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Ski runs and national parks, ancient ruins, beaches and a full calendar of music and cultural festivals make this one of Finland’s most enjoyable cities.

Oulu is a thriving high-tech city, with science parks, research institutes and IT companies. It sits on the shores of the Bay of Bothnia and spreads across several islands. Consequently water and nature are big parts of life in Oulu. Play in the snow, go on a history tour and sing and dance at one of the many music festivals.

The city is ideal for cyclists with an extensive network of cycle lanes covering the entire urban area. You can even get on your bike in the winter along routes that are regularly plowed. Try ice fishing and head to the national parks of Syöte and Rokua for sledding and cross-country skiing. Enjoy more of the outdoor life in summer with picnicking at Hupisaaret Park and relaxing on a riverside beach.

Oulu’s position close to the Arctic Circle means it experiences the midnight sun. Visit during June, July and August when most days receive sunshine for the full 24 hours. The opposite effect occurs in winter when the sun stays below the horizon and Oulu is wrapped in darkness for two months.

Take a self-guided tour of Oulu’s historic sites. Visit the 18th-century cathedral and see the remains of an old castle on Castle Island. Wander through the rooms of the Sailor’s Home Museum, the city’s oldest surviving wooden building, constructed in 1739.

Oulu’s annual cultural and music festivals draw huge crowds. Among the most popular are the Oulu Music Festival and the dancing, music and storytelling of the Irish Festival, a celebration of Irish culture. Watch competitors from several countries at the Air Guitar World Championships to see who is the best at playing imaginary instruments.

To get to Oulu, fly into the city’s international airport and then get around by bus, car, bike or on foot. Enjoy Oulu’s beaches, museums, gardens and festivals. Reserve some time for bird-watching and forest walks on the island of Hailuoto, a short ferry ride from Oulu. During the winter you can drive to Hailuoto across a road made of ice.

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