“Way Up To The North”. This chapter of the journey is going to comprise several towns of Finland on our way to Rovaniemi. We will start this journey from the town of Jyväskylä, then we move to the town of Oulu, then we will have a short stop in the town of Kemi, and then we will visit the two border towns of Tornio and Haparanda (Haaparanta in Finnish).
What: “Travel Smart” series
The town of Jyväskylä is located more or less in the middle of Finland. The town is surrounded by lakes, forests, and amazing landscape. Jyväskylä is very popular with the students from all over the world. We will begin with the travel center, called “matkakeskus”, i.e. the railroad and bus station. That is the easiest place to find. It does not matter if you travel from Mikkeli or Helsinki, it is extremely easy to find this town.
Jyväskylä is a relatively big town and offers quite many options of accommodation, for example, the Original Sokos Hotel Alexandra, the Original Sokos Hotel Jyväshovi, Hotel Cumulus Jyväskylä, or Hotel Milton. It is essential to know the most appropriate options to choose for yourself, because the road to this town is quite long.
|The Jyväskylä town church|
Right next to the travel center, you will find one of the main symbols of the town, the Jyväskylä town church. It is just one block away. Being in the same area, you can do some shopping and see some of interesting buildings, for example, one of the buildings has a symbol of a cat on its wall. All in all, some parts of Jyväskylä reminded me Lahti. Jyväskylä has its own university, beside university of applied sciences, i.e. University of Jyväskylä. Its bridge, near one of the campuses, is basically the main symbol of the town. If you move a bit south on the road E63, you will need to turn to Ahlmaninkatu, park your car there, and walk a bit passing by the Alba Hotel, and then you will see the bridge (see the opening picture). On the other side there is another campus, so you can walk there as see it for yourself.
You can, definitely, explore more of the town, since it is the major place for lots of European events, or you can visit some of the national parks nearby, but we are headed to the north to the town of Oulu. To do that, we get back to the road E63 and head north and then turn to E75, when leaving Jyväskylä. Closer to Oulu, you will get to the road E8, which is really wide and good. It is worth mentioning that all the way to Oulu will be different: sometimes there will be quite a lot of traffic, and sometimes there will be just you on a road. Once you get to Oulu, you will find yourself in a big town. There is a lot to explore, though I am going to cover only a few most interesting places, in order to provide you with an idea of the town.
|Oulu City Hall|
Once you reach the railroad station, drive a few blocks away to Hallituskatu to see the City Hall. It is one of the symbols of Oulu. There is a river going through the central part of the town, creating some lovely and cozy places to be. Oulu, as a big town, has its own university, airport, and all the necessary governmental and non-governmental organizations. Oulu is considered as the capital of northern Scandinavia. The central part of the town is designed to be more like a typical North American town; all the streets are making squares on a map. If you drive a little to the north on the road 8156, you will get to the Oulu Castle, one of the symbols.
Obviously, you are going to need a place to stay after a long drive, one of the options will be Original Sokos Hotel Arina or Hotel Scandic Oulu, which will be on your way to Kiikeli, a small park and the pier.
|Downtown area in Oulu|
If you have time to wander around the downtown area, i.e. Kauppurienkatu, enjoy the nice views; Oulu has a lot to offer to its visitors. And we are headed to Lapland, but before we reach Rovaniemi, we will explore the towns of Kemi and Tornio. You need to get back to the state road E8 and head north. The journey to Kemi will take you about 30-40 minutes only, as the road is wide and good.
|The Kemi Church|
Kemi is a very small town with nothing particular, but except its church, which looks unusual at night. There is a railroad station, which is quite small, but it is the last one before trains go two different ways: one to the north, one to the west (to Sweden). And if you are lucky to be there in the winter, you might get to the Ice Hotel “Kemin LumiLinna”. It is on the shore and it is usually open in January (depending on the weather). In any case, the view to the Gulf of Bothnia (see picture in the end).
|Tornio road sign|
Once you stopped in Kemi for a while, let us go to the border town of Tornio. It is a very small and simple town, but except one fact that it is a border town. Its coat of arms represents the tower protecting the town. There is a church, which is a symbol of the town, and the border with Sweden. There is an interesting fact that the trains going from Tornio to Haparanda run over the bridge with the dual gauge tracks due to the difference between Finland and Scandinavia.
|Finland-Sweden border sign|
|Finland-Sweden coats of arms|
Getting through the border is easy, you need to take the roundabout and follow the road signs pointing to Sweden, then you get to Haparanda (or Haaparanta in Finnish). The two towns are basically one divided by the river and the border. There is a railroad station behind the border, a nice old building, worth visiting.
|Haparanda railroad station|
Name Haparanda is a Swedish version of Haaparanta, which reflects its Finnish origin. There is a mix of history between the two and it can be seen everywhere in Finland and outside. But once you saw a little bit of Sweden, take the state road E8 and drive till you see the turn to Rovaniemi, the state road E75. And that is where we are headed next in our following Travel Smart journey! Get ready for the final chapters of the Travel Smart journey in Finland!
|View to the Gulf of Bothnia in Kemi|
Kirill “Traveler” Malyutin
Destination Contact Information:
Oulu: WebsiteKemi: Website
About Travel Smart series:
“Travel Smart” is a section, narrating about different countries and good travel tips, advised by the author, Kirill Malyutin. The series contains recommendations, including selected places to visit, character accommodation, and reasonable shopping. Simply get inspiration!All stories of the series →
О серии «Travel Smart»:
«Travel Smart» – раздел, в котором автор Кирилл Малютин рассказывает о разных странах и дает необходимые в путешествии советы. Серия включает в себя рекомендации по посещенным автором местам, характерным средствам размещения, а также разумному шопингу. Вдохновитесь приключением!Все выпуски серии →
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