The Arctic Magic in Santa Claus' Land
Rovaniemi is a unique destination in the world that offers the opportunity to experience a variety of unforgettable experiences, from nature to culture, from adventure to the discovery of rich flavors, to the irresistible and authentic Christmas atmosphere.
Santa's house in Rovaniemi. Copyright © Finnish Tourist Board - Visit Finland
In the northernmost region of Finland, hidden among enchanting landscapes and a typical scenery, you will find the picturesque city of Rovaniemi, a true Arctic gem that captivates visitors from all over the world. Known as "The Gateway to the Arctic," Rovaniemi is located right on the Arctic Circle and is a tourist destination rich in wonders waiting to be explored. It is especially renowned for being the official residence of Santa Claus.
Santa Claus in his home in Rovaniemi. Copyright © Copyright © Finnish Tourist Board - Visit Finland
In fact, one of the main reasons to visit Rovaniemi is the opportunity to meet Santa Claus in his official home, the Santa Claus Village, a magical place on the mountain of Korvatunturi that offers various activities for all ages, from young to old. Not surprisingly, the main event in Rovaniemi is the opening of the Christmas season, which starts in November, filling the city with an air of magic and happiness. Here, you can not only deliver your letter to Santa's Post Office but also take a walk through the Arctic Circle and see the reindeer.
Husky safari in Rovaniemi. Copyright © Finnish Tourist Board - Visit Finland
The Arctic Adventures you can experience here are truly unique: from Reindeer Safaris to Husky Safaris. In fact, Rovaniemi is surrounded by a splendid Arctic countryside and offers numerous opportunities to venture into the unspoiled nature. By experiencing a Reindeer Safari, you can learn to drive a sled pulled by these fascinating animals and discover the culture of the Sami people, the indigenous inhabitants of the north. Meanwhile, the Husky Safari, led by energetic dogs, takes you through breathtaking snowy landscapes in the Lapland forest.
Reindeer Safari in Rovaniemi. Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Depositphotos
For those seeking an immersive and exhilarating experience in the Lapland ice, you can try Ice Floating or Ice Fishing, activities that combine culture, sports, and food into one. Alternatively, you can visit the Oulanka National Park, just a few hours' drive from Rovaniemi, renowned for its stunning landscapes, gorges, rivers, and waterfalls. Here, you can go hiking, rafting, canoeing, or simply immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Arctic.
Rovaniemi is also the perfect place for observing the Northern Lights (from late August to early April), an enchanting experience. In fact, the Arctic is one of the best places in the world to witness the Northern Lights, a breathtaking natural astral spectacle. In Rovaniemi, you can go on nighttime excursions to capture the incredible dancing lights in the sky, especially on clear winter nights, which are the best times to see the Northern Lights and be mesmerized by this celestial phenomenon. For those staying in the city, the best places to view the Northern Lights near the center of Rovaniemi are the Arctic Garden behind the Arctic Museum (a 10-minute walk) and the summit of Ounasvaara Fell (a 45-minute walk).
In Rovaniemi, you can embark on nighttime excursions to capture the incredible dancing lights in the sky, especially on clear winter nights, which are the best time to witness the Northern Lights and be enchanted by this celestial phenomenon. For those staying in the city, the best places to see the Northern Lights near the center of Rovaniemi are the Arctic Garden behind the Arctic Museum (a 10-minute walk) and the summit of Ounasvaara Fell (a 45-minute walk).
Lumberjacks Candle Bridge in Rovaniemi. Copyright © Finnish Tourist Board - Visit Finland
On the other hand, for those traveling to Rovaniemi in the summer months, another magnificent natural experience awaits: the Midnight Sun, when the sun remains above the horizon for 24 hours during the summer solstice (June 21 or 22). However, in Rovaniemi, this phenomenon extends for a month (from June 6 to July 7) due to the tilt of the Earth's axis and the refraction of sunlight. You can witness the Midnight Sun in Rovaniemi from the Jätkänkynttilä Bridge, Ounaskoski Beach, and the Arctic Garden (all within a 10-minute walk). Meanwhile, from the summit of Ounasvaara Fell (about a 45-minute walk), you can enjoy panoramic views of Rovaniemi bathed in the Midnight Sun.
To delve deeper into the culture and history of Rovaniemi, you can also visit the city's museums, which offer an immersion into Arctic culture and history. The Korundi Art Museum houses a vast collection of Nordic artworks, while the Arktikum Museum explores life and culture in the Arctic world, including a section dedicated to the Northern Lights, providing a better understanding of these captivating and remote lands. Additionally, you can pay a visit to the Science Centre Pilke, which offers a thematic exhibition on the forest.
Arktikum Museum in Rovaniemi. Copyright © Finnish Tourist Board - Visit Finland
While exploring the city on foot, you will come across several buildings designed by Alvar Aalto, one of Finland's most renowned architects, who contributed to the beautification of Rovaniemi by rebuilding it after the destruction of World War II. He gave the city center the shape of a reindeer's head, with the Keskuskenttä sports stadium serving as the "eye." Aalto's primary project in Rovaniemi is the administrative and cultural center (Aalto Center), comprising the City Hall, the Municipal Library, and the Lappia House, a congress and Rovaniemi Theater venue. Another modern icon of the city is the 320-meter Jätkänkynttilä Bridge, opened to traffic in 1989, which connects Ounasvaara to Rovaniemi.
Ice Restaurant of Arctic Snowhotel in Rovaniemi. Copyright © Finnish Tourist Board - Visit Finland
To complete the journey of discovery in Rovaniemi, there is the taste of the Arctic with Lappish food and plenty of restaurants where you can savor traditional Finnish cuisine. Dishes featuring reindeer, game, elk, salmon, potatoes, and blueberries take center stage on the menus and offer an authentic taste of the Arctic, to be paired with craft beers from Lapland Brewery, brewed with the icy, crystal-clear waters of Lapland.
Roast reindeer fillet. Photo Copyright © Sisterscom.com / Depositphotos
Grilled salmon. Photo Copyright © Finnish Tourist Board - Visit Finland
Don't forget to sample barley flatbread (rieska), comb-shaped cookies (kampanisu), the dessert "cheese and bread" (leipäjuusto), the traditional hot beverage made from red berry juice, spices, and sometimes wine (glögi), and the numerous sweets of tradition like the Mustikkapiirakka (blueberry pie), the runebergintorttu made with almonds and rum, filled with raspberry or strawberry jam in a ring of sugar, and the Mokkapalat, coffee and chocolate-based treats.
Mustikkapiirakka. Photo Copyright © Finnish Tourist Board - Visit Finland
Runebergintorttu. Photo Copyright © Finnish Tourist Board - Visit Finland
Mokkapalat. Photo Copyright © Finnish Tourist Board - Visit Finland
For a unique shopping experience in Rovaniemi, there are shopping centers, markets, and seasonal grocery stores where you can purchase tasty souvenirs. In artisan shops, you can find artworks and handicrafts (such as knives, jewelry, and gift items) crafted in accordance with centuries-old traditions using Lapland wood, antlers, bones, and reindeer or fish skins.
Edited by Enzo Cuppatri
Avion Tourism Magazine
Photos: Copyright © Visit Finland and Sisterscom.com / Depositphotos
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www.visitrovaniemi.fi - www.visitfinland.com
Where to sleep in Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi. Copyright © Finnish Tourist Board - Visit Finland
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