Best Things to Do in Rovaniemi, Finland: 12 Must-See Attractions

by Jen
Best Things to Do in Rovaniemi, Finland

Looking to visit Rovaniemi, Finland anytime soon? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Rovaniemi. These enchanting sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for a memorable vacation experience.

Ready for a magical destination like no other? Buckle up because we’re heading to a place that’s straight out of a fairy tale—Rovaniemi, Finland. Imagine a land where the Northern Lights dance across the sky, reindeer roam freely, and yes, Santa Claus is your next-door neighbor. Welcome to the Arctic Circle, my friends! And when you’re here, there are plenty of things to do in Rovaniemi, from thrilling Arctic adventures to meeting Santa Claus himself in his village.

Rovaniemi is not just a winter wonderland; it’s a year-round playground for adventurers, nature lovers, and those looking to find that elusive magic you only read about in storybooks. From the frosty allure of snow-covered forests to the midnight sun that turns night into day, every moment here is a spectacle.

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking to conquer the Arctic terrain or a hopeless romantic wanting to sleep under the stars in a glass igloo, Rovaniemi has got you covered. And let’s not forget the food—oh, the food! Finnish cuisine is a hearty affair that will keep you fueled for all your Arctic escapades.

So, are you ready to discover the best things to do in Rovaniemi, Finland? Trust me; this is one journey you’ll be telling your grandkids about. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Rovaniemi.

The top places to visit in Rovaniemi, Finland right now
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Best Places to Visit in Rovaniemi

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Rovaniemi, Finland? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this magical vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Rovaniemi places to visit.

Are you looking to embark on thrilling Arctic adventures such as husky sledding, reindeer safaris, and snowmobiling beneath the Northern Lights? Or would you prefer to visit Santa Claus Village, where you can meet Santa himself, cross the Arctic Circle, and experience the enchanting spirit of Christmas year-round? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Rovaniemi can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Rovaniemi that you should know about.

1. Santa Claus Village

If you’ve ever wondered where to go in Rovaniemi for that quintessential Christmas spirit, look no further than the Santa Claus Village. Yes, you read that right! The big man in red has his very own village, and it’s open all year round.

Nestled in the Arctic Circle, this magical place is not just for kids; it’s for the young at heart. You can send postcards from Santa’s official post office, where they’ll be stamped with a special Arctic Circle seal. How cool is that? And don’t even get me started on the reindeer rides. It’s like stepping into a Christmas card!

But wait, there’s more! The village also offers a chance to cross the Arctic Circle. A white line painted on the ground marks the spot, and crossing it is said to bring good luck. So, go ahead, make a wish!

For the foodies, there are Finnish treats galore. From reindeer sausages to cloudberry jam, your taste buds are in for a festive feast.

So, if you’re making a list of Rovaniemi attractions, the Santa Claus Village should be right at the top. It’s the North Pole experience, minus the frostbite!

Santa Claus Village is one of the best things to do in Rovaniemi, Finland.
Experience the Christmas spirit year-round at Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland.

2. Arktikum

What could be a better place to experience the Northern Lights than Arktikum? This museum and science center offers an immersive experience that delves into the Arctic lifestyle and the mystical Aurora Borealis.

As you step into the museum, you’re greeted by a glass tunnel that extends into the garden, offering a panoramic view of the sky. It’s a prime spot for Northern Lights viewing, especially during the winter months. But don’t worry if you visit in summer; the exhibits inside provide a virtual experience that’s almost as mesmerizing.

Don’t miss to try the interactive displays that let you ‘touch’ the Northern Lights and hear the sounds of the Arctic. It’s an educational yet thrilling experience that appeals to both kids and adults.

And let’s not forget the Arctic Garden outside, a serene space with native plants and pathways that offer a peaceful retreat. It’s a perfect spot for reflection or a romantic walk.

Curious about the best things to do in Rovaniemi, Finland? Make sure Arktikum is on your list. It’s not just a museum; it’s an experience that brings the Arctic to life.

