Kick off the Christmas season with a holiday adventure that will take you from the Arctic circle to Helsinki Christmas parades and Estonian Christmas Markets. We know that many of us don’t get enough time off work, and we all must squeeze as many memorable moments into one trip as possible. While this seven day itinerary will have you longing for more Finnish food and Estonian charm, here’s the perfect itinerary for an unforgettable Christmas Vacation in Finland and Estonia.
Save some headaches and many hours of planning by stealing our itinerary.
Before we begin – some advice on travel dates: Though these dates are up to you, we recommend leaving the States on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and following the itinerary precisely for the best of everything Christmas.
FINLAND & ESTONIA ITINERARY AT A GLANCE:
- Day 1: Overnight Flight to Finland
- Day 2: Arrive in Helsinki, Fly to Rovaniemi, Finland
- Day 3: Explore Rovaniemi
- Day 4: Explore Rovaniemi
- Day 5: Fly to and explore Helsinki, Finland
- Day 6: Ferry to and explore Tallinn, Estonia
- Day 7: Ferry back to Helsinki, Fly home
DAY ONE: FLY TO HELSINKI
- Of course, fill in the blank with your home airport. Almost every flight from the U.S. to Finland is overnight.
- Here are a few of our favorite things to get us through those long overnight flights!
DAY TWO: ARRIVE IN FINLAND & FLY TO ROVANIEMI
- Land in Helsinki
- Go through customs, then re-enter the airport to find your next gate for your short flight to Rovaniemi.
- Fly from Helsinki to Rovaniemi
- The regional flight is only about 60-90 minutes and is very easy. Be prepared to board from the tarmac!
- Arrive in Rovaniemi and pick up your rental car
- Recommendation: While many hotels offer shuttle service in the area, we highly recommend renting a car to get around on your own schedule. We rented from Enterprise in the Rovaniemi airport and had no issues. Just make sure someone in your car can drive in the snow! Click here to find the best options for you.
- Dinner at a local restaurant
- Recommendation: Nili Restaurant
- No one talks about how GOOD Finnish food is. This cuisine will blow you away and be a great trip start. Try the reindeer! (It’s become one of our new favorite meats, it’s that good.)
- Check-in to your hotel
- Recommendation: Arctic SnowHotel and Glass Igloos for a snowy wonderland and the chance to see the Northern Lights.
- Get some rest
- Make sure to set the alarm for the morning! The sun doesn’t rise until after 10 a.m. in the winter, and you don’t want to oversleep!
DAY THREE: SANTA CLAUS VILLAGE
- Enjoy breakfast at your hotel
- Most hotels in the area offer delicious breakfasts. There aren’t too many restaurants in the area, so make sure to fuel up until it’s time to grab lunch in the village.
- Spend the day at Santa Claus Village
- Recommendations: For lunch, eat open-fire cooked salmon at Santa’s Salmon Place or try salmon soup at Lapland Restaurant Kotahovi. Enjoy a reindeer burger or grilled beef at Three Elves Restaurant for dinner.
- Rovaniemi is known as Santa Claus’ hometown, so it’s no wonder his workshop and village would be here! You do not need tickets to enter or explore the village.
- Things you’ll find in the village: the North Pole post office, an official crossing into the Arctic Circle, the chance to meet Santa Claus, plenty of dining, souvenir shopping, reindeer, cabins, and so much snow.
- Want to see what it’s like there right now? Watch the live cam!
- Note: Most of the dining in the village closes before dinner
- Head back to the hotel to spy for northern lights and sleep
- Many igloo hotels offer a round-the-clock lookout service that will watch for auroras throughout the night, so you don’t have to! Simply flip the switch in your room to signal that you want to be notified during the night if any are spotted.
DAY FOUR: EXPLORE THE ARCTIC OUTDOORS
- Enjoy breakfast at your hotel
- Meet sweet and powerful huskies
- Recommendations: Bearhill Husky Tours
- Whether you simply want to visit and see these incredible dogs for yourself or you’re looking to enjoy a more extended tour, Lapland is the perfect place to do so. Bearhill takes excellent care of their dogs, and it is evident that the animals are happy and well-loved. Don’t feel bad about these dogs pulling you across the snow. One look, and you’ll see how they are genuinely born for this type of activity! The dogs clearly get so much joy out of running FAST.
- Visit a reindeer farm and take a reindeer-open sleigh
- Recommendations: Wild About Lapland Tours
- After you’ve met the beautiful dogs, time to meet a famous northern neighbor up close – reindeer! Wild About Lapland Tours teaches you all about reindeer and then finishes the tour with a ride in a reindeer-pulled sleigh as long as enough snow is on the ground. Like the huskies, the reindeer are clearly built for this and are very well taken care of.
