Wondering what to do in Turku for free in the summer? Not to worry, I have put together a list with different things to do in Turku for free!
Ah, Turku! My home city for almost six years! As any other city in Finland, Turku – or Åbo in Swedish – is best during the (hopefully) hot summer months. Even so, many of the fun things to do in Turku in the summer is somewhat expensive. It is great to visit the Ruisrock festival in July or go out to eat, but what if you are on a budget and want to do something cheaper? Having studied in Turku for many years and lived on a student budget I have learned that there are many things to do in Turku for free, hence this list of…
12+1 things to do in Turku
1. Visit the animals in Kupittaa Park
During the summer there are animals at Kupittaa Park, and anyone can visit them! The animals are outside – or in their small houses – all day long, which means you can visit them during the night as well.
2. Hang out with friends by Aura River
One of the best things in Turku is the river. The best place to sit on in my opinion is in front of the Aboa Vetus Ars Nova Museum, this way you can look at the beautiful buildings on the other side of Aura River.
If it is a sunny day, there will be plenty of people near the Aura River. People drink beer, listen to music and/or just hang out with friends. This is how the locals do it so if you are a foreigner, it is a definitive must to hang out by the Aura River, at least for a while.
If you want, and of course is not completely free, you can buy a bottle of wine and some fresh berries or grab some beers and enjoy them with friends by the river. If your budget is very small, you can take your own bottle of water from home and cook the food you would otherwise eat at home and eat it by the river instead 🙂
3. Take a walk to Turku Castle
If you want a better feel of the city I recommend walks. I myself love walking around in cities and have done numerous walks around Turku, and it never gets boring.
Another landmark in Turku is the Castle. You can take a 30-min walk from Turku city centre towards the harbour to see the castle. There you can stop to have a photoshoot outside of the castle.
(If you wish to visit the castle it costs 11€ for adults and 5€ for students/pensioners/unemployed, but to get the discount you probably need a card to confirm the discount)
If you are walking from the city centre by the river you will walk by many restaurants that are good to put on your memory if you wish to go out to eat. You can also cross the river with Föri, the small ferry (and smallest ferry I have ever seen). Another landmark is also the Suomen Joutsen Boat, which is also on the way to Turku Castle!
4. Visit Turku Cathedral and Michael’s Church
You can always see someone taking a picture of Turku Cathedral. Be it a Finnish person or tourist, Turku Cathedral is probably one of the most photographed places in Turku. And during the Christmas time they put up a large lighted fir tree in front of the castle, which amps up the cosiness level quite a bit! But let’s get back to what to do in Turku during the summer months…
Michael’s church is in my opinion even more beautiful than Turku Cathedral and the most popular church in Turku for people to get married in. So a visit to both these churches is a good idea.
5. Educate yourself in the library
Are you tired of being outside in the sun? Or is it a rainy day or just cold? Or perhaps you are simply tired of watching Netflix at home and want something new? Turku city library is located in the city centre with plenty of magazines and books to read and many reading spots to try around the library. There are also DVD’s to rent here if Netflix or HBO is not your thing.
There is a newer part of the library and an older. It is nice to sit by the big windows on the second floor in the newer area but for some reason I usually prefer going to the music section on the second floor of the “older” part of the library.
6. Spend a day at the beach
This summer has been particularly hot and many meet up to go to the beaches or outdoor swimming pools. There are many places to go to cool off both in Turku and near the city, e.g. Ekvalla beach, Samppalinna outdoor swimming stadium and Saaronniemi beach.
7. Feel the vibrant city in the market hall
The market hall in Turku is quite small but often crowded, especially during lunch. I like the busy feeling in the market hall and taking in the different smells of different foods.
In the market hall you can buy different things such as honey or smaller souvenirs as well as good food (Kado sushi for example!).
8. Go window shopping
When I was on a student exchange many said that they like to go window shopping. Huh? I first wondered. Spending time walking by stores for fun and not buying anything? But the fact is that you can get pretty inspired walking by and inside of stores just to look what they offer.
In Turku you can walk by the Walking Street and just by the market square to go window shopping. It is also a good idea to just get lost in Turku. Just walking around can mean that you find smaller shops or spots that are not as common to visit.
Now go window shopping at your own risk! You might end up buying something you did not know you needed (has happened to me).
9. Get some exercise
There are plenty of parks in Turku so just take your football and gather your friends to play some football or other ball sport in Kupittaa Park.
There are also outdoor gyms around the city, which you can very well do by yourself.
10. Have a picnic in Vartiovuori Hill or Puolala Park
Food! With friends! In the summer! What is better than that!? Of course a picnic costs a bit money but everyone has to eat, right? You can just eat outside instead and at least there is no entrance fee.
Is it too hot? Cool off your feet in the small pool near the playground at Vartiovuori Hill!
11. Swim in the chemically cleaned Littoinen Lake
In Turku region, around 7 km from Turku centre, you can find Littoistenjärvi, Littoinen Lake. This lake was chemically cleaned 2017 and is now a popular beach destination.
By the beach there is a small kiosk where you can buy salty or sweet snacks – and rent SUP-boards and inflatable swimming mattresses!
12. Visit another city nearby
Have you done all the other 11 things already? Then maybe you would want to visit another city or place in the Turku region? There is plenty to see also in the nearby regions. If you do not have an own bike or want to walk (aka the free options) it is a good idea to take the bus or rent a city bike, which then of course costs a bit but is fairly cheap.
I recommend visiting Naantali’s cute small streets and harbour. Naantali is around 30 minutes from Turku by bus, which costs 3€. Naantali also has the famous Moomin World.
You can also rent a city bike and visit Ruissalo or Katariinanlakso nature reserve.
BONUS 13. Hop on the funicular
As of the spring 2019 there is a firs ever outdoor elevator in Turku! This is a must to experience, right? (at least I will go the next time I am in Turku)
You can hop on the funicular for free and then access Kakolanmäki. The opening hours are around from early morning until midnight-ish, see more information here.
That was all of the 12 things to do in Turku!
Do you have other suggestions on what to do in Turku? Let me know by leaving a comment and I will add it to the post! 🙂