To Ruissalo Spa With Toddler in Tow

For families with toddlers, check out this child-friendly travel destination a suitable driving distance from the city. We took some quality time by the sea, in pristine nature, with city services and urban activities close at hand. We packed up our three-person family into a car and set off to Turku’s Ruissalo.

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After Turku’s western habour, we drove through deciduous trees growing on both sides that formed a vaulted archway over the road. Soon eyes were drawn to the green of the golf course to the left side of the street. A short while later, the navigator announced our arrival at Ruissalo Spa.

​​​​​​​After European city destinations, our hotel room seemed enormous. There’s plenty of crawling space for the toddler, with room left for a cot – a welcome promise of a good night’s sleep for parents. The icing on the cake is that our room also has a large balcony overlooking the marina.

To our delight, we also found the spa offered a sausage-soup lunch, which any grandmother would be proud of. After lunch, we sat on the terrace drinking coffee and enjoying our holiday scenery for desert. 

Explore Ruissalo from the saddle and the sea

Ruissalo is well worth exploring via bicycle. The spa also hires out child seats and all necessary equipment, so even the kids can get involved in the bike trip. Judging by the shrieks of delight, the ride was pretty exciting! Routes are found both on tarmacked roads and forest paths, and Ruissalo is full of interesting places to stop, from the botanical garden to the quaint cafés.

In Ruissalo Spa, you can enjoy a variety of activities from volleyball to Frisbee golf, and I chose to rent a kayak and have a go at canoeing. My support crew gave a bit of encouragement from the dock but then abandoned me to have a nap. It was a wonderful experience to float there in the summer sunshine, admiring the nature and having some time alone with my thoughts. I found some cliffs right next to the spa, which I proceeded to climb and appreciate the view across the open sea.

Water games in the pool

One of the most enticing reasons to go to Ruissalo was the pool complex, where our little bundle of joy would enjoy splashing even more than his parents. The Ruissalo Spa complex consists of three pools, two of which are large and one small. We were very happy to find plenty of toys available at the poolside.

With direct access from the pools, I was even able to take a dip in the sea. Swimming in the peaceful cove was a vey relaxing experience. Unsurprisingly, several families decided to join me and share the moment. The time passed without notice. We realised we had spent two hours together, which, for a family like us, was an achievement just to focus on one thing.

​​​​​​​We also discovered at the spa an enclosed playroom full of treasures. Daddy got an easy time of it just watching the toddler on the traffic-matt and following from the side as he constantly discovered something new to inspire his enthusiasm.

Grilled sausages and frosty beer

There are many snacks for a summer evening, but few of them come close to sausages grilled over an open fire. At Ruissalo Spa, it’s a craving easily satisfied, with a campfire site in the grounds as well as the Grillikolo gazebo where you can grill sausages. Hiring of the latter also includes salads and soft drinks. There, we were able to enjoy the open fire and some peace by ourselves, but still not far from the spa facilities (read: childcare room).

Every other night I read Winnie the Pooh and stroked our little progeny to sleep. Now it was the turn of my other half. I headed down to the spa’s lounge bar, ordered a beer and sat out on the terrace. The evening sun illuminated the beautiful Ruissalo scenery around me. Beneath me, the spa’s guests took dips in the sea whilst a family of swans nosed around for nourishment near the jetty. With a cold glass of lager in hand, I could think of nowhere I’d rather be.

On Ruissalo, there are beautiful wooden homes known as lace villas. The elegant Villa Saaro dates from the 1850’s, and nowadays houses a small café. There at Saaronniemi you’ll also find a campsite, mini-golf, a swimming place for dogs and covered barbecues. The site is accessible from Turku by bus, which only serves to increase the popularity with the locals.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​We continue our hike to Honkapirtti, which is located only three kilometres from the spa. The hardwood trees we passed in the middle of our route were the most beautiful in Ruissalo. The men of infantry regiment JR14 built Honkapirtti during the Continuation War from Viena Karelian evergreens. At the back was a fireplace that created a lovely cosy atmosphere. For lunch, we chose to have the house speciality, the pea soup, which, when spiced with onion and mustard, was as good as the army days – and of course for desert was the traditional pancake, jam and whipped cream.

With our stomachs full, we decided to head to Turku in the afternoon. We were not interested in searching for car park in an unfamiliar town, so we jumped directly from the spa onto a city bus and headed for the riverside.


In cooperation with Ruissalon Spa.
Text Teemu Siltanen. Photos and video Kim Allen-Mersh.

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