- Dinner in Downtown Rovaniemi
- Recommendations: Roka Kitchen & Wine Bar
- Head back to the hotel
- Get some sleep as well as one more chance to see the northern lights
DAY FIVE: HELSINKI CHRISTMAS PARADE & MARKETS
- Grab and go hotel breakfast
- Like most Rovaniemi hotels offer daily breakfast, most will set it out ready in a to-go container for you if you tell them the night before! It’s the little things, really.
- Fly to Helsinki
- We recommend booking the earliest flight in Finnair to get to Helsinki as early as possible since you’ll only have one full day here. Remember, since you’re flying domestically, you won’t have to deal with customs on this side. The flight should be less than 90 minutes.
- Arrive in Helsinki
- Exit the airport by taking many elevators down to the airport train station. We recommend purchasing train tickets on the Trainline app once you exit the airport. This way, your tickets will be easily accessible from your phone! Take the train from the station to the city center. This takes about 30 minutes and only a few dollars.
- Check into your hotel, stash your bags, and head out for lunch and exploring.
- Explore Helsinki City Center until the evening
- Line up for Helsinki’s Christmas Parade
- If you plan your trip to arrive in Helsinki on the night of the Helsinki Christmas Parade, you are in for a unique treat! This one-of-a-kind parade is truly both jaw-dropping and precious. Spoiler alert: we’ve never seen so many dogs in a parade! Dog-lovers rejoice.
- Spend the evening exploring Helsinki’s Christmas Market
- Shop through craft stalls, warm up with glögi, and enjoy various delicious Finnish dishes as you warm yourself by the fire to the sounds of Christmas carolers. It’s some seriously merry moments.
- Warmup and rest well back at the hotel for tomorrow’s adventures
DAY SIX: TALLINN, ESTONIA CHRISTMAS MARKET
- Check out of the hotel and take a ride share to the Port of Helsinki
- Recommendation: download the Taksini App as your rideshare app for the journey. It’s just like Uber but offers many more drivers than Uber in Helsinki.
- The West Terminals offer food, coffee, and charging ports as you wait to board your ferry.
- Ferry to Tallinn
- Recommendations: A couple of companies offer ferry rides between Helsinki and Tallinn, but we recommend going with the Tallink Silja Line.
- The journey takes about two hours. You’ll find shopping, dining, entertainment, and even gambling options on the ship. It’s like a giant mall on the water. Learn more about what to expect on your journey here.
- Arrive in Tallinn
- Once you disembark from the ferry, walk out of the terminal and either try to order a ride from Uber or simply flag down a taxi driver. This is a popular stop, so you’ll find a friendly driver in no time. The ride into the center of the city should cost around 10 euros.
- Check into your hotel, drop your bags, and head out to explore the city.
- Recommendation: stay at Hotel Telegraaf Tallinn. This 5-star property comes at 3-star prices and is genuinely one of the best properties we’ve ever stayed at.
- Explore the Christmas Markets
- The Christmas Markets in the heart of Tallinn’s Old Town is the perfect place to become instantly immersed in the charm of Estonia. It’s also the ideal place to grab some lunch! Order a glass of glögi and a plate of sausage and sauerkraut and feast under the Christmas lights. Shop around for unique gifts for the folks back home and munch on sweet snacks as you go.
- Walk the city walls
- Old Town is surrounded by defense walls that were built ages ago. Buy a ticket at the door for a few euros, purchase another cup of glögi to warm your hands and insides, and climb the defense towers for a spectacular view of the city. Here you’ll learn so many interesting facts about Estonian history that we’re confident you’ve never known before.
- Explore and Ice Skate through Old Town
- Along with the Christmas Markets, Old Town offers adorable boutiques and cozy coffee shops you’re sure to love.
- Get your heart racing and take a few laps around Tallinn’s outdoor ice rink as you marvel at the Christmas lights of the city for only a few euros.
- Renaissance Dinner
- Recommendation: Olde Hansa Restaurant. These renaissance-style restaurants genuinely stick to the script and offer no modern amenities or dishes. Branch out and try something wild as you listen to flutes and guitars play for you in the candlelight. If you’re daring, order the bear. (We did! It’s…unlike anything we’ve had before.)
- Visit the Christmas Markets once more before heading back to the hotel to sleep
- If you love the markets during the day, you’ll find them even more magical under the late-night Christmas lights.
DAY SEVEN: HEAD HOME
- Take an early morning ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki
- Make sure to book these tickets in advance!
- Tram or Rideshare to the Helsinki Central Station onto Helsinki Airport
- We recommend purchasing train tickets on the Trainline app to get you to the airport. This way, your tickets will be easily accessible from your phone! Take the train from the city center directly to the airport. This takes about 30 minutes and only a few dollars.
- Check in at the airport and kiss Finland goodbye (for now!)