- 1 Oulu Tourist Information, Hallituskatu 36 B (right next to the railway station), ☏ , email@example.com. M–Th 09:00–17:00, F 09:00–16:00. Can 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.
Oulu will hold the title of European Capital of Culture in 2026.
The 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 century
It 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".
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 century
Oulu 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 century
During 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 centre.
The 20th century brought industrialisation to the city and the borders became too tight for all population and the city borders were expanded by adding some smaller neighbouring 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. 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 Centre, the annual Air Guitar World Championships, the Starboy tradition, the Oulu dialect and Rössypottu.
Oulu is also one of Finland's "cycling capitals" with over 20% of residents cycling daily - the cold weather notwithstanding. In fact, due to the prioritizing of clearing snow from the main bicycle network, even at temperatures below -20°C you'll see many people out and about on their bikes.
1 Oulu Airport (OUL IATA). The airport is 15 km southwest of the city. It has six Finnair flights a day from Helsinki Vantaa. In summer there are flights from Mediterranean holiday resorts. And that's about all, although the airport website (nothing if not aspirational) list 50 airlines flying here including from 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 min. 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 min. 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 centre at all. The university is on bus route 8, else change downtown to buses 1 (Jylkynkangas), 2 (Ritaharju), 3 (Aaltokangas), 5 (Kaijonharju), 18 (Kaijonharju) or 23 (Haukipudas-Ii): tell the driver "Yliopistolle" (ILL-yo-piss-toll-e) meaning "to the university". You can also take the bus 48 or 52 from other bus stops.
Taxis might cost €35; Otaxi is the main airport operator.
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 by VR run from Helsinki to 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. The cost from Helsinki can be as low as €27 (less than €20 for students with a VR-approved student card) if bought well in advance.
2 Oulu railway station (on Rautatienkatu, just under 1 km east of the market square). station building 04:00–01:20 staffed ticket office M–F 09:00–17:00 otherwise buy from the machines. has a café-kiosk, news stand and luggage lockers. Toilets charge €1. 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.
Trip 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. Direct bus connections are available also from Turku, Jyväskylä, Lahti, Kuopio, Pori, Joensuu, Vaasa and Rovaniemi. Coming via Tallinn or Stockholm, there may be coach connections from the port with arranged transfer, mostly via Kamppi.
From Sweden it is possible to travel to Oulu by changing bus in Haparanda, probably needing a walk to Tornio central bus stop from where you can continue to Oulu. If you arrive from Northern Norway, you need usually to transfer at Rovaniemi, at summertime a direct bus route between Tromsø and Oulu of Eskelisen Lapin Linjat may operate. 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.
There 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.
City parking: Kivisydän underground car park stretches the length of the centre. There are two entrances: Hallituskatu 1, a block north of the market place off Rantakatu, search map for "Kivisydän Torin Ramppi". Hallituskatu 20 is at the junction of Hallituskatu and Uusikatu, search for "Kivisydän Uusikadun Ramppi."
Park & ride: use the free parking lot of Prisma Limingantulli (Nuottasaarentie 1) and take Citybus line C to the city centre. It runs every 30 minutes and costs €1.50 each way, cash and mobile ticket 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 centre, 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."
For 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.
- See also: Finland#By motorised scooter
The public transportation is operated by Oulun joukkoliikenne (Oulu PTA). Single ticket (kertalippu) within about 10 km from the city centre costs €3.30 (€1.70 for children ages 7-16). Between 23:00–04:30 a single ticket costs €6.60, but night services are limited. The bus drivers usually understand some English, but best plan your trip beforehand. To plan your route in the city, use Google Maps' public transport features. It gives you the most convenient route to where you want to go, including walks to/from bus stops, which bus lines to use and where to switch buses. You can also use Oulu's own journey planner, Oulun liikenne, but it's not as good. Few third-party phone apps like Nysse do the job better. The buses have trackers which let the customers see where the bus is on a map and how long you have to wait for it. There are screens on bus stops that use this technology, but the previously mentioned Nysse also takes advantage of this feature (granted you have an internet connection, of course).
You can use the app Oulu Public Transport by iQ Payments or Waltti Mobile by LMJ 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.
There are day tickets available, you can buy them from the tourist information or Oulu10. You can also buy a day ticket for one day from the Waltti Mobile app or 1, 2 or 7 day tickets for zone a from Nallikari Holiday Village.
