The Turku region cycling route No.2 – Ruissalo Tour
SET OFF ON A EASY-GOING BICYCLE TRIP TO TURKU’S GREEN OASIS – THE ISLAND OF RUISSALO. IN ADDITION TO ITS UNIQUE NATURE, RUISSALO OFFERS INTERESTING CULTURAL SITES AND A VARIETY OF ACTIVITIES.
Length: about 35 km
Duration: Takes 2-3 hours of leisurely pedaling, but spend plenty of time to stop and enjoy the tranquility
Difficulty level: Easy
Ruissalo Island, stretching out in front of Turku, is a wonderful summer paradise and a favourite amongst Turku locals. In addition to its unique nature, the island offers interesting cultural sites and a wide range of activities. Ruissalo is a great spot for cycling, where you can pedal comfortably both by the sea and through lush deciduous forests, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Practically the entire route runs along quiet paths away from busy roads. Delightful restaurants and cafes can be found along the way.
The route starts next to Aurasilta Bridge, in front of Turku City Hall. Grab your Föli Bicycle or your favourite form of two-wheeled transport from, for example, rental company Carfield or 10bikes, which specialises in electric bikes.
Riding by the river is fun when you can follow the sights and activities along the riverside. Enjoy some of the city’s main attractions, including the Suomen Joutsen sailing ship and Turku Castle, as well as the legendary Föri ferry of course. You do have to negotiate the harbour area but it doesn’t take long and is still an interesting part of the city.
Upon arrival in Ruissalo, cast your worries aside and let all your senses enjoy this peaceful oasis. The route will first take you to Ruissalo Shipyard, where a variety of events are available during the summer. Down by the dock there’s a restaurant, café, banquet and event facilities as well as a summer theatre. Located on the large marina terrace is the deliciously popular Zaké artisan pizzeria, loved by even the most discerning Italian pizza aficionado. From the city to the shipyard is an easy route and just over 6 km. You can also get there directly from the banks of the River Aura by water bus, docking right by the pizzeria.
Ruissalo Shipyard - Kansanpuisto Park - Pikku-Pukki Promenade
As you pedal along, you can see huge flocks of geese as well as grazing sheep.
In Kansanpuisto Park, which is known for hosting the Ruisrock festival, you’ll find Villa Promenade. From the park, you continue onto the Pikku-Pukki promenade, which runs right by the water's edge, along which you can admire the charming, pastel coloured, ornate villas, with their cute bathing huts. At the end of the promenade is a small parking area, where you’ll find the remains of a canon battery from the Crimean War. A great time to visit the promenade is in the evening, when you can marvel at the colossal Swedish cruise ships as they glide down the narrow strait.
Pikku-Pukki Promenade - Honkapirtti
Off the main road at the centre of the island, hidden by trees, there is a grand, dark-log building. Honkapirtti is a place that exudes history and, after being moved from Karelia, now operates as a café-restaurant. In the atmospheric setting, enjoy the classic, on-site dishes of pea soup and pancakes, a real local tradition, or your own choice of pastry and coffee. Located along the walking and nature trails, Honkapirtti is a popular stopping point for outdoor enthusiasts.
At Honkapirtti, the bike path runs right next to the pastoral fields. As you sit on your bike, you can spot highland cattle, wild roe or white-tailed deer, grazing in the pasture. From the sunflower field planted by the side of the road, the sunflowers are free to pick during late summer. In spring, Ruissalo is covered with white anemones. Overall, the island's nature is unique for Finnish conditions. Many rare animal and plant species live within the country’s largest oak forest. Get to know Ruissalo's nature even better by exploring the nature trails that meander throughout the island.
The bike path continues for a while to the Ruissalo golf course. At the golf course, the path diverts toward Kuuva, where you can admire the sea views. The distance to the steep cliffs of Kuuvannokka is three kilometres, with roughly the last kilometre along a track road. Kuuvannokka offers stunning views of the Airisto Sea. At Kuuvannokka, the most atmospheric time of the day is sunset.
Ruissalo Spa offers spa and restaurant services, and its spacious terrace offers great sea views. After the spa, you will reach the Saaronniemi camping area, as well as Saaronniemi beach, marking the end of the route. Saaronniemi has both a sandy beach and rocky outcrops. On the beach, you can spend a gentle summer’s day swimming and grilling your own food, or even going on a kayaking trip. The café at Villa Saaro, located by the beach in a magnificent villa, offers tasty food to satisfy even the most raging hunger.
On the way back, you can pedal along the Jarno Saarinen Road, which was part of the track for motorcycle races in Ruissalo. As you reach Kansanpuisto Park, the Botanical Garden is well worth visiting. The path takes you alongside the Kansanpuistotie Road, followed by a short section on the busy Ruissalo Park Road.
There is also a nature trail to the garden, which starts from the parking area next to the Kansanpuistotie Road. You must push the bike along the path but the distance is only about 300 m. There are more than 5,000 plant species in the Botanical Garden from different climatic zones of the globe. The Botanical Garden consists of both greenhouses and outdoor areas. The garden and café are open all year round.
From the Kansanpuisto Park, you pedal over the same route back to where you started.
Three great nature sites:
- Botanical Garden
- Kukkarokivi - Finland's largest clearly visible glacial boulder
Good to remember:
- Ruissalo is a nature reserve, so cycling off-road and along nature trails is prohibited.
- Ruissalo park road is very busy so cycling is not recommended.
Text Veli-Matti Rissanen. Photos Jemina Sormunen, Terri Vahtera, Jenni Virta & Visit Turku.
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