The banks of the Aurajoki, the river that runs through the city of Turku which the locals affectionately call the Aura, boast a huge number of delicious restaurants. In addition to the romantic riverside setting, these venues also serve scrumptious food, from local fare to ethnic cuisine. We’ve updated our previous guide to the 10 best restaurants in Turku for the benefit of all gourmets in this lovely Finnish city.
Restaurant, European, Gluten-free, $$$
Contemporary European fare in and a one-of-a-kind, historic setting are the founding pillars of Turku’s Pinella. Pinella is situated in a building partly constructed in 1836, making this one of the oldest restaurants in the entire country. In 2011, the premises were extensively renovated to create a truly stunning blend of old and new, antique and modern. Such charming backdrop sets the stage for Pinella’s simple but refined and perfectly made dishes; come here to try a cep mushroom risotto, white fish with dill potatoes or the lamb sirloin with zucchini. Pinella also flaunts a lovely patio spectacularly positioned on the Aura’s banks.
Stefan’s Steakhouse is a much-loved restaurant in Turku established by chef Stefan Richter. Richter has international experience in the United States, where he also appeared on popular TV cooking programme Top Chef. Back in Finland, Richter initiated a local chain of steakhouses, with branches in Helsinki and his hometown, Tampere, in addition to the one in Turku. The Turku restaurant is housed in a landmark 1849 brick building which used to host a sailcloth factory. Today, locals come here for succulent, finger-licking steaks like the Finnish tenderloin, the Finnish marble steak and the house special, the Wagyu tenderloin.
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Teerenpeli is a stylish, classy bar housed in a period corner building with elegant finishings which formerly hosted a a bank (the bank’s vaulted doors can still be seen). The bar is part of an enterprise which also includes restaurants and breweries, meaning that Teerenpeli serves delicious handcrafted beers, whiskeys and ciders. Join the bar’s beautifully relaxed ambience and try the fruity Vauhtiveikko and the smoked-tasting Sauhusanttu, two of the venue’s most popular choices of beers. Accompany the drinks with a light snack; Teerenpeli offers the likes of sandwiches, salads, soups and an array of tantalising cold tapas.
If you’re feeling a little hungry while walking along the Aura river, look around to see if you’re close to Cafe Art. This is a lovely cafe divided in multiple rooms on two levels and characterised by a fascinating old-world atmosphere. The rooms are adorned with paintings, making for an enchanting setting to taste the cafe’s delicious, freshly brewed coffee along with a sweet treat. But before you drink the coffee, admire the artful milk drawings that the bartenders are so good at painting in the coffee’s cream. Cafe Art also offers seating outside, right on the riverside — an unbeatable location for a delicious break.
Need a change of pace from traditional Finnish fare of grilled salmon and mashed potatoes? Set your GPS to Turku’s ethnic restaurant Delhi Darbar for a memorable — and affordable — feast of Indian food. The kitchen is headed by a chef with a decade of experience working in India, which explains why the ridiculously good food tastes so flavourful and authentic. The rich menu is grouped by selections of rice dishes, naan breads, chicken, beef and lamb specialities, as well as a range of sizzling plates and a special array of delicacies designed for vegetarians. Finish off with an Indian dessert like kulfi (saffron flavoured ice cream with pistachios) or gulab jamun (deep fried balls of dry milk soaked in sugar syrup).
Eat like Vikings used to at Turku’s themed restaurant Harald. Take a seat here, amidst wooden furniture, brick walls, animal skins and horns everywhere, and watch the hospitable waiting staff in traditional costumes serve you the inviting, savoury Nordic specialties on offer at this fun restaurant. Grilled meats and fish have the upper hand: choose between chicken breasts, black angus sirloin steaks, salmon, or even a reindeer fillet. For the full Harald experience, become a real Viking: fight the shame and wear the golden helmet with the unmissable (fake) animal horns for the entire duration of your dinner!
Restaurant Hus Lindman offers a dining experience like no other in Turku. The restaurant is housed in a charming building constructed in the early 19th century, dripping classical elegance both inside and out. It is perched right atop the Aura riverside amidst lush greenery, with the Turku Cathedral’s bell tower standing out against the sky only metres away. The summer terrace is truly one of the best spots in town to combine scenic views with a delectable meal of Scandinavian specialties. The buffet lunch, serving both hot and cold dishes, is especially popular and not as expensive as you might expect. Definitely worth a visit.
Introduce yourself to honest, traditional Finnish cuisine at Mami, in Turku’s centre. A very simple, casual restaurant, the food here takes centre stage, and is as sure to please the palates of first-time visitors as it does those of Mami’s many regular patrons. Start with a warming beetroot soup with sautéed peanuts and sour cream, then go for a lightly fried perch accompanied by an exquisite bouillabaisse, and top it off with a heavenly slice of apple pie. Located along the Aura, don’t skip a refreshing walk on the riverside before or after your meal.
The Aland Islands are one of the numerous small archipelagos off Turku’s coast. Niska‘s noted chef Michael Bjorklund was born there, and these days he prepares a range of tasty archipelago pizzas for the pub’s patrons. The pizzas are made with high quality, fresh ingredients sourced from the Aland islands whenever possible — try the Algoth (sauna-smoked ham, button mushrooms, rucola), the Kickan (goat cheese, tomato, red onion, rucola) and the Magda (buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, olives, basil). Niska boasts a modernly decorated venue, with charming arched windows and quirky wood tables resembling upside down fruit crates.
Featuring a cool, international ambiance that is somewhat uncommon for Turku’s restaurants, it comes as no surprise that Tintå ranks as a favourite among the city’s younger crowds, who like to come here for a tasty snack or simply to linger over a few drinks in the company of friends. The menu lists exquisite, uncomplicated dishes prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients that ensure bursts of flavour in the diner’s mouth, like the skewered beef fillet with delicious, crispy fries, horseradish aioli and a fresh feta salad. The outdoor patio, looking over to the Aura River, is another strong selling point.