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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

—  City  —
Oulun kaupunki

Coat of arms

Location of Oulu in Finland
Coordinates: 65°01′N 025°28′E / 65.017°N 25.467°E / 65.017; 25.467Coordinates: 65°01′N 025°28′E / 65.017°N 25.467°E / 65.017; 25.467
Country Finland
Region Northern Ostrobothnia
Sub-region Oulu sub-region
Charter 1605-04-08
 - City manager Matti Pennanen
Area (2009-01-01)[1]
 - Total 1,513.37 km2 (584.3 sq mi)
 - Land 1,410.13 km2 (544.5 sq mi)
 - Water 103.24 km2 (39.9 sq mi)
Area rank 64th largest in Finland
Population (2009-12-31)[2]
 - Total 139,151
 - Density 98.68/km2 (255.6/sq mi)
Population rank 6th largest in Finland
Population by native language [3]
 - Finnish 97.3% (official)
 - Swedish 0.2%
 - Others 2.4%
Population by age [4]
 - 0 to 14 17%
 - 15 to 64 70.5%
 - 65 or older 12.5%
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 - Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Municipal tax rate[5] 19%

Oulu (pronounced [ˈoulu]  ( listen); Swedish: Uleåborg [ˈʉːleɔˌbɔrj], literally “Ule River Fort”) is a city and municipality of 139,151 inhabitants (31 December 2009)[2] in the region of Northern Ostrobothnia, in Finland. It is the largest city in Northern Finland and the sixth largest city in the country.



Oulu was founded on April 8, 1605, by King Charles IX of Sweden opposite to the fort built on the island of Linnansaari. This took place after favourable peace settlements with the Russians, which removed the threat of attack via the main east-west waterway, the river Oulu. The surrounding areas were populated much earlier. Oulu is situated by the Gulf of Bothnia, at the mouth of river Oulujoki, which is an ancient trading site. One possible source for the name Oulu is a word in the Sami language meaning 'flood water', but there are other suggestions. Oulu was the capital of the Province of Oulu from 1776 to 2009.

Drawing of central Oulu from the 19th Century.

In 1822, a major fire destroyed much of the city. The architect Carl Ludvig Engel, chiefly known for the neoclassical (empire style) buildings around Helsinki Senate Square, was enlisted to provide the plan for the rebuilding of the city. With minor changes, this plan remains the basis for the layout of Oulu's town center. The Oulu Cathedral was built in 1832 to his designs, with the spire being finished in 1844.

From being a town known for wood tar and salmon in the past, Oulu has evolved into a major centre of competence in the field of high technology, particularly IT and wellness technology. Other prominent industries include wood refining as well as paper and steel industry. The University of Oulu is located six kilometres north of the city center. The Oulu Airport, located in neighbouring municipality of Oulunsalo, is the second busiest in Finland.

The municipality of Ylikiiminki was consolidated with the city of Oulu on January 1, 2009.




Weather data for Oulu
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °C (°F) −7
Average low °C (°F) −13
Precipitation mm (inches) 20.0
Source: Foreca {{{accessdate}}}


The best known cultural exports of the city of Oulu are Air Guitar World Championships, Mieskuoro Huutajat (also known as Screaming Men), and the now defunct metal band Sentenced.

There are many artists, writers and musicians resident in the city. A variety of concerts, both rock, classical music, and jazz, as well as other cultural events take place each year; for example, Oulu Music Video Festival – the host of the Air Guitar World Championships and Musixine Music Film Competition – in August, annual rock festival Qstock in July, the Oulu Music Festival in winter, the Oulunsalo Music Festival in summer, The Irish Festival of Oulu in October and the International Children's Film Festival in November.

Notable people from Oulu


Oulu City Hall.
View over the river Oulu towards Tuira from Hupisaaret park. Water power plant can be seen on the right side. Tuira is one of the largest districts of Oulu with almost 7000 inhabitants.
  • Tietomaa, a science center with over 150 exhibits
  • Ainola Park, formerly a university botanical garden before the university was moved to Linnanmaa
  • The Rapids Center, the area in the estuary of the Oulu river consisting of small islands connected with bridges, fountains in the middle of the river, and including a housing area of building blocks planned by Alvar Aalto
  • Rotuaari pedestrian street
  • The Market Square with the City Library, the City Theatre and old salt and tar storehouses
  • Mannerheim Park
  • The Oulu Cathedral
  • Hupisaaret, a large park area located in the estuary of the Oulu river
  • The F. M. Franzen memorial
  • The Northern Ostrobothnia museum
  • The Pateniemi Sawmill Museum
  • The Vehicle Museum
  • The University of Oulu Botanical Garden (situated in Linnanmaa)
  • The Oulu Art Museum
  • The Arctic Gallery
  • Technopolis, the technology village
  • Turkansaari (website) (historical outdoor museum)

Other points of interest

Railway station area in Oulu, looking southwest along Hallituskatu.
Mannerheim Park is a favourite hangout place for many.


