A walk along the Aurajoki river is a nice way to experience some aspects of Turku. The city grew up by the river and the riversides are popular for walking, biking or just enjoying nice weather.
This itinerary describes the river banks from the mouth to the Turku bypass and somewhat beyond, to the Vanhalinna hill castle in Lieto. It is easy to walk just a section of the itinerary. For going all the way a bike can be useful, unless you want to spend a whole day.
The walk works as an alternative to taking the bus if you arrive in the harbour. In the middle the walk is a way to see locals enjoying this environment. The walk also passes by several attractions. A walk upstream can be a way to get some exercise, or to get a break from city life.
The itinerary is assumed to be used in daytime. For safety, standard street sense should be enough also in the night, but venues other than restaurants and pubs close in the evening, you'd miss the sunshine, and you might not enjoy nightly views that long. There is nice illumination along the river, though, up to Tuomaansilta and a little beyond. The main paths have lights until Halinen, and streets and most roads also farther upstream. For seeing northern lights there is probably too much light pollution even after the Turku bypass (and they are not that common this south), but stars can be enjoed along the darker sections.
The itinerary starts at the right (north-western) bank near the river mouth, describes both riversides to the Halinen bridge, the right bank upstream and a route continuing through fields and forest, crossing the river near the Turku bypass and going by a leg of Hämeen Härkätie to the Vanhalinna hill, which was a hill fort in the Iron Age.
Downstream the riverside streets are used as cycleways and pedestrian routes and most people are on their way somewhere. By the centre, the riversides are popular for enjoying nice weather, just sitting in good company or taking a beer at the restaurant boats or a coffee at outdoor tables of restaurants and cafés. Upstream people are on a walk with or without a dog, or on a jogging tour. You get out into the countryside. There are some nice picnic spots.
There are restaurants and cafés all the way until the cathedral. Upstream from there they get sparse along the river, except at the campus, where most have restricted hours. There are three cafés by the main route farther upstream: those of Koroinen, Myllärintalo and Vanhalinna. They are closed off season and may be open only a few hours some days of the week.
The route is described as mostly following the right (north-west) bank of the river from the Port of Turku upstream. You can cross over at any bridge, if you find that side more interesting or want to visit some attraction there.
Downstream you will be using the pavement, cycleways, or streets with restricted traffic. Upstream from the cathedral there are also wide paths of well-packed gravel, narrow footpaths (often muddy, never the only option), wide boardwalks, small country roads (often gravel, no pavement), and big roads with separate cycleway/pavement. These categories are quite uniform (although some gravel paths and gravel roads may have more potholes than others, and stay wet for longer after a rain); you seldom need to worry about a good path deteriorating.
The "Suomen Sydän" route from Åbo Akademi University upstream (crossing at the railway bridge), with posters about cultural history, and the Saint Henry pilgrimage route (Pyhän Henrikin tie) from the cathedral to Köyliönjärvi also follow the river. From Halinen to Komosten kummut there are two more routes, one about the flora, another about prehistory. At Vanhalinna there is a few loops of nature and culture trails. Posters of some of these routes have text also in English. This itinerary makes no effort to cover the routes, but there is probably information pertaining to them to be found elsewhere.
The "main" route of this itinerary, along the right bank from the harbour via Koroinen, Halinen, Komosten kummut, Ristimäki and the forest to Vanhalinna and back to Halinen via Virnamäki, is 21 km. Add 3 km to get to the cathedral via the Student Village, 500 m more for the market square or the restaurant ships, and finally 3 km to get all the way back to the harbour, for a total of 28 km. Perhaps suitable by bike. Most people would choose either the downstream or the upstream sections.
By bike to Vanhalinna you might want to return via Vanha Hämeentie, optionally via Littoistenjärvi. The route Turku Cathedral–Tuomaansilta–Koroinen–Halinen–Ristimäki–forest–Vanhalinna and back by Kausela–Kohmo–Kurala–Turku Cathedral is 11 km + 10 km. If you go via Littoistenjärvi beach it becomes 11 km + 4.5 km + 8 km = 23.5 km. A significant part of the distance is gravel, so you won't keep racing speeds. The return route is on asphalt though (except at the roadworks at the Turku bypass). For a quick return, use the cycleways along Hämeentie, shifting sides a few times to avoid longer detours: 11 km + 8 km = 19 km.
For a walk to Vanhalinna, you may want to start at the cathedral, cross over to the right bank at Tuomaansilta, and follow the main route as above to Vanhalinna and back to Halinen, then cross over and walk back to the cathedral by or through the Student Village, for a total of 11 km + 9 km. Taking the bus from Halinen, it becomes 11 km + 6 km.
