Oulu is a Finnish city in the northern part of the country with over 200,000 inhabitants, making it the fifth-largest city in Finland and the main city in the north of the country.
The province of Oulu is considered to act as a transition zone between northern and southern Finland, separating the Lapland region from the rest of the country.
Things to see and do in Oulu
The city of Oulu may be less well known than the likes of Helsinki or Rovaniemi, but it has some interesting buildings and museums to see.
Oulu is also known for its forests and lakes, which offer a wealth of outdoor activities at all times of the year.
Oulu Market Hall
Oulu’s market square acts as the city’s focal point. The square is not only home to Oulu’s central market, but also to the city library, the theatre and the old salt warehouses.
In addition, the market square is home to one of the city’s most iconic statues, the Toripolliisi, in honour of the policemen who patrolled the market square in the past.
Hupisaaret Islands City Park
The Hupisaaret islands are located very close to the centre of Oulu. They are several small islands in the Oulu estuary that are separated from each other by picturesque streams.
The islands, which are connected by white bridges, have parks, meadows and groves of trees. There is also a children’s playground, a barbecue area, a cafeteria open in summer and a greenhouse on the different islands.
The Oulu Museum Of Art (OMA)
The Oulu Museum of Art (OMA), located very close to the city centre, has several temporary exhibitions throughout the year, as well as some educational events.
The museum’s extensive collection focuses mainly on the art of the city of Oulu and the Northern Ostrobothnia region in general.
Tietomaa Science Centre
The Tietomaa Science Centre, open to the public since June 1988, is Finland’s first science centre.
Tietomaa is located in the buildings of a former leather processing factory. Thus, the main exhibitions are located in the former power plant of the factory and Tietomaa’s observation tower, which has a glass lift outside it, is a water tower of the former factory.
Oulu Cathedral, designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, is one of the places not to be missed if you visit the city.
This neoclassical building is located right in the centre of Oulu. The church, which belonged to the Evangelical Lutherans, burned down in the fire that ravaged the city in 1822 and was rebuilt on the same site. After 12 years of construction, Oulu Cathedral was completed in 1844.
Northern Ostrobothnia Museum
The Northern Ostrobothnia Museum was founded in 1896. The main theme of the museum is the North Ostrobothnia region itself: its origin, history and activity in the region and more specifically in the city of Oulu. The museum is located in the Hupisaaret Islands Park.
The ground floor of the museum houses various temporary exhibitions that rotate throughout the year and a children’s exhibition based on the books of Finnish children’s author Mauri Kunnas. There is also a large-scale model of downtown Oulu in 1938.
Nallikari beach is an ideal place to enjoy both in summer and winter. It is located just over three kilometres from the centre of Oulu.
Nallikari offers all kinds of activities in the different seasons. In summer it is possible to sunbathe, swim, practice different sports and do activities with the children. In winter, when the sea is frozen, it is possible to walk and ski on the ice-covered sea. It is also possible to find some snow sculptures.
How to get to Oulu
Plane, train and bus are the three most recommended means of transport to reach the city of Oulu.
Oulu Airport is the second largest airport in the country, with connections to many cities in Europe. It is located only 15 kilometres from the centre of Oulu and can be reached by bus.
In this case, train and bus are less recommended options for getting to Oulu due to the length of the journey. The train from Helsinki to Oulu takes about 6 hours to complete the journey and the bus takes about nine hours. It is possible to take the night train and sleep in one of the train beds on the way to Oulu.
How to get around the city
The city of Oulu is not very large, so it is possible to get around the city on foot or by bicycle. If you prefer, public transport works well and can help you get around the city.
Oulu has cycle paths connecting all the most important points in and around the city. These are maintained during the winter, so you can use them even if you are travelling in winter.
Where to stay in Oulu
Oulu offers a wide range of accommodations to suit all types of travel. In the city centre, it is possible to find high-quality hotels at affordable prices.
If you prefer, there are other alternatives for accommodation. One of the most interesting is the campsite next to Nallikari Beach. This accommodation is especially recommended if you want to take advantage of your trip to do activities in the forests and natural parks in the area.
Where to eat in Oulu
Oulu has all kinds of restaurants and bars, so it won’t be difficult to find one that you like. However, we recommend eating at the Oulu Market, where you’ll find some of the region’s typical dishes, including salmon.
We hope you found our travel guide to Oulu helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to share them with us in the comments section below.