The University of Oulu and Oulu University of Applied Sciences (formerly Oulu Polytechnic) are located in Oulu.

Oulu is home to the most northerly architecture school in the world. The school is best known for its strong regionalistic ideas for developing architecture. This movement is named "the Oulu school" ("Oulun koulu") of architecture.


Oulu is served by Oulu Airport, the second biggest airport in Finland by passenger volume.

Oulu Airport is located in the neighbouring county of Oulunsalo, 15 kilometres (9 mi) from the city centre. It can be reached by bus number 19 from the centre of the city and Technopolis.

Port of Oulu is one of the busiest harbours within the Bothnian Bay. Port of Oulu includes four separate harbour areas: Vihreäsaari oil and bulk docks, Nuottasaari docks, Oritkari docks and the Toppila docks.

The shortest travel time from Oulu Railway Station to Helsinki Central Railway Station is 5 h 44 mins, operated by VR. Other destinations include, for instance, Kolari, Rovaniemi, Seinäjoki and Tampere.

The most important road in Oulu is highway 4 (E8/E75) that runs from Helsinki to Utsjoki via Lahti, Jyväskylä, Oulu, Kemi and Rovaniemi. Other highways running to and from Oulu are highway 20 to Kuusamo and highway 22 to Kajaani.[6]


As of December 31, 2005, the active working population was employed as follows:[7 ]

Industries Working population
Services 36,616
Industry 11,439
Commerce 9,394
Construction 4,659
Transport 4,469
Farming and forestry 471
Unknown 1,200
Total 68,248

In 2008, the most important employers were:[7 ]

Stora Enso has an important paper manufacturing plant in Oulu.
Employer No. of employees
City of Oulu 9,760
Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District 5,546
Nokia Group 4,700
University of Oulu 3,050
The Oulu Region Joint Authority for Education 1,651
Stora Enso Group 1,155
Kesko Group 1,054
Itella Corporation 920
Cooperative Arina Group (S Group) 830
Deaconesses' Institution 694


Kärpät wins gold after beating Jokerit in 2005 Final.

The Oulu ice hockey team Kärpät have won the Finnish Elite League (SM-Liiga) Championship title five times (1981, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008). They have also been the runner-up in the European Champions Cup twice, in 2005 and 2006.

Oulu has 2 teams in the highest bandy division. Oulun Luistinseura, OLS, has become Finnish champions 14 times, and Oulun Palloseura, OPS, 7 times. In 2001 the city was the main venue for the Bandy World Championships.

Terwa Marathon & Run is an annual event run in late May (since 1989)

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Oulu is twinned with:[8]

Friendship cities


  1. ^ "Area by municipality as of 1 January 2009" (in Finnish and Swedish) (PDF). Land Survey of Finland. Retrieved 20 February 2009.  
  2. ^ a b "Population by municipality as of 31 December 2009" (in Finnish and Swedish). Population Information System. Population Register Center of Finland.$file/091231.htm. Retrieved 13 January 2010.  
  3. ^ "Population according to language and the number of foreigners and land area km2 by area as of 31 December 2008". Statistics Finland's PX-Web databases. Statistics Finland. Retrieved 29 March 2009.  
  4. ^ "Population according to age and gender by area as of 31 December 2008". Statistics Finland's PX-Web databases. Statistics Finland. Retrieved 28 April 2009.  
  5. ^ "List of municipal and parish tax rates in 2010". Tax Administration of Finland. 24 November 2009.;25512. Retrieved 13 January 2010.  
  6. ^ AffectoGenimap Finland Oy. Autoilijan Tiekartta 2007 – Road map [map], 1:800,000. (2006) ISBN 978-951-593-047-7.
  7. ^ a b "Business and industry". Information about Oulu. Oulu: City of Oulu. 2008-09-15. Retrieved 5 January 2009.  
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Twin towns". Retrieved 2009-11-07.  
  9. ^ "Информация о городах-побратимах" (in (Russian)). 2007-10-26. Retrieved 2009-09-17.  
  10. ^ Bursa Metropolitan Municipality Web Site; Sister Cities.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Oulu (Swedish: Uleåborg; [1]) is a city of close to 140,000 inhabitants in Oulu province, northern Finland. On 01.01.2009, the municipality of Ylikiiminki [2] was consolidated with the city of Oulu, increasing Oulu's land mass nearly quadruple-fold. As one of the results of the merger, Oulu is now officially an area where one might encounter reindeer.

