Reasons to visit Rovaniemi in Finland. The complete travel guide!

Northern Lights in Rovaniemi

Discover the reasons to visit Rovaniemi in Finland from activities and food to culture, and Northern Lights hunting in this comprehensive guide!

If you’re dreaming like me of experiencing the winter wonderland for adults and kids as the “Christmas land” all year round and spotting the best Northern Lights view in the world? This is your complete travel guide!

The Finish Lapland was on my bucket list for such a long time. Since I wanted to have a chance to spot the Northern Lights I have chosen February as my travel period. The experience was just incredible. Lucky you I’ve gathered all the information to make your visit unforgettable.

Shall we get started?

It was a Saturday morning, a freezing February morning in Dublin – Ireland, I wasn’t happy enough with the current 5°C/41°F (smile face), that I planned a trip to Rovaniemi (-30°C/22°F), the frozen land, literally, a destination straight out of a fairytale, or maybe out of the Frozen movie even (say hi to Elza). ⛄

Located in the heart of Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi is famous as the official hometown of Santa Claus (HOHOHO 🎅)  and for its breathtaking Northern Lights displays and winter activities. Stay with me to know more about this dreamy destination.

Getting There

By air: Rovaniemi Airport serves as the main gateway, connecting Rovaniemi to various destinations by air. Several airlines (including Ryanair, the best low-cost!!) operate direct flights to Rovaniemi from major European cities.

Upon arrival, you can easily access the city center by taxi, with conveniently located taxi stands outside the terminal. Alternatively, the airport is well-served by public bus services, offering a cost-effective and efficient way to reach downtown Rovaniemi. The journey typically takes around 15-20 minutes.

Extra tip: download the taxi app Meneva on your phone, it’s their Uber, and you get a 5 euros discount on your first trip. The trip to downtown costs around 30 euros. More information here.
Rovaniemi City Center

By train: Alternatively, you can opt for a scenic train journey aboard the Santa Claus Express from Helsinki, which offers a cozy and comfortable way to soak in Finland’s picturesque landscapes.

By car: Rent a car for a memorable road trip to Rovaniemi, exploring Finland’s breathtaking scenery at your own pace.

Regardless of the route you choose, Rovaniemi guarantees captivating experiences and unforgettable memories. There is no wrong choice here. Just pack your bags, and COATS and go!

Where to stay in Rovaniemi

Choosing the perfect accommodation in Rovaniemi sets the stage for an unforgettable Arctic adventure.

Staying in Rovaniemi City Center

Downtown Rovaniemi offers convenient accommodation options like cozy guesthouses, boutique hotels, and modern apartments near the main attractions. If you are not renting a car it’d be the best option.

Santa Claus Village

Located only 15 minutes from the city center, the area offers plenty of accommodation options as well. If you’re traveling with kids, that’s probably the best spot to spend time with your family/kids. Santa Claus Village is the official home of the famous man himself. It’s also an option if you are not planning to rent a car. The location is easily connected to Rovaniemi downtown by public transportation.

Into the wilderness

Immerse in Lapland’s enchanting wilderness in picturesque lodges or charming cabins nestled amid snow-covered landscapes for unforgettable experiences. Or stay in photogenic glass igloos for unique experiences, admiring the Northern Lights from the comfort of your bed. If I ever return to Lapland that would be my option to stay. They seem to be an incredible experience but prepare your pocket, they are not cheap. It’s worth mentioning that for this alternative you will probably be better with a car, as they are more remote locations.

Main attractions

Finnish Lapland beckons adventurers with its mesmerizing landscapes and exhilarating experiences. If you’re reading this probably it’s because you like the cold, and snow or want to experience the Northern Lights. Happily, I’ve gathered the main attractions for your visit to Rovaniemi and Lapland.

Santa Claus Village

The official hometown of Santa Claus, where you can embark on enchanting encounters with the jolly old man himself at Santa Claus Village. The entrance to the village is free, however, all the extra services/products have a fee.

