Turku Castle – Splendid Castle Site (History & Travel Tips)

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Turku Castle is a grand medieval structure situated in the town of Turku, on the shore of the Aura River in the Nordic country of Finland. It is one of the oldest and pristinely kept sites to visit in the country, with a rich historical background. The structure has been present during many centuries of pivotal moments in Nordic history and culture. 

Turku Castle is a fully remodelled and well-preserved landmark visited by several hundred thousand tourists yearly. If your curiosity has peaked and you’re imagining a trip to experience the caste site for yourself, read on for more information and our helpful tips!

 The fairy tale novel “The Tomten in Abo Castle”, written by Zachris Topelius in 1849, features the castle as the setting.

A full view of the entrance to Turku Castle.
The entrance to Turku Castle.
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Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Construction of Turku Castle started in 1280 as a military fortress for the Swedish conquerors of Finland. Over the following two centuries, further expansion projects were completed including the addition of a residence section. In the 16th century, the Swedish Ruler Gustav Vasa and his son John made the last structural additions at the castle site.

The painting of Turku Castle as it looked in 1799.
The painting of Turku Castle as it looked in 1799. A. F. Skjöldebrand, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The castle was only used as a military fortress once, when the Russian invasion conquered the town of Turku in 1318. However, there were many sieges that Turku Castle survived, with a whole section of it burnt down at one point. The castle was also blasted in 1941 during the Continuation War. Besides serving as a military fortress, the castle site was used as an administrative center and then the provincial government’s headquarters during the 17th century. The castle also served as a prison facility from the 18th century up to the end of the 19th century, after which the Turku Museum moved its premises to the castle.

Turku Castle in Finland, in 1941 after WWII bombings.
Turku Castle in Finland, in 1941 after WWII bombings. Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Renovation work was started at the castle site before World War II, then paused due to circumstances, and finally completed in 1987. The castle is owned by the Finnish State has allowed the City of Turku to use the landmark to enrich the town.

Current Times

The castle grounds today consist of a Mediaeval square fort with two, thick-walled square gateway towers, built into a Renaissance courtyard enclosed by a curtain wall. The castle site also includes a magnificent cathedral building. The structures make the castle compound the largest standing historical site in Finland. The site is surrounded by a moat, creating an idyllic island on which the castle stands.

The view of Turku castle's structure.
The view of Turku castle’s structure. Markus Koljonen (Dilaudid), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Today, the well-maintained castle site is home to the Turku Historical Museum which was established in 1881. The museum occupies the castle bailey as well as areas within the castle building. The castle museum features various permanent and temporary exhibitions and certain areas in the castle may be reserved for conferences or as banquet halls for special events.

The view of Turku Castle from afar.
The view of Turku Castle from afar. Falk2, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the chapels, passages, and hallways of the castle and truly experience the rich history of the building. The castle’s bailey features a permanent exhibition with life-size wax figures, depicting what daily life at the site was like in ancient times and throughout the centuries.  There are also restaurants in the castle building and the castle’s bailey, where you can enjoy delicious meals when visiting. You can also see the cathedral which is used by the local congregation for religious gatherings.

Interesting Turku Castle Facts

  • The castle has been used as a filming location for various Finnish films.
  •  The fairy tale novel “The Tomten in Abo Castle”, written by Zachris Topelius in 1849, features the castle as the setting.
  • Topelius’ book was imperative in the reconstruction of the castle for visitors to tour.

Visiting Turku Castle – Tips and Tricks

Are you interested in visiting and exploring Turku Castle after reading about it here? Check out our helpful tips below as you plan your trip!

Visiting tourists on their way to Turku Castle.
Visiting tourists on their way to Turku Castle. Turku Castle – Turku – Finland flickr photo by Tips For Travellers shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

How to get to Turku Castle?

There are daily flights to Finland’s International Airport in Helsinki. From there, renting a car and driving to the castle would take an hour and forty six minutes at a cost of €20-€31 ($23-$35 USD). Catching a train from Helsinki Station, with 3 options ranging from €20-€35 ($23-$40 USD), takes just over two hours to arrive at the castle. The cheapest way to travel from Helsinki to the castle is by bus, which takes around two hours and forty-five minutes and costs around €6-€9 ($7-$10 USD).

Alternatively, you could catch a second flight to the Turku local airport – TKU. You could possibly fly directly, with certain stops. There are two bus options from the Turku airport taking between ten and fifteen minutes to get you to the castle site, at a cost of just under €3-€5 ($3-$5 USD). You could take a taxi and get there in 4 minutes at a cost of between €17-€20  ($19-$23 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

Adults will pay €14 ($16 USD), children from seven to fifteen years of age pay €5 ($6 USD) entrance fee. Entry is free for children under seven. Opening hours are 10m – 6pm on most days. Be sure to check whether the castle is open to the public on the date/s you wish to visit.

Turku Castle's view during night time.
Turku Castle’s view during night time.

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

We suggest you plan to spend around two to three hours at the castle site.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • Check the weather forecast for the date/s you will be visiting the castle. Be sure to dress appropriately as part of your sightseeing experience will be outside.
  • Remember to check the opening hours and access dates when planning your trip to avoid disappointment. 
  • COVID: Check for any regulations, opening hours, and restrictions on the official website, as rules have been changed and adapted several times since the pandemic started.

Do you want to see more unique and interesting castles to visit? Read our list of the best castles in Finland.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Turku Castle Areas

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Charmaine Waterston
Charmaine Waterston
After studying Law and Industrial Psychology, I went on to start my own ICT data recovery business. Some years later I qualified locally as a Financial Advisor and ran my own business with a portfolio of clients. Throughout my life, I traveled extensively to many interesting countries around the world. While enjoying my life’s adventures, I absorbed the rich history of various cultures and experienced the beauty of so many different places! Today, I am an author. I combine my career and travel experience with my thirst for knowledge about our captivating world and the remarkable people in it. My writing is an expression of my passion for personal growth and my love of communication. I am truly fulfilling my dream through my work!

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