An interesting holiday destination this winter is Turku, a coastal city only two hours from Helsinki. Known for its Medieval sites and lively waterfront, the city is also home to the Turku Christmas Market.
In this article, I’ll help you plan a visit, listing all the essential details, including the confirmed 2023 dates and what local specialties you can expect.
Turku Christmas Market 2023
In Turku, you’ll find that Christmas is not just a festive period but a part of the city’s cultural identity as Finland’s oldest town.
The season officially starts with the Declaration of Christmas Peace, a ceremony unique to Turku.
Following this tradition, the city brightens with lights and decorations along the city’s official Christmas street, Yliopistonkatu, and on the giant spruce tree in front of Turku Cathedral.
The Christmas market opens on weekends leading up to Christmas and spans two locations: the Old Great Square and Market Square at Yliopistonkatu.
While the Old Great Square is geared towards families with various types of entertainment and concerts, Market Square focuses more on showcasing high-quality products.
Both locations contribute to the city’s winter atmosphere, with various food stalls selling locally produced snacks and meals to warm you up.
Dates and Information
Turku Christmas Market dates: 26th November to 18th December 2023.
Location: Market Square and Old Great Square.
Opening times: 11am to 5pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: 26th November.
Ice skating: Yes, at Market Square.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended during busy periods.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Finland’s oldest city, with beautiful nature and coast.
Food specialities: Finnish pastries, smoked fish, glögi, piparkakut (gingerbread).
Where to stay: Scandic Hamburger Börs is a popular hotel, directly at Market Square.
Hotels near Turku Christmas Market
Staying close to Market Square is more convenient than staying on the other side of the river at the Old Great Square. There are more shops, cafes and attractions of interest.
In this area, I suggest booking a room at Scandic Hamburger Börs; it gets excellent reviews and is centrally located directly on the main square.
To explore more of the region, read my Finland Christmas Markets 2023 guide, which lists some of the best markets in the country.
If you will also be spending time in the capital, find everything you need to know about Helsinki Christmas Market here.
Christmas in Turku
Karjalanpiirakka (Karelian Pie): A traditional Finnish pastry, Karjalanpiirakka has a rye crust filled with rice porridge. It’s often eaten with egg butter and is a regional staple.
Lohikeitto (Salmon Soup): Lohikeitto is a creamy salmon soup with potatoes and leeks. You’ll find it warming and comforting, especially in the winter chill of the market.
Piparkakut (Gingerbread): These spiced cookies are synonymous with Christmas in Finland. You can buy them individually or in decorative tins, making them a popular gift choice.
Glögi: A mulled wine or juice spiced with cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom, glögi is a quintessential drink to keep you warm. It’s often paired with almonds and raisins.
Riisipuuro (Rice Pudding): A simple dish made of rice cooked in milk, riisipuuro is traditionally eaten at Christmas. It’s sometimes topped with cinnamon and sugar for added flavour.
Hernekeitto (Pea Soup): This is a hearty green pea soup, often flavoured with smoked ham. While it’s a typical dish in Finland, it holds a special place in winter festivals.
Joulutorttu (Christmas Star): This Finnish Christmas pastry is made of puff pastry in the shape of a star, filled with prune jam. It’s a seasonal speciality and commonly found at the markets.
Salmiakki (Liquorice): Though enjoyed year-round, salmiakki frequently appears over the Christmas season. It’s a liquorice and comes in various shapes and sizes.
Leipäjuusto (Cheese): This fresh cheese is served warmly and topped with cloudberry jam.
Joulukinkku (Christmas Ham): A smoked and slow-cooked ham, joulukinkku is a Finnish Christmas staple. Many stalls serve it sliced, sometimes accompanied by root vegetable casseroles.
Korvapuusti (Cinnamon Roll): A variant of the classic cinnamon roll, korvapuusti is spiced with cardamom. The pull-apart design makes sharing easy, though you might not want to.
Runebergin Torttu (Runeberg’s Tart): Though more associated with Runeberg’s Day in February, some stalls offer this almond-flavoured tart topped with raspberry jam as a seasonal treat.
Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Moomin Merchandise: Originating from Finland, Moomin characters are well-loved and widely recognised. You can find Moomin-themed items such as mugs, notebooks, and soft toys. These make ideal gifts for children and adults who are fans of the series.
Finnish Knitwear: Local artisans sell hand-knitted items such as woollen socks, mittens, and hats.
Kalevala Jewellery: Distinctive and steeped in Finnish folklore, Kalevala Jewellery is a unique find at the Christmas market. The designs are inspired by ancient Finnish artefacts, making them unique souvenirs or gifts.
Tuohi Products: These are eco-friendly items crafted from birch bark, an abundant natural resource in Finland. You’ll find everything from small containers to ornamental pieces, all offering a slice of Finnish sustainability.
Himmeli Ornaments: Traditionally made from straw, himmeli are intricate geometric ornaments. They serve as festive decor and are believed to bring good fortune.
Kantele Instruments: A string instrument with ancient roots in Finnish culture, smaller versions of the kantele can be found as a keepsake or for musical exploration.
To get up-to-date information on winter activities and the latest events, use the city’s website, Visit Turku. It provides different guides to help you make the most of your time in the city and the surrounding region.
Sustainable Travel Tips
Here are some tips for travelling responsibly in Turku at Christmas.
Eco-friendly Hotels: Look for hotels that rely on renewable energy sources. These types of places actively participate in reducing carbon emissions and are increasingly common in Turku. By booking such a place to stay, you directly support the local push toward sustainability.
Reducing Food Waste at Markets: When eating at the Christmas markets, keep portion sizes in mind. Many stalls allow you to choose portion sizes. By ordering only what you can finish, you contribute to reducing food waste, an issue that the city is committed to tackling.
Ethical Consumption: While it may be tempting to purchase numerous souvenirs and products, consider what you truly need. Turku has a strong culture of recycling and sustainability, so aim to buy products you’ll use or give away rather than items that may end up as waste.
Sustainable Diets: Many Turku stalls sell vegetarian or vegan food options, which require fewer resources to produce than meat dishes.
Sustainable Transport: Turku has an efficient public transport system, including electric buses. By using public transport instead of renting a car, you contribute to reducing carbon emissions. The city also has a network of pedestrian-friendly routes, ideal for exploring the market and surrounding attractions on foot.
Comment below if you want to leave a review of Turku Xmas Market or have any questions.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Turku, Finland. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.