Arktikum: Immerse in Arctic life and the Northern Lights with a glass tunnel for prime viewing in winter and captivating exhibits in summer.
Arktikum: Immerse in Arctic life and the Northern Lights with a glass tunnel for prime viewing in winter and captivating exhibits in summer.

3. Husky Safari

If you’re searching for the coolest activities in Rovaniemi, explore Husky Safari. Imagine gliding through a winter wonderland, pulled by a team of enthusiastic huskies. The wind in your face, the snow crunching beneath the sled—it’s an experience that’s both exhilarating and serene.

Upon arrival at the husky farm, you’ll get a warm welcome from the furry athletes themselves. After a brief introduction and safety guidelines, you’re off on an adventure that takes you through the pristine forests and frozen lakes of Lapland. The huskies are well-trained and incredibly friendly, making this a family-friendly activity that everyone can enjoy.

Many of the Rovaniemi places to visit often focus on the natural beauty of the region, and a Husky Safari is no exception. The route takes you through some of the most scenic landscapes, offering plenty of photo opportunities. Don’t forget to pack your camera!

As you wrap up your journey, you’ll have the chance to spend some quality time with the huskies, learning more about their training and lifestyle. It’s a heartwarming end to an unforgettable adventure.

Husky Safari is an exceptional way to explore the Arctic wilderness and create memories that will last a lifetime, making it one of the experiences in the most beautiful places in Finland.

Experience the thrill of a Husky Safari, gliding through a winter wonderland with enthusiastic huskies.
Experience the thrill of a Husky Safari, gliding through a winter wonderland with enthusiastic huskies.

4. Ice Fishing in Lake Ranua, Lake Ounasjärvi, and Lake Pöyliöjärvi

In terms of unique things to do in Rovaniemi, ice fishing is an activity that often flies under the radar but offers a peaceful escape. Picture yourself sitting on a frozen lake, surrounded by the untouched beauty of Finnish Lapland. The only sounds are the occasional chirp of a bird and the gentle creaking of ice beneath you.

Ice fishing in Rovaniemi can be enjoyed on various frozen lakes and bodies of water in the surrounding Finnish Lapland region. Some popular locations for ice fishing near Rovaniemi include Lake Ranua, Lake Ounasjärvi, and Lake Pöyliöjärvi, among others. Each of these spots offers a distinctive and tranquil setting for this memorable Arctic experience.

After a short trek to the fishing spot, your guide will teach you the basics of drilling a hole in the ice and setting up your fishing rod. It’s a meditative experience, one where time seems to slow down as you wait for a fish to take the bait. And don’t worry, it’s not all about the waiting; the thrill of finally catching a fish is genuinely rewarding!

Those best places in Rovaniemi often include natural settings, and ice fishing allows you to immerse yourself in the tranquil landscapes of the Arctic. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to learn about the local culture and traditions related to fishing.

So, when you’re planning your Arctic adventure, don’t overlook ice fishing. It’s a must-see in Rovaniemi for anyone looking to connect with the natural world in an exceptional and intimate way. Is this among the top things to do in Rovaniemi, Finland? You bet

Discover the peaceful escape of ice fishing, surrounded by the untouched beauty of Finnish Lapland on a frozen lake.
Discover the peaceful escape of ice fishing in Rovaniemi, surrounded by the untouched beauty of Finnish Lapland on a frozen lake.

5. Snowmobile Safari

Welcome to the Snowmobile Safari. Imagine the wind rushing past your face as you zoom through the snow-covered forests and across frozen lakes. It’s an adrenaline-pumping experience that combines the thrill of speed with the beauty of the Arctic landscape.

Your adventure begins with a safety briefing and a quick lesson on how to operate the snowmobile. Then, you’re off! Led by an experienced guide, you’ll navigate through winding trails, feeling the power of the machine beneath you.

