Things to do in Rovaniemi Lapland – The Ultimate Guide

Things to do in Rovaniemi

In this article, we will cover all the top things to do in Rovaniemi Lapland.

Rovaniemi is known as the capital of Finnish Lapland, crossed by the Arctic Circle.

It is also in the middle of Lapland, Rovaniemi is surrounded by sublime landscapes that will take your breath away with notably the Kemijoki river that crosses the city.

You will also have the opportunity to walk through Santa Claus village, to taste local dishes in restaurants, to learn about the Lappish culture, and many more.

Sled dogs, northern lights observation, ice fishing, here are some examples of things to do in Rovaniemi.

Being on the polar circle, Rovaniemi is ideally placed to observe the northern lights.

However, since it is becoming more and more popular it can easily be packed with tourists.

It is, therefore, better to book in advance especially if you go to Rovaniemi in December.

Read also our article:

Top 10 Things to do in Rovaniami Finnish Lapland

Visit Santa Claus village

Staying in Rovaniemi without visiting Santa Claus village would be like coming to Paris without seeing the Eiffel tower.

The place is certainly touristy but it is one of the things to do in Rovaniemi at least once.

Take advantage of your stopover in Santa’s village to meet Santa at his workplace. Santa’s workshop is located in the heart of the village.

You can see him all year long but he is often very busy in December!

Note that this village entrance is free. You will pay only if you take a picture with Santa. The price is 30€ for a picture and 40€ for the video.

Santa’s village also houses the post office where letters arrive from all over the world every year before Christmas.

You can send a postcard to your friends with a special seal from the Arctic Circle.

To sum up, in this village you will be able to:

  • meet Santa Claus
  • cross the polar circle
  • write and send a postcard from Santa’s post office.

Santa Claus Village
Tähtitie 1
96930 Napapiiri (Rovaniemi)

Opening hours: December 1 to January 6, Monday to Sunday: 9 am- 7 pm.

If you would like to know if the village is busy you can check the live camera:

Santa Claus Village
Santa Claus Village
Santa Claus Shop & Office
Santa Claus Shop & Office
Santa Claus mail box
Santa Claus mail box

Take a dog sledding trip

During a stay in Lapland, going out in the forest pulled by sled dogs is an almost unavoidable activity.

It allows you to discover snowy landscapes while being quiet and accompanied by these beautiful dogs.

There are many companies in Rovaniemi as well as all over Lapland.

For those who wonder if these dogs are unhappy “pulling” the sleds, it’s very easy to realize that they actually like it: these dogs are clearly waiting to go running.

But what you must be careful about is that some companies are not really respectful of the dogs they work with. Not because the dogs don’t like to pull but because of their lack of performance.

There are companies that practice euthanasia when the dogs are too old to run or do not run well enough. So we advise you to choose your company wisely and carefully.

During this activity, there can be up to two people in the sled: one standing at the back leading (more or less) the pack and helping to turn by leaning to one side or the other and the other one sitting, or even almost lying down, in the sled.

The trip to the forest varies in length, depending on the excursion you have chosen.

It goes from a tour of a few kilometers, about ten minutes, to an excursion of several hours. Some can go up to fifty kilometers!

If you have children, they will have to be accompanied by an adult.

To fully enjoy this activity, we advise you to go on a 20 km safari in order to really enjoy it.

If you go with young children, prefer short safaris (5km type).

This walk is obviously an opportunity to enjoy the landscapes, at a faster pace than on foot and slower than on a snowmobile. The perfect compromise, with the calm of the forest in addition.

Dog Sledding
Dog Sledding
Dog sledding sunset

Visit a reindeer farm

In Finnish Lapland, there are more reindeer than inhabitants.

The reindeer is undoubtedly the symbol of Lapland and, throughout the world, the Lapland reindeer is also known to be a valuable helper to Santa Claus.

You can encounter reindeer on the side of the road while you are walking through the forest but also in the Santa Claus village.

However, if you want to know more about the reindeer we would advise you to visit a farm.

If you visit a reindeer farm, you can try a new discipline: the reindeer sled safari! A 100% Lappish experience that should please both young and old.

You will learn more about these traditional breeders who live in the heart of nature all year round.

You will get close to the reindeer and you will be able to feed them and take some pictures with them.

Reindeer are very gentle animals and are used to living in groups. The sleigh ride in the forest will start at the reindeer farm.

You will find different prices. For a 35 minutes ride, count 70€ for an adult and 55€ for a child.

Reindeer farm
Reindeer farm
Reindeer ride
Reindeer ride

Watching the Northern Lights

The must-see and things to do in winter during a trip to Lapland: admire an aurora borealis and let yourself be overwhelmed by this almost mystical spectacle.

However, you should know that there is absolutely no guarantee to see them, it is a natural phenomenon and it is nature that decides!

In Northern Lapland, auroras are visible every other night between September and March, provided that the sky is clear.

You can get a guide who can take you to see the northern lights, far from the city center. They will know where to go and show them to you

Often green, sometimes bluish, orange, or purple, the Northern Lights will surprise you.

You will simply not believe your eyes and you will feel like you are in another world!

At night, in winter and on a clear day, during this period you will have many chances to see them dancing in the sky.

Nothern lights
Nothern lights

Introduction to ice fishing

If you’re not the type to lounge by Santa’s fireplace, you’ll also have the opportunity to develop your adventurous side.

You can discover some ancient techniques in ice fishing! Don’t miss the chance to sign up for an ice fishing course and feel like an Eskimo for a few hours.

Very nice in the sunshine, but to be avoided on very cold and snowy days.

To do this, you have to go to the frozen lakes, make a hole in the ice and wait for the fish.

