Oulu (Swedish: Uleåborg) is the biggest city in Northern Finland, with a bit more than 200,000 inhabitants (counting by the administrative borders, the city itself has a little less).
phone: +358 8 558 41330address: Torikatu 18Can help visitors to Oulu city and the wider region.
Oulu is the capital of the province of Oulu and the region of Northern Ostrobothnia. It is the fifth largest municipality in Finland by population and the largest and most important in Northern Finland. As a result of two consolidations of neighbouring municipalities, first Ylikiiminki in 2009, and then Haukipudas, Kiiminki, Oulunsalo and Yli-Ii in 2013, its land area is over 3,000 km² (five to ten times the size of other similar sized cities in Finland). As urban area it comes fourth, after the capital region, Tampere and Turku.
Historically Oulu has been known for its salmon and wood tar and production. Today it is however more known for its high-tech focus, with free wireless Internet access, Panoulu, in the city centre. A lot of Finnish IT companies, including Nokia, have offices in Oulu or nearby areas. In 1988 Jarkko Oikarinen wrote the first IRC server and client here. Oulu is also home to Oulun Kärpät, a successful hockey team playing in the top Finnish league, Liiga.
Early historyThe history of the Oulu area of course reaches all the way to the end of the Stone Age. During the Stone Age, the location of the current city was still underwater, but around 1800 BCE (when the stone age ended), the coastline had risen inside the current city borders. The Oulu river has been an important trade river since the Stone Age since it offered connections to the east and the west, as well as the south by the sea. During the Iron Age, the population in the Oulu area most likely lessened a bit, although the Sami population persisted through the Iron Age. During the Iron Age, the southern Finnish peoples such as the Finns Proper and the Tavastians made hunting, trade and taxation travels to the north.
In the 12th century, Oulu became an important spot for trade and hunting trips by the Karelians, including the people from the flourishing population centres of the shores of the Lake Ladoga.
From the Middle Ages to the 16th centuryIt is commonly interpreted that the Treaty of Nöteborg in 1323 placed Oulu inside the Republic of Novgorod, but according to some historians, Ostrobothnia was shared as a collaborative area between the two nations, Sweden and Novgorod. Although, in the year 1345 Sweden attached the regions all the way to Kemi as a part of Turku Diocese. The possession of the area became controversial, and during the next centuries the Novgorodians and later on Russians made raids to Ostrobothnia all the way to Oulu. The first armaments of the Oulu Castle were made in 1375. The fortification was known in Swedish as "Uleåborg", "Ule River Castle". After the founding of the castle, the city started to slowly evolve close to the castle, which was colloquially known as "Uleåstad", "Ule River Town".
Oulu, Kemi, Tornio and Ii were given the right to serve as trading centres by the Swedish King Gustav I of Sweden in 1531.
During the Russo-Swedish war of 1590-1595, the fortification was turned into a small castle. In the Treaty of Teusina (1595), Russia acknowledged the Oulu area as a part of the Kingdom of Sweden.
The founding of the city and the 18th centuryOulu is the oldest city in Northern Finland. It was founded with the same Swedish name of Uleåborg in 1605 by the King Karl IX at the mouth of Oulujoki river, on the opposite bank of Oulu Castle. In the beginning there were around 400 residents in the city. The city got its full city rights in 1610, and during the 17th century even some small-scale industry was born in town since the only rifle manufacturing plant in Finland was in Oulu. The first pedagogium in the city was founded in 1611 and in 1682 it was transformed into a trivial school.
The Oulu Castle was destroyed by a lightning strike in 1793 and never rebuilt.
The 19th and the 20th centuryDuring its history, the city has suffered 8 Great Fires, and in 1822 the city was severely damaged in one, and during its reconstruction, the city centre got the look it still has today.
In the 19th century the trivial school was transformed into an upper comprehensive school and a gymnasium school was attached to it. In 1872 the first Oulu private lyceum was opened and it was transformed into the Oulu Lyceum in 1883.
The city was greatly affected by wars, and Oulu was a battlefield for the Whites and the Reds in the short civil war. The Winter War was seen in the city when the Germans built different training, maintenance and cadre centres in Oulu. In the Continuation war, Oulu was bombed heavily and some trace from the bombings is still seen in some of the older buildings in the city center.
The 20th century brought industrialization to the city and the borders became too tight for all population and the city borders were expanded by adding some smaller neighboring municipalities to the city.
The University of Oulu was founded in 1959, although Oulu had been proposed as a university town since 1917. The new university got a great reception since it was the first one in Northern Finland and the people didn't have to go all the way to Southern Finland in order to get academic education.
Recent history and modern day
Nowadays Oulu is known especially as a technology city and the economical engine of Northern Finland. Technopolis, founded in 1982, was the first so-called technology village of the Nordic countries.
The latest expansions of the city alongside with the population growth of the city proper have made Oulu the 5th biggest city and 4th biggest urban area in Finland. With its population of 200,000, it is by far the biggest city in the northern part of the Nordic countries.
Modern Oulu is known all over Finland with the nickname "Paska kaupunni" ("Shitty City") due to a graffiti made at some point in the 1980s to a wall in the address Uusikatu 22. The urban tradition of drawing the graffiti again and again has persisted to this day.
Other nowadays known things related to the city are the Toripolliisi statue (1987), the Oulu Market Hall (1901), the Marketplace granaries, the hockey team Oulun Kärpät, Tietomaa Science Center, the annual Air Guitar World Championships, the Starboy tradition, the Oulu dialect and Rössypottu.
Oulu AirportThe airport is 15 km southwest of the city. It has six Finnair flights a day between Oulu and Helsinki Vantaa. SAS flies direct between Stockholm and Oulu three times a week. In summer there are flights to Mediterranean holiday resorts. And that's about all, although the airport website (nothing if not aspirational) list 50 airlines flying here including Tibet. There is only one terminal, open whenever there are flights. There are several device charging points and free WiFi. There is also a piano and rocking chairs in the free Hailuoto Lounge. Oluthuone Toppila in the gate area stock beer, cider, soft drinks and the local "kärkkäri" sausage, as well as hamburgers and other food. Oulu Café (both airside and in Arrivals) has snacks and souvenirs. There is also a pharmacy by the café in the gate area.