Snowmobiling adds an element of excitement among the Rovaniemi things to do that truly thrills the soul. You’ll have the chance to cover a lot of ground, exploring areas that would be difficult to reach otherwise. And let’s not forget the photo ops! The vistas you’ll encounter are nothing short of breathtaking.

As you wrap up your journey, perhaps with a warm cup of berry juice or hot chocolate, you’ll realize that this is one of those Rovaniemi attractions that offers both excitement and a deep connection with nature. It’s not just about the ride; it’s about the entire experience, from the preparation to the wind-down, that makes snowmobiling a must-do activity.

Embrace the thrill of a Snowmobile Safari, racing through snow-covered forests and across frozen lakes.
Embrace the thrill of a Snowmobile Safari in Rovaniemi, racing through snow-covered forests and across frozen lakes.

6. Ranua Wildlife Park

Ever wondered what the Arctic Circle has to offer in terms of wildlife? Well, Ranua Wildlife Park is your answer. This is one of those unique places in Rovaniemi where you can get up close and personal with Arctic animals. From polar bears to Arctic foxes, the park is home to over 50 species of animals, all living in conditions as close to their natural habitats as possible.

The park offers guided tours, but you’re also free to explore on your own. Either way, you’ll be amazed by the diversity of animals and the care that goes into maintaining their environments. It’s an educational experience that’s fun for the whole family.

For the cool destinations in Rovaniemi that offer a blend of education and entertainment, Ranua Wildlife Park is the perfect example. The park also features a domestic animal section, where you can meet Finnish farm animals. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the importance of biodiversity.

As you stroll through the park, don’t forget to visit the ‘Magic Forest,’ an indoor exhibition that offers a surreal experience with its exceptional lighting and sound effects. It’s a magical ending to a day filled with wildlife wonders.

Discover the Arctic's wildlife at Ranua Wildlife Park, a unique attraction where you can get up close to over 50 species.
Discover the Arctic’s wildlife at Ranua Wildlife Park, a unique Rovaniemi attraction where you can get up close to over 50 species.

7. Ounasvaara Ski Resort

Ah, Ounasvaara Ski Resort, where the slopes are as inviting as the warm cocoa waiting for you at the lodge. If you’re wondering what to do in Rovaniemi during the winter months, search no more. This resort is a snowy paradise for skiers and snowboarders alike, offering a range of slopes for all skill levels.

The resort is just a stone’s throw away from the city center. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or strapping on skis for the first time, Ounasvaara has you covered. They offer ski and snowboard rentals, and the instructors are top-notch if you’re keen on taking a lesson.

But it’s not just about skiing. The resort also offers snowshoeing trails and a toboggan run that’s a hit with the kids. And let’s not forget the après-ski activities. From cozy fireplaces to saunas and an array of dining options, Ounasvaara knows how to pamper its guests after a day on the slopes.

Looking for the best places to go in Rovaniemi, Finland? Add Ounasvaara Ski Resort to that list, especially if you’re a winter sports enthusiast. The resort also offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding wilderness, making it a picture-perfect end to an exhilarating day.

Ounasvaara Ski Resort: A snowy paradise for skiers and snowboarders in Rovaniemi during the winter months.
Ounasvaara Ski Resort: A snowy paradise for skiers and snowboarders in Rovaniemi during the winter months.

8. Korundi House of Culture

Korundi House of Culture is a hidden gem that’s often overlooked, but it’s one of the coolest things to do in Rovaniemi for art and history enthusiasts. Situated in an old post bus depot, the building itself is a work of art, blending modern architecture with historical elements.

Inside, you’ll find the Rovaniemi Art Museum and the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland. The art museum showcases contemporary Finnish art, offering a fresh perspective on the country’s vibrant culture. The orchestra, on the other hand, is a treat for the ears, often hosting concerts that range from classical to modern compositions.

But what makes Korundi truly unique is its commitment to sustainability. The building is heated using waste heat from a nearby data center, making it a model for eco-friendly operations.