Midnight sun shining over Oulu
Midnight sun shining over Oulu

Oulu is the capital of the province of Oulu and the region of Northern Ostrobothnia. It is the sixth largest (fourth largest if you exclude Espoo and Vantaa) city in Finland, and the largest and most important in Northern Finland. Oulu is known for its high-tech nature, with free wireless internet access, Panoulu [3], in the city center. A lot of Finnish IT companies, including Nokia, have offices in Oulu or nearby areas.

Oulu City Church
Oulu City Church
Oulu City Old Library
Oulu City Old Library

Get in

By plane

Oulu Airport [4] is the busiest in the country after Helsinki, and the Helsinki-Oulu sector is the country's most popular domestic flight with frequent services (almost 20 flights per day each way) on Finnair and Blue1. A fully flexible return economy ticket costs a whopping €251 but an advance-purchase non-changeable one-way ticket can go as low as €39 plus taxes. There are also some services to Riga, Rovaniemi, Tampere, Turku and Kemi.

The airport has an automatic map dispenser that provides free maps, but sometimes it doesn't work.

Bus 19 (~€5) connects the airport to the city center in 30 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. Bus 19 also takes you to the University of Oulu [5].

By train

Oulu is on the railway [6] main line between Helsinki and Rovaniemi. The fastest Pendolino trains complete the journey from Oulu to Helsinki in about 6 hours (€72), while direct sleepers take around 9 hours (€64 plus optional sleeper at €12-€31 per bed). The newest type of sleeper train carriages have a shower and a toilet in each 2-person cabin.

By bus

Trip duration from Helsinki varies between 9½ and 15 hours and costs around €70-80. Timetable and information from Matkahuolto [7]

Get around

Public transportation is operated by Koskilinjat [8]. Single ticket (kertalippu) in the city of Oulu costs €2.90 (€1.40 for children ages 4-11). Between 23:00-04:00 a single ticket costs €5.60. A single ticket allows one transfer within 90 minutes. A 24-hour ticket (matkailijalippu) allows unlimited use of the buses for the 24-hour period for €8. To plan your route in the city, try Linjakas [9]. 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. Bus drivers generally do not speak english, so plan your trip beforehand.

To get a good look around Oulu, with English commentary, try Potnapekka [10]. 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.

Oulu is renowned for it's good bicycle routes, which get you around the city easily and safely. To rent a bicycle try Pyörä-Suvala, Saaristonkatu 27. If you're staying at Nallikari Camping, Leiritie 10, they also have bikes to rent for visitors costing €12/day.

The city theatre
The city theatre
  • Oulu City Art Museum (Oulun Taidemuseo), Kasarmintie 7 (within walking distance from the city center), 358855847450, [11]. Tues-Sun 10-17. Two story museum with a wide variety of modern artwork. Around 8 exhibits a year. Plenty of information in English, except for small, temporary exhibits. 3 euros.  edit
  • Science Centre Tietomaa (Tiedekeskus Tietomaa), Nahkatehtaankatu 2, [12]. Mon-Sun 10–19. The world's first science centre. Unfortunately a 'social invention' such as a science centre wasn't to be patented and the idea was copied all over the world. €13 for single adult ticket, €10 for children aged 6-15.  edit

Quite close to Raatti swimming hall are the remaining ruins of the Castle of Oulu. Their café, Linnankahvila is open daily during summertime. It lies on the remaining premises of the Castle of Oulu after the explosion of gunpowder deposit (by a bulb of lightning) in the 18th century.

