The capital of Finland, also known as the official home of Santa Claus, here are some of my favourite things to do in beautiful Rovaniemi.
1. Stay In A Wood Cabin
Staying in wood cabin is a very special experience and Rovaniemi has an impressive selection of what is a very local form of accommodation in Lapland.
During the winter months the nights are long and dark ,with only about five hours of daylight during the month of December.
However, these cabins are well insulated, very warm and snug and the perfect place to be on a cold winters night.
With six of us sharing the cost of a cabin, it worked out a relatively cheap stay and our stunning cabin had absolutely everything we needed for a great break, including a sauna!
I would definitely recommend staying in a cosy wood cabin in Rovaniemi, for a truly authentic Lapland experience.
2. Visit Ranua Zoo & Wildlife Park
Located in the small town of Ranua, the Ranua Zoo & Wildlife Park is about an hours drive from Rovaniemi.
Opened in 1983, Ranua Wildlife Park specialises in approximately 50 different species of arctic animals. All of whom live in the most authentic and spacious environment possible.
Along the 3km park trail, you can meet artic fox, snow owls, reindeer, wolves, moose, otters, beavers and many more arctic animals. Not forgetting Venus the famous polar bear!
During the winter months you might have to look carefully to spot some of the animals. They can be quite well camouflaged and some may actually be hibernating.
As well as the animals, the park has plenty of attractions, including a chocolate shop, a wine shop and restaurants. As well as petting animals, mini carts, horse riding and play areas for younger children.
With prices starting at approximately €22 per adult, this has to be one of the best ways to spend a day in Rovaniemi.
If you prefer to have everything arranged for you, the Ranua Wildlife Park Day: Visit the Arctic Animals tour is recommended.
3. Eat Fazer Chocolate
Okay, so if you haven’t heard of Fazer chocolate before you arrive in Rovaniemi, I guarantee you’ll be addicted by the time you leave!
From the air hostesses handing them out on the plane, to the hotel rooms leaving them on the tables, Fazer chocolate is everywhere.
Karl Fazer started his first confectionary business in Finland in 1894 and throughout the 20th century it counted to develop and expand.
Subsequently, his chocolate became the most loved chocolate in Finland and earned Karl Fazer a place in Finnish cultural history.
This delicious chocolate, famous for its high quality ingredients and Fazer blue wrapper, is a must-try when in Rovaniemi.
4. Santa Claus Village
Located just 8km north of Rovaniemi, the magical Santa Claus Village is open all year round from 9am to 7pm. There is no entrance fee to the village and it’s possible to meet Santa all year round.
Apart from meeting Santa, activities available include husky sled rides, reindeer sled rides, snowmobile rides, a Magic Train ride and more.
There are also plenty of cosy restaurants and bars to stop and enjoy some delicious local food and drink. Or you can visit the, not quite as warm, Snowman World’s Ice Bar and Ice Restaurant.
Santa Claus Village also has lots of shops selling local handicrafts as well as popular Finnish design brands.
Finally, don’t forget to get a photo crossing the geographical line of the Arctic Circle, just in front of Santa Claus’ Office!
If you prefer things to be arranged for you the Santa Claus Village and Arctic Circle tour will take you to Santa Claus Village. You will have a private meeting with Santa Claus, cross the Arctic Circle line and then enjoy a Lappish-style buffet lunch.
Santa Claus Village really is a magical place and has to be on list of best things to do in Rovaniemi, however old you are!
5. Meet Santa & Mrs Santa
Located in Santa Claus Village, admission to Christmas House to meet Santa Claus is free. So who doesn’t want to meet the real Santa Claus?
Santa will have a chat with you and his helpful elves will happily take a photo of this ‘once in a lifetime’ meeting.
To see Mrs Santa Claus you have to go the short distance to the stunning Christmas Cottage, located in the Reindeer Resort.
Surrounded by jolly elves Mrs Santa Claus enjoys greeting visitors of all ages and sharing her stories about lapland.
If you like meeting the elves the Elf Hat Academy in Santa’s Village might also be fun, especially for children and the young at heart!
Mrs Santa Claus is available to meet with you daily from 1st November to 31st March between 11am and 5pm.
Meeting Santa Claus and Mrs Santa Claus is not to be missed and a fun thing to do whilst visiting the Santa Claus Village.
6. Feed Reindeers
You can feed reindeer at the Reindeer Resort in Santa Claus Village. Or Santa Claus Reindeer also run Mount Porovaara Reindeer Farm, located about a 15 minute drive south of Rovaniemi.
Getting up close to these beautiful, gentle animals is an absolute treat. Certainly one of the best things I did during my stay in Rovaniemi.
Costing €5, the visits are available non-stop throughout the day and do not require any pre booking. For this, you get to meet the reindeer and their calves, pet them and feed them.
