How do you recognise a medieval European town? Some say it is the riverfront, the market square, the castle and the cathedral. That sounds familiar – in fact, that sounds like Turku!
Turku is not only the one city in Finland to meet all of the above criteria, but also a vibrant modern city of many events and a European Capital of Culture in 2011.
Along the Aura River – the Plough River – you can walk through medieval cobblestone streets. The river is the heart of the city. During the summer, the riverbanks come to life when people gather here to eat, drink and listen to music. There are old sailing ships moored in the river, and you can take cruises out into the archipelago or to nearby Naantali. Cruise ships sail daily from Turku Harbor across the Baltic to Sweden.
Officially, Turku has been on the map by the Aurajoki river since 1229, and the buzz hasn’t stopped since. In the summer the city overflows with events and festivals: tango, middle age, music, theatre, art, design and much more.
The sights to see on the eastern bank include the cathedral, the Sibelius Museum, the home museum Ett Hem, the Old Town Centre, the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova museum, the Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum, the Municipal Theatre of Turku and the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art.
Cross the bridge or take the free Föri ferry to the west bank, where the main attractions include the Turku Castle, Forum Marinum maritime centre and its museum ship fleet (including the full-rigger Suomen Joutsen), as well as the Pharmacy Museum and Qwensel House. Closer to Market Square, there is the recently renovated Turku Art Museum, the Market Hall and the magnificent Main Library.
Seafaring for beginners
You don’t have to be an avid sailor with experience of sailing the Seven Seas to fully enjoy the uniqueness of the Turku Archipelago. Among the world’s largest – and to some among its most beautiful – the archipelago is accessible by foot, bike, connecting vessels, ferries, car or waterbus.
The Turku Archipelago is all about rugged untouched nature, but it also hides surprising oases where you can relax with a round of golf, a spa visit or satisfy the gourmand in you.