This side of the river, that side of the river
One unofficial division of Turku is täl pual jokke (at this side of the river) and tois pual jokke (at the other side of the river), referring to the parts of the city on different sides of Aura River in Turku dialect – regardless of where you happen to be. "This side" refers to the south-eastern side, with the cathedral and old town hall, whereas the "other side" refers to the market square side, with few inhabitants before the great fire and the new city plan.
Downstream it is easy to choose any section. Terminal–Turku Castle–Forum Marinum–guest harbour–archipelago ferries–Teatterisilta–Auransita–Tuomiokirkonsilta (the bridge by the cathedral) are each roughly 500 m, as is the distance from the right bank to the cathedral and back.
Routes without steep slopes:
- Port of Turku to Kauppatori (read: the commercial centre): 3.5 km.
- Port of Turku to Turku Cathedral: 4 km.
- Turku Cathedral–board walk–Vähäjoki, on to bus stop: 1.8 km + 0.4–0.7 km = 2.2 km.
- Turku Cathedral–board walk–railway bridge underpass–board walk–Turku Cathedral: 2×1.2 km = 2.5 km.
- Turku Cathedral–left bank–Halinen, Halinen–Koroinen–Halinen: 2.75 km + 2×1.2 km = 5 km.
Other routes include:
- Turku Cathedral to Koroinen (cross at any of the three bridges) and back: 2×2 km–2×2.5 km = 4.5 km.
- Turku Cathedral to Halinen via Tuomaansilta and Koroinen, back along the left bank, optionally through the Student Village: 3.2 + 2.75 km = 6 km. Bus option at Halinen: 3.5 km.
- Turku Cathedral–Koroinen–Halinen–Komosten kummut–Halinen: 5.5 km.
- Halinen–Komosten kummut–Halinen: 2 km.
- Halinen–Komosten kummut–Ristimäki–forest–Vanhalinna–bus stop: 9 km.
- Halinen–Komosten kummut–Ristimäki–forest–Vanhalinna–Littoistenjärvi beach–bus stop: 12.5 km.
For the legs downstream from Halinen, i.e. by the Student Village, by the centre and downstream, there is no need for preparation or any special equipment. Good walking shoes rather than high heels are useful if you want to walk a longer stretch, but in summer that's all. In cool weather, have clothing for swift walking (if applicable) and for pauses, such as an extra sweater. From Halinen upstream, parts of the route may be muddy in wet times. Going upstream from Halinen you may also want to pack a picnic and something to sit on (there are no benches on those legs). Some drinking water may be nice to have regardless.
In winter good footwear is necessary, as is appropriate overall clothing. Snow is not necessary cleaned but where the route follows streets and roads. Elsewhere there are probably paths through the snow made by walkers, but upstream from Halinen you might encounter pristine snow. In good winters you might be able to ski along the river most of the way (mind ice safety), and in decent ones there may be skiing tracks upstream from the railway bridge. However, this itinerary does not cover skiing the route.
The itinerary suits also bikers, although you might want to slow down or unmount at some sections, to better enjoy the surroundings and not to disturb pedestrians. The section with boardwalks is for pedestrians only, but you can avoid it or lead your bike. Upstream from Halinen the route can be a little rough at places, but ordinary bikes suffice. Don't choose any of the narrow footpaths even if you have a terrain bike, as you don't want to leave deep tracks.
If you want to take bikes and don't have any, you can rent a bike commercially or from the tourist information, or use the Föli bike sharing bikes (hoping that the system continues 2022 – it ends temporarily in 2021). The Föli bikes cost €6/month, with an extra fee for hires of more than half an hour. For five hours, which should suffice and is the maximum time allowed, the surplus fee is €8. Downstream from Turku Cathedral, bike stations are abundant, so there you just need to re-borrow yours regularly.
With a wheelchair or pram there are likewise some legs you probably want to avoid. Most of the route upstream from the railway bridge (and part of the boardwalk leg) is well-packed gravel, easy enough with a pram, but possibly arduous by wheelchair. A few slopes are quite steep. If you avoid the stairs, keep away from the footpaths and have somebody who can push you up the slopes, there should be no major problems (but the Vanhalinna hill is not accessible). There are steep slopes at a few places, the worst of which are up to the railway bridge at the righ bank (steep, with a step), at the Vähäjoki bridge at Koroinen (ca 20%?), at the suspension bridge upstream from the Turku bypass (long, ca 10%?), all these gravel, and perhaps at Föri (short but quite steep). Other slopes may be arduous, but these might not be doable pushing a wheelchair.
Some routes should be avoided. The first right bank riverside leg after Tuomiokirkonsilta ends with stairs. Access to the riverside walk from Tuomaansilta is by stairs only, except on the downstream side on the left bank. For the steep slopes, don't count on managing them without checking. The bridges Martinsilta and Myllysilta require slight detours. There are gentle slope for the Halinen pedestrian/cyclist bridge, and a roadworks 2021s. Kuralan ponttoonisilta migh have steep slopes for the canoe underpass. Teatterisilta, Auransilta, Tuomiokirkonsilta and the road bridge at Halinen are unproblematic.
