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Oulu, in northern Finland, has a renowned technical college and is now a leading light in Finland's burgeoning computing and microchip industries. A hundred years ago Oulu was the heartland of the world's tar industry and the city's affluence and vibrant cultural scene date from that time.
Places worth visiting in this vibrant town include the 18th century cathedral containing Finland’s oldest oil painting (c.1611). Tietomaa is another of Oulu’s most interesting places to visit. Inside you'll find all sorts of scientific displays of interest where various technologies are explained with lots of hands-on activities. The City Art Museum hosts many exhibitions of Finnish art, of interest to both tourists and locals alike.
For walking enthusiasts try the Botanical Gardens in the University’s grounds, which contain two green houses known as Romeo and Juliet housing over one thousand species from warmer climatic zones. There are also extensive hiking opportunities in the surrounding forests.
Food options cover all tastes and budgets, from the extravagant Neptunus serving seafood on a boat near the market square to the numerous cheap pizzerias. For a traditional Finnish gift, visit the market or the numerous specialty shops selling Finnish and Lappish clothing. For nightlife, the Foxia is busy and plays various types of music. While in Oulu one Finnish experience not to be missed is the sauna, which can be found throughout the city.
To escape the city’s bustle, visit Pikisaari Island with its lush park, streams and (in the summer) open-air theatre. It also houses the oldest building in Oulu, called the Matila House and dating from 1737. It is now a sailors’ home museum.
You can get to Oulu by car using highway E4. There are also regular train services from Helsinki and there is an airport nearby serviced by Finnair.
Car hire is always the best form of transport for exploring the outer reaches of the city. Finland offers tourists stunning views over the Baltic, Sea which spills in through the Gulf of Bothnia forming a lake like shape. Travel North towards Kemi and take in all that this beautiful coastline of scattered islands has to offer.