WELCOME TO OULU - Guide for Newcomers

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Guide for Newcomers

Our guide for newcomers provides information about services and life in Oulu, as well as useful hints on daily life.

Oulu is a northern, sustainably growing, international city in Finland with more than 200,000 inhabitants. In Oulu, we combine a humane, good-natured atmosphere with high technology and entrepreneurship, as well as a smart and distinctive, innovative culture.

Welcome to Oulu!

The City of Oulu is happy to welcome you to Finland and to Oulu – an intelligent, compassionate and creative northern town.

This guidebook provides you with practical information for the first weeks and year of settling into life in Oulu.

Oulu has always been an international city. We have traded tar, wood and mobile phones, and attract tourists who like crazy events like the Air Guitar championships. Nowadays, we are one of the leading digital regions in the world. The University of Oulu runs the leading 6G Flagship research programme, and our companies – such as Nokia, Polar, Oura and iLOQ – create products that are known around the world.

I believe that in the near future we’ll have even more interesting, international job opportunities in our world-class companies. In addition, should you have ideas for a viable business of your own, you will also find relevant contact information for the various business support and development organisations included in this guidebook.

Besides jobs and businesses, I believe the main factors that will make you a true “Ouluan” are the residential environment, surrounding nature, cultural life, and people – the general atmosphere of the city. We’re also working on these by becoming, for example, the European Capital of Culture in 2026.

We hope this guidebook will help you find your way through the Finnish system and make it easier for you to settle in our lovely city. I hope you’ll feel at home with us!

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Contents Check list to go through ......................................................... 5 Housing ................................................................................. 7 Digital and population data services agency .......................... 9 KELA – the social insurance institution of Finland .................. 10 Police and residence permits 11 Bank account 12 Tax office 13 Employment services 14 Health care ............................................................................ 19 Public transportation............................................................. 23 Leisure activities ................................................................... 25 Education .............................................................................. 28 Language training 32 Publisher: BusinessOulu Production: BusinessOulu Layout & design: Tero Suutari, BusinessOulu Photos: City of Oulu, Visit Finland, BusinessOulu, Skyfox, Visit Oulu, University of Oulu Press house:Lehtisepät Oy Press year: 2022 Contacts: salla.hirvonen@businessoulu.com

Checklist to go throug:

1. The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri): Residence and work permits

2. KELA – the Social insurance Institution of Finland: benefits and KELA card

3. Registration at the local Digital and Population Data Services Agency: notification of moving to Finland

4. Bank services: opening an account, paying bills

5. Tax office: tax card, tax percentage, tax return, outstanding tax, tax number

6. Insurance: home insurance (and if you have a car, the mandatory motor liability insurance)

7. Finnish language courses: organisers in Oulu, language proficiency test » ouka.fi

Oulu10 – information under one roof

Oulu10 offers a variety of services to all those visiting and living in Oulu. It is a public service point where you can find a wide range of information about Oulu under one roof. The Oulu10 service point provides guidance in Finnish and English daily service point's permanent staff.

The service specialists in Oulu10 give help and advice in matters related to Oulu and the city’s public services, such as well-being services and health care payments. When you don’t know who to contact regarding a specific matter, Oulu10 will give you initial information about the subject and further contact info, if needed. In addition, Oulu10 works as a sales outlet for a range of services such as: bus tickets, cultural event tickets (Ticketmaster), city fishing permits, reservations for boat mooring berths, and allotments for urban gardening.

In the office lobby, you can also find brochures that include information about events, sports opportunities and social services, as well as guide maps.

Multicultural Centre Villa Victor

services for multilingual people

In Oulu10 you can also visit Multicultural Centre Villa Victor for multilingual guidance. The multilingual guidance gives you information on public authorities and provides tips for different aspects of life and help in problematic situations in several different languages. Multilingual advisors can also provide information on other activities at Villa Victor such as Finnish language courses, info sessions and events. More

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information » ouka.fi & oulu.com Oulu10 Service Point Villa Victor Arrival in Oulu


The advantages of everyday living in Oulu compared to other big cities in Finland have been measured. Compared to Helsinki, for example, an Oulu resident gets double the square metres for their home with the same amount of money. Oulu is divided into districts with excellent basic services, such as grocery stores, schools, day-care, community centres, libraries and health care centres available in the centre of each community. All districts in Oulu are safe.