Transport: Bus routes 8 (to Teknologiakylä) and 9 (to Heikinharju) run between the airport and central Oulu, taking 30 mins. The bus stop is to the right as you exit the terminal. There are usually two buses an hour M-Sa 06:25-21:00, otherwise hourly to 01:20.
The airport is in Fare Zone B, and the centre is Zone A, so you need a ticket for Zone AB. Adult fare is €5.80 (cash to the driver or use the transport app) but double after 23:00 - see "Get around" below for practicalities. The ticket is valid for transfers for 60 mins. However the airport hotel and the southern municipality of Kempele are in Zone B, so tell the driver then you only pay for that Zone.
The main city stop for the lines 8 and 9 is Kaupungintalo. The bus doesn't stop on the Pekuri stop in the city center at all. The university is on bus route 8, else change downtown to buses 1 (Jylkynkangas), 2 (Ritaharju), 3 (Aaltokangas) or 23 (Haukipudas-Ii): tell the driver "Yliopistolle" (ILL-yo-piss-toll-e) meaning "to the university".
Taxis might cost €35; Otaxi is the main airport operator, or try the rideshare app Kyyti.
Car rental: all the main car rental firms are found at the airport. Book in advance as they have small fleets here, and their kiosks may have limited staffed hours.
Oulu is on the main railway line between Helsinki and the far north of Finland. Day trains run between Helsinki and Oulu every hour or two via Tampere, taking 6 hours; they continue north to Kemi and either Rovaniemi (all year) or Tornio and Kolari (some trains in season). There are also sleepers (which take cars) on the Helsinki-Oulu-far north route. See Finland#Get around: By train for ticket deals and general advice.
is on Rautatienkatu, just under 1 km east of the market square. The station building, open 04:00–01:20, has a café-kiosk, news stand and luggage lockers. Toilets charge €1. The staffed ticket office is open M–F 09:00–17:00, otherwise buy from the machines. For city buses and taxis, exit west towards the water front, to reach Raksila district or for out-of-town buses, walk through the tunnel to exit east by the bus station.
By busTrip duration from Helsinki varies between 8 and 15 hours and costs around €25-50, but using the cheaper Onnibus, you can get trip with a price as low as €15. Timetable and information from Matkahuolto and Onnibus
The bus station is right next to the railway station, but on the other side of the tracks.
By boatThere is no ferry, but for arriving with your own boat, Oulu has four marinas dotted around the estuary of the Oulujoki river. The main one is right next to the marketplace.
Oulu is on Finnish National Road 4, which runs the length of the country from Helsinki via Jyväskylä to Oulu, continuing north to Kemi, Rovaniemi and Utsjoki on the border with Norway. (It's part of Route E75 between Northern Norway and Athens.)
Route E8 runs along the coast from Turku through Rauma, Pori, Vaasa and Kokkola to Oulu, continuing north as E75 to Kemi then as E8 to Kolari and eventually Tromsø.
Park & ride: use the free parking lot of Prisma Limingantulli (Nuottasaarentie 1) and take Citybus line C to the city center. It runs every 30 minutes and costs €1.50 each way, cash only. You can check the timetables here. The citybus stop is on the northern side of the hypermarket.
When coming from the north, you can also park at Ideapark Oulu mall (Ritaharjuntie 49) and take Bus 3 to city center, though this is unlikely to save you any money (unless you travel alone) since you'll have to use normal local buses which cost €3.30 per way.
More info in the section "Get around."
By footFor being the fifth largest city in Finland the city centre is small compared to, say, Tampere or Turku. The whole of the city centre is easily walkable, and the walking conditions are good. There are usually free walking route maps distributed at the Tourist Information.
You can use the app Oulu Public Transport by iQ Payments to purchase the ticket. After purchasing the ticket from the app, show it to the driver and you're good to go. You cannot buy tickets in advance with the app, so you must buy it right before you need it.
Using the bus is simple. If you pay with cash, you just tell your destination to the driver (and if you're young, you should tell if you're under 16 or not; the bus drivers will almost automatically take you as an adult). You can only pay with cash in the buses. Although, sometimes the buses 40 and 41 have bank card readers. The same buses are also the first ones with displays telling the name of the next stop.
If you pay with a Waltti-card (more info in the section With Waltti Travel Card), you just press the card against the reader (a machine with a blue ring on it). If you want to load more money (or "value") on the card, you just give the driver the money and ask to load the card with it ("lataa arvoa").
From the year 2019, buses will start displaying the information on the upcoming stops, which will make traveling by bus easier for people who aren't used to the system. The changes don't happen to every bus at the same time, so even after that, it'd be good to have a downloaded map with your current location on your phone.
Taking a bike to the bus costs €2/trip, and if the bus is full, you might have to wait for the next one. You can take your bike on some taller long-distance buses (e.g. to Tyrnävä) which have narrow hallways, elevated floors and single middle doors (as opposed to doubles), too, but you need to ask the driver to put the bike in the luggage container of the bus.
The validity of single and value tickets is 60 minutes when travelling in one zone or two zones, and 80 minutes in three or more zones. You can transfer from one vehicle to another within the validity of your ticket. A-City ticket is valid only in citybus. The validity of A-City ticket is 30 minutes.
The bus stops are named so that the name of the stop is followed by either an E or a P. The letters stand for Etelä (South) and Pohjoinen (North), implicating the direction of the buses passing through the stop.
Be careful when using the bus in the city center, since not all buses stop in all bus stops. When using the stops Pekuri and Kaupungintalo, remember that the lines 1-17 stop at Kaupungintalo, whereas lines 20-57 stop at Pekuri. City bus lines (A, B, C) stop at Kaupungintalo E. If unsure, check if the number of the line is found on the sign on top of the bus stop.
Some bus lines include:
2 - Ritaharju-University-Tuira-City center-Raksila-OYS-Kaukovainio-Kaakkuri-Metsokangas
The most popular bus line in town, hence one of the most operated one. Departure times vary, but during daytime on weekdays it departs every 10-20min. It takes you through the university, the city hospital (OYS) and the infamous Kaukovainio into the neighborhood of Metsokangas, which is full of newer, wood/brick residential buildings. Also passes through Kaakkuri shopping hub which holds the Verkkokauppa.com electronics store mentioned in this article.
