Turku – a raising foodie destination

Hungry for something new? Try Turku, a medieval city on the South-West coast of Finland, known for its contemporary Scandinavian food and laid back restaurants.

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Turku is a city that you could easily call a hidden treasure. Far too small to be known for its size, far too remote to be known for its central location – but still a city with the soul of a true metropolis.  

The oldest city, and original capital of Finland, is situated right where the Finnish Archipelago begins. At the doorstep of over 40 000 islands, Turku is quickly gaining the reputation as the food capital of Finland, where the freshest archipelago ingredients meet the most modern Scandinavian culinary trends.

Local flavour, contemporary flare  

The starting point of Turku’s food culture is the ingredients, of course.

Here in the North, this means super tasty, vitamin-packed berries, fresh fish from the Baltic Sea, and seasonal local specialties such as virgin potatoes from the Archipelago in June, or the first hand-picked blueberries in August.

While the Finnish kitchen tradition is quite straightforward and simple, the contemporary cross-kitchen has brought some nice new elements to it. In the best Turku restaurants, this means the perfect marriage of pure natural flavours with a twist of something new.

Picks from the menu

In comparison to many European cities, in Turku it doesn't empty your wallet to eat well. Generally, Turku restaurants tend to be smartly casual bistros rather than places of fine dining. At the most popular little locales, you should make a reservation in advance, though, if you want to be sure to get a table.    

Here are some restaurant picks that we at Visit Turku recommend.

  • Kaskis is the superstar of Turku’s culinary scene, a remarkable cordon bleu quality restaurant that is, at the same time, wonderfully uncomplicated. There is only one tasting menu: seven-course Kaskis menu. Each plate paints a seasonal picture with natural tastes in every bite. All has been considered, to the smallest of details.

    Everything about the small, informal restaurant is carried out with a professional touch and a big heart, from the kitchen to the front door, all under the expert care of Erik Mansikka, Topi Pekkanen and Simo Raisio. Gleaming at the entrance to Kaskis are both of Turku’s two Michelin stars. Be sure to book your table in advance.

  • Peeking through the street-level windows, you’d never guess what treasures lie below the surface. In the relaxed atmosphere of Smör’s stone-vaulted cellar, the experienced staff take you on a voyage of taste sensations, with a menu regularly updated with amazing flavour combinations. Scandinavian, surprising and above all delicious.

    Smör takes great care in the sourcing of ingredients and offers great advice on how to pair the perfect wine for your meal. Also, the charming staff and excellent service leave a lasting impression.

  • Lodging in the Governor’s Magazine is the two-story restaurant Roster. Adorning the wall is a handsomely lit skull reminding everyone not to take life too seriously. The kitchen adopts the same philosophy.

    Kari Aihinen and his team want the menu to reflect both their attitude and the positive atmosphere, stripping away the formalities of fine dining. Start the evening with cocktails on the velvet couches downstairs, before moving to indulge in a delicious meal in the dining salon.

  • The two-storied Nooa opened its doors onto Turku’s guest marina in 2017. Nooa’s stylish building, with its clean lined architecture, is located right on the shoreline. The décor of the restaurant combines the clean lines of Scandinavian design with something distinctly maritime. The cuisine likes to play with the Nordic flavours, but with a nice twist.

    The rooftop terrace definitely shows off the best side of Nooa, perfect for eating or having a drink. From the downstairs salon, peek at the chefs busy at work in the kitchen or admire the boats floating outside. For once, a gem such as this is found outside the city centre!

  • The delightful Ludu was founded in an old paint shop, exuding the spirit of the former premises. Both warm and romantically lit, the interior preserves the original chequered floor with the restaurant’s grand piano taking centre stage. 

    Relaxed fine dining at Ludu is the perfect choice when you desire a bit more from your meal. Every portion of the tasting menu is like a work of art, whilst the vegan versions are far from ordinary. Ludu is at its best at twilight by candlelight, but lunch is also a fantastic experience. YUM!

  • Even as recently as the start of the millennium, Kakola was not a place you wanted to visit – other than to pass the time! Now, Finland’s most notorious prison facility has released a restaurant, Kakolanruusu, masterminded by the same gang responsible for restaurant Kaskis, including master chef Erik Mansikka. 

    The food will not be passed through the bars of a cell, but pulled from the open fire. Grilled delicacies are a speciality of the restaurant. The Kakola Feast is a cross-section of the best flavours from the kitchen. The portions are served for the table to share, allowing all to taste a little of everything. 

    As well as the á la carte menu, the small delights served at the cocktail bar come highly recommended, should you get hungry whilst enjoying a drink.