Rented accommodation

You can rent a house or flat from the municipality (Sivakkayhtymä Oy), real estate agents, or private individuals. When you rent a house or a flat, a rental agreement (vuokrasopimus) in writing and inspection of the current condition of the residence (kuntotarkastus) must be made. The rental agreement can be made for a fixed period (määräaikainen) or on a continuous basis (toistaiseksi voimassa oleva). The amount of rent payable and the date on which it should be paid is stated in the rental agreement. A security deposit must be paid (equivalent to one to three months’ of rent), which will be returned when the house is vacated if there is no damage to the property, cleaning is completed properly, and the rent has been paid on time. Special accommodation is provided for students and young people as well as people with disabilities and senior citizens.

Most Finns live in owner-occupied housing (omistusasunto). One major advantage of owner-occupied housing compared to rented housing is that part of the housing costs, such as mortgage instalments, can be counted as savings. However, buying a home usually entails taking out a loan, which makes it a substantial and long-term economic commitment requiring careful consideration. Examples of popular Finnish web sites for owneroccupied housing include etuovi.com and asunnot.oikotie.fi

Right-of-occupation housing (asumisoikeusasunto) can be obtained by making a down payment (about 10–15% of the total price of the flat) plus monthly rent. It ensures the permanent right to occupy the premises.

Where to find housing or accommodation?

Houses and flats for rent can be found on the housing office webpages and through advertisements in local newspapers or estate agent listings.

General information about housing in Oulu and Finland » infofinland.fi

Rental apartments in Oulu » etuovi.com

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Housing in Finland Housing in Oulu


According to Finnish legislation, you must always submit a notification of moving house if you move permanently into a new home or if your temporary stay at another address is longer than three months. You must also inform the authorities if you are leaving Finland to move abroad, moving to Finland from abroad, or changing your address abroad.

Foreign citizens' personal data can be registered in the Population Information System if the conditions for this are met. You can get a personal identity code if you are staying in Finland legally and there are grounds for registration. Legal residence may be based, for example, on a residence permit, free movement in the EU, a visa or visa exemption.

The Finnish Population Information System is a computerized national register that contains basic information about Finnish citizens and foreign citizens residing in Finland on a permanent or temporary basis. When you register, you will be given a Finnish personal identity code. In Finland, a personal identity code is used to identify people. The information in the system is used throughout Finnish society’s information services and management, including public administration, elections, taxation, judicial administration, research, and statistics. Businesses and other private organizations can also gain access to the information. Basic information related to the identification of people and buildings is registered in the Population Information System.

Grounds for registration include:

• working* or studying** in Finland or other similar reasons

• a family member who already has a registered address in Finland

• a residence permit or residence card issued to Finland by the Finnish Immigration Service or a registration decision on the right of residence of an EU citizen.

If you have a residence permit or a residence card issued by the Finnish Immigration Service, or if the Finnish Immigration Service has registered your right of residence, you usually have already been issued a personal identity code. The Finnish Tax Administration may also have given you a personal identity code if you have received a tax number. However, if you want your address and family relations to be recorded, you must register at the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.

*Please note that you must have a right to work in Finland if you are applying for registration based on an employment contract.

**The studies must be vocational or higher education studies that lead to a degree.

More information » dvv.fi/en/individuals Digital and Population Data Services Agency

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Kela looks after basic health and social security for all persons residing in Finland. The terms and conditions of the benefits provided by Kela are defined by legislation. Once your personal identity code has been issued by the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, you must visit Kela to find out if you are entitled to Finnish social security benefits as well as to order a Kela card.


License-related services (passports, driving licences, etc.) are best reached by booking an appointment, which can be made online. No appointment is needed for collecting processed documents; just take a queuing number and wait for your turn. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can make an appointment in person at the service desk or by using self-service at the Oulu Central Police Station.

