Student lunch at Unica in Turku in Finland

Student cafeterias and where to find them: a quick guide to Unica

They say that love makes the world go round, but I’d really like to argue that it’s actually food. Although keeping up with studies, social life and sleep at the same time can make it hard to eat properly, each day and every week, there is a convenient chain of student-friendly restaurants to give you a helping hand. Let’s see how the Unica Student Cafeterias work, and shortly introduce five cafeterias.

What is Unica?

Unica runs various cafeterias, restaurants, and cafes around the city of Turku. Its main owner is Universtas Oy of the Student Union of the University of Turku. Although a number of the cafeterias can be found outside of university campuses, many are located a stone’s throw away from classrooms. Opening times vary, as do lunch times. Some places are open for breakfast, some do lunch from mid-morning to the evening, some you can access during the weekend. You can either search “Unica” on Google Maps or check this list on the Unica website.

How do I use the student restaurants?

Firstly, you will need your Frank app as proof of student status to get your meals at a discounted rate (starting at €2.95 for a basic meal). You can, of course, pay the full price of around €9, but who wouldn’t like to save some money?

Secondly, I would suggest checking the menu on the Unica website. Even though English menus are available at the locations, it’s rather stressful to search for an English menu in the middle of a lunchtime rush when your class starts in twenty minutes. You can also find dietary information in these menus, as well as the abbreviations that Unica uses for requirements such as vegetarian or lactose intolerant. It’s also good to know that the number of different meals depends on how big the location is.

How you actually get your food can differ between places. Many, especially the bigger cafeterias on campus, are an open bar/school cafeteria sort of thing where you get a tray, take a plate, pile on everything you want, then show the cashier your Frank app student card and pay.

When you’re done eating, take your tray to the collection point. Look for the word astianpalautus (dish return), throw away the trash and sort your cutlery and dishes.

Unica Deli Pharma foodbar student restaurant in Turku

Quick notes on eating at the Unica student cafeterias

  • It’s good to remember that paying by card is usually faster, easier, and therefore preferable.
  • Take-away is possible in most places – just look for a stack of boxes.
  • The Finns like their bread. Either you will find a bread-and-butter area at the end of the food bar, or there will be a separate stand for it. You are welcome to it regardless of which meal you bought.
  • The typical lunch break between classes is from 11:45 to 12:15 and the cafeterias, especially on campus, especially Monday to Thursday, get crowded. If you need a lot of time to eat, then getting your lunch as a take-away before classes or waiting until the rush passes are things to consider.
  • Now that we know the basics, let’s have a look at five different Unicas and how they work.
  • NB: All information, including opening times, is accurate at the time of writing: April 2023.

1. Unica Student Cafeteria: Macciavelli

Where: main university campus, Educarium building – see on Google Maps

Opening hours: Mon-Thu 8:00-18:00, Fri 8:00-15:00 |  Breakfast: 8:00-10:00  |  Lunch: 10:30-15:00

Macciavelli is one of the bigger Unicas. It consists of the café part, if you only need a drink, a snack or a sandwich, and the cafeteria part, where you would get your lunch. Macciavelli has separate lines for meat-lunches and veg-lunches. The meat line can stretch outside of the cafeteria door and into the hallway during the lunch rush, and it can take 10-15 minutes to get your food. That’s why I’d recommend going vegetarian/vegan for a day. The veg line is further inside, towards the left, and rarely takes longer than five minutes. Alternatively, if you have time, just wait until about 12:15 (when classes start) to enjoy a more peaceful meal.

Unica Macciavelli student restaurant in Turku

2. Unica Student Cafeteria: Kulma

Where: Turku city centre, opposite Turku City Library – see on Google Maps

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8:00-21:00, Sat 11:00-21:00  |  Breakfast: Mon-Fri 8:00-10:00  |  Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:00-19:00, Sat 11:00-16:00

The Turku City Library is a wonderful space where you take shelter if you’ve had enough of the uni campus, and Kulma is, quite conveniently, about thirty seconds from the library door. It’s a small space with one meat-lunch and one vegan lunch. Kulma can get pretty crowded between 12:00 and 13:30, so if you are looking to eat in peace or come with a friend, I’d advise you to come outside of the lunch rush. You also pay first, at the till, and then get your food. While Kulma is very cosy in the winter, it does have outside seating in the summer, which is quite lovely if you want a beverage and a lovely view of the library and the river.

Unica Kulma student restaurant in Turku

3. Unica Student Cafeteria: Assarin Ullakko

Where: main university campus, by the Student Union offices – see on Google Maps

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10:30-20:00, Sat 10:30-18:00, Sun 12:00-16:00  |  Breakfast: no  |  Lunch: 10:30-19:45

If you are looking for breakfast, Assarin won’t help you, but for everything else? Brilliant. Assarin is your friend when you’re working late and need a tea; it’s there when you have a project meeting on Saturday and want to have an affordable lunch afterwards. There is a tiny sitting area on the ground floor and then a big one upstairs that’s divided into a typical cafeteria-style room and a very cosy café-style room. Finding seats is usually not a problem, but there is only one line to get lunch, so count at least with ten minutes extra if you’re coming during the lunch rush.

Unica Assarin Ullakko student restaurant in Turku
Assarin Ullakko

4. Unica Student Cafeteria: Delica

Where: Kupittaa campus, PharmaCity – see on Google Maps

Opening hours: Mon-Thu 10:30-18:00, Fri 10:30-16:00, Sat 11:00-15:00  |  Breakfast: no  |  Lunch 10:30-16:00

Delica is good place to go simply for the selection. There is the actual Delica cafeteria, then the Delipharma with its mile-high glass ceiling, the Fabrik Café (they have breakfasts!) and the Unica-unrelated Karu Sushi. Again, beware the lunch rush, but it’s definitely worth coming here even if it’s just for a Saturday lunch with a friend at the Delipharma. The place is very quiet then, and the tall ceilings with industrial/sci-fi style walls make for an interesting time.

Unica Delipharma student restaurant in Turku

5. Unica Student Cafeteria: Galilei

Where: main university campus, Agora building – see on Google Maps

Opening hours:  Mon-Thu 8:00-15:00, Fri 8:00-14:30  |  Breakfast: 8:00-10:00  |  Lunch: 10:30-14:00

Galilei is a smaller Unica closely surrounded by three other Unicas, which means that while lunch is busy, it’s not as bad as, say, Macciavelli. There are slightly fewer meal choices, but you’ll be sitting down and eating within 5-10 minutes. There is a couch booth in the corner, if you want to have a more relaxed lunch, and café right next to the cafeteria if a fresh caffeine dose is needed. Especially in summer, it’s nice to get your food as take-out and eat outside, maybe in front of the Feeniks Library or the Stairs of Knowledge (Tiedonportaat), both of which are just a minute away.

Unica Galilei student restaurant in Turku

If you’d prefer a specific cuisine, there are many non-Unica places close to the university. Hämeenkatu, the main street between the university campus and the Turku University Hospital, is lined with cafes and restaurants of all kinds that are popular with students as well. However, if you are looking for something quick, cheap, and convenient, Unica ticks those boxes perfectly.

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