8 - Technology village-University-Tuira-City center-Raksila-Oulunsalo-Airport
8 runs from the technology village through the university to the Raksila mall, where it continues to the airport. More info about airport transit in the section Get In/By Plane.
9 - Heikinharju-Talvikangas-Värttö-Raksila-City centrer-Heinäpää-Limingantulli-Oulunsalo-Airport
The bus line 9 to the airport takes more time, but is operated more than number 8. It also passes through the southern end of the city center (Heinäpää) and the shopping district of Limingantulli.
15 - Nallikari-Tuira-City center-Höyhtyä-Mäntylä
The line takes you from the Nallikari holiday village and beach to the city and continues to the lesser-known suburb of Mäntylä. It does pass through the Oulu Music Centre and Höyhtyä, where the legendary Höyhtyän Grilli is found in.
20 - Haukipudas-Toppila-Tuira-City center-Raksila-OYS-Oulu vocational college
One of the most popular bus lines. It starts from the suburb of Haukipudas, which used to be a town of its own but which is part of the city nowadays. It also passes through the somewhat sketchy Toppila suburb and terminates in OSAO, the main unit of Oulu vocational college, which has a cheap cafe and a store full of student-made food and delicacies.
21 - Kiviniemi-Herukka-Toppila-Tuira-City center-Myllytulli-Värttö-OYS-Svaaninsuo
Number 21 is useful in the sense that it passes Tietomaa Science center in Myllytulli, though the line operates only every 60 minutes. This line is also the closest one to the Pateniemi Sawmill Museum.
23 - Ii-Haukipudas-Linnanmaa-Tuira-City center-Raksila-OYS-Oulu vocational college
This line takes you to the municipality of Ii, which has a small, but beautiful old town. It also passes through the hospital and terminates in OSAO, the vocational college.
35 - Kiiminki-Jääli-Tuira-City center-Oulu vocational college
A quite popular bus line, which starts from the neighborhood of Kiiminki, which is similar to Haukipudas since it also was a town of its own in the past.
40/41 - City center-Tuira-Hintta-Myllyoja-Saarela-Sanginsuu-Päivärinne-Muhos
The line takes you to the town of Muhos, which is the hometown of the first ever Miss Universum.
50 - City center-Heinäpää-Limingantulli-Kempele-Zeppelin-Haapamaa
The main bus line to Kempele takes you to Limingantulli, Kempele and the shopping center Zeppelin.
51 - City center-Raksila-Kaakkuri-Metsokangas-Honkanen-Zeppelin-Kempele
Longer, but arguably more interesting line to Kempele as opposed to 50. You see more of new, wooden residential buildings as well as brick ones. Also passes through Kaakkuri shopping hub and Metsokangas, similarly to number 2.
52(/52A) - City center-Heinäpää-Kempele-Tupos-Liminka(-Liminganlahti-Lumijoki)
This line operates to Liminka, which is the home of Liminganlahti, an important bird-watching area. Liminganlahti is only reached by the bus 52A or 53 though. Liminka is also a nice place to visit with historic buildings and points of interest.
54 - City center-Raksila-Tyrnävä-Liminka
This line takes you to Liminka through the rural municipality of Tyrnävä, known for its potatoes. If you want to see real countryside, be sure to take this line.
59 - Bus station-Heinäpää-Oulunsalo-Hailuoto
The longest public transport bus trip in the Oulu area is the bus number 59 which takes you to Hailuoto, the biggest island in the Bothnian Bay. The municipality has about a 1000 residents making it the smallest in Northern Ostrobothnia. It is suggested to take the bus in to the very end of the line to Marjaniemi, since there are the most important sights in Hailuoto. Remember to check the schedules though, the bus doesn't operate too often.
A - City center-Train station-Myllytulli-Värttö
The citybus line takes you to Värttö, next to the quite pretty and old Oulu psychiatric hospital area. You can walk in the area freely, but cannot enter the buildings. It passes through Myllytulli (near the science center Tietomaa) and next to the Oulu prison. The trip costs €1.50.
ZonesPublic transport system Oulun joukkoliikenne is divided up into zones from A to D that radiate from the center. The urban area within about 10-km radius from the city centre is zone A and the regions further from that are B, C and D. Nearly all the hotels, University of Oulu and the main sights are in zone A. The airport, Kempele and Haukipudas are in zone B, Ii, Muhos, and Liminka are on zone C. Only Yli-Ii and Hailuoto are in zone D. The number of zones you travel through during your trip will determine your fare. A detailed map of the zones is found here (PDF).
Some places of interest in each zone:
The whole city center, Nallikari and Hietasaari, University of Oulu, OYS, Limingantulli, Oulu Music Center, Oulu Car Museum, Kaakkuri, Ruskotunturi, Ideapark Oulu, Pateniemi Sawmill Museum, Meritoppila DiscGolfPark, Oulu Climbing Centre
Oulunsalo and Oulu Airport, Turkansaari Outdoor Museum, Kempele and the shopping centre Zeppelin, Haukipudas, Kiiminki and Koitelinkoski Rapids
Ii, Ylikiiminki, Muhos, Tyrnävä, Liminka and Liminganlahti Bay, Lumijoki
Yli-Ii, Hailuoto (kind of)
|Inside A, B, C or D||3.30||1.70|
|Inside A&B, B&C or C&D||5.80||2.90|
|Inside A, B and C or B, C and D||8.30||4.20|
|A to D||10.10||5.10|
With Waltti Travel Card
You can also get a Waltti bus card from Oulu10 which reduces the prices a bit. The card costs €3 and you can load money to it either online or in buses, select R-Kiosks and Oulu10. You can load any amount you want in Oulu10 or the R-Kiosks, but in the buses, you have to round the price you want to the closest €10 (although sometimes the drivers accept €5's, too).
|Inside A, B, C or D||2.05||1.10|
|Inside A&B, B&C or C&D||4.05||2.10|
|Inside A, B and C or B, C and D||6.25||3.15|
|A to D||8.20||4.15|
You can purchase a 24-hour ticket from the app Oulu Public Transport (by iQ Payments). When you buy a ticket that is valid for more zones, you can still use it to travel between less zones (i.e. when you buy an AB ticket, you can also use it in A or A-City).
|Inside A, B, C or D||8.00||4.00|
|Inside A&B, B&C or C&D||12.50||6.25|
|Inside A, B and C or B, C and D||18.00||9.00|
|A to D||22.00||11.00|
By hop-on-hop-off bus
There is also a new, green double-decker hop-on-hop-off bus Kaarle operating in the summer, with commentary in two languages, Finnish and English.
