Oulu is an ideal place to visit for families and backpackers who wish to experience authentic Finnish lifestyle away from crowds and major tourist resorts.
The city offers something to everyone: it is big enough to have a wide range of shopping centres and boutiques, arts and culture, and yet our unspoiled nature is just a stone’s throw away.
Easy to reach
Oulu is easy to reach by car or a train and there are several flights from Helsinki every day.
Trains are the best way to experience Finland with ease. Finnish landscape pass by as you are making your way to your exotic new destination.
Oulu Airport is part of the Finavia airport network. Serving the bustling technology and university city of Oulu, it is the second busiest airport in Finland.
Oulu Public Transport Authority serve all passengers in the Oulu region. Oulu PTA is called Oulun joukkoliikenne and it operates public transport routes. Routes cover municipalities of Ii, Kempele, Liminka, Lumijoki, Muhos, Oulu and Tyrnävä. You can easily find timetables online.
The place for nature lovers
Oulu is the place for nature lovers: it is located next to the world-famous Liminganlahti bird-watching area, amidst unspoiled pine forests for hiking and berry-picking, marshlands, three major rivers and the sea. Experience northern lights in the autumn and winter, bright summer nights when the sun never sets – or skiing, walking and fishing on our frozen lakes and sea in the winter.
Oulu is proud to introduce its nature attractions
The Oulu area has hiking, nature and forest trails with resting places and campfire sites. There are good opportunities to explore different types of habitats, such as the seashore in the Letonniemi preservation area, enjoy birdwatching at Kempeleenlahti, get acquainted with the marshes at Pilpasuo and the forests of the Sanginjoki outdoor routes, including the Kalimeenlampi route and the Isokangas forest path.
The delightful Hietasaari area, with its nature trails, birdwatching tower and campfire site, is located near the city centre. The Hietasaari area, which arose from the sea about 300–400 years ago, used to be popular among the bourgeoisie who had summer houses there at the end of the 19th century. You can book a one hour snowshoeing trip in Hietasaari. The Nallikari beach is located in the Hietasaari district on the shore of the Gulf of Bothnia. Nallikari is the most beautiful sandy beach! Explore the area by bike and book a fatbike safari: Nallikari beach and sea. This area also offers amazing experiences in the winter time. Exploring the frozen sea is a must do when visiting Oulu in the winter so book ice fishing trip in Nallikari.
Many rapids in the free-flowing Kiiminkijoki river provide challenges even for experienced canoeists. Koitelinkoski is an unique, nearly natural rapid area in Oulu with strong cultural and historical values. The special values of the area are based on the river banks, rapids, islands, beaches and characteristics of the nature. Koitelinkoski is a extra-ordinary place to experience the amazing beauty of nature, to swim, fish or hike and simply to enjoy the outdoors.The river Kiiminkijoki area is well suited for casting and especially fly-fishing from the banks of the river with a lightweight rod and reel. Fishing is allowed in the river with a fishing license. Net fishing, worming, ice-fishing and crabbing are forbidden.
The Oulujoki river is one of the largest rivers in Finland. Oulujoki was the most well-known route in Finland and in Europe for transporting tar. You can book kayaking at Oulu river delta.
The 1920s was an era of prosperity and business. Near the sawmill of the Varjakansaari Island steamboats and sailboats alike were loading boards, planks, props and pit mine props in the roadstead. Varjakka had its own cinema, bakery, shop, fire brigade and jail. There was hustle and bustle just as in a small town. Nowadays the sawmill stays surrounded by magnificent nature. You can book a tour to the historical sawmill of the Varjakansaari Island and a trip to the history of the surrounding area.
In Rokua National Park, you’ll be able to see traces of the Ice Age and magnificent old-growth pines. Ancient sand dunes and crystal clear ponds add the crowning touch to the natural riches of the esker ridges. Massive carpets of bright white lichen are a sight you’ll not see anywhere else in Finland! Syöte National Park provide an ideal setting for many activities. Ski-trek through the magical snow-covered winter forests, or pedal up hill and down dale along the park’s fine mountain-biking routes
History of Oulu
The city of Oulu was founded by the order of King Carl IX of Sweden at the mouth of the Oulu River in 1605. Oulu, which is located on the shore of the Gulf of Bothnia in Finland, has been the province’s capital since 1776. 1886 the railway reached Oulu. The inauguration ceremony was held in the brand new festival hall. Much later that festival hall became the Oulu city hall. More details about Oulu’s history can be found on the City of Oulu website.
The idyllic Turkansaari Open Air Museum takes you on a time trip to the past. Turkansaari’s historical countryside setting and beautiful natural environment are fully preserved. Step into the past and listen to the stories of Northern heritage, everyday life and celebration in the countryside. Turkansaari Open Air Museum is located on three islands in the Oulujoki River 12 kilometres upstream from downtown Oulu. The museum is Finland’s second-oldest open air museum. Northern Ostrobothnia Museum focuses on the history of the city of Oulu, Northern Ostrobothnia and Finland, and tells their stories in a memorable way. Oulunsalo Traditional Village Museum is a window to the past and a peaceful oasis amidst the bustle of modern life. The buildings, still standing on their original foundations, show how life was lived in the early 20th century when the daily bread came from agriculture and fishing.
The Sailor’s Home Museum is located in the oldest surviving wooden building in Oulu and is the former home of sailor Isak Matilainen. The Pateniemi Sawmill Museum is located in a storage building of a shipyard dating back to the 1850s. In 1873, a steam sawmill that gave the entire Pateniemi its livelihood for the next 120 years was built next to the shipyard. The old, beautiful area around the sawmill still defines the spirit of the district.
Science Centre Tietomaa has given unforgettable experiences to visitors since 1988. Finland’s first science centre is the perfect place for learning, enjoying yourself, putting your brain and body at test or simply spending some time engaging in entertaining exploration. The Science Centre’s 45-meter tower, completed in 1920 to serve as the water tower of the tanning plant, is one of the key landmarks of the Oulu cityscape.
The Kierikki Stone Age Centre takes you back in time thousands of years into the distant past of the North. The Kierikki Centre is located along the Iijoki River on a Stone Age dwelling site.
Art and culture in Oulu
There are big and small events in Oulu. Interesting concerts, theater, dance and circus performances, exhibitions and sporting events throughout the year.
The exhibitions of the Oulu Museum of Art provide a thorough cross-section of the visual arts of the region, explore different themes and collections, and showcase highlights from Finnish and international art.
Oulu Theatre was built on a magnificient spot by the market place waterfront, where it is situated on an artificial island called Vänmanni. Oulu Theatre is the largest professional theatre in northern Finland. The diverse programme produced by the artistically and operatively high-class professional corporation offers audiences high-quality and ambitious performances. In addition to plays, also opera, musicals and new national and world premieres are produced. The program is mainly produced in Finnish.
Let yourself fall in love with Oulu and its people!
And if you want to pay the Santa a call – Rovaniemi is just two hours away by car or train.