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Turku is a city on the Southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of Aura River in the region of Finland Proper. Turku, as a town, was settled during the 13th century and founded most likely at the end of the 13th century, making it the oldest city in Finland. It quickly became the most important city of the region of current day Finland, a status it retained for hundreds of years. It was the first official capital city of the Grand Duchy of Finland from 1809 to 1812 and continued to be the largest city by population in Finland until the end of the 1840s. Today it's the third most populous city-region in Finland with around 330 000 inhabitants living in the Turku sub-region. Turku is an important location for business and culture in Northern Europe. Due to its location, it has a notable commercial and passenger seaport with over three million passengers travelling through the Port of Turku each year to Stockholm and Mariehamn. In 2011 Turku was the European Capital of Culture along with Tallinn (the capital of Estonia). Since 1996 it has also been the official Christmas City of Finland. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Turku
- Turku Castle (Turun linna), Linnankatu 80, ☎ +358-2-2620300. Daily 10AM-6PM; reduced hours and closed Mon in Oct-Mar low season. 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 during high season. They give a good account of the castle's history. €8, optional guided tour €2.
- Turku Cathedral, ☎ +358 40 3417100. 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; museum upstairs €2/1/1.
- Luostarinmäki. 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. €6/4/4, family €15.50.
- 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.
- Kuralan kylämäki. summertime Tue-Su 10–18, also open around Christmas. Dubbed a "Village of Living History", here you can see a genuine Finnish farm from the 1950s. Workshops include hay making, 1950s handicraft and experimental archaeology. A few kilometres from the city centre, but yet you feel like you are in the country side. Free.
- Turku Art Museum (Turun taidemuseo). Tue–Fri 11–19, Sat-Sun 11–17. The regional museum of Finland proper. A central part of the art life in Turku since 1904. €8/5, school children under 16 for free, Friday after 16 free.
- Ruissalo. 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, Itäinen Rantakatu 38 (15 min from Market Sq, or take bus 14/15), ☎ +358 2 2620850. Tu-Su 10–18. 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 medallist 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. €6/4/–.
- Forum Marinum (Just after the guest harbour when going downstream, you can't miss it.), ☎ +358 2 267 9511, fax: +358 2 267 9515. wintertime: Tue–Sun 11–18, summertime: Mon–Sun 11–19. A national special museum that also works as a maritime centre while having some quite special museum ships, among them the Suomen Joutsen, considered the national ship of Finns, and the 1887 wooden barque Sigyn. €6/4/– for the museum; €16/10/– for the museum and all ships (wintertime 9,50/6 €/–, not all ships), ship tickets also individually.
- Sibelius Museum, Biskopsgatan 17 FIN-20500 Åbo (Turku). Tue–Sun 11–16, Wed also 18–20. Located only 150 meters from the Turku cathedral is a low modern concrete building, housing a collection of musical instruments from all around the globe, as well as displays of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, the man and his music. Chamber music concerts on Wednesday evenings (except summer). €3/1, guiding included, children under 18 free; concerts €8/4.
- B-Galleria, Aninkaistenkatu 5 L 5. 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.
Turku has approximately 175,000 inhabitants, and was the most important city in Finland from the 1300s until 1812, when the Russians moved the capital to Helsinki (closer to Russia and farther from Sweden). Turku remained Finland's main city for a while after, but its ambitions were dealt a death blow in 1827, when a raging fire destroyed most of the city.
Today's Turku remains the third largest city in Finland, after the Greater Helsinki metropolitan area and Tampere. Some of the main attractions of Turku are its history and the great natural beauty of the neighboring archipelago. Turku is at its best during the summertime, and hosts a great number of festivals, including rock festivals, chamber music festivals and a fair.
- Flowpark.  A cool new climbing park on the courtyard of shopping center Skanssi.
- Ruisrock.  Visit the oldest rock festival in Finland that takes place in the Ruissalo island in the beginning of July.
- Down by the Laituri.  A city festival with various bands playing around the city and mainly just a lot of people by the riverboats. Takes place at start of August.
- Uuden musiikin festivaali (UTM).  A city festival with electronic music scattered at different locations around Turku.
- Turku Jazz. . A jazz festival held every spring.
