Turku

10 Things You Simply Must Do in Turku

04 Feb 2021
We’re not interested in demands, forceful language and telling you that you have to do stuff, so don’t be put off by the aggressive language of that title. Actually, we take that back, these things should be mandatory in Turku, you should have to prove that you’ve ticked them off before being allowed back on the road to your next destination.

Visit Finland’s most important church

Turku Cathedral is no ordinary cathedral. This is the most important religious building in the country, a massively influential house of worship that has seen Finland grow from an idea into a living, breathing being. The original church went down with most of the city in the Great Fire of 1827, but it was rebuilt with love, care and determination, those three most Finnish of characteristics. Visiting Turku Cathedral should be your first port of call in Turku.

Storm the fortress

Don’t actually storm the fortress — you won’t have much luck. Turku Castle is the ying to the cathedral’s yang, the 1b tourist attraction in the city and a stunning piece of historic architecture on the city’s harbour. This is Finland’s most visited museum, for good reason. Be sure to give it plenty of attention.

Chomp on some fish cock

Wait, what? A Finnish speciality, kalakukko is a loaf of bread that happens to have a fish baked inside of it, which is all sorts of unusual. The word ‘kalakukko’ actually translates as ‘fish cock’, so best of luck ordering that one in a Turku restaurant. Be sure to keep a straight face.

Get your riff on at a festival

Nobody does rock festivals quite like the Finns, and Turku has more than its fair share of hard rock celebrations. Ruisrock is the main one, the oldest rock festival in the country and the second oldest in Europe, a bucket list extravaganza for anyone who likes their music loud and the guitars distorted.

Travel down the Oxen Road

Finland is a country that understands the importance of its own history, an atmosphere that is almost tangible on the famous Oxen Road. Known as Hämeen Härkätie in Finnish, the road covers 162km connecting Turku to the rest of the world, and has allowed the city to develop through trade since the 9th century. Stop at one of the many inns on the road, for a beer or three.

Museum-hopping along the river

One of the great attractions of Turku is the Aura River, and a walk along it is an absolute must. Traverse the 2km between the cathedral and the castle by strolling along the water’s edge, stopping at museums as you go. You’ll find the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova Museum, the Biological Museum and plenty others on this route.

Gossip at the Market Hall

Turku’s Market Hall is a great place to explore in the morning, as the people of the city descend upon the building in search of nourishment and gossip, two bizarrely similar things. This is the second oldest market hall in Finland and a real centre of social existence in the country’s oldest city.

Board some historic ships

The Forum Marinum is another excellent museum in Turku, but it is the anchored boats outside that stand out. These ships cover a wide range of history both cheerful and miserable, boats used for exploration as well as boats used for, to put it bluntly, murder. Check out the museum and then head into the boats, and maybe find yourself a new life.

Snap the PigDuck

Finland is weird. You don’t need us to tell you, this is the land of the Moomins after all, and you’ll find plenty of unorthodox stuff dotted around the country. It isn’t a great surprise to find a huge statue of a PigDuck in Turku, a pink amalgamation that looks like it came from the mind of Dr Alphonse Mephesto. Get yourself a photo of this unusual monument.

Drink coffee, and lots of it

Finland is the coffee drinking capital of the world. Did you know that? You do now. Nobody drinks more coffee than the Finns, which might explain the unusual creativity and willingness to go to places that other people simply won’t. Turku’s creativity soul and youthful population means the city is full of great cafes in which to drink the good stuff, namely Cafe Art, Tiirikkala and Gaggui Kaffela, among others.

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