Reindeers favourite food is lichen and they are very happy to let you feed them this and take photos.
In addition, a friendly and knowledgeable guide will chat to you about the reindeer and reindeer herding.
So don’t miss out on this lovely activity whilst visiting Rovaniemi.
7. Visit The Moomin Shop
Located in the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, the Moomin Shop was a real treat for me as I am somewhat of a Moomin fan.
These lovable characters are featured in a book series and also a comic strip by Swedish-Finn writer and illustrator Tove Jansson.
The Moomins are a troll family that are white in colour and have large noses. They live in Moomin valley and love going on adventures with their friends.
The Moomin shop in Rovaniemi is overflowing with Moomin toys, mugs, stationary, gifts and everything Moomin. There really is something for everyone.
So, if you are a Moomin fan like me, a visit to the Moomin shop has to one of the best things to do in Rovaniemi.
8. Santa Claus Main Post Office
The Santa Claus Main Post Office in Santa Claus Village is open every day, all year round. This is the perfect place to buy a souvenir or sit and write greetings to send home – whatever the time of year!
Full of beautiful gifts and all sorts of cards and postcards, this cosy post office provides space for you to write your messages.
Once you have chosen what to send and written your messages, the Postal Elves will post your mail for you!
Moreover, if you visit in the summer and want your messages to be held until Christmas, the Postal Elves will put them into a special post box. They then get posted close to Christmas.
I would recommend popping into this unique post office and sending a message to friends or family back home.
Stamped with the special Arctic Circle postmark, I’m sure they will love receiving your Christmas greetings.
9. Korundi Kitchen & Cafe
Located in the centre of Rovaniemi, Korundi Kitchen & Cafe combines a restaurant with an art cafe. It’s definitely a very cool place to meet for coffee or lunch.
Originally an old bus depot, it has been beautifully refurbished to create a modern and stylish setting. In addition the staff are really friendly and welcoming.
Open Tuesday to Friday 10.30am – 4.00pm and Mondays 10.30am – 2.00pm, they offer a delicious buffet lunch between 11.00am and 2.00pm.
Buffet lunch includes salad, with a variety of cold sauces, two warm dishes, fresh bread and a cup of coffee or tea all for €15.
Alternatively, if you fancy a coffee and a snack, the cafe serves a great coffee as well as a choice of sweet/savoury treats. One of which is a tasty sweet bun created for them by a local artisan baker.
This is a great little spot to grab a coffee or lunch. Moreover, it definitely lives up to its motto of being ‘Culture for body and soul’.
Additionally, if you are a foodie and fancy an authentic evening meal of traditional Lappish cuisine the 3-Course Dinner at Santamus Restaurant is a great option.
10. Artikum Museum
Located in the centre of Rovaniemi, Arktikum Museum serves as a museum and science centre.
Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 6pm. Tickets are €18 for adults, Children 7-15 are €5 and Under 7 years are free. Family tickets are available at €40 (2 adults + 2 children aged 7-15 years).
There are two separate exhibitions – the Arctic Centre and the Provincial Museum of Lapland – that let you experience northern nature, culture and history.
This is a really interesting museum to visit, where you learn about climate change and the future of the Arctic. Along with the history of Finland and populations around Lapland as well as the Finnish wildlife.
The Arctic region is a very unique area and therefore there is plenty of fascinating information. Much of which most people will not have come across before.
There are also lots of interactive exhibitions that children will love to get involved with and perhaps the adults too!
In addition, there is a cafe that serves delicious traditional Finnish food as well as gift shop and large library.
If you’ve got a few hours to spare, I can highly recommend the Artikum Museum as well worth a visit.
11. Dine In A Glass Igloo
For a really special and unique dining experience, a glass igloo certainly hits the spot. This had to be on the list of the best things to do in Rovaniemi.
Located on the terrace of the Three Elves Restaurant in Santa Claus Village, these warm and cosy igloos seat up to 6 people.
The restaurant serves a variety of local food, including reindeer burgers, grilled salmon, beetroot/cauliflower stew. As well as some delicious desserts like Lapland squeaky cheese or chocolate fondue.
There is a minimum spend of €300, (€350 for the large igloo). So if the total amount of food/drinks ordered is less, then the difference will be charged as space rent.
The igloos are available to book from the beginning of September to the end of April every day, at 2pm, 5pm and and 8pm. (Maximum stay 2.5 hours.)
With great views of the starry night sky, you might even get a glimpse of the famous Northern Lights whilst enjoying your meal.
Although we didn’t get to see the Northern Lights, the six of us still had a fabulous time and loved this unique dining experience.
12. Husky Tour
Husky sledding has been a way of life in the Arctic forever and taking a husky tour was another of my favourite things to do in Rovaniemi.