Both buses originate from the city hall, and there is a ticket booth where you can buy tickets and get free route maps there. Single tickets cost €8/adult and €4/child from 5 to 14. Children under 5 travel for free. Family ticket is €20. Day tickets cost €15/adult and €8/child from 5 to 14. Family ticket is €50. With the day ticket, you can use both Potnapekka and Kaarle as much as you wish.
Both buses have two different routes, City Hall-Oulujoki-City Hall and City Hall-Nallikari-City Hall. The route of Kaarle goes by bigger roads and Potnapekka uses smaller bike lanes/pedestrian streets.
Kaarle Nallikari: City Hall - Tuira - Nallikari - Tuira - City Hall
Kaarle Oulujoki: City Hall - Market Square - Limingantulli - Raksila - Värttö - Myllytulli - Cathedral - City Hall
Potnapekka Nallikari: City Hall - Pikisaari - Nallikari - Market Square - City Hall
Potnapekka Oulujoki: City Hall - Hupisaaret - Värttö - Peltola - Myllytulli - City Hall
By bikeThis "Amsterdam of Finland" is well renowned for its good bicycle routes, which get you around the city easily and safely even through the cold winter. To rent a bicycle, try Pyörä-Suvala, Lekatie 27. If you're staying at Nallikari Camping, Leiritie 10, they also have bikes to rent for visitors, costing €12/day.
When biking, be sure to use the special bike lanes (usually marked with red). You can take the bike through the shopping center Valkea, but you have to walk the bike. It is required to walk the bike through Rotuaari pedestrian street, too, but the locals rarely obey this rule.
Oulu also has an extensive bikesharing system, which opened in August 2019. It has 60 stations with 10 bikes each, and the cost will be €5/day, €10/week and €20/season. After paying the fee, you will be able to bike around for free for 30 minutes, after which it will cost €1/hour. The hourly fee can be avoided by returning the bike in 30 minutes to the station and taking a new one immediately. You will need a debit or credit card in order to rent the bikes.
More information in the webpage.
By trainYou're unlikely to use the train within the city area. However you can ride between Kempele and Oulu on the long distance VR Helsinki-Oulu-Kemi trains, and between Oulu and Muhos on the trains to Kuopio, fares for both routes about €5.
In the summer there are some steam-hauled trains between Kempele, Oulu and Haukipudas, mainly used as an attraction.
By taxiLow-cost taxi service Kyyti is available in Oulu, it offers cheaper combined taxi rides and can be booked using a smartphone and credit or debit card.
Although meant for the elderly, the dial-a-ride service Onni can be used by anyone and can be a great way to get to the destination which is close to the city centre or inside it. Check the schedules here (Click the lines to see the map of the route).
The bus drivers usually speak at least a little English. Order by calling , and give your name, location and destination. It is best to call the ride a couple of days before your trip, but you can also get it right before the ride. The trip costs €3.30 for adults and €1.70 for children.
- (Kauppatori) is a hotch-potch of styles: old red granaries, renaissance revival architecture and 1970s brutalist concrete. But during the brief warmth of summer, its terraces, cafes and market booths are busy and lively, though the main market hall is closed in 2019 for re-building. The area is presided over by Toripolliisi, the often photographed statue of the Market Square Policeman. He's a squat stubby young-old figure, as if weighted down by his responsibilities.
phone: +358 44 7037471address: Kasarmintie 7Two-storey museum with a wide variety of modern artwork. Around 8 exhibits a year. Plenty of information in English, except for small, temporary exhibits.
address: Nahkatehtaankatu 2The oldest science museum in the country, mostly kinematic and interactive, great for pre-teens but plenty for adults to enjoy. It is partially located in the former Åström leather factory, and you can ride the glass lift up the 19th-century brick water tower.
Oulu CastleThe castle was damaged by attack in the 18th C and finally blown to pieces in 1793 when lightning struck the gunpowder magazine. What you see now is the maritime observatory built on the ruins; it's set in a pleasant park, and you can climb the tower for views. There's a café (Tähtitornin kahvila) within. The cellar (same hours) displays info on the castle - mostly in Finnish, but there's more in the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum.
Oulu CathedralNeoclassical Lutheran cathedral built in 1832 after its predecessor burned down. The architect Carl Ludvig Engel also designed the buildings of Senate Square in Helsinki.
- Franzénin puisto is the leafy little park facing the cathedral, with the statue of Frans Michael Franzén (1772-1847), an Oulu-born poet. The statue is also the eldest public monument in town.
phone: +358 8 5521 600address: Automuseontie 1A car museum with 40 cars and 20 motorcycles and some traffic related paraphernalia on display. A couple of really interesting vehicles like the largest car ever built in the Nordic countries (a truck for a dam company), the remains of a Ford "killed in action" during WW2 and a "motorcycle" where the rider sits inside a large wheel. The car museum also has a restaurant open for lunch.
Hupisaaret park, Fountains and salmon stairsThe beautiful park of Hupisaaret (lit. Fun Islands) is a lush area with little paths and bridges crossing beautiful little streams. The longest fish path of Finland, 750-m- and 64-stairs-long fish path is on the northern part of Hupisaaret park. Take a picnic or just stroll around the renovated park where you can also find the soon-to-be-mentioned Northern Ostrobothnia Museum. Tietomaa and Oulu Museum of Art are also found near the park.
phone: +358 44 703 7161A great museum on the history of Northern Ostrobothnia, especially the history of Oulu. Exhibitions on four floors.