Korundi offers something different other than its natural beauty—a cultural experience that’s as enriching as it is entertaining.

If you’re looking to add a touch of sophistication to your Arctic adventure, Korundi House of Culture should be on your list. It’s not just a place to visit; it’s an experience that enriches your understanding of Finnish art and culture.

Korundi House of Culture: A hidden gem in Rovaniemi, blending modern and historical architecture for art and history enthusiasts.
Korundi House of Culture: A hidden gem in Rovaniemi, blending modern and historical architecture for art and history enthusiasts.

9. Pilke Science Centre

For an activity that’s both educational and fun, Pilke Science Centre is your go-to destination. This isn’t your typical museum; Pilke is an interactive playground that delves into the fascinating world of northern forests.

The moment you step in, you’re greeted by a multi-sensory experience. From the smell of fresh pine to the sounds of chirping birds, Pilke immerses you in the forest atmosphere. The exhibits are hands-on, allowing you to explore topics like sustainable forestry, wildlife, and even the science behind the Northern Lights.

For the little ones, there’s a play area designed to spark their imagination and love for nature. They can climb a bird’s nest, operate a forest machine simulator, or even create their own rap song about the forest!

Pilke offers a deep dive into the science and sustainability behind these landscapes. It’s a perfect spot for families, educators, or anyone keen to understand the Arctic environment better.

So, if you’re the curious type, eager to know more than just the surface-level beauty of Lapland, Pilke Science Centre is a must-visit. It’s not just an attraction; it’s an enlightening experience that will make you appreciate the Arctic in a whole new light.

Pilke Science Centre is one of the best things to do in Rovaniemi, Finland.
Pilke Science Centre: An interactive playground that explores the captivating world of northern forests, offering both education and fun

10. SantaPark

Thinking about where to visit in Rovaniemi for a holiday experience like no other? SantaPark is where the magic of Christmas comes alive 365 days a year! Situated deep underground, this enchanting theme park is the perfect place for families and Christmas enthusiasts alike.

As you descend into this subterranean wonderland, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a storybook. The air is filled with the scent of gingerbread and cinnamon, and twinkling lights guide your way through a labyrinth of festive attractions. From the Elf School to the Ice Gallery, every corner of SantaPark is designed to captivate your imagination.

What sets this place apart is its attention to detail. You can mail a letter from Santa’s official post office, complete with a special Arctic Circle stamp. Or, learn the secrets of Mrs. Claus’s gingerbread recipe in her cozy kitchen. The park even has a Magic Sleigh Ride that simulates a journey with Santa across the night sky!

Those unique things to do in Rovaniemi often revolve around the natural beauty of Lapland, but SantaPark offers a distinct enchantment. It’s a place where the spirit of Christmas isn’t merely celebrated but fully embraced and experienced.

Yearning for a sprinkle of holiday magic any time of the year? SantaPark is your ticket to a winter wonderland that defies reality. It’s definitely a must-see sight in Europe for all travelers.

SantaPark is a place where Christmas magic thrives year-round.
SantaPark in Rovaniemi, Finland, is a place where Christmas magic thrives year-round.

11. Lappia House

Lappia House isn’t just a building; it’s a work of art that captures the essence of Finnish design and the spirit of the Arctic. Designed by the renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, this multi-purpose venue is one of the best places in Rovaniemi to immerse yourself in culture, art, and architecture.

As you approach the building, you’ll notice its distinctive undulating roof, inspired by the natural contours of Lapland’s fells and lakes.Step inside, and you’re greeted by a world of minimalist elegance, where every line and curve serves a purpose. The main hall, often used for concerts and theater performances, boasts acoustics that rival some of the world’s most famous venues.

Aside from the aesthetics, Lappia House is a hub for cultural activities, hosting everything from art exhibitions to political debates. It’s also home to the Rovaniemi Theatre, where you can catch performances that range from classic Finnish dramas to contemporary international hits.