From the harbour to the cathedral the route is nearly level (except an incline at the left bank just before Tuomiokirkonsilta). By the cathedral and from there to Tuomaansilta there are a few one- or two-block sections of sett (Belgian blocks), which may be a little rough. The best route, with only a few gentle inclines, is to follow Piispankatu, turn left at Arken, and continue by the left bank riverside. From the railway bridge onwards the path is well-packed gravel. You can cross over at Halinen by the road bridge, and get to the Koroinen farm from there (the facilities at the café are non-accessible, but somebody could fetch your serving). The Koroinen peninsula itself has some smooth inclines (but a quite steep slope down to the bridge). Return to Halinen to take the bus back. Upstream from Halinen avoiding inclines is hard.
To experience the boardwalk on the right bank opposite the cathedral, you should take a detour by the streets, as the first stretch ends in stairs; go down to the river one block farther, where there is a gentle slope down to the riverside. The route is then boardwalks and well-packed gravel. Getting to Koroinen from this side involves the slopes of the Vähäjoki bridge. The bridge and part of the peninsula can be seen from the route, and you can continue to a bus stop without crossing.
The itinerary starts in Port of Turku. The 1 Turku harbour railway station and the adjacent coach station are about 200 m from the passenger terminals, and Turku Castle 300 m farther. From the centre you get there by bus line 1 (stops at and after the castle, and at the terminals). The bus goes along Linnankatu, with just one block between the street and the river, allowing your starting or ending your walk anywhere downstream.
Bus lines 55 and 56 go downstream by Itäinen rantakatu, along the left bank. Lines 14, 15 and 30 join at Martinsilta. The last chance to cross the river downstream is at the ferry 2 Föri, just upstream from the guest harbour.
Many buses pass close to the cathedral (in 2021: most by Hämeenkatu). Upstream from the centre bus service close to the river is more sparse. The stop numbers given here are for returning towards the centre, the names work both ways.
- Line 220 turns to Tuomaansilta at Lonttinen. Get off at the 3 Ketarantie stop (stop 1604) before the turn or at the 4 Assistentinkatu stop (stop 1606) after the bridge, or later; final stop at Caribia. From the stop after the bridge, either walk back 200 m to pass under the bridge, or cross the street and the yard at the other side. To avoid stairs, there is a slight detour to the underpass (don't go all the way to the bridge, and walk 50 m downstream), another from the yard (turn right to get around the houses).
- Lines 50, 51, 53 and 54 go through most of the Student Village, with final stop at 5 Caribia Spa Hotel (stop 1643).
- Lines 14 and 15 go through Raunistula and can be used for getting to Koroinen. The 6 Siirintie stop (stop 270) is 500 m from the Vähäjoki bridge: turn back, pass under the railway and turn right for the outdoor gym. From the 7 Jokipelto stop (stop 268) just follow the road across the fields (700 m).
- Lines 55, 55A and 56 go to Halinen, get off after the bridge at the 8 Halistensilta stop (stop 1411).
- Lines 2 and 2A–C go to Kohmo, and can be used for Kuralan kylämäki, 500 m from the pontoon bridge. Get off at 9 Kylämäki stop (stop 1658). 2B and 2C continue to Littoinen, the 10 Akankatu stop (6372) is between Järvelä and Littoistenjärvi, the next stop is just after the beach.
- Line 6 drives by Hämeentie towards Lieto, get off at the 11 Jaanintie stop (stop 1642) for Kuralan kylämäki or the pontoon bridge, or at the 12 Vanhalinna stop (stop 5004) after the Turku bypass for the road to Vanhalinna and the route to the suspension bridge.
For the next buses at a stop, use "https://omatpysakit.foli.fi/?stops=" followed by the stop number (given at the stop sign) as URL. Add "&pagerows=" followed by a number to get more entries. This does not give buses in the opposite direction. Check the direction from the mentioned final stops (which seldom is the centre).
From Port of Turku to Teatterisilta
Start by going to the park by 1 Turku Castle. You could pay a visit to the castle, which hosts the historic museum and a restaurant (entrance in both ends). After the castle you cross the railroad with due care and return to the river by 1 Forum Marinum. At the quay there are several museum ships and boats. The cruiseferry Bore, last steamship and first roll-on ship on the Stockholm route, houses a hostel and a restaurant. The yard of the museum has some more maritime items on display. Museum and restaurant also at the museum.
On the left bank the former repair yard has been replaced by new blocks of flats. An old crane has been left as a landmark.
