Epic Rovaniemi Winter Itinerary (1 to 5 Magical Days in Lapland)

Looking to plan an incredible winter trip to Rovaniemi, Finland? You have landed in the right place! Get ready for a complete winter wonderland experience in Lapland, Finland! In this Rovaniemi Winter Itinerary, you will find everything you need to know to plan an epic vacation, whether that be for a couple of days or more!

I’ve also included practical information you will need, including getting around Rovaniemi, where to stay, restaurants, and additional tips. We visited Finland with my in-laws and Brother-in-law and had such an incredible time. Therefore, I am so excited to help you plan an incredible itinerary, too!

Rovaniemi Winter Travel Itinerary
Rovaniemi Winter Travel Itinerary

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

How Many Days Do You Need in Rovaniemi

This winter itinerary allows you to spend as little as one day in Rovaniemi, although I highly recommend a minimum of 3 days. 3 to 4 days would be the most ideal as you will not have to rush through your days. 5 days or more will allow you to experience Rovaniemi at a slower winter pace.

Finnish Husky in Rovaniemi
Husky at Appuka – Rovaniemi Winter Itinerary

How to Get Around Rovaniemi

The best way to get around Rovaniemi is by renting a car. This is because taxis are ridiculously expensive, and it’s usually easier to rent a car. The cars are equipped with snow tires during the winter, and we felt super safe driving on the roads.

However, if you really don’t feel comfortable renting a car, you can use public transportation which is widely available. It is just not as ideal since, for one, you’ll be waiting in the cold much longer, and it’s not as direct. If you do choose to pick the public transportation option, I would recommend staying in the Rovaniemi City Centre or Santa Claus Village, as both are major stops.

Additionally, most tours offer an option for hotel pick-up.

Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi in Winter
Santa Claus Village in Winter
Finland Snow covered forest

Rovaniemi Itinerary Overview

I have designed this itinerary for those visiting Rovaniemi for 1 to 5 days. While I believe 3-4 days is the perfect amount of time to visit, I want to allow you the option for more or fewer days so this can be your one-stop shop for planning.

The first 2 days have the most important attractions to experience during winter in Rovaniemi in my opinion, so if you’re short on days, prioritize those.

Additionally, you can totally rearrange the days! Want to do day 3 first? Go right ahead. Just keep in mind I’ve planned activities near one another for each day, so double-check switching activities around.

Here are some of the top things you can expect to experience in Rovaniemi, all of which will be included in this Winter itinerary. Additionally, you can find a more detailed list of the best things to do in Rovaniemi here.

  • Finnish Sauna
  • Santa Village
  • Chasing the Northern Lights
  • Snowmobiling
  • Husky Rides

Lastly, I want to leave you with this MAJOR ROVANIEMI TIP! Winter in Rovanmi is very popular, so I highly recommend booking your activities well in advance. Additionally, Rovaniemi is not a cheap place by any means. Almost every activity is over $100 per person, but they are all well worth it in our experience!

Snowmobiling is one of the best things to do in Rovaniemi Lapland Finland
At Santa Village on the Arctic Circle line with 3 people standing in front of it
Standing on the Arctic Circle line at Santa’s Village

Day 1 in Rovaniemi Winter Itinerary

It is your first day in Rovaniemi, so it only makes sense we start off with some of the best winter experiences on your itinerary.

Husky Ride Through the Frozen Wilderness

A fun and unique experience to enjoy in Rovaniemi during the winter is a husky safari. I was a little hesitant at first, but it was so fun! These dogs LOVE to run, seriously. When we hit the break, they would look back at, like, c’mon, we are trying to go.

Anyway, there are a lot of companies that offer husky safaris, however, I have vetted two that I’ve found treat their dogs like family. We personally did our Husky ride with Apukka, and had such an incredible experience.

The other company that was recommended by a friend/local is Bearhill Husky, however, they were sold out during my dates.

Appuka fitted us with a jumpsuit, socks, and boots if we needed them. I would definitely recommend waterproof gloves or mittens.

You can expect to spend around 1 – 2 hours on a husky safari!

See my detailed Winter in Lapland Packing List here, which includes everything I packed for our winter trip in Rovaniemi!

Husky Winter Safari in Rovaniemi winter itinerary
Playing with husky in Rovaniemi Lapland Finland

Snowmobiling Through the Arctic

Until Rovaniemi, I have never been snowmobiling, but I can now attest it is one of the best things to do on any Rovaniemi winter itinerary! The winter landscape is simply magical. As a matter of fact, I may have enjoyed this more than the Huskies.