Lappia House is a place where you can appreciate the finer things in life, from the beauty of well-crafted design to the thrill of live performance.

Are you a culture vulture or an architecture aficionado? Make sure Lappia House is on your list of Rovaniemi places to visit. Trust us; it’s a sight to behold.

Lappia House: A masterpiece by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, immersing you in Finnish design, Arctic spirit, and culture in Rovaniemi.
Lappia House: A masterpiece by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, immersing you in Finnish design, Arctic spirit, and culture.

12. Rovaniemi Local History Museum

Perched in a charming old wooden building, Rovaniemi Local History Museum is a treasure trove of artifacts, photographs, and stories that bring the past to life.

As you wander through the exhibits, you’ll discover the rich tapestry of Lapland’s history, from its indigenous Sámi culture to its role in World War II. The museum doesn’t just skim the surface; it delves deep, offering a comprehensive look at the social, economic, and cultural evolution of the region.

Its interactive exhibits are what distinguish this museum. You’re not just looking at dusty relics behind glass; you’re engaging with history in a tactile way. Try on traditional Sámi clothing, listen to old folk songs, or even take part in a simulated gold panning activity. It’s one of the coolest activities in Rovaniemi for those who love to learn.

The museum also frequently hosts temporary exhibitions, so there’s always something new to explore. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or just looking for the best things to do in Rovaniemi, this museum offers an enriching experience that’s both educational and entertaining.

Rovaniemi Local History Museum: A charming wooden building filled with artifacts, photos, and stories bringing the past to life. | Source: https://www.visitrovaniemi.fi/
Rovaniemi Local History Museum: A charming wooden building filled with artifacts, photos, and stories bringing the past to life. | Source: https://www.visitrovaniemi.fi/

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Rovaniemi

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Rovaniemi? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Rovaniemi, Finland:

What’s the best time to visit Rovaniemi?

The best time to visit Rovaniemi depends on your interests. For a magical winter wonderland experience with Northern Lights and winter sports, December to March is ideal. For milder weather and outdoor activities, May to September offers pleasant conditions and the midnight sun in June.

Is visiting Rovaniemi expensive?

Visiting Rovaniemi can be relatively expensive, especially during the winter holiday season. Costs can add up due to activities like husky sledding and Northern Lights tours. However, budget-conscious travelers can find affordable accommodations, and some attractions and natural wonders, like the Arctic nature, can be enjoyed without significant expenses.

How many days is enough in Rovaniemi?

Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland and the official hometown of Santa Claus, offers a variety of attractions and activities that cater to different interests. The ideal duration for a visit depends on what you wish to experience:

  1. Short Visit (1-2 days):
    • Santa Claus Village: Meet Santa Claus, cross the Arctic Circle, and send postcards from the Santa Claus Post Office.
    • Arktikum: Learn about the Arctic region and Finnish Lapland’s history and culture at this museum and science center.
    • City Center: Explore the town, its shops, and local eateries.
  2. Extended Visit (3-4 days):
    • Husky and Reindeer Safaris: Experience the thrill of a husky or reindeer ride through the snowy landscapes.
    • Northern Lights: If visiting in winter, allocate at least one night to chase the mesmerizing Aurora Borealis.
    • Snowmobile Tours: Explore the snowy terrains on a guided snowmobile tour.
    • Ranua Wildlife Park: See Arctic animals in their natural habitats.
    • Ice Hotels or Igloos: Spend a night in one of the unique accommodations made of ice or in a glass igloo.
  3. Longer Stay (5-7 days):
    • Winter Sports: Engage in activities like skiing, snowboarding, or ice fishing.
    • Sami Culture: Visit a Sami camp to learn about the indigenous culture of Lapland.
    • Day Trips: Consider excursions to nearby attractions or natural wonders.

How do I get around Rovaniemi?

Rovaniemi offers various transportation options. The city is compact and walkable, making it easy to explore the central area on foot. You can also use public buses for convenient city travel. For excursions to nearby attractions or the Arctic wilderness, renting a car or booking guided tours is advisable.