Continue by the river. By the square Varvintori there is a restaurant and the concert hall of the conservatory. The square itself is also an event venue. The very long building by Linnankatu is a former 2 rope factory – they needed to have a building as long as the ropes they made.
Next is the 2 guest harbour. Restaurant. Just upstream from the guest harbour is the ferry Föri (pedestrians and cyclists only), built in the 19th century. Upstream from Föri is a restaurant ship and ships doing archipelago cruises. By s/s Ukkopekka is the "balance room", now a restaurant. In good winters they have a small ice skating field on the river, with music (and the city prepares a skating route upstream to the cathedral). Walking and skiing on the river is popular also when the ice is a little less strong.
On the left bank are moorings for visiting boats that don't fit at the right bank, and some moorings rented on a yearly basis for big boats. Near the bridge is the quay for the water buses ("line 180") to the islands Pikisaari and Ruissalo.
You'll pass the two bridges Martinsilta and Myllysilta. Myllysilta was built in 1975, but some error was made (the long low design is not easy), and the bridge had to be replaced with the new one of 2011.
Moorings for the locals on the left bank. Above the street along the shore you can see the park Urheilupuisto, with the 3 Paavo Nurmi Stadion and the 4 Samppalinna wind mill. By the street are the 5 Wäinö Aaltonen Museum (with art by the Turku-born namesake, and changing exhibitions of contemporary art) and, close to the pedestrian/cyclist bridge Teatterisilta, the 6 City Theatre and behind it the 7 Biological Museum, with nice panoramas showing the main biotopes of Finland (with focus on birds and mammals). Across the small street there is the 8 Samppalinna swimming stadium, with picnic space. The row of parks will continue to the cathedral.
From Teatterisilta to Turku Cathedral
When past Teatterisilta (leading to the city theatre) you are in the centre proper. If the weather is nice, there will be a lot of people strolling in the street and sitting at the quay, and kiosks selling ice cream and coffee. This is also the site of the Herring Market and some similar events. The 9 Qwensel House has a pharmacy museum and a nice museum café in the yard.
Aurakatu at the bridge Aurasilta leads to 10 Kauppatori (the market square), which used to be the heart of the commercial district. In 2021 there are still construction works going on, because of the parking being built below the square. The nearby old 11 market hall is a sight, and the place to shop delicacies. From Aurasilta to the next bridge (by the cathedral) are some of the best restaurants in Turku (about half of the splurge ones).
On the left bank is the museum 12 Aboa Vetus et Ars Nova, with excavations of medieval Turku, contemporary art and a nice café. At the other side of the park is the 13 Handicraft museum, a living history museum in a neighbourhood that survived the fire of 1827. The 14 former observatory can be seen at the top of the Vartiovuori hill. When the park was founded, the city dwellers carried soil, covering the outcrop hill to enable planting the park vegetation.
At Tuomiokirkkosilta, by the cathedral, you need to take the detour to the traffic lights to get onwards. If you have Föli bikes, the station by the cathedral and the one by Arken in the ÅA campus are the last chance to renew the hire or return the bike.
From Turku Cathedral to the railway bridge
On the left bank are 3 Turku Cathedral and the campuses of Åbo Akademi University (ÅA; Swedophone, closer to the river) and University of Turku (TY, Finnophone, a bit farther up). If you don't have a bike or wheelchair (there are steep slopes at the end) you could cross Tuomiokirkonpuistikko and walk by the quay, but you might prefer the street, Piispankatu. Along Piispankatu there are a number of bourgeois homes, donated to ÅA when founded (some now sharing a public rose garden), newer buildings of ÅA, the 15 Arch Bishop Residence and some residential buildings, mostly old wooden ones (mostly owned by their inhabitants, a few are student housing), but also some blocks of flats. The Piispankatu association, founded by the residents, was instrumental in saving the old houses. There are some fine examples of Wooden Empire (including the museum 16 Ett hem) and some of 1960's modernist architecture (including the 17 Sibelius Museum and some other buildings of ÅA). Where Piispankatu forks, turn left at the next crossroads for getting back to the river – or have your lunch or some pastry at Fabbes at the corner. If you turn left, you can instead have your lunch or coffee at the student café Arken (cross the yard to your right; you'll fit in also as non-student, and the lunch price is a bargain even for outsiders; tell that you are not staff when paying).
If you chose the left bank, you can cross back by the bridge Tuomaansilta or by the railway bridge, or continue by the Student Village. To continue past Tuomaansilta, choose the walk by the river, below the bridge. If you intend to cross over here, you can walk Piispankatu to its end and continue to the bridge from there. There is one more former factory after Tuomaansilta (you can choose to cross its yard if coming by line 220). If you'll cross at the railway bridge, mind that the slope down at the far end is steep.