Since we were already at Appuka, we chose to snowmobile with them as well, which made it incredibly easy. We had a 2 hour break in between our husky ride and snowmobiling, which gave us plenty of time to relax and enjoy lunch right on their property.

At first, I was nervous they would take us down the same paths as the huskies, but that was not the case at all. We saw completely new landscapes that left me in awe.

There are tons of other snowmobiling companies as well that you can check out here.

Snowmobiling in Rovaniemi Finland
Riding across a frozen lake in Rovaniemi

Warm up in a Finnish Sauna

A Finnish Sauna has to be on your Rovaniemi winter itinerary, and I recommend doing it on your first day. This is because you’re probably jetlagged, a little stiff from the flight, and your body is adjusting to the cold. Plus, it is the perfect way to end your first night. Plus if you’re lucky, you may even spot the Northern Lights!

We again chose to stay at Appuka for this, and it was a wonderful experience. They have a handful of sauna experiences to choose from, and we did the one that includes the traditional Finnish sauna and the jacuzzi!

If you choose to follow our path, you will be able to enjoy dinner in between the sauna and snowmobiling, or you can do the sauna earlier and dinner after. If not, check out additional places to enjoy a winter sauna!

A Traditional wood burning Finnish Sauna is one of the best things to do in Rovaniemi Finland
Sledding down the hill at Appuka
Spending some free time at Appuka sledding down their hill

Only One Night in Rovaniemi?

If you only have one night, I would also recommend squeezing a Northern Lights tour into your winter itinerary. If you do an early husky and snowmobiling tour, you should be able to fit the sauna and northern lights tour all into one. If not, I would skip the sauna to see the Northern Lights. More on the Northern Lights in Day 2!

Northern lights in Lapland
Taken by Lorenzo from Arctic Road Trips

Day 2 in Rovaniemi Winter Itinerary

After a busy first day, your second on this Rovaniemi winter itinerary will be a little more relaxed. That is because we have a really exciting adventure planned for tonight. Psst… You might want to sleep in a little!

All Aboard to Santa Claus Village

A visit to Santa Claus Village is a must for anyone visiting Rovaniemi! Sure, it’s a little touristy, but this is the real home of Santa! If you or your children have ever sent a letter to Santa, this is its final destination.

Even if you don’t care about visiting Santa, I would still urge you to visit because it looks like a winter wonderland, and this is where you can stand at the Arctic Circle! Furthermore, if you’re looking to do some shopping for small gifts, this is a good place to do it. If you do have kids, this is also where Santa Park is located.

Sitting on fake santas lap in Rovaniemi
Sitting on Santa’s Lap at the gift shop, not the real Santa
Santa Claus Village is a must on any Rovaniemi Winter itinerary
Santa's Office at Santa Claus Village - Rovaniemi winter itinerary
Santa’s Office – Rovaniemi Winter Itinerary

Visit Rovaniemi City Centre

After meandering around Santa Claus Village, head to the city centre! Aside from shopping, the most popular place to visit is the Arktikum Science Museum. The building itself is very unique, with a glass rooftop to observe the Northern Lights at night. Additionally, they often have unique exhibits, and they are known to have pretty good food.

Rovaniemi City Centre Shopping Mall
Rovaniemi City Centre Shopping Mall

Northern Lights Tour at Night

One of the main reasons you decided to visit Rovaniemi is to see the majestic Northern Lights, and tonight is the perfect time to do it! Just like all other attractions, you will want to book this activity in advance, especially if you want to go with a company whose main goal is to make sure you get to see the lights.

I can highly recommend Arctic Road Trips. They did everything in their power to make sure we got a glimpse of the lights and brought professional cameras to take pictures of us! You can learn more about seeing the Northern Lights in Finland here.

Trees and snow with the Northern Lights in Finland
How to see the Northern Lights in Finland Lapland

Day 3 in Rovaniemi Itinerary

Depending on how late you were awake chasing the Northern Lights, you are likely planning to sleep in today. Therefore, I am going to keep your itinerary light today.

Reindeer Farm

Being that you’re in the home of Santa, you can expect to see his faithful reindeer friends. Visiting a reindeer farm is one of the most popular things to do in Rovaniemi, and it is definitely a cool experience to learn the local culture of these farmers.

Aside from just visiting a farm, many farms also offer sleigh rides. For me, I was more concerned about just seeing and learning about them. Because we rented a car, we drove up to Tatuka Reindeer Farm to feed and learn about their local farm. If you don’t have a car, there are tours that will come and pick you up.

Feeding the Reindeer in Rovaniemi winter itinerary
Rovaniemi Reindeer

Hike to the Ounasvaara Observation Tower (Option 1)

Experiencing a Lappish winter is the ultimate winter wonderland. The quiet of the forest and trees covered in snow offer such a sense of serenity. It was one of my favorite things to do during our winter trip to Rovaniemi. So, if you want to enjoy a really lovely winter hike, a great place to do so is making your way to the Ounasvaara Observation Tower. It’s the highest point in Rovaniemi. You can even snowshoe here as well.

Beautiful snowy walking path to Ounasvaara Observation Rovaniemi winter itinerary
Beautiful snowy walking path to Ounasvaara Observation

Skiing or Snowboarding at Ounasvaara

If you’re looking for an activity to get your adrenaline pumping a little, consider hitting the slopes instead. While the hills themselves are not incredibly impressive, my brother-in-law still said he really enjoyed his time doing it (we hiked instead). Plus, the prices are pretty reasonable for Rovaniemi.

Ski Resort in Rovaniemi Lapland Finland
View from the top of the Ski Lift

Day 4 in Rovaniemi

If you plan to stay in Rovaniemi for 4 days, there are still activities for you to enjoy. For one, you can revisit any of the places on days 1-3 (hello Finnish Sauna) or consider trying out some day trips today.

Day trip to SnowHotel

Have you ever visited a hotel made entirely of snow and ice? This unique winter experience definitely deserves a spot on your itinerary, and they create the hotel with a new theme every year. Being that it is a hotel, you can even spend the night here, but they even recommend only doing one night, as it is cold.

If you don’t feel like sleeping on ice, the next best thing is to take a day trip here, which they welcome! You can spend time at the bar and restaurant or even join in on paid activities they host. Plus, they are only about 26 kilometers from Rovaniemi!

The Arctic Snow Hotel
Credit: ziggysofi/depositphotos

Explore an Amethyst Mine

Another pretty cool experience to add to your winter Rovaniemi itinerary is to explore the Amethyst Mine in Luosto. This is a great activity for the whole family, especially if you have any interest in gems or geology.

Technically, you can visit both the SnowHotel and Amethyst mine in one day, but you’re free to choose only one activity – especially if you have small children in tow.

Nighttime Floating (Optional)

We didn’t get a chance to try a nighttime float in a frozen lake during our visit, but I thought it was really cool. When I go back, it is on my winter Rovaniemi bucket list! Basically, they gear you up in a really thick wetsuit that floats. All you have to do is get in and look up to the night sky. If you’re lucky, you may even see the Northern Lights dancing overhead.

Day 5 in Rovaniemi Winter Itinerary

While I was ready to move to Rovanmei, as I truly loved the winter wonderland atmosphere, I believe 5 days is plenty of time to spend here. While you can totally spend more days in the area, I would consider checking out other towns in Lapland, or heading to Helsinki for some additional Finland exploration.

So, on your 5th day in Rovaniemi, I have some options for you to enjoy. These are mainly day trips, but you can also try any of the activities you may have missed in previous days.

Rovaniemi Snow covered forest

Day trip to Korouoma Canyon Frozen Waterfalls (Option 1)

Known as some of the best frozen waterfalls in Europe, this is a great addition to any Rovaniemi winter itinerary. During a visit, you can hike or snowshoe 5 km to 3 frozen waterfalls. This is a very popular day trip with group tours, but you can just as easily do it on your own! If you choose this option, it will take up most of the day.

Visit Pyhä-Luosto National Park (Option 2)

Another beautiful nature walk can be done at the historic Pyhä-Luosto National Park. These lands were formed millions of years ago and known to be sacred land of the native Sami people who still inhabit this land. Just keep an eye on the weather when visiting on your own!

Technically, you could visit the Amethyst mines and Pyhä-Luosto National Park on the same day as they are near one another.

Finland Snow covered forest

Ranua Wildlife Park (Option 3)

The last option to consider on your 5th day in Rovaniemi is a visit to Ranua Wildlife Park. During the winter, you will experience this arctic zoo with animals that would normally live in these environments. This includes polar bears and arctic foxes. This is a good option if you’re visiting with children or love nature zoos.

