Best spots along the Pohjola route – from Oulu onwards

2 minute read

Credits: Pihla Peurasaari

Starting from Oulu, the Pohjola Route covers some of the best things in Northern Finland for families and nature enthusiasts

There’s the city culture in Oulu, glacial formations in Rokua Geopark and fells in Syöte National Park. The coastal part of the route offers both sandy beaches and traditional villages. Depending on the place and season, Oulu region is also great for spotting birds and reindeer.

Hailuoto, also known as the Pearl of Bothnian Bay, is an island just outside of Oulu that’s renowned for its spectacular bird-watching.
Credits: Mariia Kauppi

Find your way

The 900 km Pohjola Route runs along the main roads in the Oulu region. The Route is divided into nine sections and can be travelled in parts. The suggested route departs from Oulu and proceeds clockwise, but you can go counterclockwise just as well.

The Pohjola Route can be travelled by car, caravan or bicycle – or you can use public transportation. One option is to do day trips by bus from Oulu to different locations along the route.

Learn more about each section and start planning on Visit Oulu site.

Credits: Visit Oulu

Explore the beaches and coastal towns

The Pohjola Route runs along the coast of Gulf of Bothnia all the way to Kalajoki. As you start from Oulu, make a little detour to Hailuoto, a unique island with sandy beaches and charming traditional villages. The next stop, Raahe, is one of the best-preserved wooden towns in Finland. In summer, you can explore the Raahe archipelago by renting a kayak or by hopping aboard the archipelago cruise which takes off at the museum pier. The southernmost stop on the Pohjola Route is Kalajoki. With its clean beaches, shallow waters and activity parks, Kalajoki is an ideal destination for families.

The lighthouse on Hailuoto Island dates back to the 1870s.
Credits : Mariia Kauppi
Kalajoki is famous for its long, sandy beaches.

Go bird spotting and mountain biking in Liminka

The Pohjola Route travels via 15 rivers, lined with farms and green fields. The area around Liminganlahti, Liminka Bay, is one of Europe’s most significant wetlands. It’s a valuable bird habitat and an important resting area for migrating birds – you might even witness the spring dance of the ruffs or the fall migration of the cranes. The two-storey Virkkula birdwatching tower is easily accessed from the Liminka Bay Visitor Center. The lower level of the tower is also accessible to wheelchairs and baby carriages. You can borrow a pair of binoculars from the Visitor Centre, visit the exhibition or take part on a guided tour. The centre also rents out bikes – Liminka has 100 km of mountain bike trails with routes for cyclists of every age and skill level.

The Whooper Swan is Finland’s national bird.
Credits: Ismo Pekkarinen

Discover the heritage of the ice age at Rokua Geopark

Rokua Geopark is one of the most spectacular destinations for exploring Finnish forests, ridges and dunes – the status as Unesco Global Geopark is awarded to regions with outstanding geology. The Geopark starts around 20 km from the city of Oulu, continuing for over 90 km. The area is comprised of the valley of river Oulujoki, the ridge and dune area of Rokua, and the area north of Lake Oulujärvi. To dig deeper into geology, visit the gneiss bedrock in Kiloniemi, or the Utajärvi geological time trail to see some of the oldest rocks in Europe. The Geopark has hiking paths and trails for all skill levels. For tips and guidance, visit the Liminka Bay Visitor Centre. The Geopark is also ideal for mountain biking, foraging berries and mushrooms, and winter sports like snowshoeing to fat-biking.

Experience the fells and see reindeer at Syöte

Take in the fresh air of the north and head east from Oulu to join the trails and routes running along the southernmost fell area in Finland. At its heart is Syöte National Park with its arctic forests. During the winter, Syöte is one of the snowiest places in Finland, offering everything from husky rides to skiing and snowshoeing. Syöte is also a reindeer husbandry area, so you may encounter a reindeer or two. For travellers seeking an adrenaline rush, Iso-Syöte bike park is just the ticket. Along the drive from Oulu, it is worth stopping at the rapids of Kiiminki’s Koitelinkoski, located just 25 km from the city centre.

Mountain biking and fatbiking are popular activities at many sport resorts in northern Finland. At Syöte, you’ll find 150 km of marked bike routes.
Credits: Olli Oilinki

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