town in the region of Southwest Finland, Finland

Kaarina (Swedish: Sankt Karins‎) is a town in the Finland Proper region of Finland, about 10 km east of Turku.

Understand

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Winter in central Kaarina.

The municipality is named after the Katariina church that in turn is named after Catherine of Alexandria (Saint Catherine of the Wheel).

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 primary school.

The former main village of Kaarina (Nummi) has been part of Turku since 1939. The present municipality of Kaarina has a few distinct centres. Kuusisto was annexed to Kaarina in 1946 and Piikkiö in 2009. Littoinen was the biggest settlement in the 1960s, with some industry and a train station (on the Turku–Helsinki railway, now out of use). 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.

Get in and around

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Kaarina is well connected to Turku. The former main road from Helsinki (now regional road 110) passes by Kaarina centre. The motorway from Helsinki (highway 1) also goes through Kaarina, but at a distance from the centre. Highway 10 (from Hämeenlinna) passes through the northern parts of the municipality (by Auranlaakso). E18 deviates from highway 1 in Piikkiö and follows the Turku bypass (highway 40) to Naantali, passing by Auranlaakso and Ravattula in northern Kaarina.

Kaarinantie leads from highway 10 (Hämeentie) in the north through Auranlaakso, west of Littoinen and over the Helsinki highways. It then becomes Saaristotie, which continues southwards, passing east of the centre and over the island Kuusisto, and leads to Pargas and farther out in the archipelago. The other main roads for getting around in Kaarina are highway 110 (Uudenmaantie) and Pyhän Katariinan tie, the latter leading westward from the centre.

The Turku guide map includes Kaarina, with map layers for bus lines, biking routes etc.

By bus

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Most coaches from Helsinki to Turku (even many express ones) leave the motorway in Kaarina and use road 110 for driving into Turku, stopping at "Krossi", "Paraisten tienhaara" and "Piispanristi", the former on Kaarinantie, the latter two on Uudenmaantie by Kaarina centre and by the border to Turku, respectively. See Matkahuolto.

Kaarina takes part in the Turku region "Föli" bus cooperation, which means bus tickets are treated as if Kaarina were 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 board and get off in the Föli area. A single ticket with two hours unlimited transfer paid by card 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 801 (Turku to Pargas) and 7 (from Naantali via Turku, with a detour to Koristo). Also e.g. lines 700, 701, 703–708 and 720–723 to Piikkiö pass by Kaarina centre and can be used in the same manner; line 701 continues to Toivonlinna of Piikkiö, 703–708 and 720–723 continue to Paimio and some of them beyond. Lines 2B and 2C go from Turku to Littoinen, line 6 from Naantali via Turku along road 10 to Lieto (lines 612, 614 and 615 start from Puutori in Turku and continue from Lieto). Internal buses (often minibuses) have a number prefixed by "K". Some of 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. K1 and K3 drive from Auranlaakso via Littoinen to Kaarina centre and K2 serves areas south of road 110, including Lemu and Kuusisto.

The Föli route planner is useful for getting around by bus in Kaarina.

By bike

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Kaarina has good bike routes mostly as needed. 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.

The map at kartta.turku.fi can show biking routes: open the layers menu in the upper left corner, choose Traffic, then Bicycle paths, and use the check boxes. Regional biking route 9 goes from Turku along Hämeentie by Auranlaakso to Lieto, route 10 from Turku via Littoinen and Pyydysmäki to Piikkiö, route 11 along Uudenmaantie via Kaarina centre and Piikkiö to Paimio (Eurovelo 10 "Baltic Sea" probably follows this one), route 22 from Auranlaakso via Littoinen and Kaarina centre to Pargas, the Archipelago Trail (in the map: "small ring route") from Turku via Kaarina centre and Pargas farther out in the archipelago. At least these routes are well signposted.