Tuomaansilta and the highway to Helsinki, which runs along it, were a perpetual project, first planned in the 1960s, several times put back into the cupboards because of massive protest – people did not like the idea of a motorway leading into the city centre – and popping up in a new incarnation. When it finally was realised in the 1990s, great effort was put into making it attractive.
On the right bank, pass through the small Lönnrotinpuistikko park. If you follow the quay, you get to a wide gravel path where the park ends. The first leg ends with stairs, so those with bike, pram or wheelchair might want to use the closest roads instead and get to the riverside walk one block upstream.
The gravel path leads under the canopy close to the river. Ducks rest at the shore. Across the river you see some of the older buildings of Åbo Akademi, including the palace-like former 18 Humanisticum and the renovated iron manufactory, now 19 Arken. The 20 big oak at the Sibelius Museum is a remain from the 18th century botanic garden of the Royal Academy, predecessor of University of Helsinki. Pehr Kalm, one of Carl von Linné's students, was professor at the academy.
After the stairs the riverside walk is still pedestrians only, but you get down to it by a gentle slope.. Bikers need to unmount to stay legal, or continue by the roads through Lonttinen, with early 1900s wooden buildings to the left. The walkway by the river is a boardwalk, alternating with gravel. There are benches and discreet gates down to the river. You are still close to the river and surrounded by the riverside trees. The walkway passes under Tuomaansilta (with the road to Helsinki). There are stairs up to the bridge and the boardwalk continues. Above the bank is 21 Lonttinen, with quite nice mostly 1990s blocks of flats facing the river. Across the river is a white 22 former factory.
The riverside walkway ends at the slope down from Lonttistentie and bikers can rejoin, just before your passing under the railway bridge.
The railway bridge to Halinen
After the railway bridge the right-bank route leaves the riverside and you get glimpses of 23 Raunistula, a wooden neighbourhood on a hill, built by workers who got cheaper ground for their houses outside the city border. The neighbourhood was incorporated into the city in 1944, and is now mostly gentrified. By the road leading to Raunistula is an overnighting facility for homeless people, one compartment for the drunk, one for the sober.
The gravel path leads above the bank, with fields and the railway to Tampere on your left and the riverside bushes and trees on your right. A "Suomen Sydän" poster tells about the 24 Baker textile factory, a major employer back then. The factory is the large older tile building a bit farther.
The Student Village is on the left bank, stretching from the railway to the Halinen bridge, with fields separating it from the river. When university attendance exploded in the 1960s, the student unions founded a foundation to solve the housing problem, resulting in this neighbourhood. Nowadays the foundation has student housing also elsewhere.
The walk by the left bank is a mostly level wide gravel path above the river bank. Bushes and trees on the steep slope separate it from the river, which can be seen at the gaps. To the right are mostly fields, separating it from the Student Village. There is a gentle incline from the passage under the railway bridge, and a steep slope up to the bridge itself (but the slope at the far end is steeper). The first few (new) buildings facing the river are not for students, but have private "hard money" flats. One of the new student housing buildings is the round tower block 25 Ikituuri. Some of the fields have been made into parks, some are impediment, some have allotment gardens for students and other city-dwellers. There is also a haven, where dogs can play without leash.
On the right bank, after an 26 outdoor gym (for joggers, free for anybody to use), there is a crossing. To the left there is a path to an unofficial railway crossing (forget about it), forward you get to buses, and to the right a gravel path leads down to a bridge across Vähäjoki ("lesser river").
The peninsula between Vähäoki and Aurajoki is 4 Koroinen, where the bishop seat was from 1229 until 1300, when the current cathedral was inaugurated. The passage to the former bishop's castle is after the uphill slope of the gravel path (taking the short cut directly up the slope spoils part of the experience). A white cross reminds of the history, together with a poster and remaining foundations. This is a popular excursion destination. Outdoor services are held here once or twice yearly.
If you want to return, continue forward at the outdoor gym, to get to an underpass to your left. Coming up on the other side of the railway you'll see bus stops. Cross the road for the left-side one to get to the centre (lines 14 and 15, stop 270). If you skip the underpass and continue 500 m across the fields along what now is an asphalt road, you reach Vanha Tampereentie and the Jokipelto stop. Cross the road for a bus to the centre (lines 14 and 15, stop 270). To the right along the road, across Vähäjoki, are Koroistentie, which leads back to Koroinen, and the medieval Saint Mary's church.
Continuing from the peninsula, the adjacent 27 Koroinen farm buildings are rented to a student community. There is a nice café with mostly vegetarian stuff, a shop with related products, including some historic items, a bike workshop and similar activities. Trees felled in Turku's parks are now taken here to be used for craft and art.