Paska Kaupunni graffitiaddress: Uusikatu 22This iconic graffiti (or at least the nickname which Oulu got from it) is known all around Finland. The term "Paska kaupunki" literally means "Shitty city", and it was adopted from the song with the same name by Kauko Röyhkä. The graffiti appeared on the wall at some point in the 80s, and after this, the graffiti has been removed numerous times but it has always reappeared on the same spot. The condominium owning the wall has even thought of framing the graffiti or protecting it in other ways since it has become one of the symbols of Oulu. As implied before, this isn't a site funded or even initiated by any official or commercial agent, so the presence of it can't be assured. Although, the drawing or painting of it has become an urban tradition, and if removed, it is almost certainly always remade in some form after a few days from its removal.
- Madetojan & Pokkisenpuisto are the little parks along the stream just north of the centre, divided by Aleksanterinkatu. The statue is of Leevi Madetoja (1887-1947), an Oulu-born composer who ranks alongside Sibelius.
KruununmakasiiniIn Sweden (to which Finland belonged from the 1300s to 1809), a "Kronomagasin" was a state-administered warehouse in which grain and other foodstuffs collected as tax were stored. Unfortunately, one can't go inside the warehouse any more since today it functions as an office for an architecture company. It is worth checking out from the outside though, the old wooden building sticks out amusingly from the 1980s apartment buildings and offers a reminder of the historical aspects of the city.
address: Maunonkatu 1The Finnish Co-educational Lycée of Oulu was established and opened in 1902 as a private Finnish-language lycée. It was the first co-educational upper secondary school in Oulu, a progressive learning institution at the time since both boys and girls studied in the same school. The students of today keep up the progressive spirit in the school with a wide distribution of information on gender and sexual neutrality and diversity. The school is said to have the best team spirit in Oulu. Nowadays the school also is one of the most appreciated upper secondary school in the city and it emphasizes wide-scale art education. As pretty as it is from the inside, not entering the building without a reason is appreciated since it is reserved for students doing their schoolwork. You can admire the building from the outside. The school building was finished in 1908, and the Jugend style building is a rare find in town. As well as many other buildings in Oulu, the school is said to be haunted. There is also a quarter of pretty wooden buildings and a big park with a children's traffic playground near the school.
phone: +358 50-316-6897address: Pikisaarentie 6The Sailor’s Home Museum is on the idyllic island of Pikisaari near downtown Oulu. The museum is in the oldest surviving wooden building in Oulu, also known as Matila House, and is the former home of sailor Isak Matilainen.
The Groke StoneThe urban artwork "Mörkökivi" is known amongst the locals, but not so much advertised to travelers. The reason probably is that it is not an official artwork, the artist is unknown, and, to be fair, it is just a simple stone with some paint on it. Yet it is a sympathetic little artwork, even said to be "The pole of Oulu" (figuratively) by some. It depicts a Moomin character "The Groke" and is on the top of the bigger-than-average-sized hill (for the of the flat terrain of the seaside city of Oulu, that is). Definitely not the most touristic attraction (or actually virtually unknown), but still liked by most locals. Best to use an appropriate map to find a route!
The Blue Houseaddress: Valtatie 42The Blue House is the former home of the Finnish teacher, ethnographer and writer Samuli Paulaharju. Paulaharju lived there from his birth in 1919 until his death in 1944. The year of construction of the house is unknown, but the log structure of the house is probably from the end of the 19th century, and the house is said to be haunted. The building sticks out from the newer, blocky apartment buildings well. Again, not the biggest attraction for tourists, but if you have some extra time and are interested in history, be sure to check out the building.
Old and new OuluThe historic northern part of the city center offers architecture from the 19th century, by architects like Carl Ludvig Engel and Johan Jacob Ahrenberg. In order to see chraming, old wooden buildings, head out to the neighborhoods of Raksila and Pikisaari. The Kasarmi neighborhood offers some historically important buildings since it used to be a barrack area, built in 1881.
Most of older Tuira has already been torn down, but some old hospital buildings still remain in the Tuiranpuisto park.
Catch the bus number 23 to the nearby town of Ii to see the old neighborhood of Iin Hamina. The buildings there are built right next to each other, creating small alleyways between the houses.
For newer architecture, the neighborhood of Toppilansaari is a go-to destination. It is under construction, so expect to see cranes at work. The same goes for the newer part of the Hiukkavaara neighborhood.
phone: +358 44 703 7191address: Turkansaarentie 165Turkansaari is a nice open air museum with pretty old wooden buildings showing glimpses of local history. The museum is located on three islands in the Oulujoki River 12 km upstream from downtown Oulu. The museum is the s second-oldest open air museum in Finland. It was officially established in 1925 when the island's wooden church dating back to 1694 was restored to its original location. The museum islands host a number of old buildings relocated to the museum to save them from demolition. When the weather permits, coming to the outdoor museum by bicycle is recommended. The total distance from the city center is 16 km.
phone: +358 8-347834address: Liisantie 2Said to be the prettiest church in Oulu, and definitely stands out from its surroundings.
phone: +358 50 316 6898address: Sahantie 21A museum of industrial history in Oulu. The museum is located in an old drydock storage building.
address: Kaarlenväylä 2Plays in Finnish.
address: Torikatu 32Completed in 2007, Plaza movie theater features one of the biggest movie screens in Finland. Most of the movies shown on theater's eight screens are original English versions and are subtitled in Finnish and Swedish, though some children's movies are dubbed in Finnish.
phone: +358 8 554-2711address: Kalliotie 6The oldest still functioning (yet very modern) movie theater in Oulu, Star movie theater features 3D digital movies. Most of the movies shown on the theater's three screens are original English versions and are subtitled in Finnish and Swedish, though some children's movies are dubbed in Finnish. Star was nominated as Finland's most disabled-friendly establishment in 2007.
Rotuaariaddress: KirkkokatuFrom the French word trottoir, meaning pedestrian street, this is the main shopping street of the city a place for live entertainment mainly during summertime, but also on weekends all year round. Part of the street was renovated and refitted with heating in 2011, which should keep the street ice free even during the coldest winter months.
