What to visit in Oulu?
Updated: Jun 7
Oulu, Finland's fourth-largest city, offers urban culture and a convenient starting point for exploring the exceptional nature of Northern Finland and Lapland. Sure, Oulu is more famous as a tech hub and business city, but there are still plenty of exciting things to do in Oulu to keep tourists entertained for a few days! Beautiful parks, waterfront beauty, Nordic design, and relaxing cafes characterize prosperous Oulu, ideally located on the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia. Let's go exploring in Oulu!
Discover with us:
What not to miss?
Just across the river from Oulu's Market Square, a tranquil wooden town and industrial area await visitors - easily connected by a flashy modern bridge, no less! Pikisaari was named after the pitch distillery established here in the 17th century; the neighborhood also housed a vital boat building at the time. Many of Oulu's oldest wooden buildings can now be found here, though many were destroyed by the British during the Crimean War in 1854.
Since the Arts and Crafts School of Oulu took over the site of the former wool mill in the 1970s, many of Pikisaari's residents are active artists and craftsmen. There is a lovely café, a fine dining restaurant, parks, beaches, outdoor walkways/cycle paths that follow the riverside, and a cute artisan crafts store.
Nallikari, a seaside resort popular as a local 'living room' year-round, is only a 45-minute walk from Oulu City Center. Sunbathers flock to this one-kilometer-long sandy beach during the summer, and the area is crowded with cyclists, beach volleyball players, and families all enjoying the warm weather. In the winter, however, the sea freezes over into solid ice, and you can walk on it, try ice fishing, or practice your photography with this strange landscape.
Tietomaa Science Centre
The Tietomaa Science Centre, Finland's first science center, opened in 1988 and continues to provide visitors with an unforgettable experience and a fun environment for learning, having fun, and engaging in entertaining exploration. The Science Centre Tietomaa was one of Oulu's most highly recommended attractions. With over 150 interactive attractions and demonstrations spread across its themed exhibitions. Every year, the Science Centre Tietomaa opens new exhibitions exploring various science and technology fields. Our favorites were the M.O.B sea-themed display with its speedboat simulator and the X or Y looking into genetics.
Husky dogs are undeniably cute and cuddly, as well as fierce runners, so it's no surprise that going on a sled dog tour or visiting a husky kennel is one of the best things to do in Oulu. Loihakka, with fifteen years of experience in husky safaris throughout Northern Finland and the Oulu region, is your best bet for wild adventures in Oulu. All their dogs are individuals in their own right, and the team here takes pride in displaying happy, well-cared-for dogs. The latter is always eager to provide visiting explorers with an unforgettable wilderness experience.
Hupisaaret Islands City park
The Hupisaaret Islands are located just outside Oulu's city center and are connected by several small bridges. They are home to various bike paths, museums, greenhouses, and a warm summer cafe. If you are short on time, this is the ideal location for a quick getaway to enjoy the beauty of Finland in all seasons. The Hupisaaret Islands City Park is always a joy to visit, whether it's snow-covered in winter, bright orange and yellow in autumn, or bursting with flowers in spring.
What else to visit?
Lapland Hotels and Sauna
The recently renovated Lapland Hotels Oulu offers you a luxurious stay influenced by the authentic styling, hospitality, nature, and myths of Lapland. It is centrally located, with many top Oulu highlights on your doorstep. Excellent materials, from the pillows to the adaptive mattresses, are central to the concept, and no detail is overlooked. Wirelessly streaming your electronic devices to flat-screen TVs, for example, is simple. A variety of high-quality bath products are available, and a well-stocked mini-bar and mini-store in the lobby offer innovative and tempting Finnish food products. While the atmospheric Kitchen & Bar Oula is known for its exceptional Nordic nature-inspired food and drink menu, I was always drawn to end my night in the sophisticated swimming pool and sauna - uniquely Finnish and the best way to calm and relax before sleeping.
Oulu Market Hall
If you want to discover Authentic Finland, an excellent place to start is with their food - and while I have an obsession with modern fusion dining and innovative restaurants, sometimes the classics can't be beaten. And for this, I present the Oulu Market Hall, a historical gem on Oulu's Old Market Square that opened in 1901. Locals have faithfully flocked to the Oulu Market Hall for over 110 years, as it has always maintained its reputation for high-quality food and craftsmanship. Today, you can find a wide variety of ready-made food products, high-quality raw materials for cooking and baking, fresh bread, fish, meat, cheeses, and even modern Asian flavors.
Finns drink in the winter because there is nothing else to do - and in the brief summer because there is no time to waste! Pubs and bars frequently stay open until late. While Finns are not known for their small talk, if you give them a chance (and perhaps force the first few minutes of conversation), they are proficient in English and, in Oulu, delighted to chat the night away with exciting foreigners. Helsinki may claim to be Finland's nightlife capital, but Oulu has the advantage of a vivacious and adaptable nightlife scene fueled by a large student population. Not to mention that everything is centrally located, making bar hopping and exploring a breeze.
It's easy to see why Finnish design is so popular right now. The design here is a way of life, more than just pretty objects to be woven into life - part of everything around you but never drawing or distracting focus. Attention to detail and quality is essential - and the epitome of good design is an unbreakable timeless quality, which means that when you find something you like, you know you'll have it for life.
People in Finland used to believe that the Northern Lights were caused by the flick of a fox's tail through a snowdrift. While Rovaniemi is a more prominent Aurora spotting location, you can also see the work of this busy little firefox in Oulu during the dark season. If you didn't already know, the aurora borealis is essentially collisions between electrically charged particles emitted by the sun and gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere. Of course, areas free of 'light pollution are the best places to look for the lights, and luckily, Oulu has plenty of dark wilderness on its doorstep.
