Ah Turku! I think this might be one of my most-visited places in Finland, I'm not sure why I never really got around to writing about it properly. The former Capital of Finland has so much culture and wonderful things to offer, the people are wonderful and it is always so relaxing and soothing to spend time here, I don't even know what it is. This time I came to wander and...to eat, obviously.
I came to Turku to attend Shift Festival, but I decided to extend my stay and see a bit of Turku, I like the city and I could use some motivation for writing and sharing my thoughts on Turku. Unlike most other Finnish cities, history plays a big role in Turku, as it used to be the Capital city of Finland during the times that it was part of Sweden, and before it was moved to Helsinki only in 1812. But to be honest, I needed a bit of a break, some good sleep, delicious food, no itinerary - here we are! Going on a citytrip for a few days by myself is so relaxing sometimes, taking yourself on dinner dates and going shopping for as long as you want is certainly one of the best things, but for this time let's look more at the food, shall we?
Where to stay & Getting around
Turku has a bunch of wonderful different accommodation options. From budget lodging on a hostel boat to boasting luxury, there's something for everyone here. I stayed at the Radisson Blu Marina, right by the Aura river, which has a wonderful location, the best breakfast and you can pick your favourite pillow, so what more would you really need? Especially the mornings set the right tone for the day, with fresh made-to-order omelettes (the best), pancakes with fresh fruit and good coffee. The rooms are spacious and went through a total renovation not too long ago, the wifi is strong so you can easily enjoy cosy evenings with netflix, or head downstairs for a spa session, or dine out on the restaurant terrace overlooking the river.
Turku is small and easy to navigate, and their newest addition to becoming even more awesome are their new city bikes. The same system is already done and proven in Helsinki, and I'm glad it's taking over other cities soon. Register online to get a day or a weekly pass (or for the season, if you're around for longer), and pick a bike from any of the bike stations. Ride around for free for the first 30 minutes, and return wherever. Totally carefree and flexible, these are really fantastic.
Where to eat / The Turku Food Walk
I love to eat (bye, pants!) and Turku is becoming just the perfect place to eat all the things. I'm the kind of foodie traveller who researched all the restaurants I wanna go to beforehand and then end up only going to a tiny few, mainly because on short trips there's just not enough time, and there's only that much even I can eat. Well, good news my friends, because with the Turku Food Walk card, you can avoid at least part of that problem. For 44€ you purchase the card and you can choose to eat at 5 out of 10 participatig restaurants, try a course at each! If you plan this the smart way, you can save a bunch of cash and give your taste buds a proper tour of flavours.
Café Art: absolutely one of the places I walked by a thousand times and never went, so I finally got my chance for a coffee break, rhubarb pie and sitting by the riverside. Yes.
di Trevi: a nice options for some casual drinks and tapas to nibble on!
Gustavo: ah man, I have to admit I actually didn't manage to go here - because the opening hours didn't agree with me. But the menu looks mouthwatering and I'm still bummed I didn't get the seafood pasta or the bouillabaisse that day. Next time.
Panimoravintola Koulu: beers anyone? This is a good old Finnish style beer restaurant, with their own brewery in the back, and delicious but heavy food to make sure you definitely won't be hungover from that beer.
Pinella: Ah such a lovely place by the river! I went for their dessert of the day with my Food walk card and was surprised with thoughtfully curated different chocolates and the friendliest staff.
Smör: This is a staple of Turkus culinary scene and nothing new, both locals and visitors know and love this place as one of the original, more fine dining style restaurants of the city. A few years ago I tasted one of their dishes at the Taste of Helsinki food festival and have been wanting to visit ever since. I went for the starter of the day (fresh and tasty whitefish) and decided to also stay for the main course, some super tender beef. Great choice for a dinner date!
NOOA: this restaurant is NOT part of the Food walk card, but deserves a spot in this post regardless. This modern, open restaurant with a (roof) terrace lies a bit further down of the Aura river and serves fresh Scandinavian food in the most amazing setting, which is worth the walk. My recommendation for both a light lunch or an extended dinner date as well.
Throwback to one of my favourite dinner experiences ever! As during most of my travels, the food and restaurant scene is certainly the most interesting for me, and Turku will forver stand out for me ever since that mind-blowing dinner at restaurant Kaskis. The more I think about it, the more I think that evening sparked my interest in food trends and modern Nordic cuisine. This time, Kaskis wasn't on my list, but next time, yes! Read more about it below.