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).
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"). The loading of value in the buses costs €2 whereas you can load it freely in select R-Kiosks or ticket machines in, for example, Oulu10 (Torikatu 10, but temporarily located in Saaristonkatu 8), Shopping centre Valkea, OYS (the University Hospital), the University and the Airport.
You can also use NFC payment with Visa, Mastercard or Eurocard (Diners Club and American Express do not work) or a mobile device with Apple Pay, Pivo or Google Pay: the payment card or mobile device is displayed to the reader device, which then says "Lähimaksu hyväksytty" ("Proximity payment accepted"). The system calculates the fare combining all trips paid with the card/device: a new single ticket fee will not be charged until the 90-minute changeover period has ended, and a day ticket will be substituted when those are relevant.
Most buses display the information on the upcoming stops, as of May 2021, but it is still good to have a downloaded map with your current location on your phone. The displays are slow, so check the name of the previous stop to yours and press the stop button after that.
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. Taking a folding bike on the bus is free (if the bike is folded, that is) but some bus drivers don't know that (since folding bikes quite rare).
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 centre, 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 (yet nowadays quite peaceful) 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 - Talvikangas-Haapalehto-Myllytulli-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 centre (Heinäpää) and the shopping district of Limingantulli. You can get to the art museum and Science Centre Tietomaa with this bus line.
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-Pateniemi-Rajakylä-Toppila-Tuira-City Center-Limingantulli-Karjasilta-Kaukovainio The line operates only every 60 minutes, but this line is 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. It also passes closest to the Turkansaari Outdoor museum.
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
A longer, but more interesting line to Kempele than 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 cent Tietomaa) and next to the Oulu prison. The trip costs €1.50.
Public transport system Oulun joukkoliikenne is divided into zones from A to D that radiate from the centre. 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:
Zone A: The whole city centre, 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
Zone B: Oulunsalo and Oulu Airport, Turkansaari Outdoor Museum, Kempele and the shopping centre Zeppelin, Haukipudas, Kiiminki and Koitelinkoski Rapids
Zone C: Ii, Ylikiiminki, Muhos, Tyrnävä, Liminka and Liminganlahti Bay, Lumijoki
Zone D: 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 (recommended if you visit Oulu often) 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, previously mentioned ticket machines (or select 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). As mentioned before, loading money in buses costs €2.
|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) or, more newly, Waltti Mobile by LMJ. You can also buy it from Oulu10 and Oulu tourist information, and some options are available in the Nallikari Holiday Village. 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
To get a good look around Oulu, with English commentary, try Potnapekka (in Finnish). Half train, half bus, it operates during summer months (June to August) on two routes, via Nallikari or Hupisaaret, through roads for light traffic. Both routes leave from the city hall (at the centre of Oulu) and the journey lasts about one hour. You can hop off and in on the way.
The bus starts 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.
- Potnapekka Nallikari: City Hall–Pikisaari–Nallikari–Market Square–City Hall
- Potnapekka Oulujoki: City Hall–Hupisaaret–Värttö–Peltola–Myllytulli–City Hall
This "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. Bike paths are cleared of snow in the winter and you usually won't have to have studded tires because the ground is rarely icy or slippery.
When biking, be sure to use the special bike lanes (usually marked with red). You can take the bike through the shopping centre Valkea, but you have to walk the bike. Take care when cycling through Rotuaari pedestrian street, you're required to give way to pedestrians when cycling. There are even experiments with projecting the bike lane signs directly onto the surface — very helpful in winter — but as of early 2021 it's only a trial in one location.
Oulu also has had an extensive bikesharing system, which opened in August 2019. It had 60 stations with 10 bikes each, and the cost was €5/day, €10/week and €20/season. After paying the fee, you were able to bike around for free for 30 minutes, after which it cost €1/hour. The hourly fee could be avoided by returning the bike in 30 minutes to the station and taking a new one immediately. You needed a debit or credit card in order to rent the bikes.
The system was taken down, at least for now, because there were problems with the operator. They're planning on bringing the bikes back, but it is unsure when it will happen. More information in the webpage.
You'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.
- Menevä Oulu, ☏ (head of office), toll-free: 0800-02120 (booking). Also bookable by app or web. Fixed price based on calculated route and time if destination address given when booking by app or web. Flag fall M–Sa 06:00–18:00: €4, other times and holidays: €7; 1–4 persons €0.90/km + €0.90/km, 5–8 persons minimum €20, €1.60/km + €0.90/min (July 2020).
