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Get the most out of Oulu

The Finnish summer may not be long, but it’s glorious. Despite its northern location, the waterside gem of Oulu is superb place to enjoy it, boasting long sandy beaches, beautiful islands and popular summer festivals.


Paradisiacal beaches are not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of northern Finland – but Oulu is blessed with several of them. Nallikari, a 30-minute stroll or a quick ride with the retro style Potnapekka summer train from the center, is the city’s favorite beach, on the island of Hietasaari. In the summer, this 1km-long stretch of sand is crowded with roller skaters, cyclists, beach volleyball players and families with children, so arrive early to find your own spot. The Nallikari lighthouse, a local landmark, has a summer café and rents out water sports equipment.

Hupisaaret city park

This collection of ­islands, just north of the city center, has been connected by small, wooden bridges and walkways since the 1860s. Literally “the fun islands,” Hupi­saaret is a lush playground for outdoor types. Locals flock here to have picnics, bike, play frisbee, relax in cafés or spot sea trout in the streams. A 750m-long, 11m-high channel with 64 steps enables the fish to swim from the Gulf of Bothnia to the Oulujoki River.


The name of this sand dune island means “shark islet,” but rest assured, there aren’t any sharks here. Instead, Hailuoto is well-known for its long sandy beaches and dunes. There are no official beaches or lifeguards, so be careful when you take a dip. You can also enjoy fishing and birdwatching – more than 300 bird species have been spotted here, and the annual Bättre Folk music festival takes place on 12–13 July. A free summer ferry takes visitors to the island, 25 minutes from the mainland, and there are several accommodation options.



Every summer, Kuusisaari park gathers thousands of music fans for the QStock festival. One of the biggest festivals in Finland, the event has been sold out for five summers in a row and attracted 35,000 people in 2018. This year, it will be held from 26–27 July. This is a great place to catch some of Finland’s most popular artists, including the likes of Anna Puu, Vesala, Elastinen and Evelina and international acts such as Thirty Seconds to Mars and the Offspring.


The Market Square boardwalk

This is where the locals like to hang out on those light summer nights. Dine in one of the restaurants surrounding the market square – such as Uleå­borg 1881, located in a converted salt storage facility and serving local specialties like fillet of reindeer with beetroot-­barley ­risotto – and then take a seat by the water and watch the world go by. If you’d rather get active, rent a SUP and paddle towards the idyllic ­Mustasalmi Strait.

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