The Best Things to do in Rovaniemi Lapland Finland
Are you considering a trip to Finnish Lapland? One of the best places to base yourself is Rovaniemi, Finland! Most popular in the winter months, Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland and the official hometown of Santa Claus. Yep, you read that right! With a plethora of activities to enjoy, here are the best things to do in Rovaniemi Lapland, Finland!
Before jumping right into the best things to do in Rovaniemi, I am going to briefly cover some of the most asked questions about visiting Rovaniemi and then get right into the good stuff!
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- The Best Things to do in Rovaniemi Lapland Finland
- Is it worth visiting Rovaniemi?
- Getting to and Around Rovaniemi
- How Many Days are Enough for Rovaniemi?
- Can you See the Northern Lights in Rovaniemi?
- What to do in Rovaniemi
- 1. Enjoy Husky Ride
- 2. Cruise on a Snowmobile
- 3. Experience a Finnish Sauna
- 4. Chase the Northern Lights
- 5. Stay in a Glass Igloo
- 6. Go Skiing or Snowboarding
- 7. Visit a Reindeer Farm
- 8. Try Ice Fishing
- 9. Take a Winter Hike
- 10. Explore Santa Claus Village
- 11. Visit Santa Park
- 12. Explore Rovaniemi City Centre
- 13. Visit The Arctic Snow Hotel
- 14. Explore an Amethyst Mine
- 15. Visit Pyhä-Luosto National Park
- 16. Float in a Frozen Lake
- 17. Hike to Korouoma Canyon Frozen Waterfalls
- 18. Visit the Ranua Wildlife Park
- Where to Stay in Rovenmeni
- Best Things to Do in Rovaniemi Wrap-up
Is it worth visiting Rovaniemi?
A resounding yes! Our time in Rovaniemi was an absolute dream, and it will certainly go into the pile of “I would move here” places! Not only does it make the perfect base for exploring Finnish Lapland, but there are tons of activities right in Rovaniemi, kind people, and lots of restaurants. Basically, everything you could ask for.
Getting to and Around Rovaniemi
Another reason Rovaniemi is a perfect place to visit in Lapland because it is relatively easy to get to. You can find a handful of direct flights to Rovaniemi (which have been expanding), along with easy connections from Helsinki Airport (HEL). The air time is just over an hour. Check Skyscanner for flights!
Additionally, you can take an overnight train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi. The train takes around 8 – 12 hours, depending on transfers. They call it the Santa Claus Express.
Once in Rovaniemi, the best way to get around is by renting a car. Driving is relatively easy in Rovaniemi because even though snow is on the ground, the tires are equipt with studs for grip.
You can use public transportation, which can be a great option if you’re on a budget. You can also use cabs. We were forced to use a cab when we had some car trouble.
The cab from Apukka Resort to Ounasvaara Chalets was over $100 for 5 people round trip, which is very expensive, in my opinion – so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this option.
If you don’t feel comfortable behind the wheel and don’t want to deal with public transportation, I think your best bet is to go with tours, and Rovaniemi is known for having tour groups for just about every activity.
Most hotels will offer a shuttle service to and from the airport as well.
You can also choose to stay at a resort that offers activities on its grounds, so you won’t need to figure out a lot of transport.
How Many Days are Enough for Rovaniemi?
3-4 days in Rovaniemi will give you enough time to explore the major attractions of Finnish Lapland. With that being said, if you like to travel at a slow pace, you could easily spread out activities for 5-7 days.
I believe 3 full days in Rovaniemi is a sweet spot, however, I’d totally just live there all winter if I could.
Can you See the Northern Lights in Rovaniemi?
A huge draw to visiting Rovaniemi is the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t one of the main reasons I had Rovaniemi so high on my bucket list! Located on the Arctic Circle, your chances of seeing the Northern lights are definitely increased, and I will cover that in more depth below!
Read More: The Ultimate Finland Travel Guide
What to do in Rovaniemi
Now that you know some of the basics for visiting Rovaniemi, let’s get into the best things to do while visiting!
1. Enjoy Husky Ride
If experiencing dog sledding is on your bucket list, you have come to the right place! Enjoying a husky ride is easily one of the best things to do in Rovaniemi. I was a little hesitant to do this activity, but I am so glad I did.
We planned our Husky ride with Apukka, and you could tell they really had love for their dogs! The kennels were clean, and the dogs all looked very healthy, so I can highly recommend a tour with them.
