Recently I was invited by Visit Rovaniemi to go and discover their beautiful city and the breathtaking nature of the Finish Lapland. Believe me, it did not take me long before I was on the plane to Rovaniemi!!
You know exactly how much I love traveling and being invited to a place I have always wanted to visit was like an early Christmas present for me (after all Rovaniemi is the home town of Santa Claus)!
Indeed, the Finish Lapland was a destination on my wish list, ever since I learned that there is a Santa Claus village, and Santa Claus himself lives there (that was when I was 9)! So, yes, I have waited a long time for this trip, but let me tell you that the wait was totally worth it!
The Finnish Lapland was one of the most magical and incredible places I have ever visited! The activities that I did there were just amazing and even though I much more prefer the warm weather, this destination definitely ranks within my top 5 places to visit in the world! I will tell you why now!
Let’s start with the hotel where we stayed! We slept at one of Santa Claus Village hotels called Santa’s Igloos. For me, this was an absolute ‘must-do’ on this trip as I have always wanted to stay at one of these beautiful igloos where you can gaze at the stars and the Northern lights at night! It was a totally worthed experience. The hotel has 71 glass igloos in the forest nearby the Santa Claus village, and it was one of the most peaceful and beautiful places I have stayed at. You have everything you might need at your igloo, including a private sauna. The hotel also has a reception building with a big launch area and a restaurant if you want to have breakfast, lunch or dinner there! You can also sign for an option to get contacted by the reception at night if the northern lights come out so that you do not miss their magic! How cool is that?? We were indeed able to see the lights from our Igloo but to make sure we see the best of them and manage to capture beautiful pictures we went on an Aurora hunting photography tour, which was one of my favorite activities in Rovaniemi.
We did the Aurora Hunting Photography Tour by Beyond Arctic, and I would highly recommend you to book such a tour if you want to see the Northern lights. It is a dose of luck to be able to see them, but also you have to know where to look for them. For that reason, such a tour is great, as the guides know exactly where to go depending on the night in order for you to see the lights. Also, they have a professional camera with which they will take your pictures in case you do not have one. Or if you have one with you on the tour they will explain to you what settings you need in order to catch the lights. It is actually quite tricky to catch them! We got extremely lucky on our tour as we managed to see the lights moving, which is the rarest state to observe, and it happens only a couple of times per month during the season of the Northern lights. Seeing the lights was certainly one of the most impressive things I have ever witnessed.
The next stop on our schedule was the Santa Claus Village! This is obviously a must-visit place if you are in the Finnish Lapland. Christmas magic can be experienced year-round at this place. Apart from being home to Santa Claus, the village also has a magical location, as you are able to cross the Arctic Circle there! This magical latitude has attracted travelers since the 1950’s and since that crossing the Arctic Circle, 66°33′45.9″, has been on the bucket list of many travelers. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to cross it in my own style and experience the magic of this place!
While at the Santa Claus Village, you should also visit the post office, where all the posts cards sent to Santa Claus from all parts of the world arrive. You can also choose and send your own Christmas cards from there and stamp them with the Santa Claus Post Office official stamp! To make it even cooler, you can order a postcard to be sent to your loved ones from Santa Claus himself (I did order a bunch of these and I can’t wait for everyone to get them this Christmas)!
One of the best experiences at the Santa Claus Village was meeting the reindeers. You are allowed to go feed and pet them and to even go on the sled pulled by them if there is enough snow on the ground. Again, we got lucky as there was enough snow and we were able to do the sled (another childhood dream of mine)!
Of course, the one thing that you really cannot miss doing if you are at the village is to go see Santa Claus himself! He lives in the village and is at his launch area meeting people throughout the whole year! It was really a magical experience to visit the Village and as I said earlier no matter during what period of the year you go to visit, you will always feel the magical spirit of Christmas there!
