Turku was for a long time the most important population center in Finland: it was the first capital city of Finland from 1809 to 1812 and continued to be the largest city by population in Finland until the end of the 1840s. Nowadays its significance nationwide is not the same as it used to be, but Turku is a regional capital and important location for business and culture in Northern Europe.
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 faire.
very useful site with map of city, bus routes, time table, bus stops, aerial photo, city plans. Click here to see.
The city is well connected domestically, but sparsely connected internationally. Perhaps the most scenic way to get to Turku is by taking a passenger ferry across the Baltic Sea, from Stockholm in Sweden.
Turku Airport is located 8 km north of the city. There are domestic flights from Helsinki and Mariehamn. International scheduled flights from Stockholm, Riga, Alicante and Gdansk. Bus line 1 (€3 – paid by cash only and there is no ATM nearby) connects the airport to the market square (Kauppatori) and the port.
From some points, it may be cheaper overall to fly to Helsinki or with Ryanair to Tampere or Lappeenranta or even to Stockholm, Sweden a short ferry ride away.
VR offers direct day connections from Helsinki (2h), Tampere (1:40), Pieksämäki, and Kuopio. There is also overnight car train to Rovaniemi. The railway station is in the northern part of the city center. Note that some trains continue onwards to the Port of Turku (Turun satama), which is quite handy if connecting to a ferry. In Finland train travel is usually quite expensive but you can get VR’s tickets with reduced prices if buying them beforehand online.
There is an almost hourly ExpressBus coach connection from Helsinki-Vantaa airport to Turku bus station operated by Pohjolan Liikenne and Vainio, departing from platform 13 in front of the international flights terminal. The service operates round the clock, although there may be a gap of 1 to 2 hours between services in the small hours of the night. The trip takes between 2 h 20 min and 2 h 55 min depending on whether the service calls in towns on the way. In some cases, there is a change of coach at Lommila but it is well co-ordinated and easy. Tickets cost €29.50 (round trip €53.10) for adults, €14.80 for Finnish students (ISIC not accepted) and children of age 4-16. Children under the age of four travel free. You can sometimes get cheaper tickets if you buy them beforehand online.
Onnibus offers low-cost long distance coach lines to Turku from different cities of Finland. Some of Onnibus buses go to Turku main bus station and some go to hotel Caribia, which is located in the Turku student village. From there you can catch the local bus to the centre. The buses offer free wi-fi.
Åbus is another low-cost coach company. Their buses go from Turku city centre (Aurakatu 2) to Helsinki. Like Onnibus, also Åbus sells tickets online starting from the price of EUR 1.00.
You can also check low-cost online offers from Pohjolan Liikenne.
The Port of Turku is next to Turku Castle and is easily accessible on bus line 1 from the Market Square (Kauppatori). The port also has its own railway station, and some trains depart at the port.
The two biggest ferry lines are Viking Line and Silja Line. Each one has a morning and an evening departure from Stockholm, Sweden, with a brief stop at the Åland Islands. For a scenic view, a morning departure is advisable. Evening departures provide adequate night club activities on board if you want to cut loose before arriving in Turku.
During summertime m/s Ruissalo offers route between city and Ruissalo island.
There’s a Guest Marina on the River Aurajoki, right next to the city center.
Turku is well connected by road. Route E18 leads west from Helsinki (2 hours). Route E63 leads south-west from Tampere (2:15), while E8 heads south from Pori (2:15).