Oulu: the northernmost city in the European Union

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Oulu, the fifth largest city in Finland, is located in the far north, directly on the Gulf of Bothnia. Here, urban life and unique Nordic nature come together in harmony, and there is plenty for visitors to see and experience. Find out everything you need to know about travelling to the “capital of Northern Scandinavia” here!

Why should you travel to Oulu?

If you long for Finnish tranquillity but also want to experience modern city life, Oulu in northern Finland is the place for you. The modern city, which is home to over 200,000 people, is regarded as the innovative centre of the Finnish IT industry – but at the same time there is also plenty of wellness culture!

The unique nature of the Arctic is also just a stone’s throw away. In winter, the magic of the Arctic attracts visitors to the Finnish metropolis: auroras dance across the sky not only during the polar night, best observed from frozen lakes and the sea. In the summer months, on the other hand, you can experience the polar days with their never-setting sun.

Oulu: Holidays
A holiday in Oulu offers city air and closeness to nature in one.

But Oulu also offers a unique and modern city life. Excursions to one of the exciting museums, shopping in the city centre, a cosy end to the day in one of the many bars: there is so much to experience in Oulu on a city trip. There are also special events in the summer: Oulu is home to both the Qstock music festival and the Air Guitar World Championships!

The fact that nature and water play a major role in the city is also reflected in its name: “Oulu” comes from the Sami languages and can be translated as “flood” or “flowing water”.

Where is Oulu located?

Oulu is located in the Finnish region of Northern Ostrobothnia in the north of the country. The university city lies at the mouth of the Oulujoki River in the Gulf of Bothnia. The distance to other Finnish cities is great: the capital Helsinki is around 600 kilometres away by car, the oldest Finnish city Turku around 650 kilometres. Sweden, on the other hand, is a little closer: the border towns of Tornio and Haparanda are only about 130 kilometres away. If you want to travel further into Sweden, you should head for Luleå, as the Swedish port city is only around 260 kilometres away. A stopover in Oulu is therefore a must on a road trip through northern Europe!

Weather in Oulu

Oulu is located in the Trans-Siberian climate zone and has a continental climate with warm summers and cold, arctic winters. For sun lovers, the best time to visit is June to August, with an average temperature of 20° Celsius in July. If you want to experience a typical northern European winter or enjoy winter sports, you should travel between December and February: In January, the average temperature is -7° Celsius and there is a lot of snow – the perfect time to enjoy a Finnish sauna. There is precipitation throughout the year, with most of the rain falling in July.

Oulu: Weather
For aurora hunters, January is the best time to visit Oulu.

Things to do and places of interest in Oulu


The Turkansaari open-air museum is located around 12 kilometres from Oulu on a total of three islands in the River Oulujoki. In Finland’s second oldest open-air museum, you can experience history and the past up close: With 48 buildings, including the reconstructed wooden church “Turkansaaren kirkko”, the museum offers the perfect place to learn more about the region and historical life in rural areas. But buildings from other regions of Finland have also been relocated here and invite visitors to explore them. In summer, old and historical traditions such as salmon fishing and tar production are on display. The museum is easy to reach by car from Oulu, and in good weather you can also use the cycle paths.


The Qstock music festival has been attracting countless rock fans to northern Finland every summer since 2003. Over a total of two days at the end of July, not only well-known Finnish rock bands perform, but also international artists and musicians. With over 40,000 visitors from all over the world, Qstock has become the biggest event in Northern Finland during the summer months.

Oulu: Qstock
The Qstock music festival attracts countless musicians and rock fans to Oulu.

Air Guitar World Championship

As part of the Oulun Misiikki Video Festivaalit (Oulu Music Video Festival), the Air Guitar World Championship has been held in Oulu every year since 1996. Every year in August, the world champion title is awarded at the Valve House of Culture, and the week before there is also a varied and colourful programme. Thanks to a dedicated fan base and widespread media interest, the event is now known worldwide and attracts visitors to Oulu. Admission to the final is free, so anyone who wants to can experience this special event.

Tietomaa Science Centre

Since 1988, you can visit exciting experiments and exhibitions at the Tietomaa Science Centre. There is a wide variety of scientific fields and topics to explore, whether in temporary exhibitions or the permanent exhibition, which is constantly being expanded with highlights from past exhibitions. In the museum’s own 3D cinema, visitors are taken on breathtaking excursions, for example into the depths of the oceans, the hidden corners of primeval forests or to the outermost limits of our universe. An excursion is particularly suitable for families, but curious adults can also learn a lot of new things here.

Accommodation in Oulu

Camping in Oulu

In the warmer months, a holiday at one of the nearby campsites is a good idea. This way you can experience Finnish peace and seclusion, and you are also very close to the special Northern European nature. You are also independent and, depending on the location, can quickly and easily travel to other destinations in Northern Ostrobothnia. In Oulu itself, the Nallikari holiday village offers the opportunity to spend your holiday right on the beach.

Oulu: Camping
Camping in Oulu brings you very close to Finnish nature.

Hotels in Oulu

If you want to stay closer to the city centre, one of the countless hotels in Oulu is a good place to stay. The city has something for every budget, from star hotels to smaller B&Bs and hostels.

Travelling to Oulu

Whether by plane, car or train – travelling to Oulu takes a little longer due to its location in the north of Europe. Nevertheless, the city is very well connected to the rest of Finland and Europe, so nothing stands in the way of a holiday.

Flights to Oulu

Oulu Airport is the second largest airport in Finland in terms of passenger volume. It can be reached from Helsinki in under an hour with various airlines, such as Finnair. There is a good local public transport service, but rental cars are also recommended.

Cruises to Oulu

Oulu’s direct location on the Baltic Sea makes it a popular destination for various cruises. If you don’t just want to concentrate on one city in northern Europe, but want to get to know many aspects of the beautiful nature and culture of the north, a cruise can cover much more.

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