There are different types of transportation that will bring us from and to our city of destination in Finland -which is Oulu in our case. Some are more likely to be more convenient in the length or duration of traveling and less time consuming compared to other options which are a little bit more friendly with our pockets -in some cases- but might take longer to reach out to our destinations so is a mix between the yin and yang of traveling. Is important to mention that transportation in Finland overall is expensive even though the distances are not significantly large compared to other countries.
Students which have the Finnish student card from their university or upper studies center and after paying the semester or yearly fee of the student union can get a certain degree of discount in some of the most popular transportation options which are national buses (Matkahuolto) and train (VR) -check more about the benefits and other information here- registrations and fees. To access these discounts is not the problem but notice that is mandatory to show, to the bus driver or the conductor on the train, at the time they check your tickets and ID’s, the student card otherwise you will get a fine and/or pay the full price of the ticket if you cannot prove you are a student in a Finnish institution.
Even though you are a student from another university or even coming from an EU one, the discounts are mostly for those who have the Finnish student ID only so please do not try to use any other card to prove you are a student because it simply will not work -yes, I tried it once convinced that it was enough that I was a student with an international card but it wasn’t, so, information like this is kind of special and significant.
But let’s talk about the transportation options available to get us to Oulu starting with the ones that will bring us first to the city and later -in another post- with the ones we can use throughout the city.
Oulu airport is the second busiest after the Helsinki-Vantaa airport (according to Finavia) and is considered to be a transport hub to northern Finland and connection to other cities in northern Sweden -since the border is just about 120 km north from Oulu. The airport runway in Oulu has been recently renovated and this is considered to improve -in a large matter- the fluency of passenger’ traffic and airlines coming to the city in the future.
The good news about this for us is that there will be always airlines traveling to Oulu in several schedules and we can successfully come or go to different destinations. The most common airlines that normally offer good deals -standard ones and unfortunately not a specific fare for students- is Norwegian and Finnair. They both have interesting options and seasonal discounts and as usual, you can have better fares if you book your tickets with time. Check more of Finnair here: https://www.finnair.com/fi/gb/ and Norwegian Airlines here: www.norwegian.com
If you have arrived at the Helsinki airport or in general to the city and have not get your connection ticket in any flight -do not panic!- since there are many ways to get to the city of Oulu. Train, for an instance, is one of the easiest solutions that are available to get you going to the north.
Just some time ago, and especially if you happen to arrive in Finland on a plane, you can get from there a local train (HSL) that transport you from and to the central train station in the city. Please, notice that if you travel in this local train you need to get the tickets in the HSL machine in advance, so keep some change in the pocket or pay it with any credit/debit card and remember that if you do not get your train ticket in advance you are prone to get a fine from the conductor when checks the tickets since buy-in-the-train option is not possible -just in these local trains (HSL). The HSL ticket ATM will be found in the baggage claim area of the airport and on the upper end of the escalators that will lead you to the train station which makes it convenient to buy them on the run. So if you want to check the trains to Helsinki, HSL and more check here: https://www.hsl.fi/en/timetables-and-routes/terminals/transport-links-helsinki-airport and here for the timetables: https://www.reittiopas.fi/lahellasi
Once you get to the Helsinki Central Station (or checked previously according to the time you will arrive), find the ticket office or check which train will take you to the city of Oulu. VR, which is the national train company that operates the trains all over the country which have different routes and time schedules including overnight trains with an option to rent a wagon or room. They normally have the ticket machines, sales offices or buy-in-train option in case you are in a hurry, lost or something similar -the language barrier and shock can take its toll on us too.
Remember that you will not get the student fare if you do not have the Finnish student card, so please do not try to get that because you can get a fine and besides that, you will have to pay the full price ticket. Check more about VR time tables, fares, and conditions here: https://www.vr.fi/cs/vr/en/frontpage
There is also a way to get to Oulu and elsewhere in Finland by using bus transportation. They might not be as relaxing and fast as others but they might have some special offers that make it a little bit more attractive for our student’s pockets. For an instance, there are few large bus companies in Finland that operate nationally and then some others that provided local transport around the region limits and that might be enough for smaller trips which we will be discussing later -on another post.
Let’s talk about the national bus company named Matkahuolto, they offer regular schedules and destinations and they try to cover as many cities and localities as possible so they have been connecting people and cities for some time now and you might notice that they stop regularly along the way -that in some cases is not a bad thing. Same caution here is that the student fares are only for the students that have Finnish student card only. You can buy the tickets in advance which can have some discounts or special fares and in the bus as well (just normal fares) but always ask just in case. Check about their fares, schedules, and destinations here: https://www.matkahuolto.fi/en/
Another bus company that is quite commonly used for its convenience and sometimes friendly prices to everyone is Onnibus. They are quite a young company since they started in 2014 but they have learned to treat well its passenger and continuously offering cheaper fares than other transportation options. They currently travel around Finland and will definitely take you to Oulu as well. You can book and pay online the tickets before hand to “catch” those good discounts if you find them! You can get tickets from the driver but only if there are seats available in the route that the bus will take which is uncommon since there are passengers getting in and out in all the major stops, thus, I strongly recommend you to get your tickets in advance to avoid not getting a seat on the bus. There are no student discounts in here but the regular tickets are affordable especially if you book them with time. Check more about the fares, discounts, and schedules here: http://www.onnibus.com/en/index.htm
Is important to mention that if you have arrived in airplane to Helsinki but you will have a connection to Oulu in bus you will need to take the local train to the Helsinki Train Station and from there walk few blocks (550 meters) to the main bus station which is called the Helsinki Central Bus Station (or known as Kamppi Bus Station as well) located on the lowest floor (“K”- floor) of the Kamppi Center which is next to the Wooden chapel and the Narinkkatori so, use these two as a reference to get there.
So grab your bags and book your preferred way to travel and see you all in Oulu!