By taxi

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  • Taxidata, Taksi Länsi-Suomi, iTaksi: see Turku#By taxi
  • Smartphone apps: Valopilkku, 02 Taksi
 
The castle ruins.
  • 1 Kuusisto Castle (Kuusiston linna), Linnanrauniontie 633, +358 20-639-4620, . 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 Hovirinta Beach Park (Hovirinnan rantapuisto), Uimarannantie 54. Summer season 15 Jun–31 Aug, Winter swimming Oct–Apr. Beach with playground and traffic park. Free. Fees for sauna, etc..
  • 2 Järvelä wetland, Järveläntie (near Lake Littoistenjärvi). Bird sanctuary by Lake Littoistenjärvi. Nature path and bird watching tower.
  • 3 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.
  • 4 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. There are sometimes water quality problems. There's a dog haven by the beach.  
    • 5 Littoistenjärvi dance pavilion (Littoisten lava), Littoistenjärventie 153 (by the Littoistenjärvi beach; buses 2B and 2C, last bus to Turku just after the dance), +358 45-894-8383. Dances middle May to end of August: Th 18:00/19:30–23:00, 8 Aug with the tango king and queen of the year; courses M–W Su 18:00– and 16:00 respectively. Social dancing and dance courses. The dance night begins with a 1½-hr dance course included in the price, for one dance, beginning with the basics but with something also for more advanced dancers. Live music the rest of the night: foxtrot, tango, waltz, jive, cha-cha etc., with slight overweight for the dance taught. Friendly atmosphere and many skilled dancers. Kiosk with coffee, water (free), sausage, sandwiches etc. in the dance nights, other times you might need your own water bottle. First set of the dance proper is in random pairs (just one dance each), second men's, third women's, last mixed asking.
      Separate dance courses M–W and Su evenings in season (as of 2024): M 18:00 and mostly Tu 18:00 basics of a particular dance ("perusteet"), W 19:45 and Su 16:00 basics of a dance for those who haven't danced much at all ("perusteita uusille"; youth price for all), other times knowing basics of the dance taught is assumed ("keskitaso"). Numbered courses are sets, but attending just one part is OK. During the course, pairs are formed in a rotating system, so you can turn up alone or in a single-gender group (you may form your own pairs, but that is usually not optimal). Instruction is in Finnish, so you have to use your eyes and occasionally ask your pair.
      Dances mostly €18, youth under 25 years €6; 10 and 17 Aug 2023 €18/10; dance courses €14/6.
  • 6 Pyhän Katariinan polut. Trails in western Kaarina. Outcrop hills, steep hillsides, lush forest, fields and seascape views. Souhuvuori prehistoric graves (a guide may be needed to find them). Memorial of the Lemu Battle of 1808. The Vaarniemi, Yli-Lemu and Ala-Lemu mansions (not open to the public, have a look from the trail). The Vaarniemi tower gives views over a large area. 1 Lean-to shelter at Vaarniemi (firewood below the stairs from Rauvolanlahti; no fires allowed during wildfire warnings).
  • 7 Rauvolanlahti (Rauvolaviken). Bird sanctuary. Nature path through the reed; bird watching towers. Connection to the Katariinanlaakso nature reserve in Turku. The path (Vaarniemen–Rauvolanlahden luontopolku) is part of the St. Olav Waterway and the Pyhän Katariinan polut trail network. The duckboards can be flooded at high waters, i.e. suitable footwear may be needed.
  • 8 Swimming pool (Kaarinan uimahalli), Uimahallintie 4 (750 m south-east of the centre), +358 50-320-7870. Cash desk open M W F 06:00–20:00. Tu 10:00–20:00, Th 08:00–20:00, Sa Su 12:00–17:00, the pool closes 30 min later. Indoor swimming pool. Also gym. €6.50, students €4, children 5–16 yrs €3.50, toddlers free.  

Events

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  • Saaristo, Uimarannantie 58 (at Hovirinta beach). Early June; 2024: 7–8 June. Music festival, 20,000–30,000 visitors.

Some shopping in the centre.

There are hamburgers, kebab, pizza and Chinese food available in Kaarina centre, and even a Nepali lunch restaurant. For fine dining, however, the common solution is to go to Turku. Nice dinners are also available in some former manors and similar businesses (see Sleep below).

  • 1 Prego, Uimahallintie 2 (by the swimming hall), +358 44-799-1000, . M–F 10:30–14:30. Lunch buffet: salad, soup, two warm dishes and desert. €10.50/€6.50.
  • 2 Tsing tao, Kiesikatu 8–10 (east part of the centre), +358 2 243-1888. M–Th 11:00–21:00, F 11:00–22:00, Sa 12:00–22:00, Su 12:00–21:00; lunch M–F 11:00–15:00. Chinese food. €10–30, children's dishes €7.50; lunch €9.70.
  • 3 Huikopala, Lautakunnankatu 1 (in the centre: Kaarina-talo), +358 50-569-6247, . 11:00–14:00. Lunch buffet, home-cooked style. €10, soup lunch €8.

Drink

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Some pubs and cafés, most people go to Turku for nightlife.

Sleep

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  • 2 Hotel Kivitasku, Aittakatu 1 (in the centre), +358 2 242-4920, . Located in the town centre. Single, double and triple rooms. Lunch restaurant. €88; lunch €10.
  • 3 Lomakeskus Koivukankare, Munkkentie 251 (on Kuusisto; turn toward the church and the castle ruins, turn left after 250 m to Munkkentie, drive 2,5 km), +358 40-719-9970, . "Leisure centre" at two former farms, with minigolf, badminton, etc. Rowing boats, canoes, bikes and motorboats for rent. Fishing and nature trips etc. Modern wheelchair enabled accommodation building (shared bathrooms and toilets) and caravan site. Wi-Fi. Restaurant: lunch in summer 12:00–14:00, otherwise à la carte (check hours). Founded 1940. double €61, 3-pers €81, pet €10; caravan €25+showers €5/person; breakfast €8; à la carte: most meals €15–20, soup, hamburger or vegetarian €6–10.
  • 4 Villa Wolax, Villa Wolaxin tie 40 (Kuusisto, turn left before the Kirjalansalmi bridge, drive 3 km along Vuolahdentie, turn left to Villa Volaxin tie), +358 40-533-1469 (M–F 09:00–16:00), . Nice villa in nice milieu. Mostly targeted at conferences, retreats and business meetings, weddings etc. The rooms are in five buildings with separate private areas. The buildings and rooms are in different style, some in line with the villa, others more modernistic, some rather simple. Activities for groups. Restaurant in summer and on request. Guest marina with water, electricity, toilets, and row boat and bikes to borrow. Single €90, double €140; breakfast €14 (order in advance); harbour fee €20, day visit for dinner free; private sauna €250/2 hr, €70/hr for marina guests.

Connect

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Go next

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  • Kaarina is a good starting point for the Archipelago Trail – head south along regional road 180 towards Pargas.
  • The King's Road comes from Turku and continues along the southern coast.
  • Time Trek (Aikavaellus). A walk through the ages from Tuorla (just across the border to Piikkiö) to Turku – 13,8 billion years in 13,8 km. The walk (or bike route) leads from the Big Bang near the Tuorla observatory to our time at the University of Turku, with major events signposted. The signs are in Finnish only, but the web site (QR code linked) is bilingual with English, with descriptions of the events. The route mostly follows wide gravel paths accessible by bike and wheelchair; the last 300 m or so have stairs, mostly avoidable by detours.
  • The river Aurajoki leads through Ravattula in northern Kaarina and provides a nice route for biking or walking to Turku centre, passing by the ancient church site in Ristimäki and some Bronze or Stone Age sites (little of these is visible though). The route passes close to the crossroads of highways 10 and 40 in Auranlaakso.
Routes through Kaarina
ENDTurku  W   E  PiikkiöHelsinki
StockholmTurku  W   E  Turku countryside (Lieto) → Helsinki
ENDTurku  SW   NE  Turku countryside (Lieto) → Hämeenlinna



This city travel guide to Kaarina is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.