Ranua Wildlife Park Polar Bear
Credit: gudkovandrey/depositphotos

With More Time in Rovanimei

Depending on your travel style, you may be able to fit more activities into your Rovanimei winter itinerary, or maybe you plan to stay for a few more days. If this is the case, here are some additional activities to consider adding.

Ice Fishing on a Frozen Lake is an iconic way to experience Finnish culture.

Taking an Icebreaker Cruise is yet another unique way to experience winter in Rovanimei. It is a little pricy, but how many opportunities do you have to be on an icebreaker ship?

Ice fishing in Finland
Credit: wwwarjag/depositphotos

Getting to Rovaniemi, Finland

Now that you know the best things to do on your Rovaniemi winter itinerary, here is everything you need to know about getting to the capital of Lapland.

The number one way most people arrive in Rovanimei is by plane. The Rovaniemi Airport (RVN) has recently added a lot of direct flights from other European locations. However, if you don’t see any direct flights, Finnair will be your best bet with a connection in Helsinki. Find the best flight options here.

Wintertime flights can get a little expensive, so thankfully, you have one other option, that is actually quite cool. They call it the Santa Claus Express, and it’s an overnight train from Helsinki. You can learn more about riding the Santa Claus Express here.

Plane flying over Finland

Where To Stay in Rovaniemi

Next, let’s figure out where you are going to stay! I have actually put together a detailed guide on the best and most unique places to stay in Rovaniemi here!

For a quick short list, here are some of my top recommendations:

Apukka Resort (Where we stayed & loved)

Lapland Hotels Ounasvaara Chalets (Also where we stayed)

Arctic TreeHouse Hotel (Designed for viewing the Northern Lights)

Santa Claus Holiday Village (Great for families)

Apukka Igloo resort
Apukka Igloo resort

Places to Eat in Rovaniemi

Here is a short list of some places we enjoyed meals in Rovaniemi!

  • Ravintola Monte Rosa (Good Reindeer Steak)
  • Pure Pizza and Pure Burger (right next to each other)
  • Restaurant Kota (if you visit Appuka, pretty decent pizza)
  • Bull Bar and Grill (didn’t get a chance to try but it came highly recommended)
  • Rosso (An Italian Eestaurant)

Aside from the restaurants, other things you will want to try while in Rovaniemi are Lapin Panimo Lager, Minttu (Finnish Alcohol) that they often put in hot chocolate, and hot berry juice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Rovaniemi

Here is a quick FAQ that covers some of the most commonly asked questions about visiting. If you have additional questions, feel free to comment below or reach out to me via email or on social media.

How Cold is Winter in Rovanimei

The main question we all asked ourselves before planning this trip was if it would be too cold for us to visit. With proper layering, we were all toasty warm, but here are the averages you can expect when visiting Rovaniemi in the winter. During our visit, it mainly stayed in the high 20’s °F.

  • November: 14°F to 41°F(-10°C to 5°C)
  • December: -4 °F to 14°F (-20° C to -10° C)
  • January: -22°F to 5°F (-30°C to -15°C)
  • February: -4°Ft to 5°F(-20°C to -15°C)
  • March: 5°F to 23°F(-15°C to -5°C)

Is it Worth Going to Rovaniemi

It is absolutely worth visiting Rovaniemi at any time of the year, but especially in winter. Visiting Rovaniemi during winter will make you feel like you’ve just entered a Hallmark Movie.

Why is Rovanemi Famous

Rovaniemi is famous for a couple of reasons. For one, it is the capital of the Lapland region. Secondly, it is the official home of Santa Claus. Want to get in the holiday spirit? I recommend watching Klaus on Netflix, which is a fun interpretation of Santa, and you will even see Sami people represented.

Can You See Polar Bears in Rovaniemi

There are no wild polar bears in Rovaniemi because their diet consists of marine animals, and Rovaniemi is not near the ocean.

Do They Speak English In Rovaniemi

English is widely spoken in Rovaniemi. They survive on tourism so you shouldn’t have any difficulties. However, it never hurts to download Google Translate before your trip.

Rovaniemi Winter Itinerary Wrap-up

And that’s a wrap! You’re now ready to experience the best Rovaniemi has to offer during the winter! I hope you have the best time exploring the official home of Santa and that the Northern Lights are in your favor!

Did you find this Rovaniemi Winter Itinerary Helpful? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

Rovaniemi Winter Itinerary
Photo of author

Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

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