I am in love with Turku! A visit to our former capital is like a small hop abroad. There are many good restaurants and cafes and new ones popping up all the time. But the most important thing is the good spirit!
This is probably the most famous scene from Turku: summer, Aura river, people sitting on the riverside boats and having a drink. Lovely indeed!
I got very familiar with these sceneries in May-June when I spent 3,5 weeks in the city. I decided I am going to take advantage of my time and tour around. I walked, jogged, ate good lunches, visited cafes. I stayed in many Turku hotels. These are my best tips for Turku summer.
My story with Turku began over a year ago when I was asked to teach Hebrew in the city. Since then I have been teaching intensive courses in Turku Summer University. My last courses were held in the beginning of this summer and many times I got to enjoy the lovely early summer weather in this coastal city. I lived in the city center hotels and this the way I used to walk to the Turku School of Economics every day.
This lovely orange colored building also houses Mami, which is said to be the best restaurant in Turku. I ate there my lunch a couple of times and the first time it was simply mouthwatering: chicken breast on a barley bed and the best ever carrot cake accompanied by mango sorbet – everything awesome! But the second time was a bit of a disappointment. I went there for a manchego salad which was finished already hours ago. A goat cheese salad was supposed to replace it but not with a very big success. It was ok but nothing like the first experience which of course, had already raised my expectations. Well, I still believe Mami is a place to eat and unfortunately I never found the time to go there for dinner. It is closed (like many other Turku restaurants) on Monday evenings and on other nights I was busy elsewhere.
This scenery is from my hotel window. It was nice to look at the market hassle from the morning. I stayed part of my time in the nostalgic Sokos-hotelli Hamburger Börs which dates back to the late 19th century. The hotel has probably seen its best days but still has a charm of its own, especially with its Jugend style dining room.
The breakfast was an ordinary one but I really liked the gingerbread with Aura blue cheese (named after the Aura river) and cloud berry jam.
This old tram hides in it an ice cream kiosk which I had to visit as soon as the sun exposed itself a bit.
I used the train for my travels between Turku and Espoo as well as a couple of friends of mine who came over for a visit. Check out for bargains. When a trip costs at its cheapest 8 euros it is worth leaving the car at home 🙂
One of the places on our list was the cute Gaggui cafe near the railway station. It was founded by twin sisters: a visual artist Johanna Sinkkonen and Jonna Silén, a cancer researcher who opened a pop up cafe on the Restaurant day. They started liking the idea of having a cafe and opened a permanent one last year. Their newest baby is a cafe in Forumkortteli. I didn’t have time to go there but I reckon that a visit is worth it!
My salad lunch at Gaggui looked tasty and tasted equal.
Difficult to get out of this place without a dessert… 🙂
Turku market hall became one of my favorite destinations. There I kept going especially to Roots Kitchen, a simple vege stall with unbelievably delicious vegetarian food. The place is run by a young, world travelled cook, Marjaana Pohjola, who gets inspired by the tastes from her trips to Australia and Asia. There are daily three choises on the menu and the prices vary from 7-9 euros.
The market hall is open until 6 pm but be sure to head there early, the latest by afternoon if you want to eat lunch.
Other good places include the Mexican La Victoria (a bit similar to the city center Taco Nito in the center on Aurakatu, home made tacos, nice sauces) and Mbakery . I heard good things also about the Vietnamese restaurant and the fish place). Next time 🙂
Both Fontana and di Trevi became my lunch regulars. Fontana has a great salad buffet and the mains are taken from a buffet too. Di Trevi offers a salad buffet as well but a smaller one but the mains are served. The service was great, even in the busy lunch time!
I visited di Trevi with my friend Hanna who came over from Espoo. Di Trevi worked well also for a light dinner.
Light? 🙂 Hanna had a hearty chicken breast sandwich with sweet potato fries. My tapas were good except for the tuna tataki which didn’t impress me that much with its strong taste of soy sauce. Di Trevi bar has a nice lamp made of wine bottles.One morning we took bus no 8 from the market place to Ruissalo, a beautiful outdoor area just outside the city hassle and went jogging.
On our way back we were planning to visit a home decor shop Avelia which Hanna had found on her previous visit to Turku but it wasn’t open! I already got used to Monday closings but Tuesday? Anyway, in Ruissalo shipyard we found this blacksmith’s shop where Seppä Kahiluoto makes jewelry, home utensils and fixes even tail pipes. A special place to visit.
Other good places I found and warmly recommend are:
Maneerat – super friendly service, good Thai lunch.
Pizzarium – the interior is not something to remember in a mall food court but the pizza is good and Turku people’s favorite.
Pippurimylly – an institution which “might not open up if you haven’t sat here in your childhood in the 70’s” as a friend put it. But good sized portions, nice basic food and something you should definitely experience! 🙂
–Dennis – another famous Turku institution which has spread its branches also to Helsinki in the recent years. Good pizzas, pastas and salads.
Sergio’s – another Italian but fine dine type food.
Tintå next to Aura bridge offer nice and cosy interior with a wide wine list, nice food.
I will include Kaskis as well as people don’t stop speaking about it although I didn’t get to try it myself – next time!
And for accommodation. I had hard time finding accommodation during certain dates and was frustrated when also the Airbnd I had booked was cancelled 24 h before my arrival to Turku. But I got a tip about the Bridgettine Sisters’ guest house and was relieved to get a place there for three nights. The place is simple but very affordable and neat, with a good location. A very peaceful place, I could totally concentrate in writing. The Indian sister at the reception was very friendly and nice person to chat with.
Thanks for my Turku experience, tips and company my Turku friends, colleagues. Special thanks to food and wine write Kalle Kirstilä and photographer Robert Seger for sharing me your best places.
See you in Turku!
I am heading next to the Turku archipelago – one of the most beautiful places I know! Have a nice summer where ever you go!