walking tours that are offered by local guides. These tours cover the main sights and attractions of the city and provide valuable insights into the history and culture of Turku. Check out the Visit Turku website for more information and schedules.
When is the best time to visit Turku?
The best time to visit Turku is during the summer months, from June to August, when the weather is mild and there are many outdoor events and festivals. However, the city is also beautiful in the winter, when it’s covered in snow and offers plenty of winter activities, such as ice-skating and skiing.
How do I get around Turku?
Turku is a compact city that is easy to navigate on foot or by bike. You can rent a bike at one of the many rental shops in the city, or use the city’s public transportation system, which includes buses and a ferry that crosses the Aura River. Taxis are also available, but they can be expensive.
What are some other attractions in Turku?
Turku has many other attractions that are worth visiting, such as the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova museum, which showcases the history and art of Turku, the Turku Archipelago, which is a beautiful network of islands and waterways that offer great outdoor activities, and the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs classical and contemporary music in a stunning concert hall.
Turku is a hidden gem of Finland that offers a unique blend of history, culture and nature. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, there’s always something new to discover in Turku. Follow our 3-day travel guide to see the best of the city and create unforgettable memories.
For more information on Turku and its attractions, visit the official tourism website of Turku.