- iTaksi, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Also bookable by app or web. Fixed price based on calculated route and time if destination address given when booking by app or web. €4.00/6.00+€0.90/km+€0.85/min.
- Fixutaxi, ☏ , email@example.com. Also bookable by app. Fixed price based on calculated route and time if destination address given when booking by app. Daily 06:00–18:00 €0.99/km+0.90/min, evenings and nights €1.17/km+€0.99/min, minimum fare €10; prebooking €10.
- Smartphone apps: Valopilkku, 02 Taksi, Uber
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.
Many major car rental companies have offices in Oulu.
- 1 Market Square (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.
- 2 Oulu Museum of Art (Oulun Taidemuseo), Kasarmintie 7 (500 m north of centre), ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. Two-storey museum with a wide variety of modern artwork. Around 8 exhibits a year. Plenty of information in English, except for small, temporary exhibits. €8.
- 3 Tietomaa Science Centre (Tiedekeskus Tietomaa), Nahkatehtaankatu 2 (500 m north of centre, near the Art Museum). M-F 10:00–17:00, Sa Su 10:00-18:00. The 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. Adult €15, child (6-15) €11.
- 4 Oulu Castle (Oulun linna). Cafe daily May & Sept 11:00-19:00, June & late Aug 11:00-20:00, July & early Aug 11:00-21:00 21:00. The castle was damaged by attack in the 18th century 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. Free.
- 5 Oulu Cathedral (Oulun tuomiokirkko). Sep-May: 12:00-13:00, Jun & Aug: 11:00-20:00, Jul: 11:00-21:00. Neoclassical 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.
- 6 Oulu Automobile Museum (Oulun Automuseo), Automuseontie 1 (next to national road 847, 5 km south of the city centre; Buses 9, 50, 52, 59 take you there.), ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-17:00, Su 09:00-15:00 (summer, closed on Sundays in the winter). A 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 World War II and a "motorcycle" where the rider sits inside a large wheel. The car museum also has a restaurant open for lunch. Adults €7, children €5.
- 7 Hupisaaret park, Fountains and salmon stairs (Hupisaaret, kalatie) (a short walk from the city centre). 24 hr. The 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-stair-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.
- 8 Northern Ostrobothnia Museum (Pohjois-Pohjanmaan Museo) (a short walk from the city centre), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. W-Su 10:00-17:00. A great museum on the history of Northern Ostrobothnia, especially the history of Oulu. Exhibitions on four floors. Adults €6, students and seniors €4, children under 18 for free.
- 9 Paska Kaupunni graffiti (Paska Kaupunki), Uusikatu 22 (on a wall right next to the K-Market). 24/7. This 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 1980s, 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.
- 10 Kruununmakasiini (a short walk from Tietomaa). In 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.
- 11 Oulun Suomalaisen Yhteiskoulun Lukio (OSYK), Maunonkatu 1 (a short walk from the market square). The 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.
- 12 Sailor's Home Museum (Merimiehenkotimuseo), Pikisaarentie 6, ☏ . The 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.
- 13 The Groke Stone (Mörkökivi) (In Heinäpää near the bowling hall. A couple of kilometers by walking from the city centre, if you want to lessen the amount you need to walk, take any bus that goes from the bus stop "Virastotalo" to the stop "Harjapuisto E" or then alternatively the Citybus C to "Limingantulli" (a bit longer route). You can drive to the end of Isokatu, there are a lot of free parking there.). 24 hr. The urban artwork "Mörkökivi" is known amongst the locals, but not so much advertised to travellers. 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 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!
- 14 The Blue House (Sininen talo), Valtatie 42 (on the other side of the river, accessible by walking the 2-km trip to Tuira; you can also take the buses 11, 17, 35, 36, and 40 to Kalliola P). The 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. The house is still lived in, so do not enter the yard or the house.
- Old and new Oulu. The historic northern part of the city centre 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 neighbourhoods 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 neighbourhood 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.
- 15 Turkansaari Open Air Museum, Turkansaarentie 165 (the nearest bus stop is 1.5 km away, and buses 41, 41A and 49 take you there; you have to take the bus 40 back to Oulu; easier accessed by car, go toward Kajaani and turn from Turkansaari sign), ☏ . 10:00-18:00. Turkansaari 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 second-oldest open air museum in Finland. It was 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 centre is 16 km. Free entry, except on Midsummer eve.
