Finland is a unique mix of well-developed and functional country with vast natural environments of forests, lakes and archipelagoes. In fact, Finland is called as ‘the land of a thousand lakes’, which is an understatement as we have 188 000 lakes! You can experience all the 4 seasons and various activities related to them.
Finland is one of the Nordic countries, but not part of Scandinavia, even though often referred to belonging to it. Finland is divided into 4 areas with all of them having special characteristics: Archipelago, Lapland, Lakeland and the capital region.
We have collected few things that you must try out in Finland and in Turku in order to truly say, you’ve experienced Finland! Visit Finland offers the official travel guide to Finland and Visit Turku to Turku region. Both are worth checking out.
Sauna and all related activities are truly a part of Finnish national culture and a must to experience! You’ll get the best experience, if you’ll have an invitation to a summer cottage next to a lake, river or sea (in most cases the water is safe to have a swim), but of course majority of houses and apartments has saunas as well.
The heat in the sauna is usually between 80-100 Celsius degrees and while sitting on the benches, it is advised to throw water to a heater (kiuas), which will make the air more moist. The best part is to take the heat, then go to have a swim or shower and repeat this as many times as it feels good. Traditionally people make their own bath whisk (vihta) from the branches of the birch and hit themselves or their friends with it. Sounds crazy? Yes, but it is also truly relaxing, eases the itching from mosquito bites (not dangerous, just annoying) and is fun!
Ice hole swimming is closely linked to the experience of sauna. Finns like to swim everywhere and they like to do it even in the freezing winter weather. If you are brave enough, you’ll try swimming in the ice hole and then run back to sauna. The milder version is to roll in the snow pile. It is super fun and considered good for your blood circulation and metabolism, if you are otherwise healthy.
Summer cottages are highly popular in Finland as there are over half a million summer cottages all over the country. As most Finns love the nature, peace and quietness, cottages are places to escape the hectic life and relax. Some enjoy very rustic and simple cottages, yet some have luxurious villas. Again, sauna is usually the essential part of the experience.
Aurora borealis or Northern lights are nature’s own magical lightshow, visible approximately 200 nights a year. They are mostly visible and having the strongest colors in Lapland, but every now and then they can be seen even in the Turku region. If you want to see the lights, it is best to go away from the city lights. You can track the visibility of aurora borealis from the website powered by Finnish Meteorological Institute.
Midnight sun is a truly unique experience to the most northern (or southern) parts of the world. The long, sunny evenings and especially white summer nights in June and July are magical even in Southern Finland. In the most northern parts of Lapland, you can experience the full midnight sun from May to August. In the other extreme, winter times are really dark in Northern Finland when the sun doesn’t rise at all for a few months.
Wild nature is easy to achieve even close to the biggest cities. There are thousands of lakes and the archipelago of the Baltic Sea to enjoy water sports, fishing and other activities. Forests of many types are perfect places to go hiking, camping or picking berries and mushrooms. In Finland, people have broad rights to enjoy nature without consent of the landowner. This is called ‘Everyman’s rights’ (Jokamiehenoikeudet) and the rights and regulations is good to check before going out to the nature. See also Outdoors.
Many of the experiences mentioned in the previous section can also be experienced in Turku region. Anyhow, there are many specific things to see and try out; remember to find interesting things to do from Freetime, Restaurants, Sports, Outdoors and Events! If you are looking something special, check out Doerz, a platform offering authentic experiences with locals.
Turku is the oldest city and the previous capital of Finland. The River Aura is the heart of the city and many vivid restaurants and cafes together with river boats are situated along the river. Especially in the summer and Christmas times, the city is full of events ranging from middle age and other fairs to highly popular music festivals such as Ruisrock and DBTL. You can follow the events around the City of Turku here and the events around the Campus in here.
Turku Castle is a more than 700 years old medieval building and one of the oldest buildings still in use in Finland. It is located in the River Aura estuary, close to the harbor. It has acted as a governmental building, as an accommodation to the rulers and as a prison. There are tours with various themes for getting to know the complex history of Turku Castle and the City.
Turku Cathedral is considered the most important religious building in Finland and regarded as one of the major records of Finnish architectural history. It is a visible symbol of the City of Turku as it is situated in the heart of the city, next to an Old Great Square and River Aura.
Archipelago starting from Turku is often considered as one of the most beautiful archipelagos in the world. It consists total of 20 000 islands scattered all the way to Åland Islands, and majority are in their natural state. Best way to reach the area is by boat. In addition, many nice places are also accessible by car and bike and there are also frequent bus and ferry routes especially in the summertime. It is highly recommended to go biking along The Archipelago Trail.