The gravel path leads across more fields, here with growing crop. There are some spots where you can see three medieval churches simultaneously (unique in Finland): 28 Saint Mary's church across the fields, 29 Saint Catherine's Church (formerly the parish church of Kaarina) behind the Student Village, and Turku Cathedral downstream.
The next Suomen Sydän poster tells about Kupittaan Savi, a ceramics factory fetching its clay from the right-hand side of the river, by a private railway leading across.
You then arrive in Halinen, with student and regular housing across the fields, bridges over the river, the Halinen rapids, a weir with fish ladders, canoe rental, canoe portaging facilities, and fishing. By the end of the pedestrian/cyclist bridge is 5 Myllärintalo, with a café (perhaps outdoors only in pandemic times), canoe hiring, fishing info and probably also fishing permits. There is an exhibition upstairs. On the other side of the river is the former water intake and water treatment plant of Turku. The rapids had several mills in the days of yore.
From Halinen to Kuralan ponttoonisilta
From the rapids, you follow an asphalt road at the right bank a few hundred metres. When it turns, you take the gravel road through an old farm yard (the right hand one, not the one with an entry forbidden sign). There may be horses in the field. This is in fact a 30 village with three former farms. Posters tell about some of the historic buildings, including 19th-century granaries. The road becomes a pedestrians/cyclists only wide gravel path and leads left up the hill and into the woods.
After the highest point you have three options. You can continue straight through the forest across Virnamäki (which is the suggested return path, see #Ravattula to Halinen) or turn right, and then continue straight downhill or take a narrow footpath to the right. Just after the first fork there are signs about Iron Age traces, in the form of small hollows in stones, used for offerings (probably mostly seed). The area has been populated since long time, and such signs of former population can be found anywhere where modern agriculture hasn't destroyed them. The footpath leads by the shore, with some more posters about the flora of traditional pastures and of the riverside.
The gravel path continues to a small hill with a fir grove, 6 Komosten kummut. This is a popular picnic spot. Traces from old times have been found, but it has not been thoroughly excavated and whether there are graves here or something else is not known. The grove does not look particularly interesting from the riverside footpath, do still get up there.
There is a new fork. To return, turn left and then left again by a muddy path over a narrow field to return through the forest of Virnamäki (see #Ravattula to Halinen), continue past that path and turn at the road to return by proper roads. If you continue by the gravel path or the riverside footpath you soon get to larger fields. The riverside footpath joins and forks away again later.
After some distance you again have a chance to cross the river. Here was a manually operated ferry ("Kampiföri") for some years, but it got into disrepair all too often and now there is a pontoon bridge, with an opening high enough for canoeists (which makes it quite steep for those crossing). If you cross, you will get to Hämeentie and, on the other side of it (use the underpass on your left), the living history museum of 31 Kuralan kylämäki. For getting back to the centre, there is a stop 250 m to the right, on your side of Hämeentie (stop 1642, "Jaanintie"). From the museum the one at Jaanintie (stop 1658, "Kylämäki") is closer.
From Kuralan ponttoonisilta to Vanhalinna
From the bridge, a narrow possibly muddy footpath leads straight to the next bridge, for the Turku bypass. This can be used one way to avoid returning by the same route, but it is less varying and not much shorter than the alternatives.
The gravel path turns straight away from the river. At the crossroads at the forest edge, turn left to return to Halinen (see #Ravattula to Halinen), to the right to continue. This is a gravel road (Vanha Ravattulantie) with the odd car. Straight ahead is a skiing route in winter.
Turning right you are in Ravattula, in Kaarina. In the fields there are a few wooded hills. Turn right at the barn and cross the field by a gravel road to get to 7 Ristimäki, where remains of the oldest known church in Finland were found in 2013: a wooden one built in the late 1100s and used into the 1200s, when the diocese got more organised. As of 2021 the contour of the little church has been marked with stones and there is a poster, a post box with a guest book and folders, and a picnic table.
At the next crossroads, turn left for a detour through the forests or right for a shortcut via the Turku passby-Hämeen valtatie crossing. In 2021 that crossing is quite messy because of roadworks, and the forest is nice. Straight forward is the yard of a farm.
Turning right, the road will turn left and pass by the farm buildings. Turn right again and get down to the bridge of the Turku bypass. Cross and turn left in the crossing with Hämeen valtatie, get up the hill along the highway and through a underpass to the Vanhalinna museum road, part of Hämeen Härkätie.
For the forest, turn left, then right, to get to a bridge over the Turku bypass. On the other side, turn right, follow the edge of the forest and turn left into it. Nice forest walk. After a warning sign you cross a harness racing training loop (look out, they are fast) by a field, and again later. When you have crossed the loop twice, you have a 500 m downhill stretch along a gravel road down to the river.
