Five ways to travel sustainably in Turku

Turku is striving to be carbon neutral by 2029, and the whole city is on board. Here, at Visit Turku, we’re playing our part by promoting sustainable tourism. You can also make a difference by keeping your journey green. Here are five easy steps you can take.

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1. Favour low-emission transport

Travelling to a destination usually produces the lion’s share of a trip’s environmental impact, so it’s important to consider how you’ll get to Turku. 

If you plan to travel to Finland by plane, try to favour direct flights. The more stopovers you take, the greater the environmental impact. Luggage also increases the load capacity of your flight, so pack lightly. And if your airline has the option, choose to offset your flight’s carbon footprint when purchasing your ticket.

You can also sail to Turku from Sweden on board a cruise ship. Viking Grace, part of Viking Line’s fleet, is one of the most environmentally friendly options, as the ship runs on LNG fuel.

While you’re in Finland, we encourage you to travel by train or coach whenever possible. You’ll also find that there’s no need for a car in Turku. The city is super compact, so it’s easy to get around on foot and by bike. There’s also a great public transport system; it’s run by Föli and the buses are easy-to-use and affordable. Föli even organises two water buses in the summertime, which are a fun activity in themselves.

2. Choose your accommodation carefully

If possible, pick a place to stay, which has been certified for its commitment to sustainability. But you can also take steps to minimize your own impact: take a shower, rather than a bath, and take a short shower, rather than letting the water run. And just as you would at home, reuse your towel and bedding. 

Finnish tap water is incredibly clean, so there’s no need for bottled water. It’s also safe to order tap water whenever you visit a restaurant. Speaking of restaurants, don’t bite off more than you can chew at your hotel’s breakfast buffet. Minimising food waste is a good thing for the environment, much like trying the delicacies of local producers and opting for a vegetarian meal. If you’re in the mood for meat, why not try something produced right here in Turku?

3. Soak up some local culture

While you’re in Turku, do as the locals do! Experience an authentic slice of Turku by doing your shopping at the Turku Market Hall. Pick up some much-loved favourites here, such as dark archipelago bread or Karelian pies, and then buy the best berries in the world at the Market Square. 

For a truly local experience, there’s no place like the banks of the Aura River. Enjoy a picnic here with friends, visit one of the riverside restaurants, or enjoy the beautiful city views on a long Sunday walk.

Visit Finland's website contains the Sustainable Finland Pledge, which appeals to Finnish and international tourists alike, and seeks a commitment from the sustainable tourist. Click the link and sign if sustainable tourism is a matter close to your heart!


4. Leave no trace

There are so many natural wonders to explore in Turku and the surrounding region, not least the spectacular Finnish Archipelago. And, in accordance with Everyman’s Rights, you’re welcome to roam freely through the countryside. You’re even able to collect berries and mushrooms to your heart’s content!  

It’s important to remember, however, that there is a responsibility that comes with these rights. While you’re welcome to pick berries and mushrooms, don’t remove any rare plants, or otherwise disturb the environment. Be sure to stick to marked trails, so you don’t wander onto private farmland or gardens, and don’t camp too close to someone’s home if you plan to sleep under the stars. And of course, don’t leave any trace of your visit; always take your rubbish with you and remember to make use of Finland’s first-rate recycling system.

5. Support local businesses

While you’re in Turku, you’ll constantly be faced with decisions. Where should you eat lunch? How can you experience the Aura River? What should you buy your sister as a souvenir? Whatever you decide, consider supporting an independent business. The city is home to dozens (and dozens) of high-quality restaurants, design boutiques, and other small businesses – owned and operated by Turku locals. By supporting these businesses, you’ll be helping Turku to remain as special and lovely as it always has been.

How can you recognize a destination or company that has truly committed itself to a sustainable approach? That’s where the Sustainable Travel Finland label comes in. Created by Visit Finland, the Sustainable Travel Finland label brings together existing sustainable tourism certificates, such as the EcoCompass or the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. You can be assured that a destination or company with a Sustainable Travel Finland label is on the planet’s side. 

The Sustainable Travel Finland programme encourages Finnish tourism companies and destinations to embrace more sustainable practices. Visit Turku fully supports Visit Finland’s vision, and that’s why we take great care to offer responsibly produced travel and tour packages. We also offer guided walking tours, so you can explore the city in an eco-friendly way.  

Visit Turku is also encouraging local tourism operators to take the path of sustainability – the first step is important, and every action counts. In this way, we’ll ensure that Turku will become and remain a truly sustainable travel destination.

Text Liina Koma, Merja Kallikari and Kathleen Cusack. Photos Jemina Sormunen & Kim Allen-Mersh

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