You have made a good choice in coming to Oulu. Even if Oulu may seem as a distant location from home, it can be reached fairly easily by many means of transportation.
Exchange students will be met by a peer tutor of Oulu UAS at Oulu Airport or Railway Station or in Oulainen. To enable this exchange students must inform the international co-ordinator and/or the peer tutor of his/her arrival date, time and means of communication (e.g. a flight number) at least two weeks prior to the arrival. Please take into account that this meeting and greeting or pick up service is only available between 07:00 and 22:00 and plan your travels accordingly.
All prices, services and service hours described hereafter are presented as directive and can fluctuate or change. Prices have been checked in April 2016.
Finland and Oulu can be easily reached by air; several airlines fly regularly to the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, the main airport of Finland.
Oulu Airport is the second busiest airport in Finland with numerous daily connections from/to Helsinki. There are also seasonal services from/to Alicante, Gran Canaria and Tenerife. There is also a regular flight service by Arctic Airlink between Oulu, Luleå in Sweden and Tromsø in Norway. Information about the Oulu Airport and other airports in Finland and travel connections to and from the airports is available on the website of the Finnish airport operator Finavia.
It is also advisable to ask for student or youth fares to Oulu from travel agencies specialised in student and youth travel. E.g. STA Travel and Kilroy Travels have many representatives all around the world. You should also always first check the prices of a flight ticket all the way to Oulu, not only to e.g. Helsinki. This way the connecting flight to Oulu might be cheaper. Remember to check also the fare rules and conditions of your flight ticket – the cheaper the price the less likely you will be able to make any changes to booked and paid tickets.
Finnair and Norwegian Air Shuttle have several daily flight connections between Helsinki and Oulu. In 2016, depending on the season, Norwegian Air Shuttle has weekly non-stop services between Alicante, Las Palmas and Tenerife Sur and Oulu.
Separately bought Finnair flights from Helsinki to Oulu cost normally from ca. 80 - 90 EUR/return. Depending on the fare class luggage may or may not be included in the fare. Finnair’s fare classes ‘Light’ and `Campaign´ do not include checked-in luggage, a bag of 23 kg costs ca. 10 EUR extra/way, in the other fare classes baggage is included. Norwegian’s fares are from ca. 39 EUR / oneway (+ luggage fee from 9 EUR). Norwegian's tickets bought through travel agencies often include two pieces of luggage. Discounted fares are often available on both carriers, too (the cheapest options are usually under 60 EUR/return). Please check the current prices for your travel dates from the airlines or travel agencies.
The Finnish airport operator Finavia’s website provides a handy tool for searching flight connections to/from Finnish airports: Search flight connections.
Many of the so-called low-fares airlines operate flights to Finland. Below are the main low-fares connections used by previous international students. The airlines can open and suspend their routes very quickly, so please check the current flight connections when making your own travel plans.
Norwegian Air Shuttle flies between Helsinki and Oulu. Norwegian offers also transfer connections to Oulu from certain destinations in their route network. Norwegian operates also weekly seasonal flights between Tenerife Sur, Gran Canaria and Alicante and Oulu.
The following low-cost carriers fly to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (situation in April 2015):
From Helsinki it is easy to come to Oulu either by plane, train or bus (see details below in the respective chapters).
Ryanair has regular services from several airports to Tampere Airport’s Terminal 2. (NB! Ryanair has announced that it will suspend flights to/from Tampere for the winter season 2015/2016.) Tampere is located ca 200 km north-west of Helsinki and ca 500 km south of Oulu. You can travel from Tampere to Oulu by train
Wizz Air and AirBaltic operate flights to Turku in Southwestern Finland. From Turku you can take a train to Oulu.
For more information on flight timetables and fares, please contact the respective airline or student travel agency, e.g.
Student/youth travel agencies:
Oulu Airport – Oulu
Oulu Airport is located in Oulunsalo ca 14 km southwest of the centre of Oulu. There is a regular local bus connections on the bus lines 8 (not 8B!) and 9 from the Oulu Airport terminal to the centre of Oulu. If you have a lot of luggage it may be advisable to take a taxi. A taxi to downtown Oulu costs about 30 euro depending on the journey, number of passengers and time of the day. To order a taxi service in Oulu, please dial 0600-30081 (from abroad +358 600 30081).
