Visiting Rovaniemi: A Guide To Santa’s Hometown
Tucked away in the northernmost region of Finland lies a magical place where most children can only dream of visiting: Rovaniemi, Santa’s official hometown. This winter wonderland is filled with activities that the whole family will love, from going on a sleigh ride with reindeer to meeting Santa Claus himself. Here’s your complete guide to visiting Rovaniemi!
The journey to Santa Claus Village is every bit as whimsical as the destination itself. How exactly do you get there? By taking the Santa Claus Express night train, of course! Departing from Central Railway Station in Helsinki, this overnight train ride takes you and your nuggets right to Rovaniemi. It’s a surprisingly comfortable ride, with sleeper compartments large enough to fit one adult and one child. Kids will love waking up in the morning and looking out the window at the lovely Finnish countryside.
Tip: The train may be warm, but adventuring around Santa’s Village will get chilly! Be sure to pack warm layers and snow gear, including a balaclava (ski mask).
WHAT TO DO
There is no shortage of fun activities to do in and around Santa Claus Village. Here are a few highlights.
Snowman World is the ultimate playground for kids. Older, more adventurous kids will love the huge slide made entirely of ice, while little ones can admire the ice sculptures around the park. There’s also ice skating, which the whole family can enjoy.
SANTA CLAUS POST OFFICE
The Santa Claus Post Office is not just a tourist attraction, but also a real, functioning post office. Any letters or packages sent from here are stamped with an Arctic Circle postmark that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. You can also purchase a personalized letter from Santa that will be sent to the recipient just before Christmas.
Tip: Fill out your postcards before you go to the post office. Although you can do it there, table space tends to be limited.
SAFARTICA HUSKY SAFARI
Get the authentic dog sledding experience with Safartica Husky Safari! A guide and his team of huskies will lead your family on an epic adventure through the snow. After the ride, your kids will get to meet the dogs.
Looking for a low-cost activity that won’t blow the budget? Go sledding! There are plenty of snow-packed hills around Lapland (Finland) that are perfect for this winter activity, and some are so smooth you don’t even need a sled!
Tip: Before bundling up, be sure to have everyone use the bathroom. The safari lasts about 2 hours.
SLEIGH RIDE WITH SANTA'S REINDEER
This activity is a bit of a splurge, but it’s absolutely magical – a sleigh ride through the forest with Santa’s reindeer. This gentle ride through the woods is perfect for kids of any age.
If you’re coming all the way to Santa Claus Village, then you have to take the kids to meet Santa! You can either visit him in one of his two “offices” in the village, or invite him to your cabin for a private visit instead. The best part? You can arrange to get your kids’ letters to Santa in advance, so he can personalize his time with your kids.
Tip: Keep a close eye on little ones running around Santa Claus Village. There are a lot of slippery spots.
WHERE TO EAT
SNOWMAN WORLD ICE BAR & RESTAURANT
Bundle up before you head to Snowman World Ice Bar & Restaurant – everything inside is made from snow and ice! If you plan to eat here, be sure to make a reservation well in advance.
SANTA'S SALMON PLACE
Finland is one of the best regions in the world to enjoy salmon, and Santa’s Salmon Place does it right. This restaurant is actually located inside of a traditional Lappish teepee, complete with an open fire. Kids will love the atmosphere, and parents will love the fish!
Tip: Santa’s Salmon Place gets crowded and isn’t very big, so try to visit in between meal times.
WHERE TO STAY
ARCTIC SNOWHOTEL & GLASS IGLOOS
What better way to take in the northern lights than from the comfort of your bed in your very own heated igloo? The Arctic SnowHotel offers this unique experience that kids and adults will both love.
SANTA CLAUS HOLIDAY VILLAGE
Nothing beats the convenience of staying right in Santa Claus Village, especially when traveling with children. Parents will love the en-suite sauna, and kids will love being so close to the action.
Tip: Grab a sled at reception when you check in! They’re free and are great for pulling kids around the village.