FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Two days in Turku

Posted in Finland, Turku by folkestonejack on July 5, 2019

Our two day stay in Turku gave us a good opportunity to see most of the sights, armed with a Turku museum walk card (available at a cost of 38 euros from the Tourist information centre). It was a little too ambitious to fit everything in to the time we had – we could really have done with a little longer to wander round the museum ships and there were a couple of museums we never made it to. However, we thoroughly enjoyed what we were able to see.

Harmonia (Achim Kühn, 1996)

On our first day in the city we took the number 1 bus (a handy bus which runs from the airport to the harbour, via the city centre) to Turku Castle to start our day of sightseeing and then steadily worked our way back along the sights on the western side of the river taking us to the Forum Marinum, Kakolanmäki Hill Museum, St Michael´s Church and Turku Art Gallery. I was hoping to try out the troubled new funicular up the Kakolanmäki Hill that received global media attention for all the wrong reasons, but it seemed to be out of order when we stopped by.

The Museum Walk card worked out pretty well, though we discovered that it didn’t cover the museum ships at the Forum Marinum, so we needed to pay a bit extra to see the Karjala corvette and the Keihässalmi minelayer. If we had wanted to see all the museum ships it would have been cheaper to pay for a full museum and ships ticket, but it worked out fine for us as we simply didn’t have time in our tight schedule to see all the ships.

Along the way we caught some of the sights from the Sculpture Trail, such as Harmonia by Achim Kühn, which resembles the tail of a whale diving underwater. The 280 hand-forged stainless steel plates that make up the tail were specially treated to show variances in colour, making it stunningly beautiful when it catches the light. One of the more surprising sights was a statue of Lenin which was apparently a gift from Turku’s twin city, unveiled on Leningrad Day in 1977.

One of the art nouveau marvels in Turku

In addition to outdoor artworks, there are many architectural marvels around the city. I was surprised to see just how many art nouveau buildings could be seen around the city, including the Market Hall (1896), an apartment block on the Aura that housed the Turku City Offices for a few decades (1908) and the former bank (1907) designed by Frithiof Strandell. There is a good walking tour of the art nouveau buildings described in the article Kävelykierros jugendtalojen Turussa from the Turun Sanomat.

Turku offers many maritime treats, including riverboat restaurants, tourist boats and museum ships moored all along the river Aura. It makes a walk along the riverside a pleasure. I took a walk out one morning from our hotel, the Radisson Blu Marina Palace, along the eastern bank of the Aura as far as the expensive apartments at Viimeinen ropo 2, which gave some superb views over the museum ships, the Viking Line terminal and Turku Castle. I hope the residents have hard hats as the seagulls that attacked me here were pretty vicious!

It is easy to switch between each bank using the bridges in the city centre or Föri, the free foot/bicycle ferry, which is roughly ten minutes walk away from the maritime museum. Föri shuttles back and forth between 6.15am and 11pm in the summer months, taking just a couple of minutes to complete the crossing. I would never have guessed that the cute little orange ferry is over 100 years old and was originally steam powered (switching to diesel in 1953). It’s a neat way to get a different view of the river.


Our second day started at Turku Cathedral (and the Cathedral Museum) and then took us on to Luostarinmäki handicrafts museum (an open air museum of historic buildings spared from the Great Fire of Turku in 1827), the Biological Museum, the Wäinö Aaltonen Gallery, Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova and the Sibelius Museum. As we had to catch the train to Helsinki in the late afternoon it was a little bit of a squeeze.

Overall, our trip worked out well but was inevitably constrained by the need to keep our travels in Estonia and Finland to around a week. I had also rather underestimated the time you need for a visit to Turku! If I were repeating the trip I would look at a minimum of three full days and perhaps look at some of the boat trips to the fortress island of Örö or to Naantali. Maybe we’ll make a return when the planned interactive Museum of History opens in 2029 to coincide with Turku’s 800th anniversary!


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