NallikariA summer visit is preferred, but you can bathe outside all year round in Eden spa's cozy temperature of +26°C. A bone-chilling dip in the freezing Oulu river can also be taken at the swimming spot of Tuira all year round.
Cycle or walkIn the summer, rent a bike or walk to the beach in Tuira on the north side of the river Oulujoki, a popular place with locals, passing through Ainola park and over the dam on the way. From there head eastwards, crossing back to the south side of the river and onwards to Värttö. Visit Koivurannan kahvila in an old house by the river, Kasamintie 51. Then head back to the center for a total of 8km trip or take the bus number 7, 9 or 10 back to the center.
phone: +358 400-599-932address: Koskitie 58A floating public sauna, open during June, July and August. Run by volunteer workers.
phone: +358 40-556-7533address: HietasaarentieVauhtipuisto amusement park is a family hangout, a fun park in Hietasaari area close to downtown of Oulu that is created for all children and childlike minded. Vauhtipuisto creates memorable experiences and offers a large variety of rides and attractions for the youngest members of the family and for the bit older ones. Vauhtipuisto doesn't offer as thrilling experiences as a proper amusement park, but it is a nice place to visit, especially for those with small children. Admission to the park area is free. Admission to attractions is either by individual ticket or by a wristband. The core and the main attraction of Vauhtipuisto has from the very beginning been a little playground for the little ones offering impulses for games, playful interaction and do-it-yourself activities and experiences. You can find bouncy castles, a mini train, merry-go-rounds, car tracks, mini roller coaster, fairytale track, a Kakaravaara playhouse village and many more exciting things
phone: +358 40-178-1341address: RuskotunturintieA new, small skiing center in the suburbs of Oulu. Features regular slopes, children's slopes and two snowparks for freestyle skiing. You can spend a day in the winter if you are a beginner downhill skier or just want to do something physical for a day. Not exactly a skiing trip destination, since the hill itself is only 50 m tall and the longest slope is 390 m. In the summer, Oulu Action Park operates some activities (such as paintball and gravity races) there, but the main focus is on the skiing centre.
address: PaalikatuA disc golf track in the suburb of Toppila. Bring your own frisbees.
- Stroll along the City Stream (Kaupunginoja/Plaanaoja) and see all the different parks and statues alongside it.
phone: +358 45-180-1403address: Paakakatu 7A climbing center inside the former power station building of the former Toppila pulp mill in Meri-Toppila, Oulu. A fun and safe climbing experience for everyone. Features a bouldering hall with 300 m² of climbing wall + warm-up room, campus board, fingerboards, gymnastic rings and a smaller separate training wall and an Autobelay wall with five lines for climbers that go all the way to 12 m. The rope hall is 16 m high and you can climb both top rope and lead.
phone: +358 400-551-975 (mobile)address: PikkukankaantieA considerably expensive "adventure park" near the main swimming pool of Oulu. The park's courses are mainly located many meters high up on the trees where you move with, e.g., cable ropes. A fun and exciting experience for everyone.
phone: +358 41 433 8602address: Kiikeli & NallikariThe Oulu River delta offers an exceptionally good frame for stand-up paddling and kayaking, so why not try it out? The boards/kayaks are easily rented in either Kiikeli or Nallikari, although the former one has better selection. Use the internet reserving system (http://www.lappis.fi/index.php/sup-varaus-online/) or call the renting company to assure that there are boards available for you.
Public swimming pools
phone: +358 8 558-48100address: Pikkukankaantie 3One of the largest public swimming pools in Finland. In addition to the pools facilities include separate gyms for weight training, gymnastics, judo and boxing. Cafe upstairs with a view to the pools.
Raatti swimming poolphone: +358 8 558-48105Public pool and gym. Smaller than Oulu swimming pool, renovated in 2010.
address: Kansankatu 47Indoor minigolf, air hockey and fussball tables. Megazone is a futuristic laser tag adventure mainly for groups, with a possibility of playing with random others
address: Isokatu 97Over twenty bowling lanes near the city center. €15-18 per hour per lane, plus €2.50 for shoe rental. Also pool and snooker tables.
phone: +358 10-325-2400address: Tyrnäväntie 16Indoor activity park for all the family. The Freestyle Hall boasts a skate and scooting park, the extremely popular AirTrack tumble track, and a range of ramps and trampolines. The Game Arena features a hockey radar, disc golf, and basketball for those with a competitive streak. The Adventure Area has climbing walls, exhilarating slides, and a pedal car track. SuperPark Oulu also has a play area called Adventure City for small children.
- Snow sculpture competition is held at Nallikari winter village, 4 km west of the centre. The last was on 20-24 Feb 2019, dates for 2020 tba.
- Snowmobile races are at Raksila Stadium just east of the centre. The last was on 22-23 Feb 2019, dates for 2020 tba.
- Winter music festival is held at various city venues in late March, programme for 2020 tba.
- Hässäkkäpäivät is punk and hardcore music in early July. The last one was held 5-6 July 2019.
- UFOP - Uleaborg Festival Of Psychedelia - is a modern music and art event at Tukikhota, northern part of the city, in mid July. The last one was held 12-13 July 2019.
- Qstock is a rock festival held in the Kuusisaari and Raati areas of Oulu in late July. The last one was held 26-27 July 2019.
- Oulu August Festival takes in some half-a-dozen events over the month. Those held in 2019 included:
- Oulu Market Hall is closed for rebuilding in 2019.
address: Kaakkurinkulma 4Very large home-electronics 8 km from Oulu center. The best spot for electronics, computers, digital cameras, mobile phones, etc. in Oulu.
ZeppelinThe largest shopping mall of northern Finland with over hundred different stores.
Ideapark Ouluaddress: Ritaharjuntie 4950 shops, 10 km from the city center.
