It’s time to add Rovaniemi, Finland to your travel bucket list! Check out our video guide and a few key reasons why everyone should visit Rovaniemi during Christmas.
What a privilege to travel to Finland during Christmas time, experience their culture and history, and bask in the beauty of shared appreciation for Christmas goodness. Come for Santa and Northern Lights; stay for the snow, glögi, reindeer, and Christmas shopping.
HOW TO GET AROUND ROVANIEMI
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.
NAVIGATING THE LANGUAGE
Finnish is the national language, a Uralic language with Latin script. To the untrained ear, it sounds really similar to Swedish. We found most people we encountered spoke excellent English. If you encounter any language barrier, this can always be quickly remedied using Google Translate.
While you definitely don’t need to know Finnish to enjoy Helsinki, here are a few words that are helpful to know while exploring during Christmas:
- Hei – pronounced Hi – means hello (It sounds just like how Americans say Hi!)
- Kiitos – pronounced Kee-Tos – means thanks/thank you
THE BEST PARTS OF ROVANIEMI
- Rovaniemi is truly a winter wonderland. Enjoy the nordic city blanketed in snow as you go on a husky sled ride through the forest, make a snowman, and watch the fresh snowfall.
- If you can catch them, this area is known for Northern Lights spotting! Many igloo hotels offer an around-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.
- Rovaniemi is known as Santa Claus’ hometown, so it’s no wonder his workshop and village would be here! What is surprising is how large the village is and that there is something for everyone of all ages. We went as just two adults and felt like kids again without being parents. However, if you have little ones, they will love it. 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.
WOAH, THAT’S DIFFERENT!
- There are wild reindeer everywhere. Just as deer as commonly seen in the U.S., in Lapland (the territory where Rovaniemi is located in northern Finland), reindeer can also be seen grazing near highways.
- In addition (or contrast) to eating reindeer, you should try eating reindeer. Hands down one of the best meats we’ve ever eaten in our lives. Reindeer are way more common an animal than you’d imagine in Finland and, therefore, a staple in Finnish diets. It’s most similar to a deer but way more tender. Give it a shot; it’s delicious! As an attached note, no one talks about how delicious Finnish cuisine is! We had some of the best meals of our lives in Rovaniemi.
WHERE WE STAYED IN ROVANIEMI
Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos
- 3-Star property right outside of Rovaniemi.
- During the coldest parts of the year, the hotel assembles the SnowHotel part of the property, where rooms are made entirely of snow and ice.
- If you book a stay in the Glass Igloos as we did, the hotel offers an around-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.