Situated just below Finland’s Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi offers visitors the chance to enjoy snowy fun, hunt for the Northern Lights, and discover the city’s claim-to-fame as the home of Santa Claus. Read on for how best to fill three days in the northern Finnish city.
Day 1: Snow, Sights, and Northern Lights
Get oriented in Rovaniemi on a sightseeing tour that provides an overview of the city. Check out Rovaniemi’s highlights during a panoramic drive; visit the ice-carved Snowhotel; and try snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Several tours combine husky-sledding and reindeer sleigh rides with Rovaniemi’s cutting-edge Arktikum—a museum spotlighting Arctic culture and wildlife—and the Santa Claus Village, where you can meet Santa Claus and shop for Christmas gifts.
Rovaniemi is well-located for spotting the Northern Lights, so devote your evening to hunting the natural phenomena. Set up vigil on a darkened fell or join a photography tour that comes with tips for capturing the lights on camera. Or, optimize your chance of sightings with a 3-day Northern Lights pass, which includes three consecutive evening hunts, nightly campfires, and return transport.
Day 2: Go All Out for Snow
Dive headfirst into Rovaniemi’s winter fun on day two. Topping the list for many are reindeer- and husky-led sled rides, so book a combo tour to experience a sleigh ride by both creatures. Another option is an ice-fishing experience, during which you’ll drill a hole in a frozen lake and drop lures to snare fish. Alternatively, take a snowmobile safari and soar through snowy woods for the ultimate adrenaline fix.
Increase your chance of seeing the Northern Lights by joining another hunt in the evening. Tours vary from wait-and-watch-by-the-campfire trips to more adventurous expeditions, such as snowshoe or reindeer sleigh safaris that search for the display.
Day 3: Wildlife and Winding Down
Branch out and enjoy sights outside Rovaniemi on your final day. If it’s fall, take a nature tour to explore pristine Arctic forests and natural springs. Or, discover Ranua Wildlife Park, where you’ll see more than 50 wildlife species in habitats that replicate their natural environments. Glimpse brown bears, wolves, moose, owls, and Finland’s only polar bears.
Come evening, dine out in the mystical surroundings of the Snowland Restaurant—an igloo-shaped eatery sculpted from ice and furnished with ice tables. Alternatively, if tonight happens to be December 31, sign up for an open-air party outside Rovaniemi, welcoming the New Year with a burst of fireworks, ice bars, a snow disco, and an appearance by Santa himself.