WINTER PARADISE IN ROVANIEMI, FINLAND
December 21, 2019
“Santa is not real”
This is perhaps one of the saddest things that a kid will discover early in his life. But what if I tell you that Santa IS real and that I met him in person? He is hiding at his village in Rovaniemi, Finland, waiting for next Christmas to make the wish of nice kids around the world come true.
I visited this place last February 2019 wherein I stayed for a day only. I was supposed to stay longer, but sadly the flight that I took from Stockholm, Sweden got delayed so it was unfortunate that I had lesser days to enjoy here. It instantly became one of my favorite cities in Europe, what with the charming village-like feel and the endless Christmas feel that it exudes.
During my short stay here, I was able to do enough activities to make it memorable. It is an expensive destination for sure, but I guarantee you that your money will be well spent here.
HOW TO GET TO ROVANIEMI, FINLAND
Rovaniemi is the capital city of Lapland, a region located in Northern Finland. It is easily reachable by taking a bus, train, or plane – As I mentioned, I flew here via Norwegian Air from Stockholm, Sweden, and continued my journey by bus via Matkahuolto bus to Helsinki, Finland. If you will be traveling by train, then you can check this link.
From the airport, you can go to the village proper by taking the express shuttle waiting outside. They already have a list of hostels/hotels and the ride costs 3€ to 5€. I stayed at GuestHouse Arctic Heart Hostel (highly recommended!) and the shuttle brought me directly to it.
WHAT TO DO IN ROVANIEMI, FINLAND
There are so many things to do in Rovaniemi, that I regretted not adding more days when I visited. Be that as it may, I tried to maximize my stay and I can say that I was able to do enough activities.
Here are some of the activities that you can do while you are in Rovaniemi.
EXPLORE THE SANTA CLAUS VILLAGE
Rovaniemi, Finland is the official home of Jolly Old St. Nicholas aka Santa Claus, and many visitors travel here to have an opportunity to see him. Santa Claus Village has a never-ending Christmas vibe – it is open all-year-round, even during summer. You can see many iconic sites here such as the Arctic Circle line, Santa Salmon Place – rumored to be the place where he eats, and also the Arctic Circle Main Post office.
MEET SANTA CLAUS
Of course, a visit to Santa Claus Village will not be complete without meeting the guy himself – Santa Claus. He is always waiting for visitors at the main office of the park – everyone is free to visit, meet, and hug him. Sadly, you cannot use your personal camera or cellphone to capture the moment – don’t worry! Everything is recorded and you can get the video and photo package for 40€ (I did not buy it sadly).
The majority of the visitors I was with were Chinese tourists who came in groups, while some were families with small kids. When Santa Claus discovered that I am Filipino, he started speaking Tagalog! He told me “kamusta ka” and “masaya ako na nandito ka”. It was so random, but still cool nonetheless, and it made the experience memorable.
TRY REINDEER AND HUSKY SLEDDING
Another exciting thing you can do in Santa Claus Village is to ride a reindeer or husky sleigh. You can visit the Reindeer and Husky office and choose between the two sled options. I chose the reindeer since I find it more unique, but I still visited the husky farm nearby since I am a dog lover and I can’t pass up an opportunity to see them. It cost me 18€ to do this activity.
SEND A LETTER BACK HOME AT THE ARCTIC CIRCLE MAIN POST OFFICE
Send a letter to your loved ones (or to yourself) with a special Arctic Circle Stamp and Father Christmas Postal Stamp. There is an option to receive the letter immediately, or during Christmas time. There were also lots of letters all around the world addressed to Santa, even from my home country – The Philippines!
OTHER COOL ACTIVITIES THAT I DIDN’T DO
- AURORA BOREALIS HUNTING – I decided to skip this since I already saw it in Reykjavik, Iceland. Rovaniemi is a good place to hunt for the northern lights, and I met people in the hostel and the pictures they showed me were breathtaking.
- TRYING AN AUTHENTIC FINNISH SAUNA– This is an activity I would’ve done had my flight not been delayed for a day. Saunas are a big part of Finnish culture, that it is said that important decisions are made in saunas, not meeting rooms!
- VISITING THE NORTHERNMOST MCDONALDS – I am not a fan of McDonald’s now as much as when I was a kid. However, it would’ve been cool to see the northernmost McDonald’s in the world. Sadly though, I didn’t have enough time, so I was not able to visit it.
**** Be sure to check if you need a Schengen visa to visit Finland. If you do, then you can check my Schengen visa application experience blog post for tips on how to get one.
HOPE THIS LIST ABOUT ROVANIEMI IS USEFUL! IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, YOU CAN LEAVE A MESSAGE IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW.