Five tips for sustainable tourists in the Turku region

Promoting sustainable tourism in the Turku region is one of Visit Turku's key tasks. How can each of us influence the sustainability of our own journey?

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1. Favour low-emission means of transport

Traveling to a destination usually produces the lion’s share of the trip’s environmental impact, so it matters the way in which you reach Turku.

If you arrive in Finland by plane, try to favour direct flights. The more stopovers, the greater the environmental impact. Luggage also increases the load capacity of your flight, so pack lightly. If your airline offers it, choose to offset your flight's carbon footprint when purchasing your ticket.

In addition to flights from Stockholm, you can reach Turku from Sweden aboard a popular cruise ships, where the journey provides a fantastic introduction to views of the Turku Archipelago, known in these parts as the most beautiful in the world. One of the environmentally friendly ships that sails the route is Viking Grace, which runs on LNG fuel.

When you are in Finland, choose trains and buses whenever possible.

In Turku, it’s worth getting around without resorting to a motor vehicle. The centre of Turku is quite compact, so walking and cycling are functional ways to explore the city. Föli, the organisation in charge of all public transport in the Turku region, offers affordable rides on local buses as well as easy-to-access city bikes and even two local water buses – a great activity in themselves.

Since sustainable tourism is more than just being environmental friendly, the tips below are only small at this point. However, as long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and social distancing is required, travelling around by car is sensible to help reduce the spread of infection.

If it seems to you that the most responsible thing for you to do is not to travel at all, then we fully support this decision. Naturally, we are concerned by the local tourism businesses that are struggling because of the pandemic, and would urge you to support them by using services and help to save their future.

2. Carefully consider your accommodation

If possible, choose a hotel or other accommodation which has attained a specific level of certified sustainability.

When using the room in your building, take the same approach as you would at home. Finnish tap water is clean, so there’s no need for bottled water and you can also order tap water in the restaurant without any worries. A shower is better than a bath. A short shower is better than a long shower. The same towel and the same bedding can be used many times, as you no doubt do at home.

The hotel’s wonderful breakfast buffets are sure to get your mouth watering, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. Eliminating food waste is a good thing for both ecological and economic reasons.

At the buffet, it’s worth exploring all the delicacies of local producers in particular – a sophisticated traveller is interested in the local food culture. Taking the vegetarian option is also worthwhile, as it reduces the environmental impact of your meal. When you’re in the mood for meat, we recommend going locally produced.

3. Take an interest in culture

During your stay in Turku you should try to take it all in. The locals, who with a twinkle in their eye are sometimes referred to as the Åboriginals (a play on Turku's Swedish name Åbo), love their beautiful and historic hometown and preserve many unique local customs.

For example, experience an authentic slice of Turku by going grocery shopping at the old Turku Market Hall, buying some Finnish favourites such as the sweet, dark archipelago bread or the Karelian pastries. You can buy the best berries in the world at the Market Square close to the Market Hall, a place very popular with local culinary artists.

The banks of the River Aura are like a living room for Turku locals during summer, where you can really soak up some authentic local life. Pack a picnic and sit on the banks with good friends, visit one of the riverside restaurants or enjoy the beautiful city views on a long Sunday walk. Under normal circumstances, the city is packed with events throughout the year, with this year being an exception whilst the pandemic lasts.

  • Make your own commitment - sign the Sustainable Finland Pledge!

    Visit Finland's website contains the Sustainable Finland Pledge, which appeals to Finnish and international tourists alike, and seeks a commitment from the sustainable tourist. Click the link and sign if sustainable tourism is a matter close to your heart!

    FIND OUT MORE AND SIGN THE PLEDGE >>

4. Come and go without a trace

The nature sites of the Turku region are amazing, and there’s one which stands out above the others. The Turku Archipelago is the largest in the world in terms of the number of islands and islets, comprising about 40,000 in total. You can reach many of the islands by bridges, waterbuses, inter-island ferries and various archipelago cruises. We encourage you to explore as much as you like but please do so responsibly.

When moving about in nature, don’t leave traces of your visit. Take your trash when you leave and make use of Finland’s excellent recycling arrangements. Don’t remove anything that belongs where you found it, such as rare plants or stones from medieval ruins. It’s hard to believe but even these archaeological remnants have reportedly been removed by tourists.

Everyone who moves around in Finland’s nature have a duty of care for the environment but in return they have the right to fully enjoy the experience. International travellers may be surprised to hear about Everyman’s Right to Roam for the first time. 

Under the Everyman's Rights, anyone can move freely through Finnish nature and even, for example, collect berries and mushrooms to your heart’s content. Private gardens and farmland are not included in Everyman's Rights, so don’t sit on a garden swing or pick strawberries from a cultivated field.

Also, Everyman's Rights permits camping in nature in places where it won’t disturb residents. However, please note that building a fire is only permitted by designated lean-to shelters or campfire sites along nature trails.

5. Support everything local

An enlightened traveller embraces their surroundings and values ​​local specialties. In Turku, this includes the diverse and high-quality restaurant options, unique local design boutiques and small private service providers.

Even a short weekend break typically involves dozens of consumer decisions. Try to make them to the benefit of the local, independent businesses, and by doing so you’ll help Turku stay as special and as lovely as it is.

READ MORE ABOUT VISIT TURKU'S SUSTAINABILITY WORK >>

​​​​​​​READ MORE ABOUT SUSTAINABLE CAMPING & OUTDOOR ETIQUETTE>>

  • A Certificate of Sustainability

    Today, sustainability may seem like just a trend but in the very near future it will be an essential mode of operation for the tourism industry. It’s to your credit, dear traveller, that you seek to choose sustainable destinations and services.

    But how do you identify a travel destination that has truly committed itself to a sustainable approach?

    Visit Finland has created the Sustainable Travel Finland label to help you. This is a programme that commits to educate Finnish tourism areas and companies to act sustainably. Functioning as an umbrella, the Sustainable Travel Finland label brings together existing sustainable tourism certificates, such as the EcoCompass or the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. The certificate, approved by Visit Finland, is a reliable indication of sustainability for the tourist.

    Visit Turku is strongly involved in Visit Finland's sustainable tourism programme. For us, responsibility means, for example, that we offer responsibly produced travel and tour packages. Sustainable tourism is also supported by Visit Turku's guided Walking Tours, during which you can explore the city on foot.

    We also encourage local tourism operators to take the path of sustainability – the first step is important and every little helps. This is the only way we can ensure that Turku, with its amazing culture and the world's most magnificent archipelago, can become and remain a truly sustainable travel destination.

    READ MORE ABOUT SUSTAINABLE TOURISM CERTIFICATES »

    READ MORE FROM VISIT FINLAND'S SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL FINLAND PROGRAMME »

Text Liina Komi & Merja Kallikari. Photos Jemina Sormunen & Kim Allen-Mersh

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