Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland at the Arctic Circle, is fast becoming a tourist hotspot. Known as the official home of Santa Claus, the city comes alive during the winter months, despite freezing temperatures.
Tourists from all around the world flock to the destination which boasts well-planned infrastructure, local places of interest and opportunities for unique experiences.
Finland’s Rovaniemi attractions
South Africans who are interested in visiting Rovaniemi this holiday season will be thrilled to know that getting there has never been easier. Air France has increased frequency of flights to the Finnish city with up to one daily flight during the Christmas and New Year period.
Rovaniemi has a wide range of experiences and attractions that make the city a must-visit – especially during the holiday season. Air France unpacks five reasons why Rovaniemi should be on your travel bucket list.
Rovaniemi Santa Claus Village
Rovaniemi is known as the official home of Santa Claus and every December, holiday makers flock to Santa Claus Village, located just 8km outside of the city. The village is home to Santa’s personal post office and visitors can send postcards and Christmas greetings to loved ones all-year round. Santa Claus also offers a meet and greet with people from all over the world every single day of the year in his very own office and there are many restaurants, souvenir shops, and some activity providers on site to ensure that your trip to the village is one you won’t soon forget.
Get up-close with reindeer
What’s a visit to Santa Claus without getting up close with some reindeer, right? Did you know that there are more reindeer than people spread across Lapland? It’s very common to see reindeer walking on the side of the road when travelling outside of Rovaniemi, but visiting an authentic reindeer farm is another great experience on offer in the city. Here, local reindeer herders share their inherited reindeer husbandry lifestyles while you feed the animals.
Experience the Northern Lights
Rovaniemi is one of the best places in the world to get a Northern Lights experience – and it’s certainly one you won’t soon forget. The city is geographically well located for a successful Northern Lights hunt. Its latitude is located in the “Aurora Zone” where the Northern Lights are most often visible. It’s advisable to book the services of a professional aurora guide, who will take you away from the city to the most promising places based on the weather to ensure optimal chance of witnessing this phenomenon.
Enjoy a thrilling snowmobile ride
This one is for the thrill seekers out there. If you’re looking to get your dose of adrenaline while also touring some of Lapland’s remote areas, a snowmobile adventure is right up your alley. Since there is snow on the ground for approximately six months of the year in and around Rovaniemi, snowmobile experiences have become incredibly popular.
There are many tour operators who offer a convenient range of guided snowmobile excursions, from beginner’s rides to long-distance safaris. Beginners are encouraged to book shorter trips and the use of electronic snowmobile safaris for a silent and more environmental-friendly experience.
The sauna culture is unmatched
While Rovaniemi is one of the colder cities in the world, they make up for it with their unique experiences. Finnish saunas have become a part of the local culture and are certainly a must-do experience when visiting Lapland.
There are many sauna offerings available and whether you prefer it steamy, traditional, wooden-smoked, lakