Are you thinking where to go on your next winter vacation? Are you looking for the ideal destination to see aurora boreales? Do you want a place where you can find snow and activities for children? Then Rovaniemi in Finland is your best choice and I’ll tell you why. Rovaniemi is the administrative capital of the province of Lapland, is an hour and a half by plane from Helsinki the capital of Finland. In Rovaniemi you will find everything for your holidays, it could be a place of adventure or a place to rest.
What to see and do in Rovaniemi?
1. Santa Claus Village
Ticket Price: Free
The biggest attraction without a doubt is the Santa Claus house that is located in the Arctic Circle. This place is about 10 minutes drive from the center of Rovaniemi. You can get there through some of the agencies that offer tours to this place or if you rent a car you can go by your own without problem.
It is important to take note that the Santa Claus Village and the Santa Claus house are different but both are only a few meters away. In both places you will find Santa Claus waiting for you. You will be able to take a picture with him as a souvenir for around 25 to 50 euros depending the package you take.
The main house of Santa Claus is located in the square that has Santa’s post office and a large thermometer in the middle where the temperature is indicated. Before you get to met Santa you will go through a small museum where they explain the Christmas traditions in different countries such as: Where did the Christmas tree and its decoration come from? When did the famous Germany Christmas markets began?
In the surrounding you will find restaurants, among them one with salmon specialties that has a very good score on foursquare, as well as shops with all kinds of souvenirs.
This village is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m from December 1st to January 7th.
If you are interested in knowing the schedules at any other time of the year I leave the official page here. Because it does not matter the season of the year the village opens 365 days of the year. In addition they have some very nice cabins to stay, only that you must make your reservation in advance.
2. Santa Claus Post Office
Very close to Santa`s house you will find his post office. Inside you will find the small room in which Santa starts to read the letters he receives from all over the world. In addition you will meet his helpers “elves” who are working all the time separating letters to be able to answer them as soon as possible. In addition you can send letters and postcards to any continent from this post office only have to pay the stamp that has a price approximately 2 euros.
3. Northern Lights
After the Santa House, the northern lights are what make Finland an incredible place.
See a northern lights is indescribable but it is kind of difficult to see them, literally it is necessary to go away to “hunt” them every night. There are some factors that you can have in mind in order to increase the probability of seeing them for example:
A) Avoid making the trip when it will be full moon. Remember that the northern lights looks better in total darkness.
B) Have a clear sky.
C) Go out looking for them from 8 pm to 2 am approximately.
D) In some hotels in the city have the northern lights alarm service, they will call to your room to inform when a northern lights appear.
The most visited places to see northern lights in Rovaniemi are: the garden of the Arktikum museum, the facilities of the Ounasvaara and drive to a dark area of the forest and wait with much patience.
Ticket Price 2016 – 2017: Adults 12 euros
Hours: Daily from 10 am – 6 pm
Website for more information.
It will be the best 12 euros invested in your trip. This museum is simply amazing, quite large so make plans to be there a long time. You will find photographies exhibitions about the wildlife in this area, information about the shamanism practices by different tribes that inhabit the island, as well as their typical costumes and songs. You can also see a short film about the northern lights and many others interesting things.
The museum has a small coffee shop where you can buy snacks and buffet for lunch at a reasonable price, the menu is not the best but is ok. If you want you can check the menu for every day on the next page.
5. Ranua Zoo
Ticket price: € 17,50
Hours: from September 1 to May 31 every day from 10 am to 4 pm
The zoo in Ranua is a place you can not miss on your trip. It takes one hour driving from Rovaniemi.
You can see animals like mink, snow owl, gray owl, golden eagle, wild pigs, polar bear, gray wolf, gluttons, moose, etc …
Inside the zoo they have a small ice bar with tables, chairs made of ice.
I recommend arriving as early as possible in order to complete all tour and at the end eat in the cozy restaurant that offers a delicious buffet. The food at this place is amazing. Please try the salmon soup!
6. Riisitunturi National Park
It is located 166 km from the center of Rovaniemi is two hours approximately by car. This national park is famous for its hiking trails in summer, and snowshoeing and ski runs during the winter.
For more information here the official page.
7. Husky safari, snowmobile, reindeer sleigh, visit to santa claus house, etc …
There are several agencies that sell their services with this kind of tours, the best known are: lapland safaris, husky point and safartica.
If you do not have the time or just want to do two activities I highly recommend you to do the safari with huskys and the snowmobile. I chose safartica because comparing prices it was the most cheap and honestly it was perfect. The service with safartica was great, they pick you up in your hotel, they give you the special clothes, the guides speak perfectly English and you get a small snack at the end of the activity.
8. Ounasvaara ski center
If you want to ski Rovaniemi also offers you this excellent ski center.
If you are going with small children or do not plan to rent a car then I recommend staying near this ski center. The best option is the Lapland Hotel Ounasvaara Chalets, which is located very near from Ounasvaara ski center.
This hotel has beautiful cabins, parking, buffet breakfast,( which I must mention that is quite good and varied), in addition to having sauna each cabin inside.
For more information regarding prices and opening times of the ski center click here.
9. Santa park
Ticket price: 33 euros adults and 27 euros children
It is a theme park set in an underground cave. Personally I did not visit this place because searching comments on the web regarding the place the majority emphasized that it was a place set for children so if you go with small children it might be worth the visit.
Some of the activities for children are: decoration of gingerbread cookies, elaboration of Christmas decorations, gallery of ice figures, a small area set with angry birds, all the time accompanied by “elves”. It is important to note that the ticket is valid for two consecutive days.
Website for more information.