- 16 [dead link] Oulu Catholic Church (Holy Family Of Nazareth Church), Liisantie 2 (take the bus 10 toward Koskela, and stay at the terminal stop Koskela; the church is 4 km away from the city centre), ☏ . Said to be the prettiest church in Oulu, and definitely stands out from its surroundings.
- 17 Pateniemi Sawmill Museum (Pateniemen sahan museo), Sahantie 21 (10 km from the city centre; the bus number 21 takes you 750 m away from the museum; by car, take the motorway toward Kemi, leave from exit 13 to the left and go forward until the road ends), ☏ , email@example.com. Su-Th 11:00-16:00. A museum of industrial history in Oulu. The museum is in an old drydock storage building.
- 18 Oulujoki church, Oulujoentie 69 (take the bus 7 toward Saarela. Leave at the stop Oulujoen kirkko P; by car, drive toward Kajaani, turn toward Oulunsuu and then from the third exit on the second roundabout), ☏ . Built in 1908, the Oulujoki church is the only remaining wooden jugend church in Northern Finland. It is pretty, and a common wedding church. You can visit the church via Sunday masses at 10:00.
- 1 Oulu City Theatre (Oulun Kaupunginteatteri), Kaarlenväylä 2. Plays in Finnish. Prices vary from €15 to €40 for a single adult ticket. Half-price tickets are available for people under 26.
- 2 Cinema Finnkino Plaza (Elokuvateatteri Finnkino Plaza), Torikatu 32. Completed in 2007, Plaza movie theatre 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. Admission €10.30–13, before 17:00 on weekdays €7. Add €2 for 3D movies. Ticket sets of 5 or 9 tickets are available, bringing the price per admission down to €9.90 or €9 respectively and no extra for 3D showings.
- 3 Cinema Star (Elokuvateatteri Star), Kalliotie 6 (Tuira region, northern-side of Oulu river), ☏ . The oldest still functioning (yet very modern) movie theatre in Oulu, Star movie theatre features 3D digital movies. Most of the movies shown on the theatre'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. Admission €7.5-10. Sets of 5 tickets are available for €37, bringing the price per admission down to €7.4 to all shows except for 3D movies, which cost extra.
- 4 Rotuaari, Kirkkokatu. From 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.
- 5 Nallikari (bus 15 takes you there; by car, head north either via the motorway or the road 8156 toward Tuira and change to the road toward Hietasaari). A 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 walk. In 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 centre for a total 8-km trip or take the bus number 7, 9 or 10 back to the centre.
- 6 Kesän Sauna (Summer's Sauna), Koskitie 58 (By the Tuira beach), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 17:00–19:00. A floating public sauna, open during June, July and August. Run by volunteer workers. €5.
- 7 [dead link] Vauhtipuisto, Hietasaarentie (the bus number 15 takes you to a bus stop which is 250 m from the park; the hop-on-hop-off buses Potnapekka and Kaarle also drive to the park; if you want to save your money, you can walk or bike the scenic route to the park over the river delta; 3 km from the city centre; by car, head north and leave toward Hietasaari), ☏ , email@example.com. 1–27 May: weekends 11:00–18:00; 2 June–12 August: daily 11:00–19:00. Vauhtipuisto 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 €14/20. The park area is free, but the rides cost.
- 8 [dead link] Ruskotunturi, Ruskotunturintie (the easiest way to get there is by your own car, since the nearest public transport stop is 1.8 km away and there's no shuttle service straight to the centre: the buses 1 and 2 operate to the nearest bus stop "Raitotien risteys"/"Raitotie"; Zone A. By car, take the motorway to the north and leave from exit 11; then from the roundabout the first exit toward Rusko), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A small skiing centre 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 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.
- 9 Meri-Toppila DiscGolfPark, Paalikatu (a 5-km bike ride from the city centre, also reachable with the buses 4, 20, 21 and 26). A 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. The park district was built to control mass fires which Oulu experienced a lot. The stream and the parks were lit a couple of years ago with orange/red lighting to commemorate the history of the parks.
