Oh, what a wonderful night!

The shores of the river Aura and the fabled riverboat restaurants anchored there, cannot be separated from Turku’s summer – they are its very definition! That also goes for our hotel, Radisson Blu Marina Palace.

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Pop! – the evening has been uncorked

When you hop off the train at the station, the breeze from the Archipelago Sea lets you know you’re in Turku. It’s always a wonderful feeling.

I stroll a stone’s throw from the station to the riverside. It’s the first time I’m spending the night in the Radisson Blu Marina Palace, even though for years the hotel has been a familiar sight to me. And by the way, from now on I’ll refer to the hotel by the more familiar name of Marina. That’s how it’s always done in Turku, and now I’m returning to my roots. 

Marina always watches safely over the impressive and iconic life of the River Aura. Great service is a priority of the house. I find my hotel room both quickly (thanks to the fab reception workers for hunting for my purse!) and completely to my satisfaction. Especially the river view as my eyes sparkle with little heart emojis.

The riverside is, without doubt, what I missed most of Turku after all these years. Growing into adulthood along the River Aura shores, cries of sorrow and joy, celebrating the Night of the Arts and the Medieval Market, experiencing first loves and healing the worst of broken hearts. So, naturally, we can’t be in Turku without going to greet our old friend the River Aura and of course touring the riverboats!

You cannot devise a better start to the evening than on the large sunny Marina terrace. We gather together, friends and siblings, and feast on the unbelievable portions at the Grill it! restaurant, which satisfyingly also serves up mouth-watering choices available for vegans. There we enjoy sparkling wine, cocktails and of course the wonderful company before moving onto the riverboats – just like the old days.

What more could you ask for of a summer’s evening?

Hop-on, hop-off, repeat!

As our gang walks toward the riverboats, we are in deep consultation over which we should patronise this time. The riverboat restaurants along the shores of the Aura number as many as ten, so getting through all at once is not that realistic.

​​​​​​​There’s plenty of entertainment on the riverboats to suit different tastes, from live bands and DJ’s, to peaceful spots and vibrant dancefloors. There’s also a variety of food being served and a great choice of drinks, whether for fans of the grape, the grain or a fruity concoction.

Each and every riverboat has its own unique personality, charm and idiosyncratic attraction.

There are at least as many reasons to visit the riverboats as there are boats themselves. Each and every riverboat has its own unique personality, charm and idiosyncratic attraction. Whilst we were studying we enjoyed the riverside atmosphere on a budget, listening to the music from the banks outside with a 6-pack in our bags.

​​​​​​​The summertime bar-street of riverboats begins close to the harbour with Turku’s oldest riverboat restaurant Esposito, and continues until the Aura bridge in the centre, offering a multitude of opportunity to enjoy the summer with friends. And of course, sometimes there are nights when the temptation to stop into many is just too strong.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​On this particularly evening, our group were drawn to the DJ on Katarina, Cindy’s great beer, Donna’s Love deck and the cherry on the cake, the Aussie Bar dance floor, all night long. Below is a map, where each riverboat is marked, so in turn you can design your own route with the ideas you can find here.

The most typical Turku-thing, ever?

As is typical on the riverboats, I drift into discussions with new friends, long into the evening. I really only have one question to ask of everyone: In your opinion, what’s the most typical Turku-thing?

​​​​​​​The River Aura. The riverboats. The Föri ferry. Water all around. The seagulls. The sea breeze.

​​​​​​​Whatever was said, there was a clear devotion to Turku. An eternal loyalty.

In my own experience, Turku always appears differently on the riverside. Here, all of Turku is present. Restaurants, people, riverboats, ice-cream kiosks, museums, theatres, cafés, the cathedral, the Suomen Joutsen. The riverside is a like a home-from-home for everyone in Turku, and in summer it’s bursting with events, markets, festivals and all manner of happenings.

​​​​​​​Whether for a picnic, an after work drink or dancing through the night, like our experience, the shores of the River Aura with its riverboats, terraces and velvet-green banks to rest upon, offer the most alluring place to meet and socialise.

A few steps to the land of dreams

As I stroll back to the hotel in the warm summer’s evening, my ears fill with summer hits and Latin rhythms, the gentle bustle of activity along the River Aura shores and the constant hum from the newest riverboat addition, the Jakke river ferry. I feel the warm welcome from my room in Marina, as the lovely soft bed lulls me into a blissful dream world. A simply spectacular evening!

My morning saviour was the delicious and diverse hotel breakfast. Before my journey home, I decide to throw on my bathrobe and pop into my slippers to evaluate with friends the hotel’s own Izumi therapy. This turns out to be a first-rate decision, as the facials revive the skin and conceal the bags under my eyes, and the full body massage works through the sore calves from the previous night’s dancing.

​​​​​​​Then, I gather myself together and even though I still feel the after affects of the riverboat tour, my walk back to the train station is still accompanied by a beaming smile across my face. Turku, you were so good! Bye for now, but see you soon!

  • Izumi bliss

    If you want to experience Nirvana, book a time in with Marina’s Izumi therapy treatment. However, make sure you do so in advance – it’s a very popular place with the locals.

    In addition to the physiotherapy and cosmetic treatments, Izumi’s menu also includes ultimate-pampering treatments* such as an Indian head massage, aromatherapy and hot-stone therapy.

    Choose to visit and experience something wonderful for yourself: hoitolaizumi.fi

    *the total, unadulterated pampering offers a moment of hedonism


In cooperation with TOK.
Text Milja Henttonen. Photos and video Kim Allen-Mersh.

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