Shopping Centre ValkeaA shopping center in the heart of Oulu that opened in 2016. It offers a warm, covered street "Kesäkatu" (which is part of a public street in Oulu), and a number of shops and cafes on both sides of it. This is the place for most young people to hang out in town. Usually safe, but has gained a bit of a bad reputation due to the cases of harassment of young girls and drug sales on the "summer street". Nonetheless, the presence of security guards has been increased when these defects have been surfaced, and the shopping centre is still a safe place to visit.
phone: +3583 050305address: Nuottasaarentie 4A competitor of Verkkokauppa.com, but closer to the city center
Raksila hypermarketsaddress: Tehtaankatu 1-5The Raksila markets (or more officially the Raksila Mall) are the place to go if you need something from the store for a cheap price. The markets are big, but the cheapest option if you're on a budget. They are found close to the ice hockey rink of Oulu and the city centre. The buildings are definitely a contemporary ensemble from the 1970s, but function well and do their job. The markets are going to be renewed completely by 2021, and they will build brand new ones on the spot of the current-day parking lot.
Due to the limited opening hour culture in Finland, most places in Oulu will close a bit too early for the taste of a foreign visitor. If you are in desperate need of something from the grocery store late at night (which means after 21:00 for Finns) or early morning, the options are narrowed down to some gas station stores like Shell HelmiSimpukka and Neste K (which tend to be outside the city center, usually open until 24:00) and the grocery store Sale Raksila (open 24/7). If you need to get somewhere warm in the middle of the night in the winter, other places that are open 24/7 are the McDonald's at Rotuaari and the "summer street" of the shopping center Valkea (yet no shops there are open in the night). The railway station building is open 04-01:20
BudgetOulu is a place for eating pizza and other fast foods. For €4-7 you can get a pizza with your choice of (usually three) toppings. Try one of the more interesting choices of toppings such as reindeer, kebab and mayonnaise. Also there are many restaurants that have a pizza buffet for €7-12 which includes a drink. A number of restaurants serving international cuisine or fast food are found in Oulu, including Indian, Greek, Mediterranean, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Thai and Chinese kitchens. For American-style fast food there is McDonald's and Finnish equivalent Hesburger, but best burgers can be had at a tiny and ever-crowded Kauppuri 5 (Kauppurienkatu 5).
address: Hallituskatu 22Some of the biggest pizzas in Finland are served here.
- Stalls on the Market Place have local delicacies such as fried vendace (muikku) or salmon.
address: Aittatori 9They serve pannekoeken - Dutch crêpes - with over a hundred sweet or savory toppings to choose from.
address: Ritaharjuntie 49The pizza buffet chain has one restaurant in Oulu.
Katri Antell-lounasravintolatThe local bakery operates several lunch eateries both in central Oulu and the suburbs.
phone: +358 8 375 768address: Kirkkokatu 8A café in an old building which also serves breakfast and lunch.
phone: +358 8 882-1414address: Kempeleentie 7bSimple cafe serving lunch.
phone: +358 8 333-944address: Kasarmintie 51A café right at the Oulu river. Also has rowing boats for rent.
phone: +358 44-714-0323address: Kahvelitie 1A summer restaurant-cafe in a historic Villa 3km from the city center.
phone: +358 44-788-6760address: Pakkahuoneenkatu 16The most popular café in Oulu is right next to the Sokos Hotel Arina, and is a modern, trendy café with nice staff. Outlets to charge your phone are found on many seats.
phone: +358 44 788 6180address: Otto Karhin PuistoA new, stand-alone park cafe in the centre of Oulu. Lunch and salad buffet available. A popular place for university students and foreigners to hang out in the city centre.
address: Kauppurienkatu 7A modern cafe-restaurant with many power outlets.
phone: +358 20-711-8280address: Torikatu 26A popular cafe-restaurant-pub in the middle of Oulu.
phone: +358 8 530-1640address: Kajaaninkatu 38They do a good Indian lunch buffet for €11. Excellent price to quality ratio on the à la carte menu. Try their garlic chicken tandoori or Lamb Hyderabad.
Mid-rangeDuring lunch time, usually 11:00–15:00, most restaurants serves food for reasonable prices. Lunch restaurants and lists in Oulu can be found at lounaat.info.
For typical, if a bit boring, French-Scandinavian dining, use hotel restaurants, such as Sassi (Radisson Blu) and Frans & Camille Bistro (at the Arina hotel in the town centre).
address: Facing marketplaceGastropub fare in nice surroundings indoors or out, in the corner of the marketplace. Mixed reviews for food quality.
address: Kirkkokatu 55A "taverna" serving Greek food in a Greek-styled environment.
phone: +358 8 311-3191address: Uusikatu 26 2 krs.Large servings of non-nonsense food, steaks and such at reasonable prices. It used to be right across the street from the railway station, but nowadays neighbors the Forenom apartment hotel.
address: Pikisaarentie 2Finnish "countryside food" restaurant on the island of Pikisaari, accessible by pedestrian bridge from the Market Square. It operates in a former storage building, which is one of the oldest buildings in Oulu. The seaside outdoor seating is a nice place to dine in the summer.
phone: 0207 9282 00 (extra charge)address: Kauppurienkatu 12An atmospheric cellar restaurant in the heart of Oulu.
address: Aittatori 4-5Pricey but consistently high quality food, service & ambience.
Ravintola Puistolaaddress: Pakkahuoneenkatu 12-15Good Scandinavian food, but it's the pizza and pastries that draw most admiration.
address: Isokatu 13Classic Finnish food, lunch is good value for money.
Drinking in Finland can be an expensive activity, a typical pint (either 0.4 or 0.5L) of domestic macro lager is typically around €6 and up. Typical Finnish beer is European lager, but also more interesting Finnish craft beer is available at a few pubs, as is imported stuff. Do try lonkku, a long time Finnish favorite long drink of gin and grapefruit juice.
1baraddress: Kauppurienkatu 5Probably the best cocktails in town, a small dancefloor, sofas and electronic/rap/house music.
phone: +358 8 881-1845address: Saaristonkatu 12Open every night. Weekdays gigs and meeting place of modern drunkards after 01:30, weekends crowded.
phone: +358 8 312-3100address: Kirkkokatu 15Nice bar on the 1st floor and a night club underground. Also, the Tex-Mex-style kitchen is open M–Th 11:00–00:30, F–Sa 11:00–23:30, Su 12:00–23:00.
