Rantakatu street by night

Oulu (Swedish: Uleåborg) is a city of more than 190,000 inhabitants in Oulu province, Northern Finland. As a result of two consolidations of neighbouring municipalities, first Ylikiiminki on January 1st 2009, and then Haukipudas, Kiiminki, Oulunsalo and Yli-Ii on January 1st 2013, Oulu is now the fifth most populous city in Finland, with land area of over 3,000 square kilometers.


Midnight sun shining over Oulu

Oulu is the capital of the province of Oulu and the region of Northern Ostrobothnia. It is the fifth largest (third largest if you include Espoo and Vantaa in Helsinki) city in Finland, and the largest and most important in Northern Finland. Population density is low as the land area is 5-10 times the size of other similar sized cities in Finland. Oulu is known for its high-tech focus, with free wireless internet access, Panoulu, in the city center. A lot of Finnish IT companies, including Nokia, have offices in Oulu or nearby areas. Oulu is also home of Oulun Kärpät, successful hockey team playing in finnish league, Liiga.

Oulu Cathedral
Oulu City Old Library

Get in

By plane

Oulu Airport is the busiest in the country after Helsinki, and the Helsinki-Oulu sector is the country's most popular domestic flight with frequent services (around 10 flights per day each way) on Finnair and Norwegian. A fully flexible return economy ticket might cost more than €200 but a non-changeable one-way ticket can go as low as €39 or a return ticket for €78 when bought months in advance. Norwegian is often cheaper, but airlines compete on price for this route so be sure to check Finnair, too. There are also some services to Stockholm on SAS.

The terminal has recently been expanded and now has jet bridges to get you in the planes without having to walk in the freezing cold tarmac. The airport has an automatic map dispenser that provides free maps, but sometimes it doesn't work.

Bus 9 (Adult €5,80, child 2,90) connects the airport to the city center in 40 minutes. Buses operate quite frequently from 06:25 to about 21:00 on weekdays. After 21:00 buses operate infrequently to 01:30. A taxi will cost you around €30 for the same distance. To get to Oulu university, change to bus Nr. 1 (Jylkynkangas), 2 (Ritaharju) or 3 (Ritaharju). Bus to university costs €3.30 for adult and €1.70 for children.

By train

Oulu is on the railway main line between Helsinki and Rovaniemi. The fastest Pendolino trains complete the journey from Oulu to Helsinki in about 6 hours (starting at €24.50 when bought in advance), while direct sleepers take around 9 hours (€21.50 when bought in advance, or €64 plus optional sleeper at €12-€31 per bed, advance ticket don't allow the booking of a bed). The newest type of sleeper train carriages have a shower and a toilet in each 2-person cabin. As when going to Rovaniemi, you can also take your car with you on the overnight train.

The Saver ticket is always the most affordable choice. Only a limited number of Saver tickets are available and no discounts are offered for them. The Saver ticket is the perfect choice, letting you choose your travel dates flexibly. Saver tickets are offered 60 days before your departure. You can change your ticket for 5 € and pay a 10 € Cancellation insurance.

You can buy tickets from train station or from vr.fi

By bus

Trip duration from Helsinki varies between 8 and 15 hours and costs around €70-80, but using cheaper Onnibus, you can get trip with a price as low as 15€. Timetable and information from Matkahuolto and Onnibus

Get around

By foot

For being the fifth largest city in Finland the city center is small compared to, say, Tampere or Turku. The whole of the city center is easily walkable.

By bus

Public transportation is operated by Oulun Joukkoliikenne. Single ticket (kertalippu) within about 10km from the city center 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. 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. Bus drivers usually understand some English, but best plan your trip beforehand. The site jl.oulunliikenne.fi should show the buses on map in real-time, but it doesn't always do that. Few third-party phone apps like Nysse do the job better. There is screens on bus stops that use this technology.

Public transport system Oulun joukkoliikenne is divided up into zones from A to D that radiate from the centre. The urban area within about 10 km radius from the citycentre 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 is in zone D. The number of zones you travel through during your trip will determine your fare.

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. Validity of A-City ticket is 30 minutes.

Zones Adult Child
Citybuses 1,50 1,50
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

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 stone ball at Rotuaari (at the center of Oulu) and the journey lasts about one hour. You can hop off and in on the way.

By bike

Oulu is 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.


Dockyard & Old Buildings


The city theatre

Public swimming pools

Indoor Activities




Oulu is a place for eating pizza and other fast foods. For as low as €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 around €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).


During the lunch time, usually from 11AM to 3PM, 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, hotel restaurants such as Sassi (Radisson SAS) and Fransmanni (at the recently-built Arina hotel in the town center) provide.


Good experiences in a bit more upscale dining would be either Uleåborg or Puistola Dining, for a bit more affordable but still nice dining head near the Oulu Cathedral to Ravintola Hella.


Drinking in Finland can be an expensive activity, a typical pint (either 0,4l 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.





Stay safe

Oulu is on the whole a very safe city, but avoid getting into arguments late in the night in fast food joints.


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.

Go next

Routes through Oulu

Tornio Ii  W  E  Raahe Turku
Rovaniemi Ii  N  S  Jyväskylä Helsinki

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 15, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.