Southwestern Coast and the Ålands: Places to Explore



Founded at the beginning of the 13th century, Turku is the nation's oldest and fourth-largest city and was the original capital of newborn Finland. Its early importance in the history of Finland has earned Turku the title of "the cradle of Finnish culture." Turku has a long history as a commercial and intellectual center (the city's name means trading post); once the site of the first Finnish university, it has two major universities, the Finnish University of Turku and the Swedish-speaking Åbo Akademi. Turku has a population of about 200,000, and a busy, year-round harbor. In summer the banks of the river come alive with boat and ship cafés.

A lively artistic community thrives in Turku, and like most Finnish towns, it comes into its own in the summer. It is most active in July during the Ruisrock Festival, drawing international acts to the seaside park 5 km (3 mi) west of the city.

August's Turku Music Festival features baroque and contemporary performances. The highlight of the festival is the well-attended, outdoor Down by the Laituri, with stages set up along the city's waterfront.

Elsewhere in Southwestern Coast and the Ålands