This is a guest post written by Erin Bender about her holiday expirience in Rovaniemi. Thank you Benders… and hope to see you back here soon! Check the Bio of the Author at the end of this post.
G’day, we are the Benders. We’ve celebrated Christmas in Australia, the South Pacific, New York and Bethlehem. But there was one Christmas destination on our bucket list that I knew would surpass all the others. A magical place that was unlike any other… Rovaniemi, Finland.
Find A Place To Stay
There are several areas to choose from when visiting Rovaniemi. Many opt for the popular attraction, Santa Claus Village. However we wanted to be in centre of the city of Rovaniemi, which was about 10 minutes away from Santa Claus Village.
The city is an ideal location for families who are spending several days exploring the region. There were many local and international restaurants to choose from, ample of shopping opportunities, and importantly, we could easily walk to our safari tour meeting place at Lapland Safaris.
How To Get Around
The options for making your way around Rovaniemi are fairly limited. Many visitors hire a car from the airport, which is a good idea considering the distance between activities.
But if driving in the snow doesn’t sound like your idea of a holiday, you can grab a taxi. Taxis usually cost between €20 – €25 to get from the city centre to most attractions.
A public bus does operate each day, however it has a relatively inconsistent schedule. You can grab a copy from your hotel and try to plan your activities around it. It runs every hour to two-hourly with variations on particular days and seasons. A one-way ride from Santa Park to Rovaniemi city centre is €3.90 per adult, €2 per child, and children under 5 are free.
Fun Christmas Activities
There’s plenty to do in Rovaniemi and, as you’d expect, a lot of it is focused on Christmas. Lapland is THE destination for the ultimate family Christmas after all. Most people coming here spend hours sifting through the numerous attractions available in Rovaniemi, trying to narrow down the selection. To help you, here are our favourites:
Traditions of Christmas
Tucked away in a snowy enchanted forest is a quaint elf village. There we were taught the ins and outs of being an elf, from decorating gingerbread cookies, to creating traditional Finnish desserts, to crafting Christmas decorations and even searching for the perfect Christmas tree.
Visiting the REAL Santa
Santa Claus Village is home to the official office of Santa Claus. You can visit and meet him in person for free. At the village you can also find Santa’s official post office and spend hours sliding on tubes at Snowman World.
Cross the Artic Circle Underground
Santa Park is a magical, Christmas-themed indoor complex. Well, technically it’s underground. Here you can visit Santa, Christmas elves, view impressive ice sculptures and play on the Angry Bird-themed playground. But best of all it’s the only place in the world you can cross the Arctic Circle underground!
What Else Can You Do In Rovaniemi?
Christmas might be over for another year, but there are still plenty of other activities to enjoy around Rovaniemi as part of your ultimate family vacation.
Family Husky Safari
Our favourite activity was the family-friendly husky ride offered by Lapland Safaris. Siberian huskies adore nothing more than a brisk dash through the snowy forest. Hop on board the sled and enjoy a thrilling ride through the winter wonderland.
Northern Lights By Snowmobile
Another perfect family adventure by Lapland Safaris. The kids were loaded into a large sleigh which was pulled by a friendly staff member riding a snowmobile. Us adults were assigned our own vehicle and roared across the immaculate frozen landscape in the mid-afternoon winter darkness of Lapland.
Feed A Reindeer
If huskies are a little too fast for your tastes then hop on a reindeer sleigh (just like Santa does!). The baby reindeers are adorable and love to be fed a handful of yummy vegetables.
Explore The Museums
Pilke is a child-centric science centre located in the heart of the city. We discovered plenty of interactive activities for kids of all ages, plus it’s toasty warm inside. Older children and adults may prefer Arktikum located next door to Pilke. This museum is devoted to aurora borealis and features an exhibit where you can lay on cushions and watch a short video taking viewers on a virtual journey through these beautiful light formations.
There is nowhere else in the world that can compare to the real-ness of Christmas in Rovaniemi, the official hometown of Santa Claus. For the young at heart and wide-eyed children, it’s a vacation you will never forget.
Erin has been travelling with her husband and two children since May 2012. It’s an open-ended, unplanned, round-the-world trip discovering amazing places for families. They have stayed in hostels and 5 star luxury resorts, travelled on scooters and cruise liners, danced with leprechauns and cuddled tigers. Nothing is out of bounds or out of reach for this remarkable Australian family. You can find unique family travel insights at her award-winning travel blog, follow her on Facebook, or catch her tweeting on Twitter.