Best things to do in Rovaniemi
Find out more about those top places in Rovaniemi
Nestled in the rolling tundra close to the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi’s claim to fame is as the ‘official’ residence of Santa Claus. However, beyond the main streets, which are lined with shops selling Christmas trinkets year round, Rovaniemi is Finland’s hidden gem and makes an ideal base for exploring the vast wilderness of Lapland. Despite its image as one of Europe’s most jovial places, Rovaniemi has had a difficult history with the town being completely destroyed by the retreating Germany army in World War Two. Fortunately, the town was rebuilt to plans made by the renowned modernist Alvar Aalto. Specifically, the flowing Lappia Hall and the sleek minimalism of the Central Library are famed by architectural buffs across the world. Beyond this, the town makes a great starting point for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or dog-sled trips into Lapland.
Likely Finland’s most visited tourist attraction, Santa Claus Village is built directly atop the Arctic Circle. Filled with a mixture of stalls selling kitsch Christmas related souvenirs and traditional Sami handcrafts, the village is buzzing year round. Especially exciting for younger visitors is the chance to pay a visit to Santa’s Grotto where you can meet Saint Nicholas himself.
Ounasvaara is the highest point in Rovaniemi and forms a focal point for the town during summer and winter months. In the former it transforms into a lush hillside park where locals retreat for picnics, forested walks and views of the surrounding lakes while in the winter the perfectly groomed piste of Finland’s premier ski resort unfurl down its slopes.
One of the most rewarding tours available in Rovaniemi is a trip to Ranua Zoo – the only zoo above the Arctic Circle in the world. Home to an astounding array of Arctic wildlife, including wolves, polar bears, reindeer and Arctic foxes, the zoo is a perfect day out for all ages.
Easily reached from Rovaniemi via organized tours, the jaw dropping beautiful Phyä-Luosto National Park gives you a taste of the true Arctic wilderness. What is more, tours offer the unique opportunity to explore the area’s rich amethyst mines and dig for the precious stones yourself.
No visit to the Arctic Circle would be complete without a reindeer sleigh ride. Tours from Rovaniemi allow you to immerse yourself in this traditional form of Lappish transport.
With long starry nights, the weather in Rovaniemi is perfect for seeing nature’s greatest light show: the Aurora Borealis. For an unforgettable experience, tours from Lapland’s capital take you to icy lagoons where you can don special thermal wet suits and float in the water while watching the light show unfold above.
Head into the Arctic wilderness on snowmobile tours departing from Rovaniemi where you will learn about traditional Lappish culture and catch glimpses of elusive northern mammals.
For an authentic Nordic experience, take an ice fishing tour of the plethora of lakes surrounding Rovaniemi. Expert guides will help you master the art of ice fishing and cook a delicious Lappish meal using the fish you caught.