Oulu – Discover the treasure of Northern Ostrobothnia
Did you know that Oulu, the largest city in Northern Finland, is an old tar town? Founded in 1605, the city is one of the oldest in Finland and offers visitors a bucket full of history, culture, and beautiful nature experiences.
Located in the embrace of the Bothnian Bay, Oulu is also an excellent cycling city. The flat terrain and outstanding cycling network make exploring the city effortless with bikes. So, jump on the back of the bike and explore Oulu with our five tips.
Oulu Market Square
Market Square is the most iconic place in Oulu. At the 120-year-old magnificent Market Hall, you will find seasonal local food, high-quality specialty products, and local traditional dishes ranging from salmon soup to rössypottu (a traditional soup dish from Oulu made of potatoes, pork, and black pudding).
The market hall is guarded by the most famous guy in Oulu, the sympathetic Bobby at the Market Place -statue. Don't forget to grab a friend photo with the chubby Bobby the policeman!
On the market square, you can enjoy a unique time travel to the past, as the old barns by the waterfront create a homely rustic atmosphere. The storehouses have turned into cosy restaurants, charming cafés, and personal small boutiques. Enjoy your coffee break in one of the storehouses and make delightful discoveries of local interior design and crafts in another shed.
Just a stone's throw away from the Market Square lies the picturesque and idyllic artist district of Pikisaari (Pitch island in Finnish). Pikisaari can be easily reached from Market Square via a footbridge. The island is decorated with adorable wooden and brick buildings.
If you're a gourmet, sit down at Sokeri-Jussin Kievari – a restaurant to enjoy delicious dishes conjured up from local and seasonal ingredients. Inside this atmospheric log building, you will find the best local specialties in the city.
From Pikisaari you can easily continue your journey along Korkeasaari Bridge to Hietasaari, where the Nallikari kilometre-long sandy beach, also known as the Nordic Riviera, is located. In the summer, locals gather in Nallikari to enjoy the sunshine, even all day long. In addition to sun worship, you can enjoy many different activities at Nallikari. Beach facilities include numerous beach volleyball courts, a beach football field, fitness equipment, and a huge climbing frame.
One of the most beautiful destinations in Oulu is the Nallikari Lighthouse, where you can enjoy stunning sunsets from the observation deck.
A few steps from the city center to the north lies the green living room of Oulu, the Hupisaari Islands. The Park area consists of islands of different sizes, bordered by small gliding streams. The idyllic atmosphere of the area is highlighted by the cute white bridges that you can cross from island to island.
From the water, you can spot the life of bird families, and on the fish road, you may be able to witness the rise of migratory fish from the sea towards the upper reaches. On the Hupisaari Islands, you can also explore a rose garden and a charming greenhouse, which is open to everyone. So, pack your picnic basket and head to the Hupisaari Islands (which means in fact Fun Islands in Finnish) to enjoy the beautiful nature and have some fun!
When visiting the islands, you'll also have a great chance to feed your culture appetite by visiting some of the museums in the area. Stop by the Oulu Museum of Art, The Northern Ostrobothnia Museum, and the Science Centre Tietomaa.
Perhaps the most unique destination in Oulu is Hailuoto, an island inhabited by approximately 1,000 residents. The island is a national landscape and attracts tourists due to its pristine nature and tranquility. You can travel to this destination either by a car ferry or by boat, as Hailuoto is not connected to the mainland by a bridge.
Hailuoto is a genuine hiker's paradise with its numerous nature reserves, which is why Hailuoto is worth exploring on foot. In addition to the landscape, the absolute bucket list destinations include a fishing village and a Marjaniemi lighthouse.
If you’d like to try something really yummy, check out Hailuodon Halstari, a smokery, which offers mouthwatering smoked fish. At Hailuoto Brewery, you will find organic beers made from local clean groundwater. As a souvenir, the famous traditional pullovers are a must. The local pullover is woven from lambswool, and it is resistant to the sea surfs and wind and heats even when wet.
+ 1 Air Guitar World Championships
At the end of every August, Oulu will be packed with international guests as the World Air Guitar Championships land in the city. The event has been held in Oulu since 1996. This unique event is definitely worth a visit!