The pedestrian suspension bridge is a sight in itself. Downstream you have the Turku bypass, upstream you can see the Vanhalinna hill. You have to continue a bit forward to get to the museum road leading to the left towards the hill fort. To get to Turku, use the tunnel under Hämeen valtatie. If you chose the shortcut, you'll come from there.
You pass the border from Kaarina to Lieto and a nature and culture trail begins, first following the road. You reach fields again and get to see Vanhalinna. A fork of the trail leads by the forest edge to the river and continues along it to Vanhalinna. You pass by Kuninkaanlähde, a well where it is said the King once stopped to drink.
When you reach the 8 Vanhalinna hill you can choose to just climb it (use the trail) and have your picnic, or to also visit the museum if it is open. By the hill there is the Vanhalinna mansion, owned by the University of Turku. In summer there are amateur theatre performances. The nature and culture trails lead in a few directions, mostly forming loops of 2–2.5 km.
Have your picnic at the hilltop, enjoy the rural landscapes, and imagine the view a thousand year ago, when this could be a refuge if pirates arrived from the sea. The fields were smaller, the dwellings and other buildings were different, there were no roads, but much of the landscape was similar.
Back from Vanhalinna
Turning back, you follow the museum road back to Hämeen valtatie. You could start by the footpath along the river, leading there by the foot of the Vanhalinna hill.
You can turn back to the suspension bridge and return through the forest the way you probably came, take the bus to Turku (line 6 runs every half an hour or so, stop 5004), or use the tunnel under Hämeen valtatie and go down to the Turku bypass crossroads. During the roadworks 2021–2022, you might want to avoid this latter option.
During the roadworks 2021–2022, the route through the crossroads will shift, so you need to find your way by yourself. Turku and Littoinen are probably signposted.
East of the river
Also walkers may want to end their journey at the Littoinen beach, otherwise these routes mostly suit bikers as they are quite long, and far from the river. If you are walking and want to return through or by the Student Village, the nicest option is probably to return to Halinen by the right hand (western) bank and cross over there.
Bikers who just want to get home after Vanhalinna might want to cycle straight by Hämeen valtatie (which transforms into Hämeentie at the city border, to the street Hämeenkatu after the railway). There are mostly cycleways on both sides, but they disappear or take detours at places, so change sides as needed. First get to the other side and through the Turku bypass crossroads, then keep to the left side until Halistentie, then the right hand side should take you to Akatemiakatu by the cathedral. You could switch back to the left side before (or after) the motorway, to avoid possible congestion in Hämeenkatu.
If you follow the bypass to the left (east), you come to a pedestrian/biker bridge (probably closed 2021–2022). The bridge leads to the residential areas of Auranlaakso and Kausela (mostly single-family houses from the last 50 years). Continuing left along Littoistenjärventie, you reach the 1 Järvelä bird wetland and then the lake 2 Littoistenjärvi, with a dance pavilion (dances Thursdays in summer) and a beach (shallow, i.e. warm and child friendly, but prone to problems with algal bloom and similar). Lines 2B and 2C take you from Littoinen to Turku (stop 6374 or 6372). You could also continue via Kohmo to Kurala (most bikers should).
From Kurala, bikers might want to go for Kuralantie, starting in front of the main entrance and transforming into Vanha Hämeentie, the pre-automobiles highway from Tavastia, and cycle through Nummi. The cycleway is narrow, look out at crossroads. Like Raunistula this is a former worker's neighbourhood with wooden houses, now incorporated into Turku (Nummi used to belong to Kaarina).
The pontoon bridge is 500 m from Kuralan kylämäki. If you cross over, see below.
To Ravattula west of the river
If you turn right (west) in/after the Hämeen valtatie/Turku bypass crossroads you get to the bypass bridge over the river. You can take the footpath down to the river immediately after having crossed it. When you reach trees lining the riverside, take a look back, for the last view of the Vanhalinna hill. The footpath leads between fields and the river. On the left bank you see summer cottages or homes posing as such. After a long walk (1.3 km), you reach the pontoon bridge.
You could also follow the Turku bypass a little farther up the hill and turn left to Vanha Ravattulantie for the route by Ristimäki, joining those that chose the forest route.
If you go back through the forest and cross the bridge over the Turku bypass, continue straight, turn left and then right, to get to the barn by Ristimäki. Continue along the road (Vanha Ravattulantie) across the field and along the forest edge to the crossroads above the pontoon bridge. Turn to the bridge or continue forward.
At the pontoon bridge you can cross the river for Kuralan kylämäki and bus stops, follow the riverside until the pine grove (along the route described in the opposite direction above), or cross the fields up to Vanha Ravattulantie and turn left to follow it along the forest edge.
If you chose the riverside, you can join the route described below by turning right at the other end of the fields or at the grove.