Shopping and Dining: Shopping for souvenirs, handicrafts, and traditional Finnish products varies in price based on what you choose to purchase. Dining options also vary, with restaurants offering a range of prices to suit different budgets.Meet Santa Claus: if you want to take photos with him, there may be a fee for professional photography services.Husky Park: Enjoying husky rides or meeting huskies at Husky Park typically ranges from €50 to €150 per person, depending on the duration and type of experience.
Santa’s Main Post Office: Sending postcards and letters from Santa’s Main Post Office is a popular activity. The price of stamps and postcards varies depending on the destination.Reindeer Rides: Reindeer sleigh rides usually cost between €50 and €100 per person, depending on the duration and location of the ride.Arctic Circle Crossing Ceremony: Crossing the Arctic Circle line is free of charge and a fun photo opportunity. However, if you wish to purchase a certificate to commemorate the experience, it may cost around €5-€10.
Santa Claus Village Activities

Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi

Husky in the snow

Santa Claus Main Post Office

Please note that prices are subject to change, and it’s advisable to check with specific vendors or attractions for the most up-to-date pricing information before visiting the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi.

Ranua Wildlife Park

Situated near Rovaniemi, Ranua Wildlife Park is home to over 50 species of Arctic animals, including polar bears, lynx, wolves, and moose. You can observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats. I did not have the time to visit it, but personally, it’s not my cup of tea.


For a truly immersive cultural experience, delve into the rich heritage of the indigenous Sámi people at the Arktikum Museum and Siida Museum.

Korouoma Canyon

Go on a day trip to this incredible national park and see a spectacle of icy cliffs and cascading frozen waterfalls, making it a must-see destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. I can’t recommend the day trip to Korouoma Canyon enough. Our guide was amazing, we had a barbecue in the wild and the scenic frozen waterfalls are stunning. If you’re adventurous, this is the place for ice climbing.

Korouoma Canyon

Pyhä-Luosto National Park

Discover the beauty of Pyhä-Luosto with scenic hikes, breathtaking vistas, and exploration of natural wonders like the renowned Lampivaara Amethyst Mine.

Lapland’s forests covered in snow

Levi Ski Resort

Levi Ski Resort is one of Finland’s premier ski destinations, offering a wide range of slopes and winter activities for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. They also offer other activities snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and après-ski entertainment.


Barbeque place in Korouoma National Park

Sampo Icebreaker Experience: Embark on an unforgettable adventure aboard the Sampo Icebreaker in Kemi. Visitors can cruise through the icy waters of the Gulf of Bothnia, witness the power of the icebreaker in action, and even take a dip in the freezing Arctic Sea.

Northern Lights hunting experience: Journey deeper into Lapland’s wilderness to witness the ethereal beauty of the Northern Lights, a captivating natural phenomenon that paints the night sky with vibrant hues of green and purple.

Rovaniemi Arctic Reindeer Farm activity: Experience the traditional Sámi way of life at the Rovaniemi Arctic Reindeer Farm. You will be able to enjoy reindeer sleigh rides, learn about reindeer herding practices, and interact with these gentle animals.

Reindeer in the Santa Claus Village

Rovaniemi Husky Park: Husky sledding is a quintessential Lapland experience, and the Rovaniemi Husky Park offers visitors the chance to meet and greet friendly huskies, learn about sled dog training, and embark on thrilling husky safaris through the Arctic wilderness.

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Husky Sledge

Food and Restaurants

Lapland’s culinary scene offers a delectable journey through the flavors of the Arctic. That’s another big reason to visit Rovaniemi if you like to try exotic tastes and delicious food like me.

Salty Food

Reindeer Meat: Reindeer meat is a staple of traditional Lappish cuisine, cherished for its lean and tender texture. It is often prepared as reindeer stew, roasted reindeer fillets, or smoked reindeer slices. The flavor is quite strong, and I would not try it again. Sorry, not sorry.

Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto): Lohikeitto is a creamy and comforting soup made with fresh salmon, potatoes, leeks, and dill, simmered in a rich fish broth. That was probably my favorite. It’s a comfort food ideal for the cold winters in Lapland.

Karelian Pastries (Karjalanpiirakka): Finnish Karelian pastries feature thin rye crusts filled with rice porridge or mashed potatoes, often served with butter spread and topped with egg butter. They had it available for breakfast, and honestly, this was quite good. I wasn’t expecting much, as I’m not a pastry guy, but you have to try this one.

Sautéed Reindeer with Lingonberry Sauce (Poronkäristys): A classic Lappish dish, thinly sliced reindeer sautéed with onions and butter, served with lingonberry sauce for a tangy contrast. Poronkäristys is a must-try for visitors seeking an authentic taste of Lapland. Again reindeer wasn’t for me.

Rye Bread (Ruisleipä): Rye bread is a cornerstone of Finnish cuisine, deeply rooted in Lappish culinary traditions. Dense, hearty, and bursting with flavor, it’s a staple served alongside meals or as the base for ‘voileipä’ open-faced sandwiches. A must-try culinary experience!

Smoked Fish: Smoked salmon, trout, and whitefish are popular choices, showcasing the region’s commitment to sustainable fishing practices and culinary excellence. I’ve tried salmon and it was the best I’ve ever had. They cooked it on an open fire.


Cloudberries (Hilla): Arctic regions of Finland, including Lapland, cherish cloudberries, prized for their unique sweet-tart flavor. They feature in desserts, jams, and sauces. I don’t need to say much, they are delicious. Try it! I love berries in general.

Berry Desserts: Lapland’s wild berries like lingonberries, bilberries, and cloudberries are staples in desserts and sweet treats. You can indulge in berry pies, cakes, and desserts.

Restaurants Recommendations

Indulging in endless picnics and barbecues was just the beginning of my culinary adventure! Here are the top restaurants I absolutely loved!

Santa’s Salmon Place Restaurant
Tucked in the heart of Santa Claus Village, this cozy eatery offers simple yet mouthwatering dishes. Don’t miss their traditional salmon! Despite the occasional wait, the friendly service makes it worth the visit!

Cafe & Bar 21

Step into the heart of Rovaniemi and experience Cafe & Bar 21, where modern meets cozy vibes! Indulge in delicious pastries, waffles, and the must-try traditional salmon soup while soaking in the upbeat atmosphere and groovy tunes!

Know Before You Go

  • Daylight Hours: During the winter months, Rovaniemi experiences short daylight hours, with the sun setting early in the afternoon. Therefore, you should plan your activities accordingly and make the most of the daylight.
  • Dress Warmly: Pack warm clothing for Rovaniemi’s cold winters: thermal layers, waterproof boots, gloves, and hats are essential for extreme weather.
  • Northern Lights Viewing: It’s essential to plan your Northern Lights adventure during the long, dark winter nights for optimal viewing. And opt for accommodations away from city lights and monitor Aurora forecasts. Consider hiring a group tour for the best viewing spots.
  • Wildlife Encounters: Lapland is home to diverse wildlife, including reindeer, moose, arctic foxes, and various bird species. Respect wildlife and their habitats by observing them from a safe distance and refraining from feeding or approaching them.
  • Budget for Activities: Discover free and budget-friendly activities in Rovaniemi, but expect higher costs for experiences like husky safaris or reindeer rides. So, plan your budget wisely to focus on your preferred activities.

As we wrap up this guide, I hope you’ve caught the contagious spirit of Lapland! Let Rovaniemi work its magic on you with its beauty and charm. Share your thoughts below—I’m all ears! I’ll see you on our next adventure!

A seasoned globetrotter with a fervent passion for travel, having explored over 40 countries and counting. Eager to continue discovering the world's myriad beauties and sharing enriching experiences with fellow adventurers.

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