After digging the ice, put your line in the hole and be patient. You may be surprised or impressed to see that fish can survive in this cold and under many centimeters of ice.
It is quite fun and a great experience to do.

One thing you should know: fishing in Lapland in December and January is really for the experience.

The fish are not very active at this time, so don’t expect to catch any. The ideal season for ice fishing is undoubtedly the month of March or even April.

Finns often fish on weekends during these months because the days are longer, it is less cold and the sun warms up everything.

Snowshoeing tour

With such landscapes, admiring the view is an activity in itself.

In winter, it is very complicated, if not impossible, to walk in the snow. Take snowshoes to go on an adventure and don’t forget the sticks that can be very useful.

Here is another way to enjoy the fresh air and the white landscapes during your trip to Lapland!

Snowshoes are ideal for discovering the various ice concretions and natural snow forms, all while enjoying the silence of the forest.

To take in the sights, you can also admire the nature on the Auttikongas road.

This road is located 80 km from Rovaniemi and was created by a former Finnish forester.

It is bordered by a river and several beautiful waterfalls. If you climb to the top of the hills, you can also enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Visit the Arktikum

If there is a museum to see in Rovaniemi, it is, without doubt, the Arktikum.

Immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Arctic and Finnish Lapland.

The museum has a spectacular glass-roofed museum and science center interactive exhibits and other displays.

Watch a breathtaking animation of the Northern Lights and discover both the Sami culture through artifacts but also a lot of things about the nature and wildlife of the Arctic region through the ages

Perfect for families, history and nature enthusiasts, and visitors new to Finnish Lapland.

Artikum Museum
Artikum Museum
Artikum Museum
Artikum Museum

Taste local food

Speaking of restaurants, it’s time to talk about local cuisine and specialties.

The local cuisine is based mainly on the products of the region. You will find a lot of seafood such as salmon, crab, fresh fish, and wild fruits.

You can’t go to Lapland and miss the local food! You will find mainly reindeer and salmon preferably. And why not accompany all this with a wild berry juice?

Salmon Lapland
Salmon Lapland

Discover the art of sauna

Did you know that there are more than 3 million saunas for every 5.5 million people?

It sounds crazy but it’s true. So if you come to Finland, you have to try the sauna.

After a cold day in winter or a long walk in summer, don’t hesitate to warm up or rest in a sauna.

Originally from Finland and very numerous in Lapland, they are an integral part of the local culture. If you want to avoid the stares, don’t forget to undress to respect the Nordic traditions.

There are often saunas in cottages that you can rent or in hotels. After spending a day in the cold, you will appreciate this moment of relaxation in the warmth!

And to complete the experience, you can choose to roll around in the snow (after staying in the sauna for a while) or to go into the cold water of a lake.

After that, you get back to warmth and you’ll see that it feels great.

It is very easy to find free saunas on the shores of Lapland lakes.

Visit to Ranua Zoo

Located about an hour’s drive from Rovaniemi, it is the most northerly zoo in the world. Polar bears yes, but not only! The zoo is home to over 50 species of boreal animals.

How many days do you need in Rovaniemi?

An average stay in Lapland Rovaniemi is 3 days/4 nights with 3 days on-site to do the activities.

The activities are done in the morning and or in the afternoon depending on the weather and the established program.

What is the best time to visit Lapland?

The winter season is the longest in this region, starting in early November and ending in May.

However, if you really want to make the most of Lapland during the winter, it is best to plan your trip between the beginning of December and mid-March.

For those of you who don’t enjoy the cold, to visit Lapland and enjoy the most pleasant climate, we advise you to go there during the summer months, from June to August.

Moreover, you will be able to observe the famous midnight sun from June 6 to July 7.

As far as precipitation is concerned, summers are known to be quite rainy despite everything.

Is Rovaniemi worth visiting?

Yes! Although Rovaniemi is very touristy, we would totally recommend that you jump on a plane and discover this city and its surroundings.

It’s undoubtedly one of the best spots to visit in Lapland, and it is unofficially Santa’s home. Feel the Christmas vibes that’s what makes this place popular and magical.

What is there to do in Rovaniemi for free?

Santa Claus’ Village and its post office

Santa’s village entrance is free! Yes, you can enter at any time and say hello to Santa and its elves.

However, if you want to take pictures or videos with him you will have to pay!

Walking in nature

Coming to Lapland means discovering nature with its wide white spaces, its frozen lakes, and its large fir forests. There are many marked trails that do not necessarily require snowshoes.

However be careful on the frozen lakes, it is better not to venture out if you don’t know what to do because in some sectors the ice may not be very thick.

Therefore, make sure you know what to expect before you go.

  • Walk the surroundings of the hill of Ounasvaara
  • Walk the Arctic Circle Hiking Area – 25km from Rovaniemi

Lumberjack’s Candle Bridge

This bridge really marks the city of Rovaniemi. Evening walks along it is enjoyable.

This bridge, one of the 2 which allows access to Rovaniemi, is magnificent!

It overhangs the frozen river and the steam due to the difference in heat between the water and the air giving it a mysterious side.

Rovaniemi City Library and Town Hall

The library is worth a long stop.

Here is a place that really makes you want to read. To spend hours immersed in adventure novels.

All the furniture is by Alvar Aalto, and has become an iconic piece of furniture produced by Artek.

The round lines of the wood, the honeyed colors, suddenly it’s like it’s warmer outside.

Now that you have listed all the things you will do during your trip to Rovaniemi!

Prepare your luggage and don’t forget the most important things to bring for your winter trip: What to Pack for Lapland – The Checklist for a Winter Trip

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