What sights to see in Turku, where to shop for groceries and drinks as well as where to go in case of an emergency.
What to see in Turku
Turku (Åbo), Finland’s former capital, is situated on the southwest coast of Finland. Turku came into existence during the end of 13th century, which makes it the oldest city in Finland. Turku has several interesting sights for a medievalist.
Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova
a pair of museums, a museum of modern art and an archaeological/medieval history museum built over an archeological site. Aboa Vetus allows you to experience medieval Turku and visit the ruins excavated from underneath the city. The museum also has several excavated everyday items on display as well as changing exhibitions. The book shop Laurentius has a good selection of useful gifts (replica glasses, jewellery) and most importantly one of the best selections of books on medieval topics in Finland. Most of the selection is in English.
The cathedral was originally built of wood in the late 13th century. It was dedicated as the main cathedral of Finland in 1300, the seat of the bishop of Turku. It was considerably expanded in stone in the 14th and 15th centuries. Many notable people, such as Karin Månsdotter (1550–1612 Queen of Sweden), are buried in the cathedral. The cathedral has an interesting exhibition upstairs, displaying historical embroideries and liturgical vestments as well as models that present the history of the building.
Turku castle is the largest surviving medieval building in Finland, and one of the largest surviving medieval castles in Scandinavia. The origins of the castle date back to the 1280′s. The heyday of Turku Castle was in the mid-16th century during the reign of Duke John of Finland and Katarina Jagellonica. That was when the Renaissance Floor and King’s and Queen’s hall were built, along with other features. Today, the entire castle is a historical museum, and part of the Turku provincial museum. In the main part of the castle are banquet rooms for the city of Turku, a church for the local congregation as well as a gift shop and restaurants in both the main castle and the bailey.
Shopping for groceries and drinks
Credit cards are accepted in all grocery stores, Alko and pharmacies; in general Finland runs on plastic (local buses and commuter trains being an exception). If the place takes cards at all, Visa and MasterCard (incl. Eurocard) will usually work – the shop has to be really small to take only debit cards. Gas stations, bigger stores and bigger restaurants/chain restaurants accept also Amex and Diners – and all of the ‘S chain’ places (S-Market/Prisma/ABC gas stations/Chico’s and Rosso restaurants etc.) take these, whatever the size of the place. Nowadays there’s no minimum payment limit.
Please note: Maybe about 20-30% of the Finnish stores have a chip card reader. If you have a chipped credit/debit card, expect to be asked to enter your PIN code. If the card is swiped and the bill is 50 euros or more, the shopkeepers must ask for legitimation, i.e. an ID card or passport .
Alcohol may be sold “off-licence” 09-21. If you go to a late-night shop at 21:05, all the beer shelves will be fenced off. Grocery shops/supermarkets only sell drinks like beer and cider. Drinks with more than 4.7% alcohol are only sold at the alcohol monopol store, Alko. The Alko stores are open 09-20 on Fridays and 09-16 or 09-18 on Saturdays. If you come in by plane or ferry, we recommend you to get your stronger drinks on the way in (at departure airport or on the ferry) as the nearest Alko is pretty far from the site – and it is far from cheap, alcohol taxes are high in Finland.
Nearest grocery store: S-Market Sauvo
S-Market Sauvo is located on the main road (road 181) in the village of Sauvo, a bit before the church when heading to the site. The address of the shop is Vähäpellontie 2, 21570 Sauvo and the distance to the site is 13 km and about 17 min. You can see the S-Market sign and the building – a square block with big windows taped with yellow – a bit before you need to turn off the main road, so it is easy to get to and there’s a good parking lot, too.
S-Market Sauvo is open 07:00-21:00 on Friday, 07:00-18:00 (remember, no alcohol before 09:00!) on Saturday and 12:00-18:00 on Sunday. All credit cards are taken. The drinks bottles and cans that are sold in grocery stores in Finland (excl. Lidl) can be returned here.
By Finnish standards this is a supermarket, not huge, but reasonably stocked (also on beer and cider). This is where the locals go for their groceries and the price range is ok. Therei s a pay-at-the-pump (=machine, cash or card) ABC gas pump next to this supermarket.
Please note: if you follow your navigator’s suggestion for the shortest route from Helsinki to the site, it’ll take you on the minor roads and you will miss Sauvo and the shop. Take the route described in our directions (motorway, road 110, road 181) to find this shop!
Nearest late-night shop: Neste Oil Paimio at Junction 11
Neste Oil Paimio is a big gas station chain recogniced by it’s blue and green colours. This is a mid-sized gas station with all the services: fuel, toilets, restaurant/café and a K-Market grocery store. If you come from Helsinki and take the route given by our driving directions (“the easy route”), you will be turning off the motorway at this junction and you’ll pass by the gas station complex. It is also quite well signposted from the motorway.
Neste Oil Paimio is open Monday to Saturday 06:00-24:00 and on Sundays 08:00-24:00 (alcohol is not sold in the shop after 21:00).
Self-service fueling is available 24/7 at least with a credit/debit card.
The address of the gas station is Ajurintie 1, 21530 Paimio.
Nearby Alko alcohol shops (for drinks over 4.7% alcohol)
If you are driving from east, i.e. Helsinki, your best bet is probably Prisma hypermarket and Alko in Halikko (near Salo), 40-60 minutes before the site. These are in the same building on the western outskirts of Salo, so you can get everything in one place – besides the two shops, there’s also a Hesburger (hamburger restaurant), a café and a pharmacy. It also has a bottle/can return machine that takes all types of drinks bottles and cans sold in Finland (except in Lidl).
Alko is open until 20:00 on Friday and 09:00-18:00 on Saturday.
Prisma is open 08:00-21:00 on Friday, 08:00-18:00 on Saturday and 12:00-18:00 on Sunday.