We rode across frozen lakes and through the wilderness, and all those dogs wanted to do was RUN! It was the cutest thing!
After, you will have time to show all the puppies’ love, warm up inside a tent, drink some berry juice, and learn more about the huskies and Finnish traditions. Even if you’re not visiting for the winter, they still do husky rides on wheels!
2. Cruise on a Snowmobile
Another one of the most epic things to do in Rovaniemi is taking a Snowmobile Safari through the Lappish wilderness. If you have never been on a snowmobile, you’re in for a treat! If you’ve already been on one, get excited because they have dedicated trails for snowmobiles through the forest and frozen lakes; it is pure bliss.
I must admit, Rovaniemi is the first place I have ever been on a snowmobile, and I could have done it every day. It is so much fun and a great activity for families.
Since we had such a great experience dog sledding with Apukka, we did snowmobiling with Apukka, and it was equally as excellent. We traveled on a completely different trail, so it was all new scenery.
Apukka also offers a winter jumper, boots, and wool socks to help keep you warm.
3. Experience a Finnish Sauna
When in Finland, doing a traditional Sauna is a must! It is basically like a religion to Finnish people. In fact, almost every home will have its own dedicated sauna in Finland. Traditional Finnish Saunas are wood burning. Once you get hot, you should go out and roll in the snow, or dip into the frozen lake, before heading back in.
I personally laid down in the snow once, and that was enough for me, lol. For those of you that brave your way into the frozen lake, good on you! Some places even have a jacuzzi to enjoy (Apukka did). It is such a fun experience in Rovaniemi that should not be missed.
This was another activity we could do at Apukka, making it super easy, and we really enjoyed it. They have several sauna experiences you can choose from, and book your own private time slot.
If you’re looking for a longer sauna experience, I have also heard great reviews about Arctos Lapland Spa, which offers around a 4-hour private Finnish sauna spa experience.
4. Chase the Northern Lights
If you are visiting Rovaniemi between October through April, chasing the Northern Lights is one of the absolute best things to do in Rovaniemi! Since you are situated in the arctic, your likelihood of seeing the Aurora Borealis is much higher!
According to our guide (along with several locals I asked), the best time to see the lights is in the months of September, October, February, and March.
One thing you might not know about seeing the lights is the colors are not always as vivid as they appear in photos. The human eye is not able to pick up as many colors as a professional camera can.
Seeing the lights is also very dependent on the weather. One of the most important factors is clear skies. We booked our Northern Lights tour with Arctic Road Trips. What makes them different from traditional Northern lights tours is that their main goal is to actually CHASE the lights – not sit at one spot camping and hoping to see them.
You never know where you might end up when Lorenzo and his team come to pick you up. You could be in Norway, Sweden, or the most Northern part of Finland. His team does everything in their power to ensure you get to experience the magic of the aurora by tracking the weather. We were picked up at 7 PM and didn’t get back home until 4 AM!
As dedicated photographers, they even host full-out aroura hunting trips that go on for 2-3 days. If you’re not inspired yet, check out their Instagram page!
If this excites you, here is a full guide on How to See the Northern Lights in Finland!
5. Stay in a Glass Igloo
If you love unique stays, consider staying in an Igloo during your time in Rovaniemi! There are a handful of hotels that offer these “Aurora” cabins that allow you to watch the night sky from your bed. Even if you don’t see the Aurora from your glass igloo, Lapland has low light pollution making it great for stargazing.
You will see some glass igloos listed at the bottom in the “where to stay” section!
6. Go Skiing or Snowboarding
Although Finland is relatively flat, Rovaniemi has dedicated slopes at Ounasvaara Ski Oy. They have 10 slopes with the longest run being 600 meters long. This is a family ski resort, and they offer lessons and rentals. Lift tickets start at 24 euros for 1 hour and go up from there.
They have several jumps, 5 lifts, and even cross-country skiing tracks. This is also the highest point in Rovaniemi, which will give you views of the whole city. They get a lot of fresh snow throughout the winter, giving them great conditions.
During the summer months, you can ride bikes down the slope. Learn more about hitting the slopes in Rovaniemi here!
7. Visit a Reindeer Farm
One of the coolest things you can do in Rovaniemi is experiencing a reindeer farm! I mean, when you visit the home of Santa, you expect to see some reindeer, am I right?! And while these reindeer don’t fly, they are cool to visit!
Reindeer in Finland are looked at as livestock. This means you can visit a farm, and then find one on the menu at dinner.