The Kela card

If you are entitled to Finnish social security, Kela will send you a personal health insurance card, i.e. the Kela card (Kela-kortti) by post. The expiry date (if applicable) is marked on the back of the card. If you leave Finland permanently, the card must be returned to Kela. By presenting the Kela card at a pharmacy or at private medical clinics, part of the cost can be reimbursed by Kela. You can use your Finnish ID card or driving licence at pharmacies if you haven’t got your Kela card with you. No reimbursements are available for medical services obtained from public sector providers.

In order to obtain a Kela card you will need to:

• have a residence permit or the right to stay in Finland

• be considered residing permanently in Finland (e.g. return migration, employment with minimum income of EUR 741.75 per month, a marriage, or other close familial relationship with a person permanently residing in Finland)

Persons moving to Finland solely for studying are not considered to be taking up permanent residence. In addition, eligibility for the card depends on agreements between Finland and the country you are moving from.

For example, EU/EEA citizens and Swiss nationals will have access to necessary medical care by presenting their European Health Insurance Card. Other foreign students may also have the right to healthcare. Contact Kela to find out about your situation.

More information & contacts:

Kela has Customer Service telephone numbers for various benefits (Mon-Fri) 9.00-15.00.

Oulu’s Kela office is located at Sepänkatu 18, city centre. » www.kela.fi

The police handle matters concerning:

• passports

• applications for identity (ID) cards for foreigners

• licenses (e.g. driving, firearms)

• permits (e.g. for events)

• Criminal cases

• Traffic cases

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Police customer service: Tel. +358 (0)295 419 800 (weekdays 8.00–16.15) Street address: Kirkkokatu 13, Oulu Online » asiointi.poliisi.fi Police of Finland » poliisi.fi
Kela customer service in


In Finland, almost all financial transactions are managed through a bank (pankki). For this reason, you must have a bank account. A bank card and online bank user identifier are provided when a bank account is opened. A bank card enables to draw cash from ATMs (pankkiautomaatti/Otto/Nosto) and pay for purchases. In Finland, many digital services such as online shopping and official matters, require an online bank user ID. All banks offer Internet banking services and various types of cards for additional services. You are free to choose which bank you use. Some banks that are available in Oulu: Aktia, Danske Bank, Nordea,


Everyone in Finland must pay taxes from their income to the state and municipality. Salaries or unemployment benefits are subject to earned income taxes. Earned income taxes in Finland are progressive, which means they are based on income level.

Opening a personal bank account in Finland

The documentation required varies slightly between banks. To minimise the possibility of difficulty, take numerous forms of photo identification and documents proving your address.

Invoices can be paid through Internet banking. The bank can provide instructions for paying bills online. Some banks may require a stable income for Internet banking services. Ask your bank for further details. Invoices can also be paid at the cashier’s desk at a bank, but this costs about EUR 5–6, depending on the bank. Please note: invoices should always be paid on time. The due date (eräpäivä) on the invoice is the last day set for payment. If you pay later, you may be charged extra. If you encounter difficulties in paying the bill on the due date, contact the company in question well in advance and agree with them on a payment arrangement.

Banks have no duty to arrange interpretation services. The customer is responsible for the interpretation services s/he needs. Some banks in Oulu offer services in English, however: feel free to ask!

More information:

» www.expat-finland.com

The taxation of capital income is progressive, too. The capital tax rate is 30%; for the portion of taxable capital income that exceeds EUR 30,000 the tax rate is 34%. Tax funds are used to pay for public services such as healthcare, education and social benefits.

a new card can be requested during the year if the realised income is higher or lower than originally estimated.

Please note: You will be taxed 60% on everything you earn while working without a tax card.


A list of banks in Finland


If you work in Finland, a tax card (verokortti) must be given to the employer. The employer deducts taxes directly from your gross salary and credits the net salary into your bank account. In order to obtain a tax card, you must visit the tax office. Remember to take along your employment contract, passport and personal identity code. A tax card can also be applied for online if you have access codes to Internet banking. Thereafter, the tax card can be renewed online or by phone.

The tax percentage (determined in accordance with income) will be stated on the tax card, as well as the estimated total amount of annual income. A revision of the tax percentage and

More information and contacts:

infofinland.fi & vero.fi

About taxation Contact Oulu tax office

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OP Oulun Osuuspankki, POP-pankki and S-Pankki.


Municipal employment trial

The municipal employment trial is a nationwide project in which some of the Employment and Economic Development Office’s tasks are transferred to the municipality. The purpose of the trial is to improve client access to the labour market.

In this area, the municipal employment trial covers Oulu, Hailuoto, Ii, Kempele, Liminka, Lumijoki, Muhos and Tyrnävä. These municipalities provide employment services for their jobseekers.

In Oulu, this means that BusinessOulu’s Employment Services are responsible for the services.

You can become a client of the municipal employment trial if you are an immigrant or your mother tongue is not Finnish or Swedish.


On the TE-Services website, you’ll find the keys to starting work and living in Finland as well as open positions. Services are offered to those who are currently working or entering working life, as well as employers » tyomarkkinatori.fi

From vacancy search, you’ll find all the vacancies reported to TE-services » tyomarkkinatori.fi (in Finnish, Swedish, English, Easy Finnish and Sami).

BusinessAsema – employment and entrepreneurship issues

More info and criteria:

Telephone: +358 8 558 558 10

Opening hours: Mon–Fri 9 .00-15:00.

Street address: Hallituskatu 36 B

You can visit BusinessAsema’s service guidance without an appointment.

At BusinessAsema, employers and employees meet in an environment that offers handy options for developing your personal expertise as well as your business. Drop by for lunch or remote work, take a peek into FabLab, and take part in events. You can get free-of-charge counselling in employment- and entrepreneurship-related matters from the Service Desk or through appointment. BusinessAsema also offers free working space.

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Direct link to Job Market Finland Direct link to open vacancies Direct link to criteria

BusinessAsema’s experts know not just the needs of employers, but also further education options to help you find your individual path. Various educational packages particularly related to digitalisation are also offered. Come and visit the Digipaja and FabLab.

BusinessAsema Service Desk is open on weekdays between 9.00-15:00. You can also book a remote counselling appointment for certain services. » businessasema.com

The Oulu Skills Centre (OSKE)

The Oulu Skills Centre (OSKE) is a go-to place for immigrants without a job or a place to study.

The goal of OSKE is to accelerate the employment of immigrants in Oulu. To achieve that, OSKE provides free services to unemployed job seekers with a residence permit, and work closely with organizations promoting employment, educational institutions, and employers.

OSKE is the right place if you:

• have a question about working or studying

• are looking for a job or a place to study and need help

• want to know which field of study or profession would be a good fit for you

• need Finnish language support if you start a work trial, apprenticeship, or work

All services are free of charge.

For more information » ouka.fi/oske or call or send us a message at 040 558 4647 or 040 620 6923.

Follow OSKE on Facebook: @OulunOske and LinkedIn: Oulun Osaamiskeskus

Byström Ohjaamo guidance centre

Offers information, assistance and guidance on employment, education, health and well-being and leisure activities for people under the age of 30. At Byström, you are free to use computers, printers, copiers and the Internet. All services are free of charge. » ouka.fi

Startup refugees

Startup Refugees is a social innovation founded in Finland. Together with a network of more than 1,000 members, they offer asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants support in employment and entrepreneurship. » startuprefugees.com

Useful links for job seeking

Here you'll find jobs targeted at English-speaking professionals » jobsinfinland.fi

The guide provides information on, for example, pay, working hours, and holidays » www.tyosuojelu.fi .

Oulu Talent Hub brings together and develops regional opportunities and services for international recruitment. » oulutalenthub.fi .

As a foreign employee in Finland

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Direct link to the Byström site


Public health care

All residents with a Kela card have the right to use the social and health care services provided by the City. Municipalities take care of most health care services, which include basic health care, child health and maternity clinics, school health care, and oral health care. Employed persons are entitled to occupational healthcare. Check what services are covered by your employer.

If you fall ill, please first contact your own health clinic. You can make an appointment with a general practitioner or nurse at your own health clinic. Public health care services are relatively cheap for clients, because they are funded through tax revenue. » infofinland.fi

Health care centres

Health clinics (Terveysasema) are responsible for the basic health care of the residents within the district. You may also choose another clinic, if it is more convenient, once every 12 months. For more information, contact your health care centre.

List of Health care centres » ouka.fi

Private health care

Private health services can be used by everyone, including those who do not have a municipality of residence in Finland. Although Finnish public health care is of high quality, you can choose to go to private clinics.

It may be easier and quicker to get an appointment, especially if you need to see a specialist. Private health services are considerably more expensive for the client than public ones. Kela pays a small part of the expenses of private health care and dental care if you are covered by Finnish national health insurance (sairausvakuutus). Sometimes a person who is not covered by Finnish national health insurance may also be entitled to Kela reimbursements. Ask for more information at Kela.

Appointments can be made by phone or Internet. Please note: Although a child might have private insurance giving the parents the option of taking him/her to see a private doctor, the child still has to undergo regular check-ups at the public child health clinic (neuvola). The main private clinics (lääkäriasema) in Oulu are Mehiläinen, Pihlajalinna and Terveystalo. In addition, there is a large number of private dental clinics (hammaslääkäri). You can find contact information for them on the Internet. » infofinland.fi

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Health care centres in Oulu Health services in Finland

Hospital and emergency

Oulu University Hospital offers high-quality specialised healthcare services provided by top professionals in the field. Patient care is based on the latest research, best practices in treatment, and the use of state-of-the-art technology.

During office hours, Mon–Thu 8.00–16.00, Fri 8.00–15.00, contact your local health clinic. In case of sudden illness or minor injury, a nurse or physician at your local health care centre can help you. Outside office hours, contact the emergency duty service (päivystys) at Oulu University Hospital. Please call the health advice number 116 117 before going to the emergency unit. The health advice service is available 24/7, also on weekends and public holidays. The service will assess your medical condition and urgency of care. You must first register at the emergency unit. Patients are treated in order of urgency.

The emergency number (hätänumero) in Finland is 112. Call the emergency number in case of emergencies where life, health, property or the environment is in danger.

Pharmacies and medicine

Medicines (lääkkeet) are sold in pharmacies (apteekki). A doctor’s prescription is required for certain medicines. The pharmacy staff will inform the customer if a cheaper alternative exists for medicines containing the same active ingredients. There are many pharmacies in the Oulu region.

The following pharmacies are found in the city and have long opening hours:

• University Pharmacy (Yliopiston apteekki)

• Central Pharmacy of Oulu (Oulun keskusapteekki)

It is forbidden to receive medicines sent by post from countries outside the EEA area. Although medicines can be sent from EEA countries, there are rules concerning the quantity as well as individual country regulations.

Contact the customs authority (Tulli) before having any medicine sent from abroad.


Oulu city centre is easily accessible by foot, bicycle, car and public transportation. A wide range of public transportation (train, coach, air) is offered to destinations in Finland and Europe.

Customs Information Service:

tel. +358 (0)20 690 600.

» tulli.fi


Oulu has the most extensive cycle track network in Finland, covering the entire city and neighbouring municipalities. Bicycles should be parked on bicycle stands. Remember to lock your bike at all times when not in use. People in Oulu also ride their bikes in winter. When it is dark you need to have lights on your bicycle*, or you risk receiving a fine from the police. Wearing a helmet is highly recommended. Bicycles can be bought from bike shops, second-hand outlets and the recycling centre. Make sure the second-hand bicycle you purchase is not stolen by, for example, checking its origin. (*Both a white headlight and a red tail light)

» ouka.fi


In addition to local buses, three city bus routes operate within the city centre. Most of the local buses stop at Torikatu. You can pay with a credit card, Waltti travel card, mobile app or coins when boarding a bus. Waltti cards are available at Oulu10 services. Individual tickets can be bought from the bus driver. Connecting buses are free within one hour from the time of getting on the first bus. Different types of magnetic cards exist, offering multiple journeys as well as child and student discount cards. The bus fares double between 11.00 pm and 4.00 am.

Buses are free for

• one adult with a baby pram

• children under the age of 7 travelling with adults

• people with physical disabilities in a wheelchair accompanied by their helpers

Timetables and tickets » ouka.fi

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Import restrictions for medicines Cycling in Oulu Public transport in Oulu


Taxis are rather expensive in Finland. The fare depends on the length of the trip and the time of day. You cannot hail a taxi on the street, so you must either call for a taxi or go to a taxi stand. When calling, state your name and address and the place where the taxi should arrive.

Some local taxi services:

» otaxi.fi

» meneva.fi

» 02taksi.fi

Long distance transport

Oulu Airport (lentoasema) – the second busiest airport in Finland, offering numerous daily flights. It is situated in the district of Oulunsalo, a 20-minute drive from the city centre. Buses numbered 8 and 9 go to the airport and take the following route: airport – city centre – university/Technopolis in Linnanmaa » finavia.fi/airports/

Railway station (rautatieasema) – Oulu Railway Station is situated in the city centre. Trains go north, south and east. You can view train time tables and purchase tickets online. The address is Rautatienkatu 11 A, city centre » vr.fi.

Long-distance coach (linja-autoasema) – the coach station is located on the other side of the railway station. Information on timetables is available online. You can also purchase coach tickets online or from the coach driver. The address is Ratakatu 6, Raksila district » matkahuolto.fi


If you have a driving license and you want to exchange it for a Finnish license, please familiarise yourself with this guidance soon after arriving. For the exchange, there are time limits and other conditions that apply. After the time limit has passed or if other conditions apply, the driving examination is needed (fees apply).

» ajokortti-info.fi

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Airport of Oulu Credits: illustrator Sanna Mander / Visit Finland


Free time is important to Finnish people. Newspapers and local papers have details about events taking place daily. Local events are also advertised on the website or social media of your town or municipality. Finland’s four seasons give ample opportunities for a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities!

Sports and recreation

The City of Oulu provides various sports facilities in various parts of the city. They can be used for a variety of sports, including badminton, basketball, volleyball, tennis, floorball, gym training, athletics, skateboarding, football and ice hockey. The facilities are generally open to the public but are sometimes reserved for clubs. Oulu also has an extensive network of jogging and walking tracks which serve as crosscountry skiing trails in winter. About 350 kilometres of the tracks are partly illuminated, and in late winter skiing trails are also laid on the sea ice » oulu.com

If you have questions concerning leisure activities in Oulu, you can always contact the City Service Point Oulu10, Torikatu 10, city centre, tel. +358 (0)8 558 55800 (Mon–Thu 8.00–17.00, Fri 8.00–16.00), or Tourist Information at BusinessAsema, Hallituskatu 36 B » visitoulu.fi/info

Swimming pools and beaches

Swimming pools:

• Oulu Swimming Pool, Pikkukankaantie 3, Raksila district, tel. +358 (0)8 5584 8100

• Raatti Swimming Pool, Raatintie 2, tel. +358 (0)8 5584 8105

• Vesi-Jatuli, Jokelantie 20, 90830 Haukipudas, tel. +358 (0)30 6207 000

Oulu has over 20 official beaches by the river, lakes and sea fronts. During the peak summer season, lifeguards patrol the Nallikari and Tuira beaches. Beach volleyball pitches are available on Nallikari, Pateniemi, Pyykösjärvi and Tuira beaches. A hole in the ice for winter swimming is situated at Tuira beach, Koskitie 58.

» ouka.fi

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Leisure activities in Oulu Sports and excercise in Oulu Beaches and ice swimming in Oulu

Guided exercise and sport clubs

The City arranges low-cost, guided exercise (e.g. swimming classes, fitness instruction) for children, families, young people, adults and seniors in gyms, swimming pools and other facilities. Services are also provided for people with special needs. For more information, tel. +358 (0)44 7038015. Various sports clubs (including golf, tennis, gymnastics, ballet, karate) and private gyms also organise sports and exercise classes for people of all ages. Sports range from dance, martial arts, various ball and racket / team sports to horse-riding and archery.

For a list of about 200 clubs in Oulu » ouka.fi


If you are interested in growing your own food, the City of Oulu rents allotments for summer. Contact Oulu10 for details. Oulu also has many nature trails, campfire sites and bird-watching towers. You can often buy firewood from petrol stations or larger supermarkets. » ouka.fi/outdoor

Brochures and maps in Finnish and English can be found at Tourist Information at BusinessAsema (address: Hallituskatu 36 B) or Oulu10 (address: Torikatu 10).

