Oulu and Surroundings

Oulu is the capital of Northern Scandinavia. Once known for wood tar and salmon, Oulu has evolved into a major high-tech center, particularly in IT technology. In the Oulu region, you can explore and experience the world-famous Finnish education system, visit cutting-edge technology companies and customize your stay with Arctic nature or cultural experiences. Oulu is bidding to be the European Capital of Culture in 2026.  

Oulu has a subarctic continental climate. The typical features are cold and snowy winters with short and warm summers.  

The Oulu region offers you convenient access to beautiful and rare natural areas within a few hours’ distance from the city itself, such as Hailuoto island, Liminka bay nature center, Rokua national park or Kierikki stone age village. 

Oulu offers a dynamic city center, the seaside, the four seasons, and also quiet nature areas. Both the never-ending darkness in the winter and the endless nightless nights in the summer are worth experiencing. While here make also sure you try some of our traditional local dishes: Salmon soup with rieska bread, bread cheese with cloudberries, fried vendace or rössypottu, a dish of potatoes, pork and blood pudding.  

10 Best things to do or places to visit in Oulu

1) Oulu Cathedral

The wooden church that was built on the site in the 1610`s was replaced by a cathedral designed by Daniel Hagman and completed in 1777.  The cathedral, built of natural stone, was so big that all the 2,400 inhabitants of Oulu could fit in it at the same time. The wooden structures of the cathedral were destroyed in the fire of Oulu in 1822. The cathedral was rebuilt in 1832 based on a neoclassical design by Carl Ludvig Engel.

2) Market Square and the Market Hall

The Market Square is especially inviting in the summer. Visitors are sure to enjoy the old warehouses and salt storehouses located by the waterfront. The oldest ones date back to late 1700s and early 1800s. Today the barns house intimate cafes, restaurants and craft boutiques and are ideal places to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of a seaside town. The attractive 120-year-old Market Hall is also well worth a visit.

3) City Hall

The building was designed by J.E. Stenberg in 1887. It first served as Oulu Social Club, then a hotel and a restaurant. Right behind the City Hall you can find the beloved figures of Ajan kulku (“Passing of time”, 2005) sculpture, portraying the people of Oulu from the 17th century until present day. Real people in today`s Oulu eagerly knit clothes for the figures all through the year, particularly for little boy Martti who represents the future of Oulu.

4) Toripolliisi statue

In Oulu, an important part of the market life was the market police, whose task was to keep an eye on the market square and maintain order. Through them, the townspeople and those who came from the province to the town became acquainted firsthand with the authorities and the police.

The Toripolliisi statue is located at the Market Square in front of the Market Hall. The bronze sculpture was designed by Kaarlo Mikkonen and the work is a tribute to the police who patrolled the Market Square from 1934 to 1979. Make sure you take a selfie with the Bobby, a chubby 2,2 meters tall policeman.

5) Linnansaari island and the Observatory Cafè

A reminder of the history of Linnansaari island is the Tähtitorni (“Observatory”), which has functioned as a summer café for nearly 120 years. It was built in the place of Oulu castle, and finished in the 17th century. The castle itself was destroyed after a fire broke out as the result of a lightning strike, which caused the gunpowder cellar to explode.

6) Nallikari beach

The magnificent one-kilometer-long Nallikari beach in Hietasaari is an inviting seaside destination in all seasons. Stunning sunsets, the thrillingly colorful Northern Lights, and the frozen sea in wintertime are all unforgettable experiences. Oulu residents also enjoy spending their free time in the natural surroundings of Hietasaari. Don’t forget to stop by Nallikari lighthouse at the end of the breakwater.

If you are interested in winter swimming, then the place to go is Tuira beach. There you can swim in the Oulu river all through the year.

7) Hupisaaret city park

The idyllic peace of the Hupisaaret islands, consisting of many small islands, is less than a ten-minute walk from the hustle and bustle of the town center. The babbling streams offer a beautiful soundscape in the summertime, and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the endangered sea trout in the River Oulujoki. The Hupisaaret islands also have a central playground, a barbeque area, a rose garden, and a sample greenhouse open to the public.

8) Northern Ostrobothnia Museum

The museum walks you through the history of Oulu. You get to know different eras and atmospheres. Among favorites is the miniature model of Oulu, the White City of the North as it was in 1938. The visitors young-at-heart will be delighted by the Doghill exhibition, which is based on the famous books of Mauri Kunnas.

Our Cultural Activities

The following free time activities are included in the price of the courses in Oulu:

  • one guided tour of the city
  • one full-day excursion (on Saturday)

Our guided tour of Oulu

Join a walking tour in the center of Oulu. Hear stories about the past, the present, and the future. You’ll be led through eras of Oulu from sailing ships, tar tradition, and salmon fishing to Modern Oulu of technology.    You’ll visit the market square with new and old architecture and meet and greet the legendary Marketplace Policeman Statue. You see the historic monumental center and experience the closeness of nature in the city park.

After five days of lessons, it is time to relax! Do not miss the opportunity to participate in one of these visits!

Participants can choose between the following options:

1. Science Centre Tietomaa

Tietomaa was the first science center in Finland. The science center offers its visitors unforgettable experiences in science and in technology and invites them to spend some time with mind-challenging puzzles. In Tietomaa you will find themed exhibitions and more than 150 activity points. Be sure not to miss its 3D cinema or its glass-wall lift, which will take you to the top of a 45-metre tower.

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2. Oulu Museum of Arts

The Oulu Museum of Art’s changing exhibitions focus on topical contemporary art without forgetting local and regional perspectives. The art museum’s second floor is home to themed collections.
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About the Training Centre in Oulu

All our courses in Oulu will take place either in the Morning (9.00-13.45) or in the Afternoon (14.00-18.45) depending on classroom and trainer availability.

All lessons will be held in Cultural Cente Valve, which is located in the centre of Oulu at Hallituskatu 7.

The main entrance to the Valve is located on Hallituskatu. There is also an entrance to Valve on Ojakatu and we’ll be using that entrance. The meeting room is on the 3rd floor.

There’s also a cafe-restaurant Paljetti in Valve, where you can eat a traditional Finnish lunch every day (Mon-Sat) or just have a cup of tea or coffee with sandwich. They also serve vegan food.

How to reach us

Tietomaa Science Center is located on Nahkatehtaankatu 6, only a few minutes walk from the city center.

Cultural Cente Valve, which is located in the centre of Oulu at Hallituskatu 7.

By plain, 1 hour from Helsinki (Finnair) by train (VR) from Helsinki city center to Oulu city center 5.5 hours. You can also take a night train and wake up in Oulu.

All Courses

One-Week Courses