A single bus ticket from the airport to the city centre costs 4.70 EUR (23:00-04:00 double price). A bus ticket that entitles to one connecting bus journey on city zone local buses in Oulu within 80 min from the start of the journey costs 8.20 EUR (23:00-04:00 double price) and is called "seutusiirtolippu" (= regional transfer ticket). Buses to the centre run on weekday peak hours approximately every 15-30 minutes, in weekday evenings every 40 minutes and at other times once in an hour. The last buses leave from Oulu Airport every day at 23:20 and 01:25. The timetable is available on the Oulu PTA’s website.
Oulu Airport – Oulainen
If you are going to Oulainen, please discuss the connections from Oulu Airport to Oulainen with your international co-ordinator at Oulu University of Applied Sciences. The easiest connection to Oulainen will be to take a taxi from the Oulu Airport to the Oulu Railway Station and then a train to Oulainen. From the Airport you can also take the bus 9 to Toripakka bus stop in downtown (4.70 EUR) and change there to the Citybus A, B or C to get to the Oulu Railway Station (1.50 EUR). A normal-priced single train ticket from Oulu to Oulainen costs less than 20 EUR depending on the train service. Please see the train timetables and ticket prices at the VR website.
There are 10-12 daily trains from Helsinki to Oulu. The journey time is usually ca 6-8 hours (9-10 hours on the overnight trains). To take a train to Oulu you should first go from Helsinki Airport to Tikkurila or Helsinki Central Railway Station. Most train connections to Oulu depart from Helsinki Central Railway Station. Only a few night trains depart from Pasila Car Carrier Station and not from Helsinki Central Railway Station. All long haul trains to Oulu call also at Tikkurila station in Vantaa. Certain trains (mainly InterCity trains) stop also in Oulainen on their way from Helsinki to Oulu. The journey time from Helsinki to Oulainen is ca 6 hours.
Helsinki Airport – Helsinki Central Railway Station and Tikkurila Station
The journey from Helsinki Airport to the centre of Helsinki takes ca 30 – 40 minutes.
A Ring Rail Line commuter train connection between Helsinki-Vantaa Airport and the centre of Helsinki offers a fast and frequent service between Helsinki Airport and Helsinki Central Railway Station and Tikkurila Station. The commuter trains I and P of the Ring Rail Line will bring you from the airport to downtown in ca 30 minutes (trains depart every 10 - 30 minutes depending on the time of the day). The P trains will run clockwise (i.e. Helsinki – Myyrmäki – Airport – Tikkurila – Helsinki) and I trains will run counterclockwise (i.e. Helsinki – Tikkurila – Airport – Myyrmäki – Helsinki). Regional public transport tickets (5.50 EUR) will be valid on these train services. For further information on the Ring Rail Line see the HSL website.
You can also take either the Finnair City Bus [.pdf] (6.30 EUR, ca 30 min) or the public regional bus 615 (5.50 EUR, at nights 02:00 – 04:30 7.00 EUR, travel time ca. 40 - 50 min) from the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport to the Helsinki Central Railway Station. Buses leave approximately every 20 minutes, with fewer services in the evenings and nights). The Finnair City Buses arrive on the Eliel Square and public regional buses (615) on the Rautatientori Square at the Helsinki Central Railway Station.
Ring Rail Line trains transport people also between Helsinki Airport and Tikkurila Stations. From the Helsinki Airport to Tikkurila you should take the P train and from Tikkurila to Helsinki Airport the I train. Train tickets including the transfer connection between the airport and Tikkurila station and a long haul train ticket to anywhere in Finland can be bought for the entire journey through all VR sales channels.
The Oulu Railway Station is in the centre of the city.
If you are coming to Oulu from Tampere or Turku Airport, a train will most likely be the easiest option to travel to Oulu. In both Tampere Airport and Turku Airport you must first take a bus or a taxi to the railway station. Check train timetables and ticket prices on the VR website.
You should also check the opening hours of the railway station booking offices on the VR website prior to travel. The surcharge for purchasing a ticket from the conductor on the train is 5 EUR (charged if the ticket office at the station was open upon the departure of the train). Train tickets can also be bought on the internet, VR ticket vending machines, through VR phone service and most R Kiosks.
Please, do not arrive in Oulu on the night train that arrives at Oulu Railway Station between 4 and 5 am. Instead, take the next train that will arrive in Oulu at ca 07:30.