There are many national parks and other recreational areas perfect for hiking and other recreational purposes all year round in all parts of Finland. National parks are managed by the state-owned enterprise Metsähallitus and access to them is free of charge. » nationalparks.fi

Visit Oulu & Tourist Information Office

Oulu Tourist Information Office provides useful information and tips for all visitors to Oulu, regardless of the length of their stay. The Oulu region ties nine destinations together, all of which provide you with specialties of their own.

A new ring route, the Pohjola Route, has been launched in the Oulu region. The route is 900 km/560 mi approximately in length, and it offers unique experiences and adventures to families and nature enthusiasts, both to those who are driving and those who are using public transport.

» pohjolanrengastie.fi


Oulu selected as the European Capital of Culture in 2026!

A total of 32 municipalities from Northern Finland have joined together on Oulu’s journey. Through co-operation, they want to bring more culture and well-being to the North as well as create new jobs and develop our region.

Oulu’s exciting new Cultural Strategy, covering the period from 2020 until 2030, was approved by the City Council in January 2020. It builds on an earlier City-wide Strategy ‘Oulu2026 – The Light of the North’, defining concrete measures to become a vibrant, attractive and fascinating city. Becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2026 is one of the core stepping-stones to reach Oulu’s strategic goals. The future of Oulu is built around courage, fairness and responsibility – values which we believe are fundamental not just to the future of Oulu, but to Europe as a whole. » oulu2026.eu

Oulu is an active city full of culture. Numerous theatres, museums and exhibitions delight culture enthusiasts throughout the year. Classical music lovers are sure to enjoy the concerts of the Oulu Symphony Orchestra, and rock and easy listening music fans are treated with frequent club gigs. During the summer, various outdoor events and summer theatres extend the cultural offering even further.

Questions concerning leisure activities in Oulu?

Please contact the City Service Point Oulu10, Torikatu 10, city centre, tel. +358 (0)8 558 558 00 (Mon–Thu 9.00–17.00, Fri 10.00–16.00), or Tourist Information at BusinessAsema, Hallituskatu 36 B, tel. +358 (0)8 558413 30 (Mon–Fri 10.00–16.00).

Traditional art is complemented by new city culture trends: game culture and film and media arts are all well represented.

The City of Oulu owns the town’s seven biggest cultural institutions: Oulu Theatre, Oulu City Library, Oulu Museum of Art, Northern Ostrobothnia Museum, Oulu Music Centre Cultural Centre Valve and Science Centre Tietomaa.

Several amateur and private companies and guest performers also enhance the city's cultural diversity.

» tapahtumat.munoulu.fi

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List of clubs


Early childhood education (daycare)

Early childhood education services (daycare services) support the growth and well-being of children under school age (7 years of age) and their families. In Oulu, every child has the right to full-time early childhood education. Early childhood education is subject to a monthly fee, which is determined by the size of the family, the gross income and the scope of the service chosen for the child. The family can also choose part-time early childhood education for their child. As a free option, the family can opt for an open early childhood club activity.

The English language immersion group for children aged 4–6 operates in the Allinpuisto daycare centre. There are also English-speaking groups in the Tuulikello daycare centre.

The Pikku-Aino daycare centre offers language-enriched early childhood education in English as well.

In the private sector, English early childhood education is available at Touhula Starbright or the English playschool. There are also Swedish and German private daycare centres in Oulu. » ouka.fi

Basic education and secondary education

Every child living in Oulu has the right to obtain first-class, diverse and free basic education near his or her home. Each child has the right to attend pre-school for one year in the year prior to starting basic education.

School healthcare, school meals and study materials are free for all pupils in basic education, vocational and upper secondary schools.

The City of Oulu Department of Education also runs an international school: Oulu International School, OIS - for pupils in classes one to nine. Teaching and other activities are mostly provided in English. The curriculum is based on the local basic education curriculum and IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization) programmes.

After basic education (ages 7–16), students can move on to general upper secondary education or to vocational upper secondary education and training. » ouka.fi

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Daycare services in Oulu
Pre-school in Oulu Oulu International School Comprehensive school in Oulu Upper secondary school Vocational school


The University of Oulu was founded in 1958. University of Oulu is one of the largest universities in Finland and one of the northernmost universities in the world, with eight faculties, 13,500 students, and nearly 3,500 employees in two campuses, Linnanmaa and Kontinkangas.