- Ghost-hunting. Oulu has been called the ghost capital of Finland with countless buildings said to be haunted. To fill your visit with spiritual activity, stay in the Lasaretti (old military hospital) or De Gamlas Hem (old nursing home) hotel, join the Ghostly and strange stories from Oulu guided walk, visit the ruins of the Oulu castle to catch a glimpse of the Witch Montonen who died in his cell with his face clawed, or have a drink with an eerie man in the pub Jumpru, though no matter how much he drinks, it seems like his pint never empties...
- 10 [dead link] Oulun Kiipeilykeskus, Paakakatu 7 (a 5-km bike ride from the city centre, also reachable with the buses 4, 20, 21 and 26), ☏ , email@example.com. M-F 12:00-21:00, Sa 10:00-18:00, Su 10:00-20:00. A climbing centre 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 and 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. Adult €18, under 18 €15, under 14 €13.
- 11 Adventure Park Huikia (Seikkailupuisto Huikia), Pikkukankaantie (most buses take you there, but at least 2, 4, 8 and 9; Zone A), ☏ (mobile). A considerably expensive "adventure park" near the main swimming pool of Oulu. The park's courses are mainly many metres up on the trees where you move with, e.g., cable ropes. A fun and exciting experience for everyone. €26.
- 12 Kayaking, biking or stand up paddling (SUP), Kiikeli & Nallikari (Kiikeli is an island next to the market place; Nallikari is easily reached by Potnapekka, Kaarle or public transport bus no. 15), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. The 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. SUP €25/hr, €35/2 hr and €50/day.
- 13 Oulu Zipline, Nallikarinranta 15 (Bus no. 15 or walking/cycling from downtown), ☏ , email@example.com. summer. A zipline near the beach in Nallikari. It runs for 250 m along the shoreline. It starts from a 20-m-high tower and ends near the Nallikari lighthouse. It is possible for two people to go at the same time. €20.
- 14 Oulu Water park, Linnansaari (next to the market place, just cross a bridge to the north), firstname.lastname@example.org. In the summer, opens in June. A "water park" meaning a floated obstacle course in the Oulu river delta. Right next to the Oulu castle ruins and cafe, so you can get a coffee or a cold beer after! €12+€5 for cloackroom and wetsuit.
Public swimming pools
- 15 Oulu swimming pool (Oulun uimahalli), Pikkukankaantie 3 (Raksila), ☏ . M-W F 06:15-22:00, Th 07:00-22:00, Sa Su 08:00-16:45. One of the largest public swimming pools in Finland. There is a big pool often reserved for swimming clubs, lap pool, diving boards (not always open), activity pool, water slide, and two pools for children. In addition to the pools facilities include separate gyms for weight training, gymnastics, judo and boxing. Cafe upstairs with a view to the pools. €5.50 for the pools or the gym, if you have an ISIC Student card, then it's €3.20.
- 16 Raatti swimming pool (Raatin uimahalli) (Raatti, northwest from the city centre), ☏ . M W–F 06:15–21:45, Tu 07:00–21:45, Sa Su 08:00–20:45. Public pool and gym. Smaller than Oulu swimming pool, renovated in 2010. Pools include children's pool, teaching pool, two 25 meter pools and a cold-water pool. €5.50 for the pools or the gym, if you have an ISIC Student card, then it's €3.20.
- 17 Pelibunkkeri and Megazone, Kansankatu 47. Indoor minigolf, air hockey and fussball tables. Megazone is a futuristic laser tag adventure mainly for groups, with a possibility of playing with random others
- 18 Oulu bowling alley (Oulun keilahalli), Isokatu 97. Over twenty bowling lanes near the city centre. €15-18 per hour per lane, plus €2.50 for shoe rental. Also pool and snooker tables.
- 19 Superpark Oulu, Tyrnäväntie 16 (Limingantulli; the citybus line C takes you right to the park; or you can use the lines 3, 9, 50, 52, 52K, 53K, 59, or 59S, but using them requires more walking), ☏ , email@example.com. M–F 13:00–20:00, Sa Su 11:00–19:00. Indoor 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. €19.
- Snow sculpture competition is held at Nallikari winter village, 4 km west of the centre. February.
- Snowmobile races are at Raksila Stadium just east of the centre. February.
- 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.
- UFOP - Uleaborg Festival Of Psychedelia - is a modern music and art event at Tukikhota, northern part of the city, in mid-July.
