Travel tips to discover the wonderful Finnish nature, between splendid landscapes and typical and tasty food.
In route to Lapland, in a trip to Finland, it can happen to arrive from the parts of Oulu, which overlooks the Gulf of Bothnia and extends over numerous islands: the water, which is the common thread of a holiday in Finland, will also accompany you here.
Less than two degrees from the Arctic Circle
The city deserves a couple of days of rest, is an interesting university center, the "Scandinavian capital of the north" as it defines itself; in fact the city is less than two degrees from the imaginary line of Arctic Circle, which involves a great seasonal influence in the hours of light and darkness and an incredible sunlight that never seems to end in summer.
I haven't seen the winter version of this city, but I can guarantee that the summer one is really enjoyable.
Kauppatori, Oulu's market square
The most famous thing in Oulu is the Kauppatori (or the market square) full of clubs, markets and people. The square overlooks the sea and is bordered by some ancient wooden houses, very characteristic, which were warehouses of the port: now they are mainly restaurants or craft shops.
"King" of the square is the statue (actually quite ugly) of Toripolissi, a short, stocky cop.
The market is also in the indoor version (I have seen these market halls in all Finnish cities) and it is always a recommended place for one authentic and not too expensive snack, above all for the quality of the fish, rye bread, berries (including the wonderful arctic raspberries) and other delicacies.
Tips for visiting the city
Around the market square there are streets with interesting wooden constructions and elegant buildings, whose history and functions can be discovered by downloading the Nomads app, made available by the city, on your mobile phone, which by locating the tourist gives explanations and suggestions for visits on the various itineraries.
In my experience, the beauties of Finland are to be sought, more than in the monuments, in the scenarios and in the atmospheres; and Oulu itself has beautiful scenery of nature, also inserted in the heart of the city.
Il Ainola Park for example it is a succession of meadows, trees, bridges - all of which are also completely cycle-friendly - that connect the small islands that make it up like a puzzle. In summer it is traveled far and wide by cyclists, runners, families and tourists, who use it to get closer to the Kauppatori without getting into city traffic. A true oasis of water and greenery.
The city center
Walking in the city center, especially to take refuge from the bad weather that unfortunately can strike even in summer, I recommend one of the numerous and fascinating cafés: the Café Bisketti it is located in Kirkkokatu in the shopping area, not far from the Tourist Information.
On the square, in the evenings in August, theAir Guitar Championship, an international festival where they pretend to play the guitar: even if it seems insane it is very important and very popular. However, I entered Café Bisketti on a day when it was pouring rain but in theory there are also tables outside: there is a wonderful coffee break with very tasty (and very large) sweet pastries and coffee, which in Finland is with the carafe machine, which can be served in abundance. In the room adjacent to that bar there is instead a counter of soups and salads for a not too expensive lunch break.
Trips out of town
By recommending a few trips out of the city there are two destinations: the first is the most popular beach in Oulu, Hietasaari. Does it seem strange to you to talk about a beach at (almost) the height of the Polar Circle? Yet the inhabitants of Oulu on beautiful summer days are all here, because it is located on the Nallikari island which is close, accessible by bicycle or bus, and with all the typical beach entertainment.
Turkansaari: Open Air Museum
Finally, the most interesting attraction in Oulu for me was the Open air museum di Turkansaari, where, inserted in a naturalistic context of great beauty (on two islands, of course), many have been brought old wooden houses: private homes, granaries, a small school, public buildings, a windmill, a church. In some of these buildings, beautiful in their simplicity, you can enter and understand the living conditions at these latitudes.
To visit Turkansaari you have to pay a ticket from 8 euro but it's worth it: for example, the church, entirely made of wood, is original from 1694 and had become a fish warehouse until someone recognized it as such, restored it and brought it to this timeless village. When cities were built of wood they were often subject to fires that destroyed everything: this is why old wooden houses are a real rarity.