Dockyard & Old Buildings
Dockyard & Old Buildings
  • Oulu Castle (Oululinna). There is almost nothing to describe. This is not a castle nor ruins. It is a public park where the castle used to be. The park is big, though, so it's a nice walk beside the river.  edit
  • Oulu City Theatre (Oulun Kaupunginteatteri), Kaarlenväylä 2, [13]. Recently renovated theatre offers plays in Finnish. Prices vary from €15 to €40 for a single adult ticket. Significant (half price) discounts are available for people under 26..  edit
  • Cinema Plaza (Elokuvateatteri Plaza), Torikatu 32, [14]. Completed in 2007, Plaza movie theater features one of the biggest movie screens in Finland. Most of the movies shown on theater's eight screens are original english versions and are subtitled in Finnish and Swedish, though some children's movies are dubbed in Finnish. Admission €9-10.50, before 17:00 on weekdays €6.80. Ticket sets of 5 or 9 tickets are available, bringing the price per admission down to €8.40 or €8 respectively.  edit
  • Cinema Star (Elokuvateatteri Star), Kalliotie 6 (Tuira region, northern-side of Oulu river), 08 554 2711, [15]. The oldest still functioning (yet very modern) movie theater in Oulu, Star movie theater features 3D digital movies. Most of the movies shown on the theater's three screens are original english versions and are subtitled in Finnish and Swedish, though some children's movies are dubbed in Finnish. Star has been nominated as Finland's most disabled-friendly establishment in 2007. Admission €7.5-10. Sets of 5 tickets are available for 37€, bringing the price per admission down to €7.4 to all shows.  edit
  • Rotuaari, from the french word trottoir, meaning pedestrian street, is a place for live entertainment mainly during summertime, but also on weekends all year round.
  • Qstock [16] Rock Festival, late July.
  • International Air Guitar Festival [17], beginning of August.
  • Nallikari and its Eden sea resort. Summer visit is preferred, but you can bathe outside all year round in Eden's cozy temperature of +26°C. A bone-chilling dip in the freezing Oulu river can also be taken at the swimming spot (maauimala) of Tuira all year round.

Public swimming pools:

  • Oulu swimming pool (Oulun uimahalli), (Raksila), (08) 558 48100. Mon-Wed&Fri 6:15-21:45, Thu 7:00-21:45, Sat-Sun 8:00-16:45. One of the largest public swimming pools in Finland. In addition to the pools facilities include separate gyms for weight training, gymnastics, judo and boxing. Cafe upstairs with a view to the pools. €4.20 for the pools, €3 for the gym.  edit
  • Raatti swimming pool (Raatin uimahalli), (Raatti, northwest from the city centre), (08) 558 48120. Mon-Fri 6:15-20:45. Smaller and a little worn down public pool and gym. (Closed for major renovation from August 2008 to early 2010) €3 for the pools, €4 for the gym which includes access to the pools.  edit

Indoor Activities:

  • Snooker Time, Kauppurienkatu 9. Play billiards or snooker right in the city center. B-license.  edit
  • Pelibunkkeri, Kansankatu 47, [18]. Indoor minigolf, air hockey and fussball tables.  edit
  • Oulu bowling alley (Oulun keilahalli), [19]. Over twenty bowling lanes near the city center. €15-18 per hour per lane, plus €2.50 for shoe rental. Also pool and snooker tables.  edit


Oulu Market Hall (Kauppahalli), [20]. Mon-Thu 8-17, Fri 8-18, Sat 8-15.. Atmospheric interior in over a hundred years old building. Largely a food market, offering fresh and conserved foods varying from reindeer meat to Asian specialities. The market and the surrounding 'aitat' (or barns) also offer a variety of souvenir-type items.  edit


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. Also there are many restaurants that have a pizza buffet for around €7-12 which includes a drink. Arguably, Finland's biggest pizzas are served in Oulu's Pizzeria Romeo. A number of international restaurants are found in Oulu, including Indian(Indian Restaurant,New Bombay Restaurant), Moroccan, Greek, Mediterranean, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Thai and Chinese kitchens. For American style fast food there is McDonald's and Hesburger.

For more upscale dining, restaurants such as Uleåborg (near Radisson SAS hotel in the marketplace and the waterfront) and Fransmanni (at the recently-built Arina hotel in the town center) provide. Ravintola Matala near the waterfront offers modern cuisine, and has been ranked in top ten of Finnish restaurants several times, with prices to match. There is of course the Pannu pizza joint in town - up-market trendy pizzas for the discerning. For decently priced upscale dining, try Mezzo which offers frequently changing menus for 33 euros (expect to chip in at least another for the wines though).

