Located in the south-west of the Nordic nation of Finland, Turku was once the Finnish capital and is the oldest town in the country, having been established in the 13th century. It is also one of the most mature seaports in Scandinavia, bringing in fresh Baltic Sea fish and food imports from all over the world. This makes the city one of the most popular holiday destinations in Finland with some of the country’s best restaurants. Here are 10 such restaurants that you must check out while you are in Turku.
The restaurant of the Scandic Plaza hotel allows you to people-watch over Turku’s main shopping street from the outdoor terrace or the modern dining room. The breakfast menu is available for non-hotel residents with Finnish favourites such as porridge and Karelian pastries with egg butter. During the day, the restaurant is open for anyone to enjoy simple but pleasing Finnish dishes such as salmon, fresh local vegetables, and cakes topped with berries. The daily changing soup and salad lunch is only around €10 and at Christmas time you can warm up with some glögi (Finnish mulled wine).
This restaurant has spectacular views of Turku Cathedral and excellent Mediterranean food served with a Nordic twist. This means perfect pizzas, tapas, and pasta made with local seasonal ingredients and accompanied with a selection of wine and fresh bread. The food at Gustavo is often considered as some of the best Italian cuisine north of Italy.
Run by a top-rated chef from central China, Kiinanmuuri’s (which is the Finnish name for The Great Wall of China) two locations in Turku serve some of the city’s best Asian cuisine and are always packed at lunchtime. The spices have been toned down slightly to fit the Finnish palate, but you can always ask for more if you prefer your food sufficiently spicy. Try the chili beef, ox with mushrooms, or the daily China special to sample three dishes at once.
Contemporary European fare and a one-of-a-kind, historic setting are the founding pillars of Turku’s Pinella. The restaurant is situated in a building partly constructed in 1836, making this one of the oldest restaurants in the entire country, predating Finland’s independence by almost a full century. In 2011, the premises were extensively renovated to create a truly stunning blend of antique and modern. Such a charming backdrop sets the stage for Pinella’s simple but refined and perfectly made dishes. Come here to try a deer carpaccio, fish du jour, or meadowsweet posset. Pinella also flaunts a lovely patio spectacularly positioned on the Aura’s banks.
Located next to the Market Square, Rico is a bustling restaurant at lunch time but during the evening it is much more quiet and relaxed. The menu updates three times a year to include seasonal ingredients, which depending on the time of year can include grilled salmon, steak, or a Finnish Christmas buffet.
You can easily spot this river boat restaurant moored on the bank of the Aura river. The boat deck in the sunshine is a beautiful and inspiring place to have dinner during the summer. If it’s chilly outside then you can enjoy your meal in the boat’s classic wooden interior while looking out at the ships passing by. Choose from either the evening buffet or the a-la carte menu, including blue cheese steak, crème brûlée, and mushroom soup.
Featuring a cool, international ambiance, 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 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.
Eat like Vikings used to at Turku’s themed Viking 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! Harold really does make you feel as if you are feasting with Vikings.