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Congratulations Northern Ostrobothnia! The region's first cycling route, the Flatland Route, was launched in March 2024. This is a heavenly flat route where the hills won't make your head spin or strain your thighs: the highest point on the Flatland Route is a mere 126 meters above sea level. Even beginners will feel at home here, as the route's difficulty is rated 3/10, and the lack of elevation changes means there's no need to go shopping for an electric bike. At the recommended pace, it takes five to six days to complete the entire circuit, but an experienced touring cyclist could condense the trip into three days. The 320-kilometer loop offers an interesting ride through the history, culture, and nature of Pohjois-Pohjanmaa along low-traffic backroads.

pyöröilijöitä hiekkatiellä auringonlaskun aikaan

The route is easy to access, as there are three train stations along the route: Oulainen, Vihanti, and Ruukki. The train stations in Oulu and Kempele are also just short transfers away. Bicycles can also be taken on many intercity buses, allowing you to choose your starting and ending points almost as you wish. For clarity, however, we will present the route according to the "serving suggestion" designed in the "Cycling to the Moon" project.

The journey starts in Liminka, from where you travel along the coast all the way to Pyhäjoki. Right at the beginning, you'll encounter the most challenging part of the entire route: a roughly two-kilometer stretch where you first pedal on a gravel road and then on a sandy forest path. On this section, narrower tires require you to be present in the moment, but the sandy terrain soon gives way, and there's no need to be alarmed by the short gravel stretch. Generally, the recommended tire width for the route is at least 35 millimeters, and you shouldn't choose a significantly thicker tire just for the sake of those two kilometers.

pyörälijät metsätiellä

While in Liminka, it's worth deviating slightly from the route to visit Liminganlahti, Finland's most valuable bird wetland. Every spring and autumn, tens of thousands of migratory birds fill this area. Liminganlahti also boasts a fantastic nature center where you can explore the free and fascinating "Eight Seasons of Birds" exhibition. Under the same roof, you can also enjoy a coffee or lunch before continuing your journey towards Lumijoki. 

The gem of Lumijoki is the charming Varjakka marina, which features the retired Hailuoto ship now serving as a café, a summer shop selling products by local artisans, and sauna facilities.

kolme ihmistä taluttaa pyörää vanhassa kaupungissa

The Siikajoki section leads cyclists to coastal fishing harbors and stunning sandy beaches. At Varessäikkä beach, you'll find a summer kiosk, a grill wagon, a campfire site, swimming opportunities, and restrooms. Near the beach, there's also a motorhome park. Siikajoki is home to the astonishing Tauvo beach, which is definitely worth a detour. Fine sand, the sea, and kiosk services make Tauvo a summer oasis that rewards cyclists for their effort. Unfortunately, visiting the beach requires a detour from the main route, but we strongly recommend making the trip.

kaksi pyöräilijää meren rannalla pyöräilemässä

From Tauvo, it's just a short ride to the coastal town of Raahe. The town offers all the services a traveler might need, from charming accommodations to delicious food, and even the opportunity for a mini-adventure in the Raahe archipelago! Did you know that Old Raahe is one of the best-preserved wooden town areas from the 19th century in Finland? For history enthusiasts, there are several museums to explore, and at the Crown Granary Museum, you can greet the Old Gentleman, the world's oldest diving suit. From Raahe, the route heads south towards Pyhäjoki, which boasts one of the most beautiful sections of the entire route. Here, the path runs for several kilometers in close proximity to the river. While cycling, you might even feel like you're riding on water! 

The route continues into Merijärvi, offering the finest rural scenery! The route traverses idyllic and historic roads nearly all day, making this stage quite unique in Finland. You likely won't find a more picturesque route from the coast back to the inland. Even in Oulainen, you won’t be far from water, as the route still follows the winding Pyhäjoki upstream. Oulainen has one of the three train stations along the route, with several daily connections to Helsinki. In Oulainen, you can swim in the picturesque Piipsjärvi, and nearby, you’ll find accommodation at Honkamaja.


From here, the journey turns back north. The inland section also holds pleasant surprises and stunning scenery. After Vihanti, the route leads to the former mining village of Lampinsaari, where you can enjoy camping facilities, an outdoor swimming pool, a lakeside sauna, and a summer café. Between Lampinsaari and Liminka, the route passes through the charming industrial village of Ruukki.

The journey is nearing its end, but there's still a cyclist's version of an express route ahead: the maintenance roads along the railway lead straight towards Liminka. The return route takes you through Old Liminka, where you’ll find several museums set in a picturesque environment. You can quench your thirst at the old Liminka railway station, which now houses a functioning pub. Though trains no longer stop at this station, perhaps leaving the Flatland Route will be a question for after a well-deserved rest.

Chef's special: The recommended time to ride is between May and October. If you want to see and hear the massive flocks of migratory birds, the best times to visit Liminganlahti are April-May and September.

Text: Visit Liminka

Photos: Flatland Route


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