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Panoramic view of Santa Claus Village. A pristine, snow-covered landscape with illuminated cottages.
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Travel to Rovaniemi, Lapland - The Top 10 Activities

The Gateway to the Arctic
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A few words about Rovaniemi

Lapland

Rovaniemi: the place where you’ll live an experience straight out of your childhood dreams in the top Christmas destination in Europe. Visit the capital of Lapland, situated at the edge of the Arctic Circle, closely tied to Christmas and Santa Claus’s village. 

In the official hometown of Santa Claus, enjoy the unique activities it offers. Go on a husky safari, take a reindeer sleigh ride, witness the Northern Lights up close, light a fire in a tent, and grill sausages. Visit Santa Claus’s village, ride a snowmobile, and sleep in a glass igloo.

 In this article, you’ll learn everything about your trip to Rovaniemi, the sights you’ll see, the activities you’ll do, and general tips you need to know for the most touristy spot in Finland.

A little house is covered in snow. It is red in color, surrounded by snow-covered fir trees, and a blanket of pure white snow.
Experience a unique adventure in Santa Claus Village.

Activities in Rovaniemi

1. Visit Santa Claus Village

Experience the magic of Christmas in the most famous village of Santa Claus and feel like a child again. Santa Claus’s village in Rovaniemi is the first thing you’ll want to explore when visiting Lapland. Just 8 kilometers away from the city center, your dreams will come true. 

Wondering what to do and see in Santa Claus’s village in Lapland? 

Get up close with Santa Claus himself, whom you can meet any day of the year and take photos with. Send your own letter stamped with the Arctic Circle seal from Santa’s main post office to your friends. Also, meet the elves in the Elf Academy and have a meal at the ice bar restaurant made entirely of ice. 

Take a reindeer ride and don’t forget to visit their farm. Moreover, live a unique experience by going on a husky safari and petting the huskies up close. Don’t forget to cross the Arctic Circle, which passes through the central square of Santa Claus’s village.

Tip: You are not allowed to take a photo with Santa Claus using your own mobile phone. If you want to purchase the photo they take of you, it costs 35€.

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Discover Santa’s Village by booking a guided tour
Are you ready to explore the magic of Christmas? The Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi is the ultimate travel destination. This activity includes a guided tour with an English-speaking guide, a private meeting with Santa Claus, a certificate of crossing the Arctic Circle, and a lunch.

2. Meet the reindeer and take a sleigh ride

Sled riding is a top activity you must experience in Lapland. During this unique reindeer sleigh ride, you’ll be covered with reindeer fur to stay warm as you cross a distinctive landscape filled with snow-covered fir trees. At the end, you’ll have the opportunity to take photos with them.

 There’s also the reindeer farm where you can learn everything about their breeding and care. You’ll get to know the life of a reindeer herder, who will share experiences, reindeer customs, and their way of life with you. Meet the Sámi people, who are indigenous Finns and are responsible for herding the reindeer. Learn about their culture, and you’ll be struck by their vibrant traditional clothing. 

Did you know that there are more reindeer in Lapland than people, and they are a national symbol of Finland? However, each reindeer you encounter belongs to the Sámi herding tradition.

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Meet the Reindeer and Sleigh Ride Experience
The Reindeer Safari in Rovaniemi is an experience you must include in your trip. However, as it is a very popular activity in one of the most touristy areas in the world, it’s a good idea to book the activity in advance to avoid surprises.

3. Stay in a glass igloo

Staying in a glass igloo and witnessing the Northern Lights through a 360-degree view is an experience you’ll never forget in your life. Stay at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort – Igloos and Chalets, as its location within the Arctic Circle, the snowy landscape, and its distance from the noise and lights of the city make it one of the ideal hotels to see the Northern Lights. 

There, you’ll have the opportunity not only to stay in a heated glass igloo but also to enjoy a sauna and cool off in the ice, thanks to a special opening. The hotel offers various activities such as husky safaris, reindeer sleigh rides, snowmobile tours, and snowshoeing.

Unique colors are visible in the sky from the Northern Lights. The dominant hues are green and dark blue.
Experience the impressive phenomenon of the Northern Lights up close.

4. Take a husky ride

A top activity you can do in Rovaniemi is a husky sled ride through a snow-covered landscape with pine trees. The sled is pulled by a pack of huskies, which run quite fast. Huskies are among the favorite animals in Lapland; they are very friendly and enthusiastic when running. Visit their farm as well, where you can pet and cuddle them, learn interesting facts about their lives, and take photos with them. The price depends on the route you choose, and the ride lasts for 500 meters, 2, or even 5 kilometers.

Tip: Don’t forget to wear a hat that covers your ears, as the cold from the speed of the huskies can be biting.

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Husky Ride: An Unforgettable Experience
If you want to explore the landscapes of Lapland in a unique way, then dog sledding is the perfect choice for you. In comparison to Reindeer Safari, dog sledding offers a dose of adrenaline, as the pack is full of energy and vitality.

5. Relax with a sauna

Sauna is an integral part of Finnish culture and a fundamental element of their lifestyle, as most Finns have a sauna in their homes. Did you know that there are approximately 2 million saunas in Finland? It’s time to warm up from the low temperatures, relax, and leave behind anything that stresses you. If you feel bold and brave enough, it’s a tradition among Finns to cool off by making a trip outside into the snow or even taking a dip in a frozen lake after a sauna session.

Tip: Choose this activity at night to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights.

6. Chase the Northern Lights

The main reason most people visit Lapland is to see the unique Northern Lights. Rovaniemi is one of the best places in the world to marvel at this impressive natural phenomenon, which appears approximately 200 days a year. The ideal months to see the Northern Lights in Lapland are from September to March. However, for optimal viewing, the sky must be clear. Download the My Aurora app on your phone, where you can check at any time the chances of the Northern Lights appearing, including the time and location.

In the activity we chose, we were taken to the best locations to see the Northern Lights. During the excursion, we had a unique experience lighting a fire inside a tent and grilling sausages, a customary practice among the Finns.

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Give Yourself the Chance to See the Northern Lights
Spectacular landscapes, an authentic Finnish excursion, and the mesmerizing dance of the Northern Lights are just some of the things you’ll experience on the Northern Lights hunting tour. Based on our unforgettable experience with this tour operator, we highly recommend you book the same activity.

7. Visit Santa Park

Another activity you can do is visit Santa Park. Explore the Christmas-themed park of Lapland, one of the biggest attractions for the holidays. Get up close with Santa Claus and share your wishes with him. Discover all the secrets from the elves, create a Christmas craft with them to take home, and make and taste your own gingerbread cookie in Mrs. Gingerbread’s kitchen.

 Send letters to your loved ones from the post office, and don’t miss the entertaining Elf Show, where the elves take on the role of acrobats and dazzle you with their acrobatics and magic in a unique performance. Additionally, experience a unique journey crossing the Arctic Circle underground and see exceptional ice sculptures. Finally, hop on the train and travel to the magical world of Christmas.

8. Explore the unique landscape with a snowmobile

Do you want to feel the adrenaline rush during your trip to Rovaniemi? 

Explore the Arctic landscapes with an exhilarating activity – driving a snowmobile. In the frozen Arctic wilderness, you’ll learn how to handle the snowmobile. Don’t worry, there’s a trained guide with you to lead and assist you throughout the experience. This adventure will elevate your journey in Lapland. You can opt to do this activity at night to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights. Additionally, they’ll light a fire on a frozen lake and offer you warm juice.

Tip: You need to have your driver’s license with you to be allowed to drive.

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Ride a Snowmobile in the Forests of Lapland
Experience an exhilarating activity with a large dose of adrenaline and adventure in the forests of Lapland. Explore the snowy landscape riding a snowmobile on your journey to Rovaniemi.

9. Εξερεύνησε το μουσείο Arktikum

Within a short distance from the city center, just a 7-minute walk away, you’ll encounter the Arktikum Museum. Discover fascinating information about how the Northern Lights appear and what Rovaniemi was like in the 1900s. The activities offered cater to all ages, and you’ll learn everything about the Arctic. Additionally, you’ll find exhibitions on the history and culture of Lapland. 

The most exciting thing you can do at the Arktikum Museum is to explore the glass tunnel leading to the Ounasjoki River. There, you’ll find the Arctic Garden, which is one of the ideal spots to see the Northern Lights. Did you know that apart from being a museum, Arktikum serves as a scientific center and a venue for conferences?

A river with a snowy landscape and pine trees in the background.
Visit the Ounasjoki River after exploring the Arktikum Museum.

10. Walk to Lordi Square

Complete your journey in Rovaniemi by walking through the heart of the city. This square was initially named Sampi, and after Finland’s victory in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006, it was renamed Lordi Square after the legendary band. Consequently, a memorial wall with the handprints of the musicians has been created. Also, visit the Sampokeskus area where you’ll find shops selling souvenirs, restaurants, stores, and a cinema.

Weather in Rovaniemi

How cold is it in Lapland?

Many people who want to visit Rovaniemi in winter wonder about the temperatures and if they can endure the cold. Initially, winter in Lapland lasts from December to March, and temperatures can be particularly low, often dropping below -15 degrees Celsius. However, if you dress appropriately with specialized thermal clothing, jackets, gloves, socks, and multiple layers, you shouldn’t face any issues. Moreover, for many activities, especially those conducted at night, companies provide extra special clothing to help you withstand the cold. When you visit Rovaniemi in winter, expect to encounter snow. 

As for the duration of the day in Rovaniemi, when we went at the end of December, there was only about 2 hours of daylight from 11:00 to 13:20. However, during the remaining hours, there wasn’t absolute darkness, as you might experience in other countries when it gets dark.

Transportation in Rovaniemi

How to get from Rovaniemi Airport to the city center?

If you want to travel economically from the airport to the city center of Rovaniemi, you can choose Santa’s bus. You pay the ticket to the driver with a card, and it costs €8. Find more information about schedules here.

Another option is to take a taxi or rent a car. Similarly, to go to Santa Claus Village, you can take the Santa Claus bus for €4 or the local bus number 8.

Book your accommodation early and secure the lowest prices
Now, you can explore Rovaniemi with comfort and style by booking a stay at one of the wonderful hotels located close to all the attractions.

Accommodation in Rovaniemi

A decorated wooden house filled with snow and lights. Surrounding it are adorned small trees and tall, snow-covered spruce trees.
Visit each little house in Santa's village.

Useful tips for Rovaniemi

Below, you will find the 4 most useful tips to keep in mind on your trip to Rovaniemi:

  1. In winter, the day lasts for about two hours, from 11:00-13:00.
  2.  Note that the temperature is extremely low, so make sure to wear several layers of clothing, especially thermal wear.
  3. Attractions: Book activities in Rovaniemi in advance to ensure the best prices and availability, especially during Christmas.
  4. Car: Don’t hesitate to rent a car to Rovaniemi, as all roads are open despite the snow, and cars are equipped with snow tires.
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