Turku, the Food Capital of Finland
Turku is one of the most impostant cities in Finland. It is located in the South West, in the area of the Finnish Archipelago, and it is surrounded by the sea: representative of medieval Finland, of which it was the capital until 1812, today Turku is a modern city, easy to walk, a necessary stop if you want to visit the islands of the archipelago. A small but lively town considered the food and wine capital of Finland because of the wealth of local products and the presence of a new generation of chefs and admirers who put the exaltation of the product in first place. This guide is all about what to do, see and mostly what and where to eat in Turku, also considered the Food Capital of Finland: my advice is to stay at least 3 days so as to have time to savor its atmosphere.
How to get to Turku
Turku is served by daily trains that leave from Helsinki and take about 2 hours to reach their destination; the same distance and coverage are offered to those who move to or from Tampere. Domestic flights serve Turku Airport from Helsinki and other destinations in Finland. Turku can also be reached by car if you are touring Finland in an on the road that also includes the area of the Archipelago. I flew over Helsinki with Finnair and then I moved to Turku by train, read more here.
Sleeping in Turku
In Finland and Turku, you can easily find bed and breakfasts or apartments but there is no shortage of hotels for all budgets. I stayed at the Radisson Blu Marina Palace Hotel, centrally located on the Aura riverfront: spacious and quiet rooms, breakfast included, excellent location. Variable prices based on the period with recurring offers. I suggest you take a look at Booking to find the best offer from the Radisson and also from other hotels in the area.
To see and do in Turku
Turku can be easily seen in a day, without doing things in a hurry. The city is divided into two parts by the river Aura on whose shores the majority of Turku’s social life pours out in the summer. On the east bank of the river you can visit the Cathedral of Turku, the university district, the old city with the only cobblestone road still standing, the museum Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova where the remains of ancient Turku are kept, swept away completely from a fire in 1800.
The East bank is connected to the West by a series of bridges and a free ferry, for the lazy ones; to the west are the Castle with its view of the Bay, the maritime center Forum Marinum, the Museum of Art, the Kauppahalli covered market and a whole series of places to eat and drink, from morning to evening.
In spring and summer, the Aurajoki river literally dresses up, with the restaurant/bar ships opening up to welcome the hot season and Låna’s electric ships that can be rented to organize a picnic and sail the river.
And for a trip out of town, all about on barbecue and relaxation, but without necessarily moving too much I suggest to reach Ruissalo Island: very close to Turku, is famous for its beaches, its calm and its nature.
At the Ruissalo Spa hotel you can stop for a drink or something to eat, for a barbecue or in the summer for a swim.
Eating in Turku: what and where
Writing about Turku’s food and wine offer, reducing it to a list of names and addresses diminishes the value of this city, which has rightfully been declared a Food and Wine Capital of Finland. The offer is really wide and meets all the needs so these are just some of the addresses that I recommend you score, provided that it is really difficult to find a place where you eat badly.
Kakolanruusu is one of the most interesting restaurants in Turku: it is located on the hill of Kakola (Kakola Hill), inside what used to be the former prison, now converted into a multifaceted space made up of apartments, a craft brewery, a pastry shop and well soon also a first level SPA. The owners of Kakolanruusu are the same as the already famous Kaskis: the menu in pairing with the wines is very good.
MKitchen & Café, inside the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova museum, it is famous for its brunch and lunch: when the weather is nice, sitting outside is really pleasant. The area dedicated to confectionery is managed by the award-winning MBakery, famous in Finland and abroad, and creator of the official Turku cake made with chocolate and blackberries, one of the most popular products in the area.
NOOA, with its location on the west bank of the river, it is one of the favorite places of the locals: you eat (very well) but you can also stop just for a drink. The open kitchen is the plus of the place.
Kauppahalli, the covered market is what is expected of a classic market, only that everything is perfectly organized and ordered: about 50 local stalls where you can taste local specialties including cheese, but also desserts, fis, and meat. It is believed to be ideal for a quick stop but in reality, you can safely stop for a complete meal, from appetizers to desserts.
Café Art it is the ideal place where to sip a coffee and eat a korvapuusti (cinnamon brioche) or a voisilmäpulla (cardamom brioche with a heart of butter and sugar).
To allow all visitors (but also to locals!) To enjoy the city’s gastronomic offer to the full, the Turku Food Walk Card is available: valid for 3 days from the date of first use, it allows you to choose 5 of the 10 restaurants that have joined the programme and you can stop for a bite in each of them to eat something. At the price of 44 euros (2018 price, drinks not included), the experience is really pleasant.
If you want to taste the flavors of the place, I recommend the already mentioned korvapuusti and voisilmäpulla, ruisleipä (rye bread), karjalanpiirakka (black bread that contains rice porridge), omenalörtsy (apple pancakes), grillimakkara (sausages to be roasted on the fire). A separate chapter on salmiakki, the typical slightly salted Norwegian licorice that is literally mind-blowing.
If you’ve read all of my guide, you’re all set: you’re ready to book your city break to Turku or, why not, your holiday in the city!
[This Turku City Guide is the result of a trip sponsored by Visit Turku, supported by Finnair. All the pictures have been taken, as usual, by Giuseppe].