NOTICE! There are major engineering works going on in the main railway line south of Oulu. This may cause changes and disruptions to train services and replacement buses may be in operation in parts of the journey. Up-to-date timetables are always available on the VR website
A student discount on the Finnish Railways is 30% on Basic and Serial tickets. Notice, however, that you are not entitled to the student discount on the Finnish Railways until you have registered yourself with the Oulu University of Applied Sciences and obtained a student card that entitles you to the discount on Finnish Railways (i.e. a student union's card or a VR/Matkahuolto Student Card). Please notice also that international student cards such as ISIC do not entitle to discount on Finnish Railways! VR offers also Saver tickets that are often cheaper than the student discount tickets. You might also want to consider joining the VR loyal customer programme Veturi (free of charge) as VR offers often special discounts on train travel for members of the Veturi programme.
Further information elsewhere on the internet:
- VR – Finnish Railways: www.vr.fi
There are also 4-6 daily bus connections on the long-haul buses from Helsinki to Oulu. Notice, however, that on the buses the travel time is remarkably longer and the fares often higher than on the railways. For more information on long-haul bus connections in Finland, please see the Matkahuolto website. A normal-priced one-way ticket on an express bus from Helsinki to Oulu costs around 100 EUR (journey time ca 9-13 hours). If you want to travel by bus, check the Helsinki-Oulu bus timetables. Some bus services have also a connecting bus service to/from Helsinki Airport (change of buses at Kerava Rest Area).
There are also Onnibus low cost bus services in operation in some parts of the country. Onnibus has daily services between Helsinki and Oulu. The travel time is 9 – 10 hours. For further information, please see the Onnibus website. Fares on Onnibus are from 2 EUR / way when bought online in advance on their own website.
If you plan to take a bus to Oulu, the most frequent connections are from Helsinki bus station in Kamppi. To get there you should take either the commuter train P or I, or the public regional bus 615 or the Finnair City Bus from Helsinki Airport to Helsinki Central Railway Station and then walk or take a tram or metro from the railway station to Kamppi shopping centre where the bus terminal is located in the lower floors of the shopping centre. The walking distance between the railway station and Kamppi bus terminal is ca. 500 m.
A student discount on the long-haul buses in Finland is 50 % when the one-way journey is at least 80 km. You are not entitled to a student discount on buses in Finland until you have registered yourself with the Oulu University of Applied Sciences and obtained a student card that entitles you to the discount on long-haul buses (i.e. a student union's card or VR/Matkahuolto Student Card). Please notice that international student cards such as ISIC do not entitle to discount on Finnish long haul buses! No student discount is applied on the Onnibus fares.
Further information elsewhere on the internet:
If you want to come to Oulu by your own car, please keep in mind that the distances within Finland (and to Finland) are vast. Furthermore you (and your car) should also be prepared for winter conditions. The drive from the most commonly used ferry ports Helsinki and Turku to Oulu is ca 600 km and will take about 8 – 10 hours depending on the number and duration of breaks you take during the journey. For planning purposes you can generally count 80 km/h as your average speed when driving in Finland. Traffic runs smoothly and Central European scale traffic jams do not exist in Finland.
Usage of winter tyres is compulsory in Finland from December to February and always when the road weather conditions require them. Finnish cars are typically also equipped with electric engine-block heaters or fuel operated parking heaters (‘Webasto’). This will enable easy start of cars in cold circumstances and reduce engine wear and fuel consumption.
You should also acquaint yourself with the special limitation for the import and taxation of motor vehicles in Finland. A vehicle used in Finland must also be covered by a traffic/motor liability insurance valid in Finland.
Temporary tax-free use of cars in Finland
If you move to Finland temporarily for studying at an educational institution, you can use your car without having to pay car tax. The general time limit is six months. The vehicle must be covered by a motor liability insurance valid in Finland. The following conditions are to be met for tax -free use:
If you intend to stay in Finland for more than six months, you should contact the Finnish Customs for details about the right to use the car. The six-month time limit is not applied if you stay in Finland exclusively for studies but you have inform the customs office/tax authorities of this before the expiry of the six-month tax-free period, and also account your studies to the tax authorities for each study term. Customs offices give guidance in making the application for an extension of the prescribed six months’ time limit. The application for extension must be submitted before the expiry of the six-month period.
If you have moved to Finland from abroad and reside in Finland as a permanent resident, you should register the car you brought as removal goods, and pay car tax before you can use it in traffic in Finland. Please note that the vehicle must always be covered by a motor liability insurance valid in Finland. It is possible to use the car for 30 days before the car tax has been paid. This requires that a commissioning notification for the car is made to Finnish customs. If you bring a car from outside the EEA area, you will also need a transfer permit before you can use it. Transfer permits are granted by Customs and Vehicle Inspection Stations.
Further information on car taxation and importing a motor vehicle is available on the website of the Finnish Customs.