How to travel there?
Oulu is easily accessible by a variety of modes of transportation. And while you're here, there are plenty of ways to get around. Oulu is easily accessible by various modes of transportation. Oulu is home to Finland's second largest airport, making it easy to reach via a direct Finnair flight. Trains and buses frequently run from all over Finland to Oulu. Taxis, rental cars, and charter services are good options for those seeking independence. Bicycles or public transportation are the best ways to get around the Oulu city center.
When to travel there?
Although it may appear simple, deciding when to visit Finland in search of the best weather can take time and effort. The highest recorded temperature in this country was 37°C in July, while the lowest was -52°C in January. On the other hand, the southwest has the warmest average annual temperatures in the country, ranging from 5°C to 7°C.
Oulu, the best months to visit in terms of temperature are July and August. The coldest months are January and February, with near-constant rain from July to September. Temperatures in July and August average around 16°C, while the thermometer drops to 9°C in September. From December to April, the average temperature does not rise above 4°C, so if you dislike the cold, avoid visiting Oulu in the winter!
Because we all travel uniquely, we have divided the time you will spend in Oulu into three primary groups: nomad, budget, and luxury. We have also divided the time you will spend in Oulu into one-day, three-day, and one-week trips.
A one-day trip will cost a nomad traveler 51 €, a budget traveler 66 €, and a luxury traveler 120 €. If you choose a three-day trip, the cost will be slightly higher: nomad traveler 153 €, budget traveler 199 €, and luxury traveler 360 €. The final option is a week in Oulu, which is becoming more expensive. It will cost 357 € for a nomad traveler, 465 € for a budget traveler, and 840 € for a luxury traveler. As you can see, a few days in Oulu can cost 373 € or 1,100 €, depending on whether you are a frugal tourist or planning a luxurious vacation in Oulu.
Are you asking, for example, how to visit Oulu on a low budget? How can I save money while visiting Oulu? Here are some tips:
Choose between a hostel and a low-cost hotel (from 50-65 €)
Use public transportation (one-way ticket 3.30 €, monthly pass 53 €)
Prepare your own breakfast and dinner (around 11 €)
Select restaurants located outside of the city center and near tourist attractions (a meal in a cheap restaurant should cost about 12 €)
Where to eat & drink?
Food & drinks where you can enjoy Boulis’s fresh lunchbowl, smoothie, or delicious evening snacks and sweets. From our bar, you can get refreshing lemonade, wine, drinks, and beer.
Zivago Gastropub serves the best savory and sweet dishes made with seasonal ingredients, paired with carefully selected wines, handcrafted cocktails, and cold beers. The restaurant itself is interesting to see. Unique details from around the world make your visit memorable. During the months of June and July, Zivago offers a large summer terrace (or patio, as we call it in Oulu) in the heart of the city.
Tuba Food & Lounge is a recycling and eco-friendly culture restaurant. We make extensive use of organic, locally produced, or otherwise discarded ingredients. There is always vegetarian or vegan food available on our menu. We are particularly proud of our sourdough pizzas and handcrafted burgers. Stop by for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. For example, we have a wide selection of Finnish craft brewery products.
Nightlife & drinks
Viinibaari Vox is a chic little wine bar with a large selection and intimate surroundings ideal for chit-chat.
Cafe Kuluma, on the other hand, is a more traditional Finnish bar, famous for its flaming Rammstein drink.
Peppers Karaoke is legendary, and it's a great place to see Finns come out of their shell while belting out Finnish and Western love ballads, or you can dance the night away in pure euphoria at the three-story Mango Nightclub.
For coffee lovers
Kahvila Kiikku is located in the heart of Oulu's central park, Ainolanpuisto. A large playground for children is also nearby. From March to October, this summer coffee shop is open.
Coffee House Café - A heap of knowledge sprinkled with love. This is the essence of Coffee House. So come on in and let the aroma of fresh coffee and a delicious croissant or bagel make you happy. Morning, noon, or night - any time is appropriate.
Oulu is known for its events that are full of crazy creativity and unique culture. The cultural offering ranges from high culture to various subculture branches, as well as everything in between. Which option do you prefer?
Urban Festival Oulu Days
Oulu Days is a city festival with a long history, having been held since 1962. Oulu Days is a festival that encourages everyone to organize an event and submit it to be included in the Oulu Days program. The festival runs from Friday to Sunday on the first weekend of September. The concept of Oulu Days is to be a communal event entity in which various communities collaborate to create the program. Companies, associations, public sector operators, and even private individuals organize Oulu Days events. The festival promotes new urban culture while honoring long-standing traditions.
Oulu August Festival
Oulu August Festival is a collection of six festivals and additional programming that draws approximately 60,000 visitors each year. A month-long cultural celebration includes hundreds of events in Oulu and its surroundings, ranging from music and film to literature and performance arts.
Arctic Food Lab Pop up
Enjoy early autumn and mornings in a local market hall, then visit the Arctic Food Lab pop-up to learn more about arctic food! The pop-up will be open in Oulun Kauppahalli from August 1st to September 3rd. There is information about the Arctic Food Lab, local food, companies that have been presented, and food-related theme days. Live music is performed on Saturdays. Come in and leave your favorite recipe with an Arctic Food Lab twist! During the autumn, the three best recipes - with the freshest touch and imagination - will be published in Arctic Food Lab contents.
We've reached the end of the article about Oulu. This city has an amazing atmosphere and we believe you will love it as much as we did! In the meantime, you can read other articles on our blog. How about Helsinki, Tartu, or Tallinn? Do not forget to follow us @thewalkingparrot to be always updated on the new releases. We will be back soon with a new article!