Turku is famous for its medieval quarters and spectacular location by the Baltic Sea. With its history as Finland’s capital city under the Swedish rule, nowadays foodie destination Turku is a cool mixture of Finnish and Swedish cuisine. From Scandinavian fine dining to market hall fish soups, here are the top 10 cultural restaurants in Turku!
Turku Market Hall is a great way to explore Finnish and Scandinavian cuisine – or just to grab a quick bite in Turku! Opened in 1896, Turku Market Hall is the second oldest market hall in Finland. Markets and market halls are a big part of Finnish culture, and in Turku Market Hall’s restaurant S. Wallin, you can enjoy traditional salmon soups with local rye bread in an authentic atmosphere. Apart from Wallin’s delicious fish plates, there are sushi, Vietnamese food, an award-winning bakery and many other stalls to choose from.
For the best coffee in Turku, head to Café Art. The café is located in an old wooden house by the Aura River bank and has a traditional Central European feel to it. Inside, the café’s cosy and charming atmosphere invites one to enjoy a quiet coffee moment without rush. Café Art is owned by the esteemed Finnish coffee roasters Turun Kahvipaahtimo, and is one of Finland’s best third-wave coffee shops. If you are after a light lunch, try Café Art’s traditional dark archipelago bread topped with cream cheese and salmon, or the moist and perfect cinnamon buns.
To dine out with style à la Turku, head to Smör, a beautifully refurbished space that oozes Scandinavian modernity mixed with the medieval feel of the surroundings. Smör’s seasonal menu leans on Nordic delights and is changed every two months. There are three types of set menus from 55 to 75 euros with an option for a wine flight, too. Or try any of the seafood from the à la carte menu, where you can find Icelandic langoustine and wild pike-perch to finish off with local cheeses or sinfully delicious chocolaty treats.
Opened in 2014 by “three young lads” Kaskis quickly became one of Turku’s most beloved restaurants. Kaskis also features on Finland’s Top 50 Restaurant listing. Kaskis’s decor is classic Finnish in 1940s and 1950s style. The restaurant is located in the charming Luostarinmäki (Cloister Hill) area which showcases the traditionally Finnish way of life in the 18th century. Luostarinmäki is just off the city centre, so you can have a nice stroll to Kaskis or take bus 18 from the central market square. Kaskis offers two tasting menus from four to six items (55 and 66 euros, respectively) with carefully selected drinks to match. Booking is recommended as Kaskis regularly fills up with happy customers.
The medieval Turku Castle is one of Finland’s oldest buildings still in use, and Juhana Herttuan Kellari is located in the centre of it, at the historic courtyard. Restaurant Juhana Herttuan Kellari (Duke Johan’s Cellar) is the perfect pit stop for any modern-day princes and princesses while touring around the atmospheric Scandinavian castle. Lunchtime buffet is served from 11.00 to 14.00 but the evenings are reserved only for events and pre-booked parties. As the restaurant café is operated by the iconic Finnish chocolate brand Fazer, there are plenty of sweet and savoury treats to choose from.
Moored along the bank of River Aura, the Svarte Rudolf (Black Rudolf) offers meals in a pirate-like atmosphere all year round. Svarte Rudolf steamship dates from 1927 but relocated from the world’s seas to Turku in 1994 when it was transformed into one of the city’s most iconic traditional restaurants. The boat restaurant’s deck is especially popular during summer months. The menu includes classic European cuisine, from snails to fish & chips, pizzas, burgers and steaks.
Bar, Craft Ale Bar, Restaurant, European, Northern European, North American, Finnish, $$$
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Koulu (Finnish for ‘school’) is one of Finland’s biggest brewery restaurants. The charming building dates back to 1889 and functioned as a school in succeeding decades. The building is inspired by the Italian Renaissance in a modestly Finnish fashion. The brewery’s beer is brewed according to a specific German method from 1516 and the menu includes hefty meals from burgers and fish to sausage plates, steaks and hotdogs. This is a school where you don’t mind spending your days in!
In Finland, bookshops with cafés are not very common, so the bookshop Pieni Kirjapuoti’s (meaning The Little Bookshop) café nook, Kahvila 7 Pöytää, is a special treat in Turku. The name means Café 7 Tables and is a pretty good indication of the coffee shop’s size. The cosy café is well stocked with coffees roasted in Finland as well as speciality teas. All the treats are also freshly home-baked and if you are in luck, you might even catch a glimpse of a Finnish literary celebrity while treating yourself to a piece of cake!
Bistro, Craft Ale Bar, Restaurant, European, North American, Finnish, $$$
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Opened in the mid-90s, Teerenpeli was one of the first microbreweries in Finland and has since opened restaurants in a couple of Finland’s bigger cities such as Turku. Although the attraction here is the brewery’s own products, the Teerenpeli Deli also offers tasty bar snacks from vegan sandwiches to sausage and cheese plates till the small hours of the night. Or try the organic dark beer Laiskajaakko or the refreshingly sour lingonberry cider Lempi Puolukka to go with the sweet potato and falafel basket.
Located in Turku Art Museum, Café Victor offers tasty lunches and coffees in elegant surroundings. The museum building is a magnificent granite building on top of a city centre mount – a Turku landmark you cannot miss! The café has a vast selection of freshly baked sweet and savoury treats as well as soups for lunch. There is also a seasonal selection of goodies created to match the museum’s exhibition themes.