- Qstock is the biggest rock festival in Northern Finland, with as much as 40 000 visitors, held in the Kuusisaari and Raatti areas of Oulu in late July. Mostly Finnish artists, but some foreign artists with usually 1-2 big foreign names performing. 2022 lineup includes Electric Callboy, Limp Bizkit and Stratovarius. €84 (Friday)/€94 (Saturday)/€134 (F Sa). If visiting on Friday, be sure to check out the band Radiopuhelimet. The band has been the final performer of Friday in Qstock every year since the festival's inception.
- Oulu August Festival takes in some half-a-dozen events over the month.
- - Elojazz: jazz gigs in Rauhala area and various parks and bars.
- - Oulunsalo Soi Chamber Music.
- - Literary art festival Muusajuhlat.
- - Koiteli elää! is a small rock festival at the Kiiminki rapids, 20 km northeast of Oulu. Tickets sell out within few minutes, so be quick with it.
- - Air Guitar World Championships reckon to usher in world peace and climate stability by annual frantic mime-guitar.
- - Oulu Music Video Festival.
- Lumo Light Festival (Lumo-valofestivaali) fills the city centre with light artworks for a weekend in late November.
- Oulu Market Hall is closed for rebuilding in 2019.
- 1 Verkkokauppa.com (Verkkokauppa.com), Kaakkurinkulma 4 (Bus zone A). M–F 09:00–21:00, Sa 09:00–18:00, Su 12:00–18:00. Very large home-electronics 8 km from Oulu centre. The best spot for electronics, computers, digital cameras, and mobile phones, in Oulu.
- 2 Zeppelin (at freeway 4, 10 km south of the city. Bus zone B). The largest shopping mall of northern Finland with over hundred different stores.
- 3 Ideapark Oulu, Ritaharjuntie 49 (Buses 2 and 3 to Ritaharju take you to the shopping centre in about 30 min; Zone A). 10:00-20:00, 10:00-18:00. 50 shops, 10 km from the city centre.
- 4 Shopping Centre Valkea (Kauppakeskus Valkea) (150-200 m from the Tourist Info, in the city centre). A shopping centre 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 and youth workers has been increased when these defects have been surfaced, and the shopping centre is a safe place to visit.
- 5 Power Limingantulli, Nuottasaarentie 4 (Citybus line C or 3, 9, 50, 52, 53 or 59), ☏ . A competitor of Verkkokauppa.com, but closer to the city centre.
- 6 Kärkkäinen, Alasintie 12. A controversial department store chain, since it is founded by Juha Kärkkäinen, who has been in collaboration with a national socialist organization.
- 7 Raksila hypermarkets (Raksilan marketit), Tehtaankatu 1-5 (most buses take you there from Kaupungintalo E, including the Citybus B; or you can walk the 1-km trip from the city centre.). Hypermarkets Prisma & Citymarket M-Sa 08:00-21:00, Su 10:00-21:00; the grocery store Sale is open 24/7. The 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 centre, usually open until 24:00) and the grocery store Sale Raksila (open until 24). Three shops (S-Market Kaakkuri, Kastelli and Tuira) have been 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 centre Valkea (yet no shops there are open in the night). The railway station building is open 04:00-01:20
Oulu 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).
- 1 Pizzeria Romeo & Vienna, Hallituskatu 22. Some of the biggest pizzas in Finland are served here.
- Stalls on the Market Place have local delicacies such as fried vendace (muikku) or salmon.
- Pannukakkutalo Renesans, Aittatori 9 (on waterfront by Market Square). M-Sa 11:00-20:00, Su 12:00-20:00. They serve pannekoeken - Dutch crêpes - with over a hundred sweet or savory toppings to choose from.
- 2 RAX Pizzabuffet, Ritaharjuntie 49. The pizza buffet chain has one restaurant in Oulu. Buffet €9.95.
- Katri Antell-lounasravintolat. The local bakery operates several lunch eateries both in central Oulu and the suburbs. Lunch about €6–8.
- Café Provence, Kempeleentie 7b, ☏ . M-F 10:00-14:00. Simple cafe serving lunch.
- 3 Koivurannan kahvila, Kasarmintie 51, ☏ . Open only in the summer months. A café right at the Oulu river. Also has rowing boats for rent.
- 4 Villa Hannala, Kahvelitie 1, ☏ . M–F 10:00–15:30. Only in summertime. A summer restaurant-cafe in a historic villa 3 km from the city centre.
