Updated: May 25, 2021
Rovaniemi, a winter wonderland of pink skies, husky sleds, frosty fir trees, steaming hot chocolate and twinkling lights – Finnish Lapland is where all your snow-filled fantasies come to life. And right at the heart of it is Rovaniemi, perched on the edge of the Arctic Circle and the official home of Santa Claus (and he’s got to know the best place to live). From the Northern Lights to reindeer sleigh rides, wonderful Nordic dining, and herbalsauna treatments. the winter months in the far north are full of magic, and we promise your first Arctic adventure would live more than expectations.
Santa Claus Village is the epicentre of all things festive in Rovaniemi (even right into March) and there are a ton of wintery activities you can do on site, making it an easy place to base yourself.
It'll be wrong to say that Santa would be off to the Bahamas as soon as Christmas is over, but you can visit him in the Santa Claus Office all year round. There’s also a Post Office where you can send letters with a special Arctic Circle postmark, and a Christmas exhibition. Yes, this place really does go all out for the festive season. The line of the Arctic Circle also runs right through the middle of the village – you can see it marked with a row of lanterns and strip of blue lights.
Ice swimming (or winter swimming) in Lapland is something many Rovaniemi people find refreshing and healthy. Ice swimming is an experience normally combined with sauna – the combination of hot and cold in your body is amazing and it’s good for your health. Believe it or not – Finns are not nuts! Swimming in a hole in the ice really does you the world of good.
Floating is quite recent but yet so unique way to experience silence. Floating is an activity where you float in a wilderness lake by wearing a floating suite. The suite keeps your body warm and you can comfortably float in the middle of nothing
Speeding through the snowy forest behind a team of Siberian Huskies is one of the must-dos for your trip to Rovaniemi, and it won’t disappoint. There are various different lengths of route you can take, from a short 500 metres to eight kilometres. But these guys can really move, so hold on to your hats (literally) as the ride soon whizzes past (and the cold wind is brutal at top speed so wrap up warm). As an add on, you can visit the Husky Park where you can meet and stroke some of the park’s gorgeous dogs.
If you want to actually see the scenery, a reindeer sleigh ride is a lot more sedate and relaxed, and a chance to get up close to these amazing creatures. Like the husky sledding, there are various different lengths of circuit available so you can decide how far you want to go – we went for 15-minute Forest Path which took us through fir trees piled up with snow. Sleighs can hold up to two adults and you’re wrapped up in reindeer hides so you stay nice and warm.
A castle for five-metre tall Moomins made out of snow? Only in Finland. The Moomins are a bit of a Finnish institution, with a family of white creatures that look a bit like hippos, based on the books by illustrator Tove Jansson.
The Northern Lights – or Aurora Borealis – are one of the big reasons that people come to Lapland. But it’s also the one thing you can’t guarantee you’re going to see. You need the right atmospheric conditions, which happen around 150 days a year on average in Rovaniemi.
World phenomenon Angry Birds, a playful video game is possibly one of the best-known contemporary Finnish brands. Its success has spawned 18 other game titles, two films, a television show, toys, food, print products and – yes, an official Angry Birds Park right here in Rovaniemi. Unleash your inner children (or bring your own) as you enjoy this fun and frivolous park located on the riverbank, within an easy walking distance from the city center. There is also a ropewalk, slides, swings and climbing frames, all with designs inspired by the hit video game characters. There is even a cute little mini-soccer field and running track!
You might be a bit worn out after a long day, but staying up and heading outside might reward impressively. As long as it’s not overcast, the Midnight Sun and white night are definitely phenomena you don’t want to miss.