An evening photo of the Aura River in Turku. On both sides of the river there are lit up river boats with people enjoying beverages.

What to do in Turku?

Outside of the conference, the oldest city in Finland has much to offer.  The Aura River is the heart and living room of Turku and an important element in the city’s image. A five-kilometer-long pedestrian and cycling route follows the river on both banks, traveling through the Finnish national landscape. At the end of the harbor, passers-by have a lovely view of Turku Castle, while walking towards the upper reaches of the river will take them to Turku Cathedral. Along this route, there are various market squares, such as Varvintori Square, Vähätori Square, Cathedral Square, and the Old Great Square. Most of the city’s museums, restaurants, hotels and attractions can also be found on the banks of the Aura River.

Walkable and compact city

In Turku, everything is nearby. There are magnificent footpaths running along the Aura River on both banks, offering a scenic view of the city for pedestrians out on a walk, across a distance of several kilometers. High-quality restaurants can be found all along the route, allowing visitors to explore the excellent and continuously growing restaurant scene in Turku. Many museums and cultural sites can also be found along these footpaths. Turku is just the right size, cozy and safe. The riverboats that serve as restaurants are also a renowned Turku speciality, found lining the riverside all the way down to Föri, the city ferry.

Turku archipelago

Turku is located in the embrace of a unique and beautiful archipelago. The whole formed by the Archipelago Sea’s 40,000 islands and islets leaves a strong impression and offers a fascinating destination for excursions throughout the year. The nearest populated islands can be accessed via bridges and by using ferries, while commuter vessels offer access to islands further away. An official tourist route known as the Archipelago Trail circles the Turku archipelago. The Archipelago Trail runs through the archipelago’s amazing natural and cultural landscapes. Extending roughly 250 kilometers, this trail features 12 bridges, nine ferries and many fine archipelago communities.

The island of Seili is situated in the Turku archipelago, roughly 30 km south of Turku. Today, Seili is accessible by a commuter vessel that operates from the bank of the Aura River. Seili is well-known for its dark history. In the 17th century, a hospital for lepers was built on the island, even though the hospital provided no medical care and there was no returning from the island. The hospital later operated as a mental hospital, particularly for women. The Finnish Heritage Agency has designated the hospital, church, cemetery and other buildings on Seili Island as a nationally important built cultural environment.

Ruissalo, the most famous island in Turku, is located near the city center. This piece of paradise in Turku has become well-known for its unique oak forests, idyllic villas built in the 19th century, and the Ruisrock music festival. Ruissalo is easily accessible by bus and bicycle, and in the summer by water bus.

Turku – the culinary capital of Finland

Turku has a wonderful restaurant scene, and choosing a restaurant is not easy in Turku. The city is well-known for its high-quality food and restaurant culture, and the selection emphasizes Nordic flavors and local food. Almost all of Turku’s top restaurants are located within a kilometer of each other. For the last ten years, Turku has been the most advanced culinary tourism destination in Finland. In recent years, Turku has also hosted a variety of food events and festivals.

Food Walk is a restaurant tour tailored for tourists and locals by Visit Turku and its partners. The participants can pick five restaurants to eat at from the ten options offered. The route running along the banks of the Aura River passes by restaurants that offer the best local flavors.

Turku – a city of museums

Turku is a diverse city of museums. Almost all the museums are located near the Aura River. In Turku, you can travel through time to the old historical Turku and tour contemporary art museums, including the Forum Marinum Maritime Centre, which serves as the national special maritime museum and Finnish Navy Museum.

The Forum Marinum Maritime Centre is situated at the harbor, right next to Turku Castle. The museum is located roughly a three-kilometer walk or bicycle ride away from the city center, along the riverbank. The frigate Suomen Joutsen, which currently serves as a museum ship, is moored in front of Forum Marinum.

Turku’s best-known museum and landmark is Turku Castle, without a doubt, but the old historical Turku is also represented by the highly fascinating Luostarinmäki museum block, which survived the Great Fire of Turku in 1827. The more than 200-year-old buildings stand where they originally did, and the alleys, yards and homes of the block form a unique environment in the middle of the city, next to Vartiovuori.

The stately Turku Art Museum has stood on top of Puolalanmäki Hill for more than a hundred years. The opening of its first exhibition took place in spring 1904. Turku Art Museum hosts a wide range of high-quality exhibitions, displaying works ranging from classics to the latest contemporary art.

Aboa Vetus Ars Nova – The Museum of Archaeology and Contemporary Art is a fascinating combination of modern contemporary art and the remains of Old Turku. The museum is situated in the heart of Turku, on the eastern bank of the Aura River, next to the Library Bridge. The museum’s Ars Nova section comprises art exhibitions showcasing current contemporary artists and the museum’s art collection. The museum’s Aboa Vetus section showcases Old Turku, a city district discovered underground. The cellars excavated by archaeologists have been preserved in the condition they were discovered in. The archaeological findings and structures dating back hundreds of years contain a great deal of information about the area’s past and the people who used to live there.

WAM is the City of Turku’s art museum and contemporary art museum, which displays local art and showcases works included and artists featured in the city’s art collection. WAM also hosts interesting international artists. Originally known as the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art, WAM is situated in a central location on the bank of the Aura River, near the city center.

In addition to the museums mentioned above, Turku is also home to many other interesting museums, such as the Sibelius Museum, Biological Museum, Pharmacy Museum and Qwensel House.

Turku tips

Låna’s modern picnic boats offer an opportunity to experience the city in a completely new way. The boats are available for rent in the Aura River, near Vähätori Square. The boats are sturdy and designed for two to eight people. Låna’s boats are electric and completely emissions-free.

Jokitaxi (River Taxi) is a wooden boat that serves customers in the Aura River and the nearby archipelago in the summer. You can call Jokitaxi to a place of your choosing. The boat can carry six people. A cruise of the nearby archipelago can be planned according to the customer’s wishes.

S/S Ukkopekka is the last genuine steamship operating in the Archipelago Sea. On summer evenings, the steamship takes its passengers on an entertainment and dinner cruise to Loistokari Island. The steamship operates from the Aura River. Every evening cruise is accompanied by live music and includes a legendary dance event on the pier of Loistokari Island. On Loistokari Island, there is a 19th century lighthouse keeper’s cabin that has been converted into a museum building. S/S Ukkopekka can also be rented for private use outside of the cruise season.



Organizers & Partners

Logo of the John Morton Center for North American Studies which links to their website
Logo of FASA which links to their website
Logo of the University of Turku
Logo of the City of Turku. Links to City of Turku website
Logo of Visit Turku that links to their website.
Logo of Aboa Congress & Event services. Links to their website.