Finland's oldest city – still going strong
Turku is Finland's oldest city, settled around the end of the 13th century. It was the most important city in the country until 1812, when Helsinki became the new Finnish capital, but Turku remains an important center for business, culture and education – and an enjoyable place to visit. Turku was one of the two European Capitals of Culture in 2011, along with Tallinn, Estonia.
The word Turku means marketplace. It is an apt name for the historic port city located at the mouth of the Aura River on the southwest coast of Finland with the beautiful Archipelago Sea on the city’s doorstep. Turku is officially bilingual. It is called Åbo in Swedish and a regular ferry route connects Turku with Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, across the Baltic Sea.
Visitors may find the city to be the most charming in the summer, with daylight hours stretching into the evening, many festivals and pleasant weather for an archipelago cruise or stroll along the city’s riverbanks. At the same time, Turku is also the official “Christmas City of Finland” and there is wonderful shopping, fun events and many delightful indoor sites to enjoy when the city celebrates the holiday spirit.
Turku is a great city to explore on foot, with most of the sights located within 1.5 miles of the lively Kauppatori Market Square in the city center. The imposing Turku Castle and impressive Turku Cathedral bear testament to the city’s long-standing position of power and influence. Finnish life of days gone by comes alive at the Kylämäki Village of Living History (free admission) and Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum, which showcases over 30 craftsman workshops and dwellings. Among the city’s other museums, you can enjoy an intriguing archeology museum, a number of interesting art museums and an extensive music museum. The city’s culinary scene is rapidly developing, so drop in at one of the cool restaurants and cafés along the way.
During the summer, a favorite activity for Finns and visitors alike is a half- or full-day cruise on the Archipelago Sea. Some cruises include a stop at an idyllic island, dinner and dance, or activities for children.
Fly with SAS to Turku
SAS Scandinavian Airlines offers convenient and comfortable flights from North America to Turku. Our flights depart from Chicago, New York (Newark) and Washington, DC and include a convenient stopover in Copenhagen or Stockholm. From Stockholm, you can also catch an overnight or daytime ferry to Turku.
Find out about flights to Turku on SAS today.
Kirjakahvila Bok Cafe
Vanha Suurtori 1
Tel. +358 2 469 1396
This culture cafe and bookshop is run by volunteers located in the historical Old Great Square. They have postcards and posters made by local artists for sale. Open from 11am to 7pm Monday to Friday, but there is often live acoustic music or other cultural events in the evening. /Mariana, ground crew
The Turku Castle, dating back to the 1280, is the largest surviving medieval building in Finland and one of the largest surviving medieval castles in Scandinavia. Nice day trip for the family. /Torbjörn
Christmas is a serious thing in Finland, the homeland of Santa Claus. There are a lot of things to do here around Christmas, some quite commercial, but others more genuine. Good activities for the children as well. /Antoine