  • 45 Special, Saaristonkatu 12,[21]. (08) 8811 845, Open every night. Weekdays gigs and meeting place of modern drunkards after 1.30am, weekends crowded.
  • Amarillo, Kirkkokatu 15, (08) 312 3100, [22]. Nice bar in the 1st floor and a night club underground. Also, the texmex-style kitchen is open Mon-Thu 11-00.30, Fri-Sat 11-23.30, Sun 12-23.00.
  • Cabaret, Torikatu 21-23, [23]. A discotheque with two different rooms of different styles. Meatcounter for 20+. Wed,Fri,Sat 22-04.00
  • Caio, Sammonkatu 10, (08) 556 2286, Nice and quiet bar with music, billiards and food near the University of Oulu.
  • Gloria, Torikatu 21-23, [24]. Two rooms, one for karaoke and one for sports and live music on the weekends.  edit
  • Graali, Saaristonkatu 5, [25]. 14-03. Cozy pub with atmosphere and a fireplace. (65.012192,25.465794) edit
  • Hevimesta, Torikatu 11, [26]. Hard Rock / Metal club. 1e beer on mondays, wednesdays and thursdays til 1am.
  • Kaarlenholvi/Jumpru, Kauppurienkatu 6, [27]. Genuine Oulu. Pub downstairs with warmed up patio offers the authentic overview of locals. Nightclub upstairs attracts younger clientele and exchange students.
  • Kuluma, Kauppurienkatu 5, 11am-2am. [28]. If you fancy cocktails, this is the place to go. Some coctails include a fire-breathing display.
  • Never Grow Old, Hallituskatu 17, [29]. Sun-Thu 6pm-2pm, Fri 4pm-3am,Sat 6pm-3am. Chilled out bar with a Jamaican vibe. Red Stripe and Reggae.  edit
  • Onnela, Isokatu 35, [30]. Four different rooms with different styles: Disco, Rock, Suomipop and "Saucepan". Meatcounter for 18 to 20 year olds.
  • Oluthuone Leskinen, Kirkkokatu 10, (08) 311 7993, [31]. 12-02. Irish-style pub with decent selection of beers.  edit
  • Sarkka, Hallituskatu 13-17. 9am-2am. You think you are pro? Come here at 9am and see if you have what it takes!
  • Holiday Inn, Kirkkokatu 3, (08) 883 9111.
  • Holiday Club Oulun Eden [32], Vellamontie 10, 020 1234 905. Spa hotel on Nallikari beach, a few kilometers (3.5km by foot, 5km by car) from the city center.
  • Hotel Apollo [33], Asemakatu 31-33, (08) 5 2211.
  • Hotel Cumulus [34], Kajaaninkatu 17, (08) 882 7111.
  • Hotelli Turisti [35], Rautatienkatu 9, (08) 5636 100. In front of the railway station.
  • Radisson SAS [36], Hallituskatu 1, (08) 8877 666. One of the best hotels in Oulu, a good choice if your budget isn't too limited.
  • Scandic Oulu [37], Saaristonkatu 4, (08) 543 1000.
  • Sokos Hotel Arina [38], Pakkahuoneenkatu 16 , (08) 312 3111.

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 [39] (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.

  • Hailuoto is the largest island in the Gulf of Bothnia and a good destination for day trip. Accessible by ferry, either with own car or by bus.
  • Iso-Syöte is the closest destination for downhill skiing. Koskilinjat arranges day trips during winter season [40].
  • Kuusamo is also a place to visit if you continue your journey to the north towards the Finnish Lapland.
  • Koitelinkoski-rapids of Kiiminkijoki-river, about 25min by car from Oulu [41].
Routes through Oulu
TornioKemi  W noframe E  RaaheTurku
RovaniemiKemi  N noframe S  JyväskyläHelsinki
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




Proper noun




  1. A city in Finland.



Finnish Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia fi

Proper noun


  1. Oulu


Derived terms

Simple English

Oulu is a Finnish city. It is the biggest city in the Northern Finland. The population of Oulu is about 130,000 and it is the 6th biggest city in Finland.

Oulu was established in 1605 so it is more than 400 years old. In the old days Oulu was famous for selling tar all over the world. Nowadays many people work in technology firms making mobile phones, computers and software.

There is a university in Oulu. The university is one of the biggest in Finland with over 15,000 students.

= Places to visit in Oulu


  • Oulu Cathedral
  • Hupisaaret Park
  • The market and the old market hall

Pictures of Oulu


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