With a variety of tours to choose from, and being a great activity for all ages, you are sure to find one that suits your needs.
One of the more popular ones is the Rovaniemi: 1-Hour Self-Drive Husky Sledding Experience.
This activity needs a good covering of snow, so you need to be visiting between approximately the end of November and mid April to catch the snowy weather.
A sled is generally shared by two adults, with one driving and one sitting in the sled. It is however, possible to swap positions at various places around the course.
The huskies are friendly and beautiful dogs who appeared to be very well looked after and couldn’t wait to get running with the sleds.
For an exhilarating experience you can’t beat being pulled through the beautiful white snow by a pack of excited huskies!
13. Eat At The Northernmost McDonalds In The World
Even if McDonalds is not your first choice of restaurant, visiting McDonalds in Rovaniemi is fun and has to done. If only so that you can make the claim that you have eaten in the northernmost McDonalds in the World!
Opened in 1997 to cater for the many tourists that visit the home of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi McDonalds became the most northernmost McDonalds in the World.
However, it did lose its title between the years of 2014 and 2022 when a McDonalds was opened in Murmansk in Russia. That has now closed and Rovaniemi are pleased to have regained the title.
When it opened the president of McDonalds reportedly said, “Since this restaurant is the closest to the North Pole, we hope this will become Santa’s favorite neighborhood restaurant.”
Much the same as any other McDonalds, the only difference here is that you are given a postcard with Greetings from the northernmost McDonalds on the front.
14. Arctic Ice Floating
This is a totally unique and exhilarating experience that is definitely one of the best things to do in Rovaniemi.
The Arctic Ice Floating Experience supply transportation, a guide, clothing and hot drinks.
Wearing your own clothing and fitted into a high quality rescue suit that covers your whole body, you are dry, warm and totally protected.
Floating around in the icy water, your body and mind feel light and relaxed and although the thought of getting into the freezing water might be a bit daunting, I would highly recommend this activity.
You have a guide with you and are given thorough instructions before getting into the water. No swimming skills are required, as the suit keeps you on the surface.
Costing around €94 per adult and €70 per child (no children under120cm), it’s not the cheapest of activities. However, the activity is over 3 hours and this really is a ‘must-try’ experience whilst in Rovaniemi.
15. Northern Lights Tour
Seeing the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, has to be high on most peoples bucket list. So if it’s on yours, you are in the perfect place and there are lots of different tours available.
One of the popular ways of hunting for the lights is the Northern Lights Sledge Ride Pulled by Snowmobile. Snuggled under a blanket in your sledge, an experienced guide takes you to all the best viewing locations.
The lights are usually visible between late August and early April. They can appear between 10pm and 2am, although they have been known to appear as early as 7pm.
To see this spectacular light show requires clear, dark skies with as little light pollution as possible. However, you usually don’t have to walk far from the centre of Rovaniemi to find a good viewing spot.
The spectacular light show might last a couple of minutes, or if you are lucky, several hours. You never quite know what is going to happen, which makes it even more exciting.
Catching the magical Northern Lights dancing in the sky has to be up there as one of the best things to do in Rovaniemi.
Where To Stay In Rovaniemi
Santa’s Igloos offer stylish glass-roofed igloos by the Arctic Circle, 5 miles from central Rovaniemi. WiFi and parking are both free.
All air-conditioned igloos at Santa’s Igloos Arctic Circle have a private bathroom with a rain shower. For extra comfort, sleeping masks, bathrobes and slippers are available. A flat-screen TV and electric kettle are also on offer in the rooms.
Each igloo comes with a tablet through which guest can contact the reception and receive Northern Lights alarms.
Breakfast is available daily at the property.
This boutique hotel is 5 miles from Rovaniemi Airport and Santa Claus Village. It features bright, ultra-modern rooms with individually themed décor. WiFi and parking are free.
A flat-screen TV, minibar and tea/coffee facilities are standard at Arctic Light Hotel. Bathrobes and slippers add extra comfort, and some rooms have their own kitchenette. Each room has a private bathroom with a hairdryer and a bath or shower.
Facilities at Arctic Light Hotel include a sauna, a terrace and a lounge bar. Finnish-American TV chef Sara La Fountain creates the healthy, energising breakfast. Staff at the 24-hour reception will gladly recommend local restaurants, attractions or activities.
Located in Rovaniemi, Motelli Rovaniemi provides air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. With barbecue facilities, the property also features a garden. The property offers a shared lounge.
The units at the motel come with a flat-screen TV. Rooms are complete with a private bathroom and shower, while certain rooms at Motelli Rovaniemi also feature a terrace. All guest rooms will provide guests with a kitchen.
The accommodation offers a sun terrace.
For more places to stay in Rovaniemi, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.