Oulu is a coastal town situated on the north west coast of Finland, directly north of Helsinki (yet some 370km from the Finnish capital). It’s a town that particularly comes alive in the summer months when many Finns come to the area to do outdoor sports and enjoy the scenery. Oulu is Finland’s most populous northern town and is often referred to as the ‘gateway to the Arctic’. There’s lots of predominantly outdoor activities that are worth making the most of if you find yourself in Oulu – Finnish people are remarkably resilient to the often harsh elements so you won’t get any sympathy of them if you find it too cold!
Where to stay in OuluIn terms of hotels and hostels, Oulu is well catered for. There are several large hotels and various smaller hotels to suit all budgets. Staying with a local in a genuine Finnish house is the perfect way to experience life as a local.
- October 13th is an International Day of Failure in Finland – Finns share their stories of underachievement and lack of success!
- Oulu is one of the world’s largest Arctic cities!
- Donald Duck books were banned in Finland due to the fact that Donald was depicted not wearing trousers.
- Finland is the only country in the world that broadcasts news in Latin!
- Oulu is home to Finland’s best ice hockey team called the Kamrpat (which means weasles!)
Things to see and do in Oulu
Exploring OuluIt’s always nice to walk around a new city and a walk around Oulu will uncover various curiosities, interesting buildings and nice views. The city hall building is quite impressive to look at and you should make the effort to locate it in the city centre. Another building worth admiring is the Market Hall building which has a well-known statue of a policemen in front of it. The old observatory which was built in 1875 is also good to walk to. The building is interestingly designed and was built upon the old ruins of the Castle of Oulu. Oulu is a relatively old city but most of it was unfortunately burnt in a great fire in 1822.
Relax in a sauna!Saunas are very popular with Finnish people and we recommend you visit one during your stay in Oulu! Its common practice to stay in a sauna for a while and then cool off in the cold open air – it’s a familiar sight in Finland to see people naked except for towels sitting in the street! Fishing – a popular pastime! Going ice fishing whilst in Oulu is an activity that comes highly recommended from Wimdu! It’s also a popular activity for locals. Head out onto the frozen Baltic Sea (bring some locals with professional knowledge), dig a hole in the ice and get fishing! Go Arctic!, an organization based in Finland, organise all kinds of activities such as ice fishing so visit their website for more information.
The Teatteri Rio theatre in Oulu is very popular and the venue has a diverse programme of shows, theatre performances, musicals and classical music concerts. The venue has recently been renovated and it sits on the edge of the water – there’s a great evening of entertainment to be had here! The small island of Pikisaari is just a short walk from Oulu’s market square and used to be the industrial district of Oulu. Today a small artist community lives on the island and the old factory buildings have been converted into living accommodation and workshops for artists. There’s also a Seaman’s Home Museum on the island which can be found in the oldest wooden building in Oulu! If you are keen on learning about the local history then the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum will be right up your street! It’s located close to the city’s main church and the museum chronicles the development and history of the city. Did you know the ground around Oulu is still rising as ancient glaciers disappear? You’ll learn about this and much more in the museum. There’s a special section of the museum dedicated to the research of the Sami people who lived in north Finland which was conducted by the researcher Samuli Paulahariu who lived in Oulu.