Rovaniemi is the capital of the Finnish Lapland region and is located very close to the Arctic Circle. Rovaniemi is also home to Santa Claus’ official residence.
The capital of Lapland has a population of about 60,000, a figure that increases especially in the winter due to tourism, both inland and from abroad.
Things to see and do in Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi’s tourist attraction grows mainly during the winter season when you can enjoy the snow and many snow-related activities.
Rovaniemi also has interesting museums, churches and historic buildings that are not to be missed.
Lordi’s Square is a square in the city centre of Rovaniemi. It is named after the Finnish band that won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006.
The main streets of Rovaniemi, with shops, restaurants and the city’s shopping centre, are located next to the square. In addition, during the summer, the square hosts various events.
Arktikum Science Museum
Arktikum is a museum and science centre located one kilometre from the centre of Rovaniemi. Inside, you can find two permanent exhibits: the Arctic Centre and the Lapland Provincial Museum. It also houses a number of temporary exhibitions.
The Arktikum Museum shows the history, culture and evolution of life in the Arctic. Thus, you can learn about the development of human life in connection with nature.
Seeing the Northern Lights
Located in the north of the country, Rovaniemi is an ideal place to see the northern lights. To do so, you’ll need to visit the region between September and March.
For the best chance of seeing them, we recommend moving away from the city, as light pollution is higher and they cannot be fully appreciated. Going to a forest or nature park near Rovaniemi is definitely the best way to see the northern lights.
Santa Claus Village
Santa Claus Village is a must during your trip to Rovaniemi. There, you can meet Santa Claus in person and visit his official residence.
Santa Claus Village is located about 8 kilometres from the centre of Rovaniemi. To get there, we recommend taking the Santa Express bus, which will take you directly there in just 15 minutes.
Angry Birds Playground
The Angry Birds Playground is a small playground decorated with different elements related to the popular Finnish game.
The park is only 5 minutes away from Lordi Square and the centre of Rovaniemi, making it a very interesting visit, especially if you are accompanied by the little ones.
Riding a snowmobile
If you’re travelling to Rovaniemi in winter, one of the activities we recommend is a snowmobile safari.
This is a very original and fun alternative for visiting the forests surrounding the city of Rovaniemi.
Enjoying the Finnish sauna
Visiting the sauna is one of the favourite activities of the Finns. For this reason, a trip to Finland is not complete until you try the experience of visiting an authentic Finnish sauna.
There are a number of saunas dotted around the city and the hotel you’re staying at is sure to have one, so don’t miss out on this opportunity. You may even have your own sauna in your private room.
If you want the full experience, we recommend that you go to a sauna that is located next to a lake where you can swim when you leave the sauna.
How to get to Rovaniemi from Helsinki
There are several ways to get to Rovaniemi from Helsinki. The fastest is undoubtedly by plane. However, it is also the most expensive option.
The second alternative we recommend is the train. It’s much cheaper than flying, but the journey takes between 8 and 11 hours. Note that there is an overnight train, so you could sleep on the train and wake up in Rovaniemi the next day.
In any case, we recommend that you read our guide on how to get to Lapland. In it, we explain in more depth the advantages and disadvantages of all the alternatives you have to get to Rovaniemi.
How to get around the city
Rovaniemi is not a very big city and all its attractions are located in the city centre, very close to each other. For this reason, it is very likely that you will not need to use public transport to get around Rovaniemi.
Santa Claus Village is the only tourist attraction a few kilometres away. However, the Christmas-themed Santa Express bus will take you from the centre of Rovaniemi to Santa Claus Village.
Where to stay in Rovaniemi
Lapland is a region that attracts thousands of tourists every year and Rovaniemi, the capital, is a favourite place for travellers to stay. For this reason, the number of alternatives is enormous.
In Rovaniemi, you will find many places to sleep: 4 and 5-star hotels, hostels, family flats…
As you can see, there are options for all types of trips, regardless of whether you are travelling alone, accompanied or with children. You’re sure to find an alternative that suits you.
Where to eat in Rovaniemi
The town of Rovaniemi has a large number of cafes and restaurants where you can stop for a meal and a rest.
As in the rest of the country, most establishments are pricey, so you’ll have to be careful if you’re on a budget.
However, it is possible to find restaurants where you can try good quality, reasonably priced local food such as reindeer or salmon.
We recommend that you look for restaurants in the city centre, as there is something to suit all tastes.
We hope this guide has helped you decide what to see and do in Rovaniemi during your trip. If you have any questions, feel free to use the comments section.