- 5 Coffee House Oulu (Coffari, Koffari), Pakkahuoneenkatu 16, ☏ . M–F 08:00-20:00 Sa 10:00–21:00 Su 11:00–20:00. The 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.
- 6 Puistokahvila Makia (Makia), Otto Karhin Puisto, ☏ . M–Th 07:30–20:00 F 07:30–22:00 Sa 09:00–22:00 Su 09:00–20:00. A 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.
- 7 Café Piha, Kauppurienkatu 7. M–Th 10:00–21:00 F Sa 10:00–24:00 Su 12:00–18:00. A modern cafe-restaurant with many power outlets.
- 8 Café Rooster, Torikatu 26 (Right next to the movie theater), ☏ . A popular cafe-restaurant-pub in the middle of Oulu.
- Ravintola Indian Cuisine, Kajaaninkatu 38 (next to railway station), ☏ . M-Sa 10:30-22:00, Su 13:00-20:00. They 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.
During 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).
- 9 Ravintola Toripolliisi, Facing marketplace. M-Sa 12:00-23:00, Su 14:00-22:00. Gastropub fare in nice surroundings indoors or out, in the corner of the marketplace. Mixed reviews for food quality.
- 10 Crecian, Kirkkokatu 55. A "taverna" serving Greek food in a Greek-styled environment.
- 11 Oskarin Kellari, Uusikatu 26 2 krs., ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 neighbours the Forenom apartment hotel.
- 12 Sokeri-Jussin Kievari, Pikisaarentie 2. Finnish "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. Try out reindeer tongue or blood pudding soup!
- 13 Pannu, Kauppurienkatu 12 (next to the McDonald's in Rotuaari), ☏ 0207 9282 00 (extra charge), email@example.com. M-Th 11:00-22:00, F 11:00-23:00, Sa 12:00-23:00, Su 12:00-20:00. An atmospheric cellar restaurant in the heart of Oulu.
- 14 Ravintola Uleåborg 1881, Aittatori 4-5 (on waterfront by Market Square). M-Th 17:00-23:00, F Sa 17:00-00:00. Pricey but consistently high quality food, service & ambience.
- 15 Ravintola Puistola, Pakkahuoneenkatu 12-15. M-Sa 08:00-20:00. Good Scandinavian food, but it's the pizza and pastries that draw most admiration.
- 16 Ravintola Hella, Isokatu 13. M-Th 16:00-22:00, F Sa 16:00-23:00. Classic 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 and local (breweries Maistila, Sonnisaari and Hailuoto are local) 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.
- 1 1bar, Kauppurienkatu 5. Probably the best cocktails in town, a small dancefloor, sofas and electronic, rap and house music.
- 2 45 Special, Saaristonkatu 12, ☏ . Open every night. Weekdays gigs and meeting place of modern drunkards after 01:30, weekends crowded.
- 3 Amarillo, Kirkkokatu 15, ☏ . Nice 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.
- 4 Caio, Sammonkatu 10, ☏ . Nice and quiet bar with music, billiards and food near the University of Oulu.
- 5 Graali, Saaristonkatu 5. 14-03. Cozy pub with atmosphere and a fireplace.
- 6 Hevimesta, Asemakatu 20. Hard Rock and Metal club. €1 beer on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays til 01:00.
- 7 Kaarlenholvi/Jumpru, Kauppurienkatu 6. Genuine 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.
- 8 Kuluma, Kauppurienkatu 5. 11:00–02:00. If you fancy cocktails, this is the place to go. Some cocktails include a fire-breathing display.
- 9 Oluthuone Leskinen, Kirkkokatu 10, ☏ . 12:00–02:00. Irish-style pub with the best selection of beers in the city. Very crowded on Friday and Saturday nights.
- 10 Sarkka, Hallituskatu 13-17. 09:00–02:00. You think you are pro? Come here at 09:00 and see if you have what it takes!
- 11 Yöhuikka, Mäkelininkatu 13. F Sa 11:00–04:00. A small gay friendly nightclub. Fresh decor. Cloak room €2, entrance free.
- 12 Jumpru Pub, Kauppurienkatu 6, 90100 Oulu, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 12:00-16:30. A reportedly haunted pub in an old with a rich history. Age limit 20.
