Helena-Reet: With children on a road trip around Finland (VOL5 – Oulu sightseeings, Kemi, Tornio and the journey through Kolari to Levi) + MANY PHOTOS & INFOLINKS!

Helena-Reet: With children on a road trip around Finland (VOL5 – Oulu sightseeings, Kemi, Tornio and the journey through Kolari to Levi) + MANY PHOTOS & INFOLINKS!

NordenBladet – On the fourth morning of our road trip around Finland the sun was greeting us again. We already felt like experienced travellers as we had covered quite so many kilometres (Tallinn – > Helsingi -> Tampere -> Vaasa -> Oulu). Today the longest ride was waiting for us (Oulu -> Kemi -> Tornio -> Kolari -> Kittilä -> Levi).

Oulu town was founded in 1605 by the Swedish king Karl IX near the Oulu stronghold that had been erected somewhat earlier. Previously Oulu used to be the center for tar production and was the second largest town in all of Finland after Turku. Nowadays Oulu is a rapidly growing center for technology and for lots of people also a beloved resort. And it really is beautiful here, it is not without reason that Nallikari in Oulu is called the Nordic Riviera – the kilometre long sandy beach, opportunities for hiking, the Vauhtipuisto game park (Hietasaarentie 9), Ponitila for those keen on riding, and additionally also minigolf and other fields of sport (for example 600km of cycling roads/light traffic roads). Not far from Oulu city centre in Liminga municipality there is Escurial Zoo and Flower park (see Kukka- ja eläinpuisto Escurial – Paavolantie 83 C, 91900 Liminka). Among the sightseeings a great destination is also Turkansaari Open Air Museum where one can learn about traditional lifestyle like tillage, forestry, cattle breeding, fishing and tar production. The museum area comprises two islands covered with full flora – Turkansaari and Siikasaari. However, the best known tourism object in Oulu is the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum (Pohjois-Pohjanmaan museo) next to Ainola park. Everyone interested in the cultural history are recommended to visit this! The address is Ainolanpolku 1, 90130 Oulu. Also a fascinating institution in Oulu is near Myllytulli (Nahkatehtaankatu 6) is Tietomaa Science Centre (Tiedekeskus Tietomaa) – the function of the centre is to popularize the achievements of science and technology to common people in a fun and fascinating manner.

We had breakfast in the hotel (see photos HERE), packed and took the luggage in the car and set off from the hotel to Oulu city center where we had a walk, took some photos from the old town and where I also had two brief meetings/consultations. Afterwards we headed towards Kemi and Tornio.

It is a bit more than 100km from Oulu to Kemi – driving there at a normal speed would take ca 1.30h. The population of Kemi is 21019 (population census August 31 2018), the town is situated near the Swedish border and it was founded in the year 1869 by the Russian czar Alexander II. The northern part of Finland indicates that the country reaching to the polar circle is much more than the capital city Helsinki. Starting from Kemi completely new horizons open and it is possible to experience a completely different kind of Finland. The more to the North – the more exotic it gets. The town of Kemi on the banks of the Gulf of Bothnia is a seaside town and during winter it attracts tourists with the ice breaker Sampo (this allows to go into the sea straight from the ship and take a swim in the midst of ice blocks during a 4-hour arctic voyage). The address is Sampotie 137, Kemi 94900 and the cruise “Arctic Icebreaker Cruise” can be booked via their homepage.

An exciting tourist magnet in Kemi is also the Snow Castle Resort (Lumilinnankatu 15, Kemi 94100) – arguably the world’s largest snowtown/centre where you can find SnowRestaurant365, an ice bar, sculptures made from snow and ice (snow town), the restaurant Lumihiutale, Sea Lapland Day Spa etc. PS! There are various smaller snow towns in Northern Finland, Lapland. An interesting place to see is also the Kemi gemstone museum Kemin Jalokivigalleria (Kauppakatu 29, Kemi 94100) founded by the jeweler Teuvo Ypyä, that actually accommodates the crown (see Wikipedia image HERE) prepared for the King of Finland, however, since Finland eventually became a republic then the crown was never used. Among the many interesting jewels there is also the necklace with 647 jewels, that used to belong to Marie Antoinette.

The best known sightseeings in Tornio /most visited tourist attractions are the Provincial Museum Of Tornio Valley (Torikatu 4, Tornio 95400); Duudsonit Activity Park – TornioHaparanda (Vesaisenkatu 1, Tornio 95400); Tornio Church (Seminaarinkatu, Tornio 95400). Tornio church was built in 1647 but in the year 1682 burnt down completely and was rebuilt in 1684 near the original location. The church was dedicated to the Swedish Queen Hedvig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp (lived 1636-1715 and was the wife of the Swedish King Charles X) and until today it is the oldest wooden church with an actual congregation in Lapland. Hedwig Eleanora was relatively detached from political life yet a dominant figure who ruled as a regent repeatedly and was by the way for 61 years the de facto first lady in the royal court but later was known rather as a passionate card game player and a friend of gambling, the widow that conducted great parties.

In Tornio I really also wished to visit the Tornio Panimo Brewery founded by Karl Johan Boström in 1873. The current manager of the factory Kaj K. personally allowed us a private industrial tour and in the morning also sent an email about inviting us, however, my previous meetings lasted quite so long that the time was already pressing and since the route Tornio-Levi that we had to cover that evening to stay for the night was ca 300km then unfortunately we had to cancel it. Since there was no time then we also skipped the dinner and held a proper rally of ice cream and frappe in Tornio trade centre (Rajalla På Gränsen) in Robert’s Coffee. Ivanka had 3 strawberry ice creams and us me and Estella Elisheva both had 2 frappes. Yum, a severe calorie strike. The prices, however, were higher than in the capital city Helsinki – waffle ice cream with one ice cream ball was 3.50 eur and one large frappe with whipped cream was 7.10 eur. After that we started off towards Levi – first along the Finnish-Swedish border to Kolari.

Ahh, what a pleasant journey from Tornio to Kolari and from there on to Levi — peaceful, calm — no speeding cameras, no ugly buildings. Quiet country life and picturesque view! Children with rucksacks were coming from country school, across the street there were cows on the meadow. Such beautiful views. I remember thinking to myself that now finally I am here in the North and can see the local life here… And it is so great! The road and the railroad run along the state border and from time to time one can have a glimpse of Sweden over the waters. Both on the Swedish as well as the Finnish banks there are nice little villages.

Our journey went mostly along the E8 road: Tornio -> Rutosaari -> Kukkola -> Aapajoki -> Karungi -> Kankaanranta -> Risudden -> Armassaari -> Ylitornio -> Haapakoski -> Rahtu -> Kuivakangas -> Maaherra -> Juoksengi -> Turtola -> Korpikoti -> Pello -> Lempeä -> Oranki -> Sieppijärvi -> Kolari -> Ylläsjärvi -> Kittilä -> Sirkka -> Levi

On the way there was also Aavasaksa – a 242m high mountain in Lapi county Ylitornio municipality, that has been selected by the ministry of environment among the 27 national landscapes in Finland. As a fun fact it is known about this mountain that the French Academy of Science, led by Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis, completed geophysical measurements there in 1736-1737, that confirmed the theory of Isaac Newton, according to which the Earth was flat. At some point I discovered that we were almost out of gas and I was struck by panic – here you go with your nice views and landscapes – I already imagined myself knocking on a local farmer’s stable door and asking whether he had gas in his tractor from which to bargain half to me. Iccccc… Yet in Ylitornio there was ABC self service gas station and gas 95 cost 1,614 per litre.

The next stop was the Arctic Circle (Napapiiri)! How cool is that?? 😀 We parked the car and obviously again took some photos for the social media like we do on every step. Estella Elisheva posted a video to her Insta story (@Estella.Elisheva) and I posted to my Insta feed (@helenareetennet) where one could follow our entire journey in live. For those of you who snoozed that instant – no worries. The full overview of the trip, in four languages, will be published in NordenBladet portals (;, and The present blog is fifth in line and it pictures the fourth day of our 12-day adventure. 🙂

Once we arrived in Kolari it was already dark outside. Also, I was exhausted from driving. For one day more than 500km of driving would be more than enough, especially when you are coming from another four days of driving. I was comforting myself that in Levi we would remain for many days so that I can be calm and have a rest. Well, in Kolari we experienced a most beautiful moment in our lives – the road sides were full of reindeer, lots of them were right on the road so I dared drive no more than 20km/h… Soooooo totally cute! First we were slightly scared that, uh oh, reindeer on the road, but then Estella Elisheva who is such a lover of wildlife already started taking pictures with them in five minutes. FROM THIS MOMENT BEGAN our miraculous real life fairy tale of Lapland! ?✨❄ How we finally got to Levi and what enormous surprise awaited us there that same night – I will write about that already in my next blog! Hugs!


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