  • The popular coffee bar Tiirikkala is a safe choice for great coffee, lunch or cocktails, but is particularly worth dropping by on Sunday’s for the fabulous brunch. The brunch plate is a fresh choice for a traditional buffet, and you won’t need to cut another hole in your belt afterwards.

    You can select either a meat or vegetarian option, then top up with the complementary side dishes. Special diets are also catered for – warm recommendation for the vegan version! 

    Located on the edge of Vähätori Square in a charming wooden house with exposed beams and timber walls, which served for a long time as an Artek shop. Now the space is like an interior design blog, with soft jazz flowing in the background.

  • Our riverbank tour culminates with dinner at the restaurant Pinella, with its row of columns that can be recognised from afar. The time for a visit to Pinella could not be better, as fresh winds are blowing both from the menu and the kitchen.

    The Pinella spring menu, which was just introduced at the beginning of March, lets the diner get a taste of Pinella's colourful history. The menu is an interesting mix of treasures from Pinella menus from past decades with the addition of a little twist. Finally, we set our course to the bar upstairs. Rumour has it that this is where the city's best cocktails are mixed. We need to find out more about this.

  • At Gustavo, taste the real passion the owners have for Mediterranean cuisine. Guests are received with open arms, whilst the life and soul of the restaurant, head chef and owner Markus, ensures no one leaves hungry. The menu includes classic dishes and seasonal delicacies that change on a weekly basis, formed from traditional ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine. When everything is made fresh, from start to finish, then high quality is guaranteed. 

    Gustavo’s specialities are the savoury little snacks also known as pintxos, which can be enjoyed as an appetiser or several combined as a main meal. The wines have been carefully chosen, with a selection that includes labels not found in local stores.

  • Turku’s most fresh seafood restaurant is undoubtedly Bassi! Restaurant Bassi operates in Turku's best location: by the Aura River, right in the heart of the city.

    Bassi specialises in fish and seafood dishes, which are made for sharing. The pinnacle of the menu is the shellfish platter – an impressive sight when laid on the table! If seafood doesn’t catch your appetite, you’ll also find meat and vegetarian dishes on menu.

    Restaurant is named after the architect who designed the building, Charles Bassi. On Friday and Saturday evenings, Club Bassi Karaoke bar opens on the third floor, where you can sing karaoke in a uniquely stylish setting. And the terrace on the building’s rooftop is the real icing on the cake.

  • Completed in 1889, these premises of an old school are now a restaurant bar and Finland’s largest restaurant-brewery. In addition to the Koulu’s own beer and cider, you’ll also find on offer one of the city’s most comprehensive selection of whisky as well as Koulu’s own specialist wine tavern. Look out for the old school desks and teaching materials hanging from the walls.

    The premises have largely been preserved – you can even go in the history class. In the upstairs cabinets you can arrange meetings and events, with the Bellman dining hall able to accommodate a larger crowd. From the rear door your can reach the terrace courtyard and beer garden, suitable for everyone. That is, not because it’s alcohol-free, but because it’s the largest terrace in Turku.

Food Walk

When you want to taste as many bites of Turku as possible but don't have an endless amount of days to do so, buy a Food Walk card from Visit Turku. For only 44€ you are treated to a special tasting portion at five different local restaurants.

Benefits of a smaller town: All the restaurants on the card are situated within walking distance from each other. There are ten great restaurant options to choose from!

The Old Market Hall

A true foodie classic in Turku is The Old Market Hall. Opened in 1896, this beautiful old brick structure offers the best ingredients for home-cooking and more. Fresh fish, great bread, mouth-watering cakes – delicacies from near and far.

If you can't buy a bag of delicious traditional Carelian pastries to take home with you, have lunch here at the Old Market Hall. There are great options to choose from. Kado serves the best sushi in town, and Roots is a treat for vegans. And when you find a free stool at the Herkkunuotta lunch bar, take it. Herkkunuotta is one of the best seafood places in town – it doesn't even matter that it's not an actual restaurant.

Visit Turku also offers tasting tours for groups in the Old Market Hall. Read more about them here.       

Foodie events in Turku

The Archipelago Fair 

Delicacies straight from the Archipelago on the banks of the River Aura, mainly between the Auransilta (Aura Bridge) and the Teatterisilta (Theatre Bridge).   

Virgin Potato Festival 

Local street food made of the ingredient of the season: Archipelago baby potato! Location: the backyard garden of the Brewery Restaurant Koulu (Eerikinkatu 18). 

Turku Food & Wine Festival 

The name says it all.

The Herring Fair 

Delicacies straight from the Archipelago on the banks of the River Aura, mainly between the Auransilta (Aura Bridge) and the Teatterisilta (Theatre Bridge).  

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