Reindeer herding dates back to the Sami culture in the middle ages. The reindeer provided meat, milk, and the skins provided clothing. In current times, they still provide these necessities, along with sled rides and farm visits.
Tatuka Reindeer Farm is less than 1 hour outside of Rovaniemi and it is family owned and operated. It has been in the family for at least 5 generations, and we learned a ton about farm life and reindeer husbandry during our visit.
The best part was being able to feed the herd of reindeer! Their farm was also reasonably priced, which I appreciated since we didn’t want to do a sled ride (although they do offer it).
Apukka also has reindeer, but I found Tatuka to be a cooler experience.
You can contact them via Whatsapp to set something up, or via email. Whatsapp #+358 40 7625 889
Admission starts at 20€
Address: Rovaniementie 866 97250 Raanujärvi, Finland
8. Try Ice Fishing
Have you ever wanted to try your luck at ice fishing? This fun Finnish experience will allow you to head out on a frozen lake to drill your own fishing hole. If you catch a sizable fish, they will cook it for you on an open fire!
You will learn all about how the locals fish and the importance of fishing to their culture.
Rovaniemi travel tip: Make sure you dress really warm for this one! Here is my Lapland Finland Winter Packing List!
9. Take a Winter Hike
If you’re visiting Rovaniemi in the wintertime, a winter hike is easily one of the best things to do! You will feel as if you’re walking in a snow globe! Birch, Spruce, and Pine trees covered in snow, and the sounds of snow packing down with each footstep will set the scene. You can even opt for snowshoeing!
A lovely trail you can take is the Ounasvaaran Winter Trail, which is right near the ski resort. They have several trails (including snowshoeing) that lead to watch towers and have a campfire site.
If you bring some marshmallows, and a lighter, you should be set. To obtain your own map, visit the reception at Lapland Hotel Sky Ounasvaara. The trail is beautiful throughout the year.
10. Explore Santa Claus Village
You can’t visit Rovaniemi without visiting Santa Claus Village! This is where you can meet Santa Claus, cross the Arctic Circle, visit Santa’s post office, experience Snowman World, and more! If you’re traveling with children, this is a kid’s paradise.
As adults, I do believe the area is a little too touristy for us, however, standing at the line of the Arctic Circle was a must. It is free to enter the village as well.
This is also a good spot to get souvenirs, as there are tons of shops. I’d recommend checking prices because you can find the same items across the stores, but sometimes the prices differ.
Not visiting during the holidays, don’t worry because Santa Claus Village is open year round!
Address: 96930 Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi, Finland
11. Visit Santa Park
While you’re at it, you can even visit Santa Park, an indoor amusement park. If you love Christmas and are traveling with kids, this is a great way to embrace the holiday spirit. You can attend Elf school, visit Santa’s office, see the elf show, visit an ice gallery, and more.
Unlike Santa Claus Village, they are only open during the holiday season, so if you want to enjoy this activity in Rovaniemi, they will be open from 11-11-2023 to 01-13-2024.
12. Explore Rovaniemi City Centre
Rovaniemi has so much nature to enjoy that you might forget they have a bustling little city to check out! In Rovaniemi City Center, you will find tons of restaurants throughout and shopping down Lordi’s Square. If you want a good reindeer steak, try Ravintola Monte Rosa.
Other things to check out in Rovaniemi city centre include the Culture House Korundi (home to the Rovaniemi Art Museum and the Lapland Chamber Orchestra) and the Arktikum Science Museum, where you can learn more about the Arctic region, the Northern Lights, and the Northern way of life. The building is also pretty unique looking!
13. Visit The Arctic Snow Hotel
Another unique place to visit and even spend the night in Lapland is at the Arctic Snow Hotel & Glass Igloos. Made of snow and ice, it is one of the largest snow hotels in the world, with 70 guest rooms. You can visit for just the day, or dare spend the night and sleep on an ice bed!
As you can imagine, the snow hotel is only open during the winter months, and even if you don’t spend the night, you can still visit for the day and tour the hotel, eat at the restaurant and bar, or do the sauna. It is located about 26 kilometers from Rovaniemi City Centre.
Address: Lehtoahontie 27, FI-97220 Sinettä – Finland
14. Explore an Amethyst Mine
Do you love geology? A day trip to the Amethyst Mine in Luosto will be right up your alley! These Lapland gems were formed about 2,000 million years ago. They are one of the few mines open all year round.