Ravattula to Halinen
The road by the forest edge after Ristimäki (Vanha Ravattulantie) leads by the forest edge above the pontoon bridge and continues through the forest. There are some homes, some of them former farms. You get out to the forest edge again, and there is a road down to the river. The right fork of that road leads to the pine grove. Turn left at the next road or gravel path a bit farther. It turns right, parallell to Ravattulanpolku, then forks. Take the left fork turning down towards the river, leading to the grove.
Just before you reach the fields above the grove, there is a muddy path to the right. Where it leads into the wood you might see a poster for "Virnamäen muinainen kalmisto", the Iron Age findings in the 9 Virnamäki wood you'll pass through. Little can be seen by untrained eyes, but there is plenty for the archaeologists, including burial mounds. The path is drier in the wood, but still rough for bikers, although plenty of them do not mind. You will end up at the junction by the stones with offering hollows and continue through the three-farm village.
If you really do not like the look of the path, you can instead continue to the grove and turn right along the river, the route you probably followed upstream.
You could also continue by Ravattulanpolku, which transforms into Komostenkatu, then Frantsinkatu. At that name change you should turn left to Kalloistenkatu, to get to the Halinen rapids. If you miss the junction, Frantsinkatu turns right (you'll end up by the supermarket), but Kuohukuja forks off to the left, transforms into the minor Pyörrepolku, and leads as cycleway by the road to the rapids. This route leads on asphalt through residential areas. The routes through the forest and along the river are probably more pleasant for most pedestrians, but bikers might prefer the roads.
When you reach the Halinen rapids, you can take the bus or walk back, perhaps along the left bank, by or through the student village.
Through the Student Village
From Halinen downstream, there is a wide gravel path by the river, between the vegetation on the slope and the fields by the Student Village. Here are joggers and walkers, with or without dog, and some bikers. After a bend of the river there is a haven, where dogs can play without being on a leash. After the haven, there is a park of sorts. By the end of the park there is a fork. Continue along the river or take the left path.
The left path continues as the street Inspehtorinkatu, after having passed a playground. To avoid the street you can turn right just after the playground, pass the end of one house and the side of another and turn left for a walkway (bikes allowed) between the housing blocks (you could pass through their yards, but you'd soon feel like being in a labyrinth). You might have mixed feelings (or a surrealistic one) about the buildings and yards, uniform in general appearance but none like the next one, with unpainted rough concrete and panels in bright colours. When the walkway crosses a road (Pispalantie) it turns slightly to the right, continuing to the railway bridge, with student housing separating the walkway from the Helsinki highway and private housing facing the river. Either take that route or turn left along the road and take the underpass on the right after 300 m, to continue through the campuses. If you follow the walkway to the left after the underpass, you'll end up in Hämeenkatu. Pass by the big building Publicum instead and turn slightly to the right after it to get to the ÅA campus by a walkway lined by birches. Soon you'll be at the cathedral.
The routes end in the centre or by a bus stop for going there, unless you take one in the opposite direction to get downstream.
Before returning to your accommodation you could end your walk with a coffee at Myllärintalo or the café by the cathedral entrance (if they are open). If you want to really feel you are back in the city – or if you never left – a beer or dinner on one of the restaurant boats is an appropriate ending.
There are toilets at the cafés and museums, mostly locked in off hours. Except for these, you are probably out of luck. The toilets at the upstream cafés might not be accessible by wheelchair.
This is a safe route.
There are a few places where you do need to mind the traffic, especially by bike. The Vanhalinna hill does not have fences, so don't do anything stupid. Where you cross the harness racing loop, check carefully and cross swiftly, the sulkies are fast. With children these points apply doubly, the quays may require some attention, and you should keep together at the roadsides where motor traffic is allowed and where there are fast bikers. In winter, mind ice safety.
- If you did not get enough of the river, experience it by boat or canoe next time. The canoe hiring service at Myllärintalo is an obvious choice. There may be organised trips, such as downstream from Nautelankoski in Lieto.
- Downstream you could (in season) take the waterbus from the left bank between Föli and Martinsilta, or from Forum Marinum, to the recreation island Ruissalo. You'll pass the river mouth, but the sounds are still narrow. Ruissalo has 19th century villas, beaches, parks, walkways and nature trails, and half of Finland's oaks as well as woods more typical for Finland.
- To get farther out in the archipelago, take an archipelago cruise. Most get you out to Airisto, the open body of water off Turku. While this is the sea, it may fell like a freshwater archipelago.
- For further options, including independent boating or canoing, see Turku#Boating and canoeing.
- If walking is your thing, there is a hiking route (part of Kuhakuonon reitistö) from the mouth of the river Raisionjoki, at the sound to Ruissalo, via Raisio and Masku to Kurjenrahka National Park. If you want a day trip, take the bus to Tortinmäki or Kuhankuono and do a 12 or 6-km hike.