- The Medieval Market.  (Keskiaikaiset markkinat) takes usually place at the last weekend of June. The old market square is filled with medieval action for the whole weekend, from sales to hangings to music and dance plays.
- Turku Modern. Annual modern music festival takes place in the beautiful city of Turku in July. Top notch line-up with the hottest electronic club sound ambassadors from Finland and abroad.
For proper restaurant meals, expect to pay €10-€30 - lower end with some simple pasta or soup with water or a soft drink, and the higher end with a high-grade steak meal with good wine. For fast food or pizzeria meals, you will generally need to pay under €10. Burger meals are around €5-€8 (including drink and fries), kebabs and pizzas are about the same.
Generally, proper restaurants are open until 10-11PM, on weekends maybe an hour longer. There are no proper restaurants open in Turku after midnight. Fast food chains, pizzerias and other such places are open later at night, some as late as 3-5AM. In some establishments, the bar may remain open for drinks even though the kitchen has closed and no food is available.
Hesburger is the dominant burger chain in Turku, and you will find several of these in the city centre. Pizzerias are frequently kebab-pizzerias, offering both Turkish kebab and Italian pizza dishes on their menu. You will also find a lot of these downtown. Unfortunately, the restaurants offering the finest kebabs are not located in the core downtown.
- Ege Kebab Pizzeria, Kousankatu 1 near Itäkeskus, by the traffic light intersection, in Varissuo. Reviewed as the best kebab restaurant in Turku  and one of the best in the whole country.
- Milan, Eerikinkatu 5, opposite cinema Julia (downtown). Kebab-pizzeria with excellent pizzas and kebabs.
- Turun Center Kebab Pizzeria. Near the Aura river (Aurajoki) in front of Wärtsilä.
- Sisilia, Aninkaistenkatu 3 20100 Turku. Servers decent kebabs and pizzas. Famous for the price: all kebabs and pizzas €5 (for students, but you don't really need an I.D.).
- Pizzeria Napoli, Puutarhakatu 20 (near Mikael's Church, less than 1 km from city centre toward harbour). Traditional style pizzeria with wide selection of decent pizzas.
During the lunch time, usually from 11am to 15pm, most restaurants serve food for reasonable prices. Lunch restaurants and lists in Turku can be found at lounaat.info.
- Bremer. All meals around €10: pizza, wok, burgers, tortillas. Uudenmaankatu 1.
- Pippurimylly. The Peppermill is a nostalgic family restaurant where bluesquared table cloths and tasty beefs have been a part of Turku's weekly routines and holidays from the year 1974.
- Kortteliravintola Kerttu (at Läntinen pitkäkatu 35, near the railway station). They have a laundromat, free wireless Internet, newspapers to read and a very comfortable atmosphere.
- Panini Caffè Ristorante, address: Linnankatu 3. Good Italian food at reasonable prices.
- Pizzeria Dennis. Well known and respected Italian restaurant.
- Viikinkiravintola Harald (Viking Restaurant), Aurakatu 3. mon-thu 11-24, fri 11-01 sat 12-01, sun 15-22. Higher mid-range. Located in the heart of the city. A pseudo-authentic Viking style environment. Several fish, bird and game dishes. One of the few restaurants which serve Reindeer.
Restaurant quality food is readily found in Turku. Most famous are the restaurant boats on the banks of the River Aura. Some of them close for the winter, but others remain open throughout the year. Other famous restaurants include:
- Enkeliravintola ("Angel Restaurant"), downtown on Kauppiaskatu, decorated with many art objects related to angels and focusing on warm, friendly atmosphere.
- Ravintola Suomalainen Pohja, ☎ +3582 251 2000. Is in downtown on Aurakatu 24 next to Turku Art Museum and Puolala Park. Excellent staff and good kitchen makes sure you'll visit there again.
- Rocca. Along the riverside towards the harbor from downtown - co-owned by the famous ice hockey player Saku Koivu.
- Vaakahuone. Aurajoki riverside Castlestreet (Linnankatu) 38.
- Trattoria Romana, Hämeenkatu 9. An Italian trattoria, excellent price-quality relationship. Tip: try their unrivalled pizza margherita.
