From a rural community, Kaarina has grown to 32,000 inhabitants and has been a town since 1993. Many of the inhabitants work in Turku. Though officially monolingual, Kaarina has a growing Swedish minority of about 5%, with its own comprehensive school.
The former main village of Kaarina is part of Turku. The present Kaarina has a few distinct centres.
The municipality is named after the Katariina church, named after Catherine of Alexandria (Saint Catherine of the Wheel). The former main village, by the church, is Nummi. These are since 1939 part of Turku, like some other former parts of Kaarina. On the other hand Kuusisto was annexed to Kaarina 1946, Piikkiö 2009. Littoinen was the biggest settlement in the 1960s, with some industry and a train station (now out of use, on the Turku–Helsinki railway). The modern centre is where the road to the archipelago (Saaristotie, Skärgårdsvägen) used to start, by the then main road to Helsinki.
The remains of a 12th-century church were found in Ravattula in 2013. This is the oldest known church in Finland. The Kaarina parish is mentioned 1309 and the wooden predecessor of the Katariina church was taken into use in 1351.
- Tourist Information, Lautakunnankatu 4 (City Offices, street level), ☎ . M 09:00–17:00, Tu–Th 09:00–16:00, F 09:00–15:45.
Get in and around
Kaarina is well connected to Turku. The former main road from Helsinki (now regional road 110) passes by the Kaarina and Piikkiö centres. The motorway from Helsinki also goes through Kaarina, but at a distance from the centre. Road 10 (from Hämeenlinna) passes through the northern parts of the municipality (by Auranlaakso and Ravattula).
Most coaches from Helsinki to Turku (even most express buses) leave the motorway in Kaarina and use the former main road to drive by the Kaarina centre. The nearest stop is "Paraisten tienhaara", the next express stop "Piispanristi" at the Turku border.
Kaarina takes part in the Turku region "Föli" bus cooperation, which means bus tickets are treated as if Kaarina was part of the same municipality as Turku, Raisio, Naantali, Rusko and Lieto. Most regional buses (such as to Pargas, Kimito and Salo – look for line numbers or a "Föli" sign) can be used with the same tickets as long as you stay in the Föli area. A single ticket with two hours unlimited transfer costs €3 (children 7–14 €1.50). For other ticket options, see Turku#By bus.
The main bus lines from Turku to Kaarina centre are number 7 (from Naantali via Turku) and 801 (Turku to Pargas). Also e.g. 701 and 702 (Piikkiö, Kimito, Salo) pass by Kaarina centre and can be used in the same manner. Lines 2B and 2C go from Turku to Littoinen, line 6 from Naantali via Turku along road 10 to Lieto. Internal buses (often minibuses) have a number prefixed by "K". These latter zigzag by any residential areas on their way, so are good for a kind of sightseeing, but not very fast, and have limited schedules.
The Turku route planner is equally useful for getting around by bus in Kaarina.
Kaarina has good bike routes by the main roads. Distances are suitable for bike trips, but for getting around you have to budget quite some time, as the points of interest are spread around.
- 1 Kuusisto Castle (Kuusiston linna), Linnanrauniontie 633, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 24 hours daily; no winter maintenance. Ruins of an episcopal castle from 14th century, demolished after the Lutheran reformation, not to offer a stronghold for the Church. Nearby is Kuusisto manor, which functioned as the farm for the castle and subsequently as a residence for high-ranking governmental officials. The present main building is from 1738. The castle is accessible also by boat. Free.
- 1 Skywatching in Tuorla observatory and planetarium.
- 2 Littoistenjärvi beach, Vanha Littoistentie 150. Beach, dance pavilion and nature trail by Lake Littoistenjärvi. The lake is shallow, which makes the beach ideal for smaller children. It also makes the water warm early in the summer. Dances Thursday nights middle May to early September (dance course/dance 18:00/19:30–23:00, €12). Bird watching tower by the nature trail.
- 3 Järvelä wetland, Järveläntie (near Lake Littoistenjärvi). Bird sanctuary by Lake Littoistenjärvi. Nature path and bird watching tower.
- 4 Kuusistonlahti, Lyhdyntie (eastern part of Kuusisto island south of Kaarina centre). Bird sanctuary in a bay of the sea, part of a Natura 2000 special protection area and a great place to observe nesting and resting birds. Birdwatching towers.
- Hovirinta Beach Park (Hovirinnan rantapuisto), Uimarannantie. Summer season 15 Jun–31 Aug, Winter swimming Oct–Apr. Beach with playground and traffic park. Free. Fees for sauna, etc..
There are hamburgers, kebab, pizza and china food available in Kaarina centre, even a Nepali lunch restaurant. For fine dining, however, the common solution is to go to Turku. Nice dinners are probably also available in some former manors.
Some pubs and cafés, most people go to Turku for nightlife.
- 1 Hotel Kivitasku, Aittakatu 1, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Located in the town centre, Hotel Kivitasku offers also single and triple rooms. €88.
- 2 Hostel Tuorla (Tuorlan majatalo), Tuorlantie 1, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. €62.
- 3 Kavalto Farm (Kavaltontila), Kavaltontie 11, 21500 Piikkiö, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. An alternative to the city hotels, Kavalto Farm offers bed and breakfast in Finnish countryside
- Kaarina is a good starting point for the Archipelago Trail.
- The King's Road comes from Turku and continues along the southern coast.