5 Things to do in Turku in Winter

Things to do in Turku in Winter

5 Things to do in Turku in Winter.

Turku is Finland’s oldest city and it was the capital until the 1800’s when the focus was transferred to Helsinki. Today Turku is a vibrant city beautifully situated either side of the Aura river on Finland’s south-east coast.

In the short days of winter there are plenty of interesting things to do even if some others are closed for the season. The city’s great restaurants and cafes provide an escape from the chilly temperatures and Turku looks particularly attractive when the river is shimmering with ice!

I’ve been to Turku a few times over the winter months, both before and after Christmas, and thoroughly enjoyed my winter visits there. I’ve compiled this little list of 5 things that you can do in Turku in winter, it’s not a concise list, these are things that I have done.

Turku, Finland

1. Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova – Museum of History and Contemporary Art.

Get to know Turku from its medieval foundations upwards! Under the modern art gallery are the cobbled streets of medieval Turku, revealed from excavations before the museum was opened. It’s an atmospheric place to check out. Signs explain the characters that roamed these ancient streets and alleys, and there’s a dolls house for children to play with to help them imagine what life here was like in the 15th Century.

Above ground is the contemporary art gallery, the building was previously a grand house – Rettig Palace – and it still retains many of its beautiful 1920’s features; there is also a lovely cafe too.

Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova is open every day 11.00 to 19.00, including the cafe and shop (except Midsummer and Christmas).

2. Turku Castle.

You could spend hours exploring this fascinating and well presented medieval castle, I certainly did! Dating from the 14th Century, the castle has been renovated well and there are countless rooms to wander through, from the bailey section with its lively dioramas, to the grand and sumptuous rooms on the upper levels.

Turku castle stands strategically at the head of the Aura River as it spills into the Archipelago Sea, right next to the ferry terminal, around 3km from the city centre.

Take bus line 1 towards the harbour from the Market Square.
Click here for up-to-date opening times and prices: http://www.turku.fi/en/turku-castle/visiting/opening-times-and-prices.

3. Turun Kauppahalli – Turku’s Market Hall.

I’m a big fan of Finland’s city market halls and Turku’s old market hall is a favourite of mine. I love wandering past all the wonderful food counters packed with cheeses, baked goods, meats, fish and groceries.

At one end of the hall there are restaurants including the wonderful vegetarian Roots Kitchen, which is good for a healthy lunch. Be sure to get coffee and pulla at the Sininen Juna cafe and watch the world pass by from an old fashioned train compartment!

The Kauppahalli is open Monday to Friday 8.00 to 18.00 and Saturdays 8.00 to 16.00.

4. Check out a retro cruise ship.

The MS Bore is a cruise ship permanently berthed next to the impressive museum ships of the Forum Marinum Maritime Centre near the castle. Built in the 60’s, this fabulously retro ship has been converted into a hotel/hostel with conference and restaurant facilities. I’ve stayed here a few times, I love having a room with a porthole!

The upper decks of the ship have been preserved as a museum, and it’s rather interesting wandering along the empty wooden corridors, peering into the now marvellously dated cabins. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like going on a cruise to the Red Sea as a Finn in the 90’s then this is the museum for you!

From my poking about in the museum I discovered the MS Bore even visited Scotland (under a different name), which is super (geeky) cool!

The accommodation is a HI Hostel and the museum parts of the ship are open 11.00 to 19.00. The museum parts can be visited as part of visiting the Forum Marinum or you can pay 6€ (2016) at the hostel reception. The MS Bore is around 3km from the centre of town. Bus Line 1.

5. Walk the River.

It’s a lovely 3 km walk from the castle to the city centre along the river Aura, and it is particularly pretty on a crisp winter day.

You first pass the MS Bore and the gleaming white Suomen Joutsen (Swan of Finland) frigate ship, both are museum ships connected to the Forum Marinum (the Suomen Joutsen can only be visited in the summer) and there is a wonderful Daisy sculpture in front of the forum too. (the droopy petal was fixed in the summer!).

There are numerous sculptures along the riverside path, some are very quirky!

Around halfway along there is a free ferry ‘Föri’ to the other side which you can cross if you wish. Once you get near the city centre there are lots of bridges spanning the river, where you can take one across to the old quarter on the opposite bank of the river if you didn’t take the ferry.

At the heart of the old quarter is the splendid Tuomiokirkko: Turku Cathedral. This lovely church is considered the National Shrine and the square it stands in used to be the old town square and it is still surrounded by grand old buildings.

Turku is in south-east Finland, around 175 km from Helsinki and it has good bus and train links. From Turku Ferry Terminal you can sail to and from Stockholm, Sweden, as well as to Mariehamn and the beautiful Turku Archipelago.

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5 Things to do in Turku in Winter // Finland

Try these posts:

Turku Castle: a Turku Must Do! 

50 Ways Finland Made Me Smile This Winter Five weeks and fifty things!

Turku: I Bloomin’ Well Loved It! I arrived into Finland on a ferry, my first few Finnish experiences in 2014!

Korvapuusti Finnish cinnamon buns

Day Trip To Porvoo This pretty town is the second oldest in Finland.

Beautiful Frozen Helsinki Returning to Helsinki at -25º, incredible!

By Rachel A Davis   Follow on Bloglovin

Do you have any more tips for things to do in Turku in the winter?

4 Responses

  1. Suomenlinna is nice place to visit.I have recorded a video from suomenlinna in winter. It’s really beautiful with the snow and everything.I really recommend visiting Suomenlinna Fort if you are visiting Helsinki. I used my go pro camera to record footage so sorry for not perfect quality.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2ZZOWFqfsw&feature=youtu.be – Suomenlinna Fort

  2. How nice to read this list! I’ve done only 3 out of 5 things even though I lived in Turku that one winter… It’s a pretty city but it was tough for a foreigner to live there I must say, Helsinki has been better.

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Hej! Tack så mycket Jenn! I do love Helsinki more but Turku is lovely too. I bet the things you haven’t done are the big old boat, and…hmm either the castle or the gallery! The castle? 😉
      It was great to hang out with you there in Art Cafe, chit chat about learning Finnish and all that. Hopefully see you in a few weeks x