- 1 Hotel Lasaretti, Kasarmintie 13, ☏ . One of the cheapest, yet most historical hotels in Oulu. It's in Hupisaaret, the recreational area of Oulu, 1 km from centre.
- 2 Nallikari Lomakylä-Camping, Leiritie 10, ☏ . Absolutely the cheapest place to stay in Oulu. It's next to Nallikari beach 4 km from centre. 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 centre. €36/4-person cottage.
- 3 Kempeleen Moottorimaja, Sohjanantie 3, Kempele, ☏ . Clean rooms with refrigerator, microwave oven, coffee machine and television. Breakfast €4/person. The motel is 9 km south from the city centre, access by car, buses no. 50 and 52(A/K) or taxi. Single €25, double €40 or €50, quad €65–75.
- 4 Best Western Hotel Apollo, Asemakatu 31–33, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Good value for money, a clean and modern hotel in the city centre. There are 70 rooms, some are tiny. B&B double €90.
- 5 Scandic Oulu Station (previously Cumulus Oulu), Kajaaninkatu 17 (Two blocks west of railway station), ☏ . Clean, efficient mid-range hotel, central location, good for business or leisure visit. B&B double €170.
- 6 Finlandia Hotel Airport, Vihiluoto 10 (4 km east of airport off Hwy 815), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. reception 07:00–23:00. A decent hotel 5 minutes drive from the airport. With Spanish restaurant El Sabor. Double €100.
- 7 Forenom Oulu Uusikatu (Apartment hotel Forenom), Uusikatu 26, ☏ , email@example.com. Apartment 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. ~€100.
- 8 Break Sokos Hotel Eden, Holstinsalmentie 29 (Nallikari beach 5 km west of centre), ☏ . Spa hotel on Nallikari beach. Good for beach activities, hotel is tired-looking. B&B double €130.
- Radisson Blu, Hallituskatu 1, ☏ . Newly rebuilt, splurge hotel next to the marketplace. Probably the most expensive hotel room in Oulu is found here, with the presidential suite costing around €1000 per night.
- 9 Scandic Oulu City, Saaristonkatu 4, ☏ . A new but pricey hotel of the Scandic mid-range chain in the city centre. Double room €130.
- 10 Lapland Hotels Oulu (formerly Holiday Inn), Kirkkokatu 3 (Next to the cathedral), ☏ . Slick modern hotel. Double €130.
- 11 Original Sokos Hotel Arina, Pakkahuoneenkatu 16 (in the heart of the city centre, about 250 m from the tourist information), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A modern, cosy hotel in the centre of town. If you're travelling 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.
- 12 De Gamlas Hem, Kirkkokatu 54 (about 1 km walk to the south from the tourist information centre; the buses 3, 9, 50 and all 52's also take you there; he nearest bus stop is Kyösti Kallion Puisto), ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. A 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"). A boutique hotel in a protected, supposedly haunted, building. High quality restaurant and conference services available. 14 000 m² of sports services available for hotel guests in the nearby Hukka sports centre. There is also the charming "five o'clock tea" for the hotel guests, included in the room price. €120.
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 centre, but they shouldn't cause any harm to travellers.
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 Kirkkokatu 13.
In case of emergency, contact the emergency number ☏ 112. For non-emergency but urgent cases, contact the number ☏ 116117 (OYS emergency centre) for a free evaluation of the situation.
If you are unsure about calling the emergency number 112, it's always better to call than to not call.
The emergency centre is not a health centre, but a place where urgent and severe cases are resolved and/or treated. With smaller, non-urgent cases, try to call ☏.
- 2 Oulun Yliopistollisen Sairaalan päivystys (Oulu University Hospital Emergency Centre), Kajaanintie 50, entrance A1 (the bus stop name is OYS Päivystys (Eng: Oulu University Hospital ER); all buses with the destination "OYS" go straight to the hospital; there is limited parking available, and it costs €1/hr.), ☏ . 24/7. Oulu 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 panOULU (public access network OULU) network provides wireless broadband Internet access to everybody in its coverage area.
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. The same goes with Oulu PTA's buses.
- 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.
- Vaala municipality on the shores of Lake Oulujärvi about 90 km southeast of Oulu.
- Helsinki, the capital of Finland
|Routes through Oulu|
|Kemi ← Ii ←||N S||→ Liminka → Kokkola|
|END ←||SW NE||→ Pudasjärvi → Kuusamo|