The Hesburger is probably open when Prisma is while pharmacy is likely to be open more like the Alko (or it may even close earlier).
Driving directions from east (Helsinki), to find the Prisma: Follow motorway 1 (E18) until junction 15. When you’ve gotten off the motorway, turn left onto Somerontie (the sign will probably say ‘Salo’) to cross the bridge over the motorway. Follow this road (nr 52) for about 3.5 km until you can turn right (towards Turku) onto road 110. Stick to 110 for 2.7 km and turn right to get to the supermarket; it is behind some furniture and electronics shops, you’ll see the green Prisma flags and an obvious retail park before you have to turn. Probably you’ll be seeing Prisma advertisement a few km before the shop. If you have a navigator, the address is Prismantie 2, 24800 Salo.
Driving directions from Prisma to site: If you have a navigator or really good maps, you can take the shortcut and use the minor roads to get from the hypermarket to the site. However, if you aren’t that comfortable with navigation and/or smaller roads, you can still bypass Sauvo and save about 20 minutes on driving time: Get back onto 110 and turn right towards Turku, go on for about 11.5 km. When you see a sign for Sauvo on the left, turn onto that road (1812/Sauvontie). Keep on 1812 (the biggest road) until you come to 181 where signs are for Kemiö to the left and Sauvo/Paimio to the right. Turn left towards Kemiö (remember, you are bypassing Sauvo!) and drive for 1.1 km, then turn left onto Rajalahdentie (there might be an SCA sign, too) and follow our normal driving directions to the site.
If you are driving from west, i.e. Turku, or from the event site, the easiest option is probably to head into Paimio; coming from Turku, this adds only about 15 minutes to the driving time. Besides an Alko, there’s a S-Market and a pharmacy in the same address, so you can get all of your shopping done at this stop.
Alko Paimio is open until 20:00 on Friday and 09:00-18:00 on Saturday.
S-Market is open until 21:00 on Friday, 07:00-18:00 on Saturday and 12:00-18:00 on Friday.
The address for both is Asematie 1, 21530 Paimio.
Getting there from Turku: Find motorway 1 towards Helsinki and drive for about 20 km. At junction 9 follow the signs to Paimio, drive for about 6 km to get to the centre. Due to one-way streets, you have do a funny loop in the centre of Paimio, at a big crossing turn left onto Vistantie, then right onto Apilatie and finally left onto Asematie; see Johanna’s Google map. “Asematie” means “station road”, so if you get lost, find the railroad and then the station and you’ll find the Alko and S-Market, too.
Getting from Paimio to the site: Head left on Asematie and at the end turn right onto Kaaritie. Then drive straight and you should be on road 181 that goes straight past Sauvo towards Kemiö. Drive on 181 for about 17 km – out of Paimio, over the motorway, across 110, past Sauvo village and onwards and after passing Sauvo follow our driving instructions and the SCA signs to get to the site.
If you start your trip from Helsinki airport by 20:30, it may be easiest for you to stop at Jumbo shopping centre at the junction of the airport road and Ring III as you’ll be passing by anyway; Jumbo is less than 6 minutes from the airport, so if you navigate carefully, you’ll be at the shop 10 minutes after leaving the airport.
The bottom level Jumbo has two giant grocery stores, of which Citymarket is probably better for food and beer, and at the back between these two there’s an Alko that’s open until 20:00 on Fridays. Driving directions from the airport: Follow the signs out of the airport and towards Ring III. Then start following signs for Pakkala to get over the Ring road and after the junction take left lane. At the big crossroads with traffic lights turn left; if possible, follow the parking signs on the right to get into the bottom level with shortest distance to the grocery stores and Alko. On the way out, just follow the signs towards Ring III and remember that you want to end up on Ring III länteen/västerut (there’s also a green E18 to help you), so you have to get over the ringroad first (back to the airport side) and then left.
In case of an emergency
The emergency phone number is 112.
It is a joint number for ambulance, police and firefighters and works just like that when using a mobile phone.
Emergency service operators have to know Finnish, Swedish and an adequate amount of English.
Emergency health care
During the hours of 08:00-22:00, the nearest open accident and emergency ward is in Paimio (30 minutes from site) on the main health center in Paimio (Paimion pääterveysasema). While emergencies will be taken care of in any case, it is recommended to call first at (+358 – 2-4746 202.
The address is Terveyskeskuksentie 1, 21530 Paimio.
Driving directions: Get onto the main road 181 and turn towards Sauvo. Stay on 181 for 13.6 km driving past Sauvo village and across road 110 and over the motorway. Soon after the motorway junction you need to turn right onto Valkojantie (there’s a black sign with white text), drive for 1.8 km and at Terveyskeskuksentie turn left (this crossing has a “hospital” traffic sign with the red cross) and drive for a about 60 meters to get to the health center.
Nighttime, (i.e. leaving the site after 21:00) the nearest emergency ward is the one at Turku main health centre (Turun pääterveysasema), about 45 minutes’ drive from the site.
The address of the hospital is Kunnallissairaalantie 20, 20700 Turku.
It may pay off to call ahead: the numbers are +358- 2-251 1008 and +358 – 2 – 231 4543. See map
Driving directions: Get from the site to the main road 181 towards Paimio and drive for 13 km. Drive over the motorway and turn left to get onto the motorway, direction Turku. Stay on the motorway until it turns into normal road, about 23 km. You need to turn left onto Itäinen pitkäkatu, but to do that you need to do a small detour to the right; the sign is probably for “Kupittaa”. Drive on Itäinen pitkäkatu for about 1 km, then turn left onto Kaskenkatu and at next bigger crossing turn right onto Kunnallissairaalantie to get to the health centre.