Another breath-taking experience that we did during our trip to Rovaniemi was the Aurora Floating by Safartica! The tour is during the night and you have to travel about half an hour with the van of the tour guide to get to the wooden house by the lake. All you see there is the frozen lake, a lot of snow and lights on the ground to walk you to the wooden house, where you have some tea, snacks, and a fire waiting for you! It was one of the most peaceful and romantic places I have ever seen! For the activity, we had to wear special waterproof floating costumes that are used by the people breaking the icebergs! What we had to do once we put the costume is go by the lake and dip ourselves in it! The temperature outside was -15 and the temperature of the lake was +1, as it is heated, so the lake does not get all frozen. However, the experience is totally safe, as the costume is waterproof and you are with a trained guide during the whole time! As you have your own clothing under the suit you will not get cold even in the open +1 degree water. Once you are in the water you will automatically float on top of it thanks to your costume and then the magic happens. You look up and all you can see are the stars (there were a lot of stars) and the Northern lights. It was an absolutely incredible experience, where you get to connect to the beauty of nature and let your mind rest completely.
The last activity that we did during our trip to Rovaniemi was to visit Bearhill Husky kennel. It is a place where husky dogs are breaded and trained to become the athletes they were meant to be! The kennel is a family run business established in 2003, which is located in the small town of Sinettä (about 45 minutes drive from Rovaniemi). In the kennel, we get to pet the puppies, that were extremely adorable and also learned a lot about the whole process of training the dogs to pull the sled. It turned out to be a very complicated process that requires a couple of years of training before the dogs are prepared to pull the sleds and participate in any competitions. After the tour of the kennel, we got to experience the sleds ourselves. On each sled, there are two people, one that controls the sled and one that is just sitting and enjoying the ride. It was a completely magical experience to go through the forest roads covered in snow and to be pulled in a sled by these beautiful dogs! What I loved about the kennel is that the people there really cared about their dogs, their health and their proper training.
Apart from the amazing activities which you can do in the Finnish Lapland, there are also amazing restaurants in Rovaniemi, where you can try some typical food from the region! A cool place to go for lunch in Rovaniemi is Café & Bar 21! They have amazing Finnish dishes, my absolute favorite is the Salmon soup, but their waffles are a must-try too!
For dinner, a place I would recommend is the Arctic Restaurant, at the Arctic hotel! It is the perfect place to try game from the northern forests and fells as well as fish and seafood from lakes of Lapland and the Arctic Ocean. If you go during the winter months, definitely try the reindeer and moose meat! I am not a big fan of meat usually, but these were the two types of meat that I absolutely loved, super tender and tasty!
What I would recommend you to do if you plan a trip there is to certainly spend a few days in Rovaniemi and then if you are a fan of the wilderness, go and explore the villages in the Finnish Lapland. Currently, there are around 180 thousand people living in the Finnish Lapland and around 63 thousand of these people live in Rovaniemi! Apart from Rovaniemi, all the other towns in the area are very small and some only have 10-15 inhabitants, which means that if you are looking for a peaceful escape in nature, the villages in the Finnish Lapland are your perfect winter spot. If you are a snow lover, this part of the world is certainly great for you as they have snow on the ground for more than 200 days per year!
The best period to visit according to me is from Mid-October until January. This is mainly due to the Christmas period, as you will really live the Christmas fairy tale during this time of the year. Also, the temperature in January and February can get up to -40, which for me is way too cold. However, the place is full of tourists throughout the whole of the year, so it really depends on you which month you would like to visit! Depending on the period of the year, there are of course different activities that you can do. For instance, here you can read 8 reasons why you should visit Rovaniemi after December. Another interesting fact to consider is that the Finnish Lapland is one of the few places in the world that gets white nights and black days, meaning that for about a month during the summer, there is only light and about an hour of darkness, while from Mid-December for about a month, there is only one hour of light per day and the rest is darkness. How magical is that?
To sum up, Rovaniemi and the Finnish Lapland were certainly one of the most magical places I have ever visited, and you know that I have traveled to a lot of places around the world already (the only continent I still haven’t visited is Australia)! I would certainly recommend you to visit this place at least ones, especially if you have kids! Believe me, meeting Santa Claus, seeing the Northern Lights and doing all the cool activities that the Finnish Lapland has to offer would be an experience that the whole family will remember for a lifetime!
I will be soon uploading my vlog from the trip on my Youtube channel, so make sure to subscribe, so you do not miss the video!
Tina J xx