Responsibility and sustainability related to travelling are subjects that have in recent times become important around the globe. Finland is no exception in this trend. Together with the travel destinations and businesses in the Oulu region, VisitOulu fully supports sustainability efforts and wants to advocate sustainable and responsible travel.
In spring 2021, the VisitOulu region started its Sustainable Travel Finland (STF) programme. This programme enables all VisitOulu destinations, regions and travel businesses to polish and improve their sustainability and responsibility efforts to top level and get the proper certification for their work.
As lovely as it is to travel, it only gets better when you know you won’t strain the environment excessively in the process.
Now you know that the travel sector in the Oulu region has sustainability and responsibility in their hearts and minds. So, then, are there any ways in which you can have an impact yourself on the strain your travel produces? The answer is yes. You can certainly affect matters with the choices you make and actions you choose to take.
We put together five tips for you to consider when you want to travel responsibly in the lovely Oulu region.
#1 Travel to (and in) Oulu with public transport
When coming from abroad, you can fly to the Oulu airport. The Finnish flight operator Finnair is committed to long-term sustainability and responsibility actions and aims to be carbon neutral by the year 2045. Finnair also lists some steps you can take as a customer when booking your flights and planning your route.
Oulu is easy to reach by train and bus via the Finnish railways and roads – so you can certainly consider flying to Helsinki and then continuing to Oulu by train or bus. From the Oulu coach station, you can continue to Hailuoto, Kalajoki, Liminka, Kempele, Raahe and Pudasjärvi close to Syöte, as well as the villages of Muhos, Utajärvi and Vaala which are all in the Rokua UNESCO Global Geopark region.
Both the railway and coach station are only a stone’s throw from Oulu city centre. So, when arriving by train or bus, you can just walk to the heart of the city in about 5 minutes. Local buses operate every day, too. The city centre itself is compact and flat so you can easily take in the sights on foot.
#2 Choose eco-friendly accommodation
It’s simple: when you choose accommodation that has an ecolabel, you can rest assured that the sustainability and responsibility viewpoints are properly taken care of.
Nallikari Holiday Village, located in Hietasaari next to the gorgeous lagoon beach Nallikari, has both the Sustainable Travel Finland and Green Key certificates. Nallikari Holiday VIllage has also calculated their carbon footprint and they are aiming to become carbon neutral by 2030. Original Sokos Hotel Arina, located in the very heart of the Oulu city centre, has the Green Key certificate. Nordic Art Hotel Lasaretti, located close to city centre by the river, and Airport Hotel Oulu in Kempele both have the Nordic Swan ecolabel. Santa’s Resort & Spa Hotel Sani in Kalajoki has the ISO 14001 certificate.
In the Syöte area, both sustainability and responsibility are core values to the local enterprises. The Syöte area participates in the Sustainable Travel Finland programme and hotels Iso-Syöte and KIDE hotelli have started their sustainability actions already years ago.
Many other hotels and other businesses are hard at work with their STF programme, so this list will keep on expanding.
#3 Live like a local and hop on your bike
In case you didn’t know: Oulu is a highly prominent cycling city and home to a great many winter cyclists. Some quarters have also named Oulu the winter cycling capital of the world.
Oulu’s infrastructure planning prioritizes cyclists and pedestrians – this means in many cases that you get around by bike faster than by any other mode of transport. Thanks to its location by the sea, Oulu is also very flat which makes cycling easy and relatively effortless.
We heartily recommend that you live like a local for a bit and personally experience Oulu’s excellent cycling possibilities when you’re visiting us! You can rent a bike for your stay and some local hotels even lend bikes to their customers for free – that says a lot about how essential bikes are in Oulu and the Oulu region.
We’ve compiled a list of local companies who rent bikes. You can find it at the end of this article. Do remember to enquire about bikes at your accommodation, too.
#4 Enjoy locally grown food and purchase Finnish design for souvenirs
There’s more than just a fleeting element of hunter-gatherer still there in the Finnish DNA. Thanks to the everyman’s rights, Finns are allowed to fulfil their inner hunter-gatherer needs with all their hearts. So, in the Oulu region you’ll find lots of opportunities to taste local berries, mushrooms and herbs as well as game.
Tuba Food & Lounge specializes on locally produced food and vegan options. Its neighbour Ravintola Rauhala hosts brunches that include a lot of locally grown and produced food. Oula Kitchen & Bar in Lapland Hotels Oulu offers absolutely gorgeous Finnish tastes from reindeer to spruce shoots. The café Puistokahvila Makia also has their own vegan options that they’ve developed with a keen ear for customer feedback.
You’ll find responsible and sustainable souvenirs easily: head over to the cosy Taito Shop next to the railway station. You’ll find a treasure trove of Finnish design and local handicrafts, including the lovely Lovi products that are made of eco-friendly Finnish birch plywood.
Don’t skip the market hall Kauppahalli at the town square, another promised land of local sustainable products! While you’re there, don’t forget to take the essential Oulu selfie with the quiet but imposing market square bobby, Toripolliisi, who stands gentle guard just outside the market hall.
#5 Leave your footprints only
Both the city of Oulu and the Oulu region host a great many nature trails and footpaths. You only need sturdy shoes and, depending on the current season, a few layers of clothing, and you’re ready to go out for a hike to enjoy the nature.
There are ample opportunities to sit down and enjoy the sound of silence, light a campfire, enjoy the atmosphere and give some tender loving care to your body and mind in the region’s forests – after all, science has proven many times that spending time in nature has multiple highly positive effects on your health and wellbeing.
To preserve our nature and environment, we urge you to only leave your footprints behind. Whatever you take with you on your hikes, please also bring it back with you. Back in your certified accommodation, you can then sort your waste and participate in recycling materials properly. Read more on outdoor etiquette here.
Rent a Bike in Oulu Region