Visiting includes a tour where you will hear all about the geology and history of amethyst. After, you will head to the digging area to mine your very own amethysts.
Address: Luostontie 4, 99555 Luosto
15. Visit Pyhä-Luosto National Park
If you love nature, another great day trip from Rovaniemi is the Pyha-Luosto National Park. Enjoy a winter wonderland or the midnight sun around midsummer. This National Park has dozens of nature trails to embrace the beauty of Lapland. Popular activities include berry picking, fishing, snowshoeing, biking, and bird watching.
The mountains (known as fells in Old Norse) were formed over 2 billion years ago. These lands were considered sacred by the Forest Sámi people who used to live here.
The amethyst mine is also nearby, so you can do both during your day trip!
Address: Pelkosenniemi, Finland
16. Float in a Frozen Lake
Ever wonder what it would be like to float in a frozen lake? Well, it is one of the more unique things to do in Rovaniemi and something we really wish we had time to do when we were there. They put you in a big floating suit, and then you get to fall into the ice lake and stare up at the sky.
It is one of those experiences you can’t really do anywhere else, so if you have the time to do it, I recommend trying it! I will certainly be back to try floating in a frozen lake!
17. Hike to Korouoma Canyon Frozen Waterfalls
Korouoma Canyon Nature Reserve is located a little over an hour from Rovaniemi, Finland, and this Southern Lapland canyon is another one of the best things to do if you ever want to see frozen waterfalls! They have some of the best frozen waterfalls in Europe, and walking through the Korouoma Canyon Nature Reserve is a new type of majestic.
The canyon itself is several hundred million years old bedrocks. You can hike or snowshoe down the 5 km long Koronjää Trail, where you will see the canyon’s three largest ice falls rise. You can visit by driving or taking a Korouoma Canyon Frozen Waterfalls tour!
Address: Saukkovaarantie, 97815 Posio, Finland
18. Visit the Ranua Wildlife Park
Although the Ranua Wildlife Park is located outside of Rovaniemi, Finland, it is a very popular place to visit, especially if you want to view arctic wildlife. It is just about an hour outside the city, and if you don’t have a car, there are tour groups.
Ranua Resort’s wildlife park specializes in arctic animals. This includes about 50 different arctic animals that live in spacious fencing so it will feel “more like” their natural environment.
They also foster hurt animals and try to help return them to the wild. Some animals you can expect to see include reindeer, arctic foxes, moose, polar bears, and brown bears.
Admission: Adult 23,50 € and Child 4-14 years old 19,00 €
Address: Rovaniementie 29, 97700 Ranua, Finland
Where to Stay in Rovenmeni
Now that you know the best things to do in Rovaniemi Lapland Finland, you may still need to book your accommodations. I’ve done a ton of research, and here are some of the best places I’d recommend to stay! If you’re visiting during the high-season (winter), I recommend booking in advance.
Apukka Resort: Known for its Igloo huts, the Apukka Resort has it all. We stayed here for one night and had a fabulous experience even though we didn’t get to see the Northern Lights in our igloo. BTW- all glass igloos go quickly in the winter, so book ASAP.
Lapland Hotels Sky Ounasvaara: This hotel is located right on the ski resort and surrounded by beautiful forests with skiing/snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking trails. The hotel staff is incredibly friendly, and it is just outside town. We enjoyed the walking trails and slopes around this hotel.
Lapland Hotels Ounasvaara Chalets: At the bottom of the ski slopes, you will find the Chalets, which work great if you are traveling with a larger group. We stayed here our remaining nights with the rest of our family (5 people) and had a nice stay. They had a great breakfast buffet and a bar in the lobby.
Arctic TreeHouse Hotel: Although we didn’t get to stay here personally, I have heard and read fantastic reviews. This is also a unique stay with the opportunity to see the Northern Lights from inside the comforts of your room.
Santa Claus Holiday Village: If you’re visiting Rovaniemi with kids, staying in Santa’s Village could be a great place to base yourself, with tons of tours and excursions leaving out from here.
While the above would be my top, I include even more places to stay in Rovaniemi here with details.
Best Things to Do in Rovaniemi Wrap-up
This concludes some of the best things you can do in Rovaniemi Lapland, Finland! I hope you have the best time exploring this incredibly beautiful Lappish area!
Do you have any questions about this “things to do in Rovaniemi, Finland” guide or have a question about visiting? Let me know in the comments below, or send me an email or DM!