A free ferry shuttles travellers and their bikes (no cars allowed) across the Aurajoki River every day from 6:15AM to 9PM, or until 11PM in summer. The trip covers a grand distance of 78 meters and takes about a minute and a half. A running local gag is to ask visitors if they've taken the trip from Turku across to Åbo on the Föri yet; actually, both sides of the river are called the same, Åbo is just the Swedish name. Incidentally, the name comes from the Swedish färja and is related to the English word "ferry".
Turku was for a long time the most important population center in Finland. It was the first capital city of Finland from 1809 to 1812 and continued to be the largest city by population in Finland until the end of the 1840s. Nowadays its significance nationwide is not the same as it used to be, but Turku is a regional capital and important location for business and culture in Northern Europe.
From ancient castle to modern docks, museums to avant-garde music, Norman Miller explores the creative heart of Turku - before the crowds arrive.
Winter may creep up on Turku but Finland's former capital doesn't do seasonal gloom. Long nights just focus one of northern Europe's secret beauties on cosy daytime hangouts and heat-generating nightlife, while the city gets ready to step into the cultural spotlight as European Capital of Culture.
The Capital of Culture starts in January, with concerts along the Aura River, dockyard art installations and extravagant fireworks displays. The festivities will also celebrate Turku's dark side – watch out for the "live music and images of death" concert series and the "death and its many faces" exhibitions.
Tourist Attractions in Turku
Many people travel to Turku to enjoy some great museums, parks, and shopping, and stopping over for at least day or two in Turku is more than worthwhile if you're traveling through Finland's Western Finland region. Turku is one of Finland's more well-known travel destinations, and its most popular attractions include the Turku Cathedral and Turku Castle. There's a lot more interesting things to see and do in Turku:-
Feeling like a little kid?
The Turku Region is a great destination for the whole family. There's Moominworld and Väski Adventure Island, the Traffic City in Kupittaanpuisto park, the Biological Museum and Zoolandia.
You can also be knighted on the Little Knights' Tour in Turku Castle or mint your very own coin on the Aboa Vetus Museum's children's tour.
The city of thousands of events
Turku offers festivities and events all year round. A wealth of sports, theatre, festivals and fairs means an active visitor will always find something of interest. Time your visit so as not to miss the Mediaeval Market, the Paavo Nurmi Marathon, Ruisrock, DBTL city festival, Turku Music Festival or many of the excellent theatre shows.
Shopping and design in Turku
The centre of Turku is dotted with the workshops and boutiques of young designers. Only a few blocks away from Market Square, skilfully crafted tableware, clothes, accessories, decorative objects and furniture await new owners. Turku is continually producing new, interesting designers. Pick up your design map from Turku Touring Info and make some unique finds.
If design is not your cup of tea, Turku offers plenty of other shopping, too. The centre has a variety of different speciality shops, or check out Finland's newest shopping mall Skanssi.
Turku Castle (Turun linna)
At the south tip of the city, near the ferry terminals. A must for everyone visiting the city and is one of the country's most popular tourist attractions. This old castle dates from the 1280s, and has been carefully renovated. There is always some exhibition in the castle premises. Highlights include the two dungeons and magnificent banquet halls, and a historical museum of medieval Turku in a maze of restored rooms in the castle's old bailey. Tours of the stronghold are given hourly in English. They give a good account of the castle's history. €7, optional guided tour €2.
Towers over the river and the town and is one of Finland's most important Cathedrals. Tours run 9AM-7PM during mid September to mid April and 9AM to 8PM mid April to mid September. Free.
In 1827 a fire destroyed almost all of Turku. Luostarinmäki was one of the few areas that were saved, and now it hosts a handicrafts museum.
Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova
This museum is actually two museums: Aboa Vetus tells about the history of Turku, and Ars Nova is a museum of modern art. Aboa Vetus is based on ancient remainings of old buildings and the Aboa Vetus exhibition is located there.
Dubbed a "Village of Living History", here you can see newborn lambs and chicken (depends on time of year), as well as a genuine Finnish farm from the 1950s. Very close to the city center but yet you feel like you are in the country side.
Turku Art Museum (Turun taidemuseo)
The regional museum of Finland proper. A central part of the art life in Turku since 1904.
A beautiful national park on a island located 6 km from the Kauppatori. There is also a championship level golf course, Aura Golf , founded in 1958. The Ruissalo Spa Hotel is its immediate vicinity.
Caribia Spa and Posankka
Relax in the spa and see the famous cross between a pig and a duck, Posankka. This pink statue was made by Alvar Gullichsen, and it has become a known landmark in front of the spa.
Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art
An art museum named after Finnish artist and sculptor Wäinö Aaltonen (1896-1966), whose statues of famous Finns and various nationalist themes can be found throughout Finland. Perhaps the best-known is the classical Greek-style statue of "Flying Finn" and nine-time Olympic gold medalist Paavo Nurmi. Five copies of the statue exist, one in the museum, and the statue's best known exploit was when students from the Helsinki U. of Tech. snuck one onto the wreck of the 17th-century Swedish warship Vasa just days before it was salvaged. The museum also hosts changing exhibitions of other artists. 7€.
Forum Marinum and Suomen Joutsen
A national special museum that also works as a maritime centre while having the famous Suomen Joutsen (Swan of Finland) just outside of it. A ship that is considered as the national ship of finns. Both are located just after the guest harbour when going down stream, you can't miss it.
Located only 150 meters from the Turku cathedral is a low modern concrete building, housing an interesting collection of musical instruments as well as displays of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, the man and his music. On display are more than 1400 musical instruments and music art from all around the globe. These include instruments hundreds of years old, such as lutes and early viols; harpsichords, clavichords and early pianos; and downstairs, many organs. Additionally, a room is reserved for Sibelius´s life and work. During the autumn, winter, and spring seasons the museum hosts chamber music concerts on Wednesday evenings. The collections available at the Sibelius museum are of interest to both experts and ordinary music lovers. The museum was founded in 1926 by Otto Andersson, the first Professor of Musicology and Folklore at Åbo Akademi University.
Contemporary art gallery organisation Suunnitelma B. Provides inexpensive and easily approachable gallery space for young artists and fresh environment for new ideas to emerge. Monthly changing exhibition and more randomly organized events.