Is it safe to visit Rovaniemi?

Rovaniemi is generally considered a safe destination for travelers. Finland, including Rovaniemi, has low crime rates, and the city is known for its welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Visitors should still exercise typical precautions regarding personal safety and belongings, especially in tourist areas and during extreme weather conditions.

Reindeer sleigh caravan safari in Forest Lapland is a unique and scenic experience in Rovaniemi, Finland.
Reindeer sleigh caravan safari in Forest Lapland is a unique and scenic experience in Rovaniemi, Finland.

What should I pack when going to Rovaniemi?

When packing for Rovaniemi, consider the season. In winter (December to March), bring warm clothing like insulated jackets, thermal layers, waterproof boots, gloves, and a hat. In summer (June to August), pack lightweight clothing, comfortable walking shoes, and insect repellent. Regardless of the season, don’t forget travel essentials, including travel documents.

Which is better Tromso or Rovaniemi?

Choosing between Tromsø (Norway) and Rovaniemi (Finland) depends on what you’re looking for in your Arctic experience. Both cities offer unique attractions and experiences. Here’s a comparison to help you decide:

Tromsø, Norway:

  1. Northern Lights: Tromsø is often dubbed the “Northern Lights Capital of the World.” Its location within the Arctic Circle makes it one of the best places to witness the Aurora Borealis.
  2. Midnight Sun Marathon: If you visit in summer, you can experience the Midnight Sun and even participate in the world’s northernmost marathon.
  3. Arctic Wildlife: Visit the Polar Park to see Arctic animals like wolves, lynx, and moose.
  4. Fjord Cruises: Explore the stunning Norwegian fjords on a boat cruise.
  5. Vibrant Nightlife: Despite its remote location, Tromsø has a lively nightlife with bars, clubs, and restaurants.
  6. Sami Culture: Experience the indigenous Sami culture, including staying in traditional tents (lavvu) and reindeer sledding.

Rovaniemi, Finland:

  1. Santa Claus Village: Meet Santa Claus any day of the year, cross the Arctic Circle, and get a certificate.
  2. Arktikum: A museum and science center where you can learn about life in the Arctic.
  3. Husky and Reindeer Safaris: Enjoy the thrill of a husky or reindeer ride through snowy landscapes.
  4. Snow Hotels or Igloos: Unique accommodation options where you can sleep in rooms made of ice or in glass igloos.
  5. Northern Lights: While Tromsø might be more famous for the Aurora, Rovaniemi also offers a good chance to witness this natural wonder.
  6. Winter Sports: Engage in activities like ice fishing, snowmobiling, and skiing.

Is it worth visiting Rovaniemi?

Absolutely, Rovaniemi is a must-visit destination that offers a magical blend of natural wonders and cultural experiences. From chasing the Northern Lights to meeting Santa Claus, it’s a place that captivates both young and old. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or a peace lover, Rovaniemi has something for everyone.

What is Rovaniemi known for?

Rovaniemi is renowned as the official hometown of Santa Claus and the gateway to the Arctic. Famous for its mesmerizing Northern Lights and enchanting winter landscapes, it’s a hub for arctic adventures like husky sledding and snowmobiling. The city also boasts rich Lappish culture and modern Finnish design.

Final Thoughts on Exploring Rovaniemi

There you have it, folks! A comprehensive guide to the best places in Rovaniemi that will make your Arctic adventure unforgettable. From the thrill of snow sports to the serenity of ice fishing, Rovaniemi is a destination that caters to all. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a culture vulture, or someone in between, there’s no shortage of Rovaniemi attractions to keep you entertained.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack those bags, book that flight, and get ready to explore one of the most unique and enchanting places on Earth. Trust me, Rovaniemi is a place that needs to be seen to be believed, and once you experience it, you’ll understand why it’s a destination that many return to, time and time again.

The top things to do in Rovaniemi, Finland for all types of travelers
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