Caiophone: +358 8 556-2286address: Sammonkatu 10Nice and quiet bar with music, billiards and food near the University of Oulu.
address: Saaristonkatu 5Cozy pub with atmosphere and a fireplace.
address: Asemakatu 20Hard Rock / Metal club. €1 beer on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays til 01:00.
address: Kauppurienkatu 6Genuine Oulu. Pub downstairs with warmed up patio offers the authentic overview of locals. Nightclub upstairs attracts younger clientele and exchange students. Long queues weekends, so arrive early (before 23:00) to avoid waiting.
address: Kauppurienkatu 5If you fancy cocktails, this is the place to go. Some cocktails include a fire-breathing display.
phone: +358 8 311 7993address: Kirkkokatu 10Irish-style pub with the best selection of beers in the city. Very crowded on Friday and Saturday nights.
Sarkkaaddress: Hallituskatu 13-17You think you are pro? Come here at 9AM and see if you have what it takes!
address: Mäkelininkatu 13A small gay friendly nightclub. Fresh decor.
phone: +358 20-757-4700address: Kasarmintie 13One of the cheapest, yet most historical hotels in Oulu. It's in Hupisaaret, the recreational area of Oulu, 1 km from center.
phone: +358 44-703-1353address: Leiritie 10Absolutely the cheapest place to stay in Oulu. It's next to Nallikari beach 4 km from center. 79 cottages with shower, toilet, cooking equipment and television. No breakfast served, but you can purchase breakfast at nearby Hotel Eden. Bus number 15 takes you to the city center.
Kempeleen Moottorimajaphone: +358 8 515-566address: Sohjanantie 3, KempeleClean rooms with refrigerator, microwave oven, coffee machine and television. Breakfast €4/person. The motel is 9 km south from the city center, access by car, buses no. 50 and 52(A/K) or taxi.
phone: +358 8 522-11address: Asemakatu 31–33Good value for money, a clean and modern hotel in the city centre. There are 70 rooms, some are tiny.
phone: +358 8 882-7111address: Kajaaninkatu 17Clean, efficient mid-range hotel, central location, good for business or leisure visit.
phone: +358 8 514-5100address: Vihiluoto 10A decent hotel 5 minutes drive from the airport. With Spanish restaurant El Sabor.
phone: +358 20-198-3420address: Uusikatu 26Apartment hotel in the ex-premises of Omenahotel Oulu. 123 rooms, free Wi-Fi and shared kitchen and laundry room. Rooms include code lock, coverlets and towels, WC and shower, hairdryer, TV, microwave, fridge and electric kettle.
phone: +358 20-123-4905address: Holstinsalmentie 29Spa hotel on Nallikari beach. Good for beach activities, hotel is tired-looking.
phone: +358 8 887-7666address: Hallituskatu 1Closed for rebuilding.
phone: +358 8 543-1000address: Saaristonkatu 4A new but pricey hotel of the Scandic mid-range chain in the city centre.
phone: +358 8 8811110address: Kirkkokatu 3Slick modern hotel.
phone: +358 8 3123 111address: Pakkahuoneenkatu 16A modern, cosy hotel with the best location in town. Right next to everything important. If you're traveling to Oulu to see the Air Guitar World Championships, this hotel is next to Rotuaari Stage, the competition venue. It is quite expensive, though, the most basic room costs around €120/night. There are two restaurants in the same building as the hotel and multiple others right around the corner. The nearest normal bus stop is 250 m away, and a citybus stop is found right outside the door.
phone: +358 75 325 7605address: Kirkkokatu 54A historic hotel-restaurant opened for hotel use in 2018. The building used to be an eldercare home ("De gamlas hem" is Swedish and means "home for the elderly").
Oulu is, on the whole, a very safe city, but avoid getting into arguments late in the night in fast food joints. Pickpocketing is remarkably rare, but it doesn't harm you to keep an eye on your belongings just like in any other place.
Even though crime, especially towards foreigners, are rare, Oulu has experienced a lot of bike thefts, so make sure to keep your bike locked when you go shopping etc.
There can be some drunks in the "summer street" of Valkea, Rotuaari, Mannerheim park and some other places in the city center, but they shouldn't cause any harm to travelers.
The police are helpful and friendly, although some might lack English skills. If you have non-emergency cases or questions, you can contact the police department of Oulu at . The police office is temporarily found on Saaristonkatu 8.
For non-emergency but urgent cases, contact the number for a free evaluation of the situation.
If you are suffering from some of the following symptoms on your travel in the Oulu area, get to the emergency help center of Oulu University Hospital immediately: severe chest pain, new paralytic symptoms, profuse bleeding (e.g. vomiting blood; a big, open wound), severe trauma, losing consciousness, sudden mental confusion or delirium, sudden and severe headache, breathing difficulty, sudden severe or worsening stomach ache, severe earache to which painkillers haven't affected.
If you are unsure about calling the emergency number 112, it's always better to call than to not call.
Remember that the emergency center is not a health center, but a place where urgent and severe cases are resolved and/or treated. With smaller, non-urgent cases, try to call .
Oulun Yliopistollisen Sairaalan päivystysphone: +358 8 315-2655address: Kajaanintie 50, entrance A1Oulu University Hospital is the main hospital in Northern Ostrobothnia and the biggest hospital in Northern Finland. The waiting times can be long, but the more urgent your situation is, the less you have to wait.
The tourist information centre has a computer with free internet access.
Usually, there is free internet in cafés, although the connections might not be the strongest in the world.
- Hailuoto is the largest island in the Gulf of Bothnia and a good destination for a day trip. Accessible by a free of charge ferry, either with own car or by bus. In February you can drive there on an official ice road (dates varying by year).
- Iso-Syöte on the way to Kuusamo is the closest destination for downhill skiing and the southernmost fell of Finland. Here are also Syöte national park, Iso-Syöte national hiking area and Pikku-Syöte recreational forest. Koskilinjat arranges day trips to the slopes during the winter season.
- Kuusamo by Finland's eastern border is a gateway to Lapland, with the ski resort Ruka, the legendary Karhunkierros hiking route (80 km) and Oulanka national park.
- Koitelinkoski-rapids of Kiiminkijoki-river, about 25 min by car from Oulu.
- Ii has a beautiful old town and is 35 km away.
- Helsinki, the capital of Finland