University of Oulu is ranked in the top three percent of all 17,000 universities in the world. The university offers 20 Master’s programmes (2 years) and two Bachelor´s and Master´s programmes (3 + 2 years) taught in English. » oulu.fi

The Oulu University of Applied Sciences offers its 9,000 students Bachelor and Master degree programme studies, professional specialisation studies, pedagogical studies at the School of Vocational Teacher Education, Open University studies as well as supplementary training.

SIMHE-Oamk offers guidance for the immigrants living in the area of Northern Finland. SIMHE-Oamk provides personal guidance related to study opportunities for immigrants interested in higher education studies. The guidance services are available also for all immigrants with higher education background. » oamk.fi

Adult, supplementary and further education

Various educational institutes provide adult education. Learning and Research Services at the University of Oulu offers further education programs. You can also attend universitylevel courses at the Oulu Open University and at the Summer University of Northern Ostrobothnia. » oulu.fi & ppkyo.fi

Mooc’s-courses are offered by the University of Helsinki’s Department of Computer Science. No prior knowledge is required — beginners can start to learn programming basics from the Programming with Java course, or start to get familiar with artificial intelligence from the course Elements of Ai.

» mooc.fi

JOY (University of Oulu)

JOY, the university of continuous learning, offers educational solutions for all of life's situations. Offering consists of their courses in English and language and communication studies.

» oulu.fi/en/joy

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International programmes, University of Oulu Oulu open university Oulu University of Applied Sciences Summer university of Northern Ostrobothnia Mooc's courses JOY


The official languages in Finland are Finnish and Swedish. The large majority of people living in the Oulu region are Finnish speakers. It is important to study Finnish, as language skills make it easier to find a job and to integrate into daily life. Start today! Several institutions offer Finnish language courses (suomen kielen kurssit) at different levels and costs.

Villa Victor

Finnish teaching is provided on a non-stop basis from elementary to advanced level in several groups. Classes are offered practically free of charge on a non-stop basis, so you have the option to join any group that suits your own skills and timetable. In addition, Villa Victor organises special nonrecurring courses on request, e.g. together with the University of Oulu. » ouka.fi


A community college owned and run by the City of Oulu, offering hobby and study opportunities for people of all ages. Oulu-opisto organises tailor-made English and Finnish courses for foreign groups. » ouka.fi

language courses

Kielikahvila – Language Café

Language cafe is a multicultural place and venue. Purpose is to promote multiculturalism, the learning of Finnish language and encounterings between people. The languagge cafe is organized by the Finnish Red Cross / Oulu department and the main library / City of Oulu.

» kielikahvila@oulunosasto.fi

» rednet.punainenristi.fi

Summer University of Northern Ostrobothnia

Various courses all year round » ppkyo.fi

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Finnish Oulu-opisto


University of Oulu

The Language and Communication Unit organises Finnish courses from survival course level to advanced level. These free-of-charge courses are intended both for international students (degree students and exchange students) and personnel of the University of Oulu. » oulu.fi

Online studies

» yle.fi

» sanosuomeksi.com

Finnish language proficiency test

The national language proficiency test (yleinen kielitutkinto, YKI-testi) is intended for adults. Passing the test in Finnish or Swedish and attaining the national certificate of language proficiency is required for obtaining Finnish citizenship.

The test can be taken at three different levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. The tests are arranged in Oulu a few times a year by the Oulu General Upper Secondary School for Adults (Oulun aikuislukio) and the University of Oulu Language Centre. Registration must be made 1–2 months in advance. The fee is EUR 120–180, depending on the level.

For more information contact the above-mentioned institutions and Finnish National Board of Education (Opetushallitus).

» yki@oph.fi, oph.fi


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Learn Finnish language and culture Say it in Finnish Learn Finnish or Swedish Direct link to a courses Direct link to the university courses Common degree in Finnish
WELCOME TO OULU GUIDE FOR NEWCOMERS Produced by BusinessOulu 2022 oulu.com
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