Just wanted to post a trip report for part of my recent week-long trip to Finland. Before I get started, I want to say that, in general, our trip was wonderful and we found the people everywhere to be polite, helpful, and accommodating. I would also add that it helps to try to learn a bit of Finnish if you are going to be a guest in this country, if only as an "ice-breaker" for conversation. Almost everywhere we went, we found that people spoke English perfectly well.
We arrived early on a Sunday morning in Turku aboard the overnight Silja line ferry from Stockholm. One word of advice to those who have never travelled on these ferries before: be packed and ready to go ashore when the boat arrives in port--we were still sleeping 15 minutes before arrival and were hastened out of our cabins by a chambermaid. Of course, if you don't sleep during the voyage (as was apparant among a few younger passengers), you should have nothing to worry about!
Turku is a nice little city and the downtown area ("Keskus" in Finnish) is easily manageable on foot. There is a nice promenade along both sides of the Aurajoki, which flows right through town. In our 2.5 days of visiting, we went to the Turku Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko), Turku Castle (Turunlinna), Turku Art Museum (Taidemuseo), and the Aboa Vetus/Ars Nova Museum. I would recommend visiting all of these attractions, although if you need to skip one, I would probably nix Turku Castle, since it is the least central of these and you can probably see similar castles elsewhere in Finland or Europe. The art museum has an impressive collection of the big names of Finnish art (Gallen-Kallela, Schjerfbeck, Simberg, etc...). Aboa Vetus is a must if you are interested in history and the cathedral is so convenient that you would be foolish not to visit. It's quite a stately cathedral for a town the size of Turku and country the size of Finland, and not as opulent or ostentatious as some other cathedrals you see further south in Europe. It's stark beauty fits Finland very well.
While in Turku, we also visited the small nearby town of Naantali. Naantali has a very pleasant little "Old Town" filled with wooden houses and a nice harborfront with several restaurants, a large old convent church, and of course, Moominworld. We just walked around the harbor, churchyard, and old town, and then took a city bus back to Turku, which dropped us at the Kauppatori (market square). The public bus was very nice if you are accustomed to American public transit.
A few food/drink recommendations: the best meal we ate was at a restaurant called Blanko, which is located downtown on a corner on the north side of the Aura. The best way I can describe the cuisine is modern Mediterranean fusion and it's a good value for Finland. Another good option we discovered is to buy foodstuffs at the Kauppahalli (market hall), also conveniently located downtown, or at the market square. We had drinks at the Old Bank, just down the street from Blanko, which has a good selection of beers, and also at Koulu, which has a fairly large beer garden if you are there during warmer months.
We left for Tampere by train, and the Turku train station is easy to find on the north west side of downtown. It is small and has luggage lockers if you need to stow your bags (which we did). If your schedule allows, it is a fairly short walk from the train station to the art museum, so you can combine your arrival or departure by train with a trip to the art museum.
All in all, we had a very nice stay in Turku and there were several sights we did not have a chance to see, so I hope I can visit again in the future.