Driving licenses issued in another EU or EEA country and interim driving licenses issued in the Nordic countries entitle the holder to drive motor vehicles in Finland equivalent to those indicated on the non-Finnish license. The driver must be at least 18 years old. The right to drive is valid regardless of whether the person is in Finland as a tourist or residing permanently.
A person residing permanently in a country that has signed the Geneva or Vienna Road Traffic Convention and who holds a national or international driving licence or an official Finnish or Swedish translation of a national driving licence is entitled to drive motor vehicles equivalent to those indicated on the non-Finnish licence provided that the person fulfils the Finnish age requirement to drive such vehicles. The afore-mentioned driving licence is valid in Finland for two years from the start of the holder's period of permanent residence in Finland provided that the licence is valid and no other reason exists for the termination of its validity.
Further information on foreign driving licenses and on exchanging them to Finnish ones is available from the Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi).
Driving a car in Finland
In Finland vehicles drive on the right. At crossroads, unless otherwise signposted, vehicles coming from the right have priority. Turning right when the traffic light is red is also prohibited. General speed limit in the built-up areas is 50 km/h and elsewhere 80 km/h unless otherwise indicated by appropriate traffic signs. The maximum speed limit on roads is 100 km/h, except on some motorways in summer time 120 km/h. For winter time the maximum speed limits on many roads are lowered to 80 km/h (and 100 km/h on motorways).
In autumn and early spring, you should watch out for elks when driving in rural areas. These animals are big and especially active at dusk and dawn, and a collision with an elk have usually serious consequences from wrecking the car and severe injuries up to deadly accidents. In the reindeer herding area (in Northern and Northeastern parts of Finland) you should also be alert for occasional reindeer herds as they are roaming wild in the nature throughout the year.
Winter tyres (with or without studs) are compulsory from the beginning of December to the end of February. Studded tyres may be used on Finnish roads from 1 November until 20 April or whenever the road weather conditions require them. Winter tyres are compulsory also for cars and vans registered abroad when they are driven in Finland during winter. In Oulu people use winter tyres usually from late October to late April, but annual variations in road weather conditions can be vast.
Usage of headlights is always compulsory, no matter if it is summer or winter, day or night. If an oncoming car flashes its headlights to you it usually means that there is an accident, elk or reindeer on the road ahead, you do not have your headlights on, or you have forgotten to switch the high beams off and they are causing glare to the driver of the oncoming vehicle.
Seat belts both in front and rear seats of the car must be used by all people in the car. The fuel types readily available at most petrol stations in Finland are unleaded petrol (95 E10 and 98 E5) and diesel (winter/summer quality depending on the season). Further information on road transport fuels in Finland: www.oil.fi.
The law regarding the blood-alcohol level for drivers is strictly followed in Finland. The law allows a level of less than 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (0.5‰), or 0.22 mg per a litre of exhaled air. Driving under the influence of drugs is also regarded as an offence. Offenders are subject to heavy fines, jail up to 6 months plus withdrawal or suspension of their driving license from 1 month to 5 years. For aggravated drinking driving offence (= 1.2 mg of alcohol in 100 ml (1.2‰) of blood or 0.53 mg in a litre of exhaled air) also a prison sentence from 1 month to 2 years is possible. Routine breath testing without a probable cause is permitted for the police and it is also often practiced on the roads and also in towns.
Fines for speeding are rather high in Finland. The minimum fine for speeding is 140 EUR and is issued when you are caught for speeding under 15 km/h in an area where the speed limit is at least 60 km/h. If the speed limit is lower than 60 km/h the lowest fine for speeding is 170 EUR. If you are speeding at least 20 km/h the amount of fines will be based on your income with the minimum fine of 200 EUR. Police may control your speed with a radar or with traffic cameras that can be either installed in poles on the road side or in so-called camera vehicles without police signs (i.e. they look like an ordinary civilian vehicle).
If you have a car accident or witness one in Finland you can call for help by dialling 112 (general emergency response centre number). This number can be called free of charge from all telephones without any prefixes. Through the Emergency Response Centre you can reach the assistance of the police, rescue services, ambulance, social services and other necessary authorities.
If your car breaks down while you are on the road in Finland, you can turn to the Road Service Centre of the Automobile and Touring Club of Finland by dialling 0200-8080 (1.95€/min + lnc, also queueing is charged for). The services you order from the Road Service Centre (e.g. towing, delivery of fuel etc.) are subject to a charge.
Further information on driving and road safety in Finland elsewhere on the internet: