My Favourite Things To Do In Oulu

5 Feb

The prospect of coming to Finland can be daunting; the winter is long, dark and cold. The language is different and Oulu is particularly far away from the hub of culture that is the capital city. This is a glimpse of my life in Oulu and what I get up to on a regular basis – proof that Oulu is far from boring, or lonely! Here are my favourite things to do in this wonderful city:


Lunch on campus

Lunch is a real social event here, and it’s a great way to make friends with classmates. If you spend enough time in the main restaurant, Aula, you’ll see a whole bunch of familiar faces. At only 2.70€ for a student lunch it’s a great way to save money and avoid cooking. My favourite day is Thursday, otherwise known as Pizza Day! Tuna pizza is the best and I would highly recommend it! Yum.


next to Julinia ravintola



Going to the movies

Finnkino is a great cinema; it’s spacious, comfortable and shows a wide variety of movies. Since I’ve been here I’ve attended two film festivals, ‘Nordisk Panorama’ and the ‘Children’s Film Festival’, which are great for showing less mainstream movies and promoting independent film-makers. If a film festival is on while you’re in town don’t miss the chance to catch a couple of movies or shorts. It can be a little pricey to see a movie, but if you go frequently you can buy a roll of tickets and exchange them on the day for actual tickets that only cost 8.50. Also, look out for half-price deals!




Take a bike ride

There’s an extensive bike path network throughout the city and it’s much easier to cycle than walk – the distances between places can be quite long! Cycling is quicker, a good form of exercise and a great way to see Finland. In winter paths are kept clear and as long as you’re careful there’s no reason why you can’t keep using your bike. Check out my article on cycling in Finland and take a look at this website for some routes to get you started.




Go for pancakes at the ‘Pannukakkutalo’

The pancake house in Oulu is popular with all ages, nationalities and professions and it’s easy to see why once you sink into your first pancake. There’s a range of savoury and sweet pancakes, as well an a creative kids’ section. My favourite to date is reindeer and smoked cheese, followed by a sweet chocolate and fruit ‘dessert pancake’. Students with a valid student card (from any country) get a free cup of tea with orders over a certain price. Their website features a menu in English to get your taste buds watering.




Visit the art gallery

A small but worthwhile gallery, admission is only 2€ for students and free on Fridays. With a ticket to the art gallery you can also visit the ‘Northern Ostrobothnian’ museum on the same day, bargain! Seated just outside Ainola Park you can soak up some fresh air, get some culture and finish the day with an inventive cake in their sublime cafe (when I was there I sampled  mint chocolate and black pepper cake!) Check out their current exhibitions and find more information here.




Watch a hockey game at Oulu Energia Areena

There’s nothing like the excitement that fills the air at the start of a hockey game – especially if it’s your first one. Fans get together to cheer and boo and, as a foreigner, you’ll be looking on in bewilderment as hockey players flick back and forth across the rink, all chasing a tiny piece of plastic. It is  incredible to watch, and the half-time junk food is delicious. Wrap up warm and read up on the rules before you go!





Spend some time in Stockmann Department Store

By far my favourite store and probably the biggest in Oulu, Stockmann has everything! There are two cafes, a range of make-up counters, a deliciously well-stocked food store and a super fun kids’ toy section! At Christmas its range of decorations are not to be missed, and keep an eye out for its interesting design pieces, like these funky designer cows!




Besides this there are plenty of other things to do – there are many bars and cafes, a bowling alley, events run by student groups on campus and a theatre to keep you entertained. Hopefully this has given you a good insight and a little inspiration!


6 Responses to “My Favourite Things To Do In Oulu”

  1. Katariina Partala February 5, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Hmmm, Pannukakkutalo! I know that place soooo well because I used to work there some years ago!! 😀 Miss those delicious pancakes…

    • saramay91 February 12, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

      I’ll miss them when I leave! Do they have anything like it in Helsinki?

      • Katariina Partala February 13, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

        I’m not sure, at least I never saw one! But I remember the owner of the restaurant mentioning that they got the idea for a pancake restaurant from Holland so at least there are some of them there :p

      • saramay91 February 24, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

        Next stop on my list I guess =)


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