Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Outdoor Guide to Turku

Turku is the oldest city in Finland, and was the most important one for many hundred years, which is reflected in a rich cultural heritage. It also has a lot to offer for the outdoor lover. You can go hiking, trail running, mountain biking and paddling right from the middle of the city. There are a number of outdoor shops where you can complement your gear and then there are also the cafés and pubs along the river where you can meet outdoor people over a hot brew or cold beer.

Outdoor folks in Turku

There are a number of different more closed groups doing all sorts of outdoor activities in Turku, but it is hard to get in touch with them. There are also a few bloggers in the area.

  • Toni is the foremost fatbike expert in the area.
  • Peter does most outdoor activities.
  • Patrick is the main packrafter in the area.
  • The Facebook group MTB-Turku is the place to ask for company for an mountain bike ride.
  • The Facebook group Turku Trail Runners might be of assistance for trail running questions.
  • The Facebook group TuUL:n harrastepyöräilijät is a must for a road cyclist in Turku, with regular group rides twice a week and lots of other longer excursions.

Outdoor destinations

There is a good number of marked and unmarked trails starting right in the middle of the city, so you can basically go trail running, hiking or mountain biking right away. If you only have a few hours of time, the Paavo trails marked with blue colors in the terrain could be a good choice.

The Kurjenrahka National Park is situated 25 km north of the city and can also be reached by public transportation. It contains vast open mires and nice forests. A number of marked trails, shelters and fire places are available. During a good winter the skiing is excellent and during the summer season it is suitable for hiking and mountain biking trips for up to a few days.

Turku is situated by the Archipelago Sea, which measured by the number of islands, around 40000, might be the largest archipelago in the world. The kayaking is hence excellent, with enough to explore for a lifetime. You could just rent a SUP, kayak or canoe (or inflate your packraft) for a few hours of paddling around the city or load the kayak for a couple of weeks out if you want. The archipelago offers everything from protected inner waters to the barren skerries of the outer archipelago.

During a good winter there are lots of skiing possibilities in and around Turku. In addition to skiing on unprepared snow, there are also prepared crosscountry tracks around the city. A map can be found here (the Turku city web pages have recently been totally redesigned and a lot of content has not yet been translated into English).

The winter can also have only small amounts of snow, but lots of ice. The tour skating is then excellent and there is again a whole archipelago to explore. This is not something to do alone, however, but with the right skills, company and (if necessary) guides this offers really unique experiences.

  • Suomen Retkiluistelijat, the Finnish tour skating assocation provides ice reports as well as a lot of other relevant information.

As already mentioned, the mountain biking is excellent in Turku. For road cyclists there is also a good network of bicycle roads (for maps see the pyoratiet pdf files here). Alternatively, you can use one or several days on the Archipelago Ring Road..

The outdoor climbing close to Turku consists mainly of bouldering spots, but by expanding the area some more rock and ice climbing spots are also found. 27CRAGS lists these. A few topos can be found on the home page of the local climbing club.

Perhaps you only want to have a nice picknick in Turku. Then you could go to a beach or one of the many parks.

And do remember, in Finland you always have access to good topographical maps online at Retkikartta. You can even easily print them with Pikakartta.

In case of Rain: Outdoors, Indoors

If the weather can't decide whether it's going to rain or not, the Botanical Garden provides both indoor and outdoor gardens to explore. You can take bus 8 from the city square to get there.

When it's really raining, you can hone your climbing skills in Kiipeilypalatsi or Bouldertehdas.

Now that you're tired from the outdoor activities, it might be time to enjoy some culture. Check visitturku.fi for the current offerings.

Outdoor shopping

Occasionally you need to buy new gear as well. For ordinary outdoor gear, there are several largish shops in Turku.

One of the best bike shops for enthusiasts in Finland is Foxcomp in Turku. The biggest bike shop in the city is Ajopyörä. Nummen Pyörä also has a good range and service.

The renting of gear is generally something that is quite underdeveloped in Finland. With the exception of kayaks and such, there is no single instance from where you could rent outdoor gear. The Kuinoma service collects rentable gear in one web page, but assembling a total kit to rent is not easily doable.

Sleeping outdoors & indoors

You're never far from a smaller or larger forest area in Turku, so there are lots of places where you can do stealth camping perfectly legally. Perhaps the nicest places for this is on Ruissalo, where you can enjoy views of the sea when you wake up in the morning. There are even a few shelters close to the city, which also generally have firewood available.

In addition to the usual Omena hotel, there are also other options for less expensive indoor sleeping places. The ship hostel Borea is quite interesting and then there are also some Airbnb places available.

Food & Cafés

Turku has lately been gaining a very good reputation as a food city. The price level is lower than in Helsinki, both for the restaurant owners and clients, and there is now a good selection of cafés and restaurants along the river. Check out e.g. Tintå and Smör or just buy the Turku Food Walk card and start exploring the tastes.

Getting around town

Compared to the Helsinki region Turku is very small, so there is no problem getting around. Most things are on a walking distance and with a bus you can get to the different parts of the city in less than 30 minutes from the town square. You can also rent a bike.

Outdoor Guide Directory

Turku is actually not the center of the universe. Check out the Outdoor Guide Directory for information on other places to visit as well.

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