Four seasons in Turku

Choosing the best time to visit Turku is like agonising over your favourite ice cream flavour. Thankfully, just like a freshly packed freezer, the city is bursting with tantalising treats to enjoy all year round. So, grab a spoon, as we reveal everything you need to know about Turku’s four seasons.

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Kuva: Eveliina Piha

Summer

There’s something inherently magical about Turku in summer. As May falls into June, the sun barely slips below the horizon, wildflowers suddenly appear in the most unlikely places, and a festive atmosphere takes hold as usually reserved Finns bask in the joy of spending time away from the office. 

It’s the season to celebrate: Midsummer, of course! Known as Juhannus, this all-night party takes place at the end of June. It was once a time to cast spells, but nowadays most Finns kick back with friends and family at a cottage.

Top tip: With temperatures reaching the mid-20s, why not take to the water to experience some summertime magic? Sail to Naantali aboard s/s Ukkopekka, an old-fashioned steamship, or kayak to a secluded island with Aavameri, a Sustainable Travel Finland provider. 

Make sure to pack: Sunglasses. Turku is in the southern part of the country, but it’s still bathed in light for roughly 18 hours a day. An eye mask to help you sleep wouldn’t go astray either. 

Don'torget f: Most Finns are also on holiday at this time, so plan ahead and book early.

Photo: Tanja Hanhonen

Autumm

The last Saturday of August traditionally marks the end of summer and the season is farewelled with the same cheerful spirit with which it was welcomed. Right across the Finnish Archipelago, you’ll see bonfires burning brightly on shorelines, a nod to an ancient way of guiding seafarers safely home. 

It’s the season to celebrate: Turku Day. It’s held on the third Sunday in September, and the city puts on a party with special events, performances, and even fireworks. Plus, most museums throw their doors open, welcoming visitors for free. 

Top tip: As the last bonfire embers fade, the forest takes centre stage for its most dazzling performance of the year. It’s known as ruska, and the trees almost seem to glow as the leaves turn bright red and even brighter yellow. Join Doerz for a hike or head to Teijo National Park on your own to catch a glimpse of the fire-like foliage. 

Make sure to pack: Your appetite. Autumn is harvest time, and it’s all about local produce and local flavours. Market stalls overflow with ripe apples and root vegetables just plucked from the ground, and restaurants like Smör and Kaskis make the ingredients shine. 

Don't forget: There's a one-week break in the school year in October, so hotels might be a little busier than usual. 

Winter

When the buzz of autumn is finally over, a quiet hush begins to fall over Southwest Finland. Days shorten and temperatures plummet, but there’s no reason to hibernate. Throw on an extra layer or two and make your way to MBakery’s café Piece of Cake for a sweet treat that will warm your heart. 

It’s the season to celebrate: Christmas. Turku embraces the festive season in a huge way; there are lights and decorations, plus concerts, events, and markets. And, at noon on Christmas Eve, Christmas Peace is declared in the Old Great Square. It’s a tradition that has been upheld (almost without interruption) since the 1300s.  

Top tip: For a truly Finnish experience, take an icy plunge at Saaronniemi Beach on the island of Ruissalo. Fair warning: it is, quite literally, not for the faint-hearted. For those who are physically able, however, avantouinti enthusiasts say that ice swimming improves circulation, boosts immunity, and even reduces stress. 

Make sure to pack: Your thermals. Winter varies from year to year, but it tends to be on the (very) chilly side. You’ll also need a pair of good shoes; the streets can be super slippery when temperatures hover around zero. 

Don't forget: Christmas Day and Boxing Day (25 and 26 December) as well as New Year’s Day and Epiphany (1 and 6 January) are public holidays. Christmas Eve (24 December) is not an official holiday, but most businesses tend to be closed.

Kuva: Tanja Hanhonen

Spring

Nature wakes from its deep slumber in March and the signs of spring start to slowly appear. Birdsong returns to the forest, new buds appear on dormant trees, and cherry blossoms burst into colour. On those early spring days, when temperatures are still crisp, head to the palatial Turku Art Museum to lose yourself in thought-provoking exhibitions featuring local and international artists. 

It’s the season to celebrate: May Day. It’s better known as Vappu, and it’s marked with balloons, bubbles, and munkki (an addictive type of doughnut). Picnic blankets are rolled out in parks across the city, and everyone is invited to the party as graduates, old and new, come together to raise their white student caps in celebration. 

Top tip: Much later in the season, when the snow has finally melted away, fill your picnic basket at the Turku Market Hall and then pick up a bicycle from Carfield Bike Rental or 10bikes. Make your way to Ruissalo and relax in the warmth of the sun, returning for a new year.   

Make sure to pack: Your binoculars. Come springtime, the skies are filled with migratory birds returning north. You’ll find bird watching towers dotted around Turku; try Rauvolanlahti or Friskalanlahti on the island of Hirvensalo. 

Don’t forget: The weather is often unpredictable. There might be a sudden snowstorm, or the sun might be shining so brightly you’ll be wondering why you packed that extra jacket. Take it in your stride and prepare a plan B (and perhaps a plan C, just to be on the safe side).

Text: Kathleen Cusack

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