Ainola Park

16 Sep

As hoped, today was much more productive. This morning was beautiful, so after a trip to the gym (which was surprisingly busy for 8.30am on a Sunday!)  I went for a bike ride to Ainola Park.

A short bike ride in the direction of the city centre to begin with…


I hope I’m right in saying that the above view is of the Baltic Sea. It was beautiful either way.

EDIT: Thanks to   for pointing out my mistake, it’s the view of the Oulujoku river! Silly me =)

Just before you get to the path which leads to the park there is Linnansaari, or ‘Castle Island’. This is where the ‘ruins’ of Oulu Castle are. I say ‘ruins’ because this is what I found:

My ‘Oulu Guide’ tells me that the castle was commissioned by the found of Oulu, Charles XI of Sweden, in 1605. The castle was destroyed in 1793 when lightning struck on a wooden gunpowder magazine. Kaboom, no more castle. In 1875 an observatory was built in the ruins instead, to teach students of the Oulu Maritime Museum astronomy. What you see in the picture is a pretty little summer cafe which inhabits the spot. Not exactly what I was expecting, but it was pretty enough.

This is the kirjasto (library) and although it doesn’t look much from the outside it’s very modern and swish on the inside. They’ve got magazines in a variety of languages downstairs, as well as free internet, and an excellent section for kids (or novice Finnish readers like me!)

The Rough Guide says this of the park:

It is a ‘ pleasantly wooded space which makes a nice spot for a picnic or a late evening stroll’.

That’s it. That’s all it has to say. What a massive understatement; I think whoever wrote the guide either didn’t actually visit it or was feeling particularly lazy when he got the the ‘Ainola Park’ section. The park is incredibly beautiful, even though the summer has passed and autumn has turned the air chilly and the trees gold. A short walk from the city centre it stretches back a lot further than I was expecting.

Ride past the fountain (which I stupidly didn’t stop to photograph because I thought I’d come back the same way) and follow the path under the underpass. It gets a bit more woody, like this:

Keep going and you’ll get to this:


A stunning park, more like a stretch of woodland or a nature park than the kind of park you normally find in the city centre. The sun was shining as hard as it could, and the place was filled with families and bikes and little kids running around after these little guys:

Finnish ducks!

I love ducks. They are adorable. Watching ducks will cheer me up even on the worst of days, so I’m pleased that I’ve found somewhere with such an abundance of them.


There’s a cafe too, which as far as I could work out is open from 9am everyday, even Sundays! (many shops don’t open until midday on Sundays)

Just next to the cafe are these incredible water fountains!

And another pond with more ducks!

I was truly in heaven.

The park hasn’t really brought to my attention by anyone which is surprising for two reasons. First, it’s so beautiful and, if you’re like me and you like to relax in nature as often as possible, it’s convenient and does the trick. It’s magical and the morning light and golden leaves made it even more so. I can’t wait to see it in winter! Second, it was really popular! It was filled with people, probably the most people I’ve seen in one place (apart from the main shopping are of the city). It’s obviously a hot-spot for Sunday morning walkers, bikers and families.

It’s also home to the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum, Oulu Museum of Art and the Tietomma Science Centre.

If you follow the path right to the end you reach the dams, which you can walk along.

On the other side I found some mushrooms growing – and managed to tread in dog poo. The second time in two days! A great big wodge of it too that embedded itself into the tracks of my trainers and dampened my spirits a little. I really should learn to look out for it here.

The path keeps going until you get back to the path which leads to Linnanmaa, perfect for a circular jaunt. It only took an hour and a half approximately to get from my apartment, through the park and back home again. And it was well worth it.

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