- Royal Curry House. An Indian restaurant. €7.50 to €15.
- Oscar's Place (Oscarin Olohuone), Eerikinkatu 10 (in hotel Hamburger Börs). Opened in 1895, this German-style pub-restaurant was at the forefront of Turku gastronomy for a long time. Post-renovation, though, the ambience is airy but nondescript and the menu is now a somewhat odd mix of the gourmet (escargots, duck leg confit) and the not so gourmet (burritos and pizza). €20-40.
- Restaurant & Bar Pinella (Ravintola & Baari Pinella), Vanha Suurtori 2, ☎ +358 (2) 445 6400, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Pinella is a landmark building on the river in the heart of Turku. It has been transformed into a new contemporary bar and restaurant, creating a fresh chapter in its history as an important cultural and artistic venue.
Restaurants and bars have varying closing hours, but generally, the popular nightclubs and discos are open until 4AM. Last call always occurs half an hour before closing time, and is indicated by the bar staff turning the lights off for a few seconds, then turning them back on. They may repeat this a few times in quick succession to make sure the patrons get it. It's generally smart to leave about ten minutes before the last call, to avoid being caught in the rush of everybody trying to leave at once, especially if you are planning to get back to your night spot by a taxi.
Night clubs tend to have guarded cloakrooms where you can leave any of your outer garments in exchange for a ticket. Using the coat service is generally considered mandatory even if this is not explicitly pointed out. The cloakroom fee is usually 2 - 2,50 euros. Do not lose the ticket; the bar staff will often not want to hash out ticket confusions during closing time when things are at their most chaotic. If you lose the ticket, you may be told to come back the following day to get your things, expect to be able to prove the jacket is your by telling the staff the make of the jacket/colour of lining/contents of pockets.
The legal drinking age in Finland is 18 for mild alcoholic drinks (up to 20%/40-proof) and 20 for stronger drinks than that, but virtually all establishments sell stronger drinks to 18-year-olds as well. The minimum age required to enter bars/pubs/nightclubs differs; legally, one must be at least 18 to enter places that serve alcohol, but many clubs and bars have higher age limits (20 - 24 yrs).
- Kirjakahvila, Vanha Suurtori 1. Located at the historical Old Great Square, this is a culture cafe and a bookshop (hence the name, which means "Book Cafe") run by volunteers. Besides books there are also a lot of comics, postcards and posters by local artists for sale. Freshly baked cakes every day, even for vegans. Free wireless Internet available, ask the staff for passwords. Open from 11AM to 7PM, from M-F, but there is often live acoustic music or other cultural events in the evening.
- Cafe Mansikkapaikka, Piispankatu 11, a old yellow wooden house. The name means "A place where wild strawberries can be found", and the interior and the atmosphere is very romantic and cosy. The tea is served in small strawberry-themed tea pots and you can choose from an assortment of 30 different teas.
- Cosmic Comic Cafe, Kauppiaskatu 4 (Forum Shopping Centre). A cafe for comics lovers. Offers drinks, comics books for free reading and hosts various events from time to time.
- Latte Cafe, Kristiinankatu 5. Latte Cafe is a sweet little cafe at downtown Turku. Special teas, coffees (from all around the world), paninis, salads & toasts. They also have cakes, buns, croissants and a lot of sweet surprises. Fruit non-alcoholic cocktails.
- Cafe Fontana, Aurakatu 1. Street-level cafe in historical milieu in the heart of the city, opposite to Town Hall park, near Aura bridge. Also lunch and bar.
- For the late teens-early twenties crowd, the Night Club Marilyn is particularly popular as a disco/night club.
- For a similar disco experience for early twenties upwards, there are a number of options such as night club Apollo. Another popular night spot for mid-to-late twenties is Börs Night Club in the same building as the hotel Hamburger Börs (but open to all, not just hotel guests).
- Nightclub Onnela, at Aurakatu 14, is popular among exchange students. You can find them socializing on Wednesdays.
- For proper dancing (not disco dancing), Restaurant Galax  is the recommended place in Turku. The age group skews towards the 40s-50s.
- In the summertime, it is very popular to spend the early evening until midnight or so on the restaurant boats on the banks of the River Aura, and when it gets a little chilly, move indoors to a restaurant or night club. Examples of these river boats include Donna, Cindy, Papa Joe and Svarte Rudolf.
- Dynamo. At Linnankatu, opposite the main library, caters for hipsters with a passion for slightly more eclectic sound. Downstairs indie pop, electro and rock 'n' roll are the main draws, upstairs it's chiefly soul, funk and disco. Attracts a healthy amount of exchange students.
- Monk. The best and pretty much the only jazz club in town. Musical scale includes happy jazz, retromodern club jazz, funk, afro and Latin stuff. Djs on weekends, live jazz 2–3 days a week.
- Klubi. The leading rock venue in Turku. Goth, punk, electronica, ska, prog, grunge, indie/alternative - you name it, they've got it.
- Forte. Tends to be busy thanks to cheap drinks and daily opening hours (as opposed to majority of the other clubs in Turku). The concept of 'SuFo' (='Sunday Forte'), MoFo etc. is widely recognized among students in Turku.
- Monkey. Is a new club in the city center of Turku, it's located in front of the H&M. Here are probably the best parties on Saturday, because there are a lot of Finnish girls. They play hip hop, house and R&B on two floors. There is also a VIP area.
Pubs and Bars
- Alepub Turku near the city library by the Aura river. Cheapest beer in town and friendly atmosphere all day long. At alepub you never drink alone. Good jukebox and the best Finnish sports (lentomäki) on the television.
- Cosmic Comic Cafe at Forum shopping center by the Market Square. Comics gallery, board games to play and a relaxed, "a second living room" atmosphere. Sometimes very overcrowded.
- Alvar at Humalistonkatu 7, near the railway station. It is located at a building designed by a famous Finnish architecht Alvar Aalto. A comfortable place with nice staff and a large selection of beer. Free Wi-Fi available.
- Puutorin Vessa. A former public toilet but nowadays a popular bar, located at Puutori market square, near the bus station. One of the must see sights in Turku.
- The Old Bank. A former bank turned into a beer pub with beautiful interior and the widest selection of beers in town.
- Brewery restaurant Koulu. An old school building converted to a brewery restaurant serving their own beers, good food and an excellent selection of wines. A cozy biergarten in the back yard is open in the summer.
- Mallaskukko. Is another good beer pub in Turku, with a wide selection of beers and scotch whiskies.
- Pikku-Torre. Close to the centre is a good and friendly bar-cum-restaurant, serving a good choice of different beers and a selection of mid-priced meals (only until 9PM.). Pikku-Torre is one of the best spots in Turku for watching football. Live music on weekends.
- Uusi apteekki. A beer pub located in a former pharamacy built in 1907.
- The Castle, Eerikinkatu 6 (close to the main square). An Irish style pub with English staff.
- Whisky Bar at Yliopistonkatu 19, in the core downtown of Turku. Has a wide selection of whiskies. Nowadays strongly orientated to heavy metal by its music and atmosphere.
- Tinatuoppi, Eerikinkatu 8. Legendary boozing spot at the heart of Turku. Cheap beer and great jukebox.
- Cup & Pint at Humalistonkatu 17. Forget Hurry Worries! Cosy modern bar/cafe near the railway station. Good beer selection, toasts, pies, champagne, cakes etc. DJ action at weekends.
There are plenty of opportunities to part with your cash in Turku. The city centre is full of major retail and independent shops. Shopping in Turku is generally more affordable than in Helsinki, but, as with the rest of Finland, it is by no means cheap by international standards. The numerous second-hand and antique stores represent a unique shopping alternative.
- Hansa Shopping Centre (Adjacent to the main market square). Over 150 shops under one roof.
- Länsikeskus. District on the outskirts of town full of big-box hypermarkets.
- Turun Kauppahalli (50 metres from Kauppatori along the Eerikinkatu towards harbour). A (food) market located in a building opened in 1896, with approximately 40 different sellers. Along with meat, cheese and milk products, also handicraft and ethnic fast food is available for purchase.
- Skanssi Shopping Center. Modern shopping center. 20 minutes from the city center with bus line 9.
- Turku Treasure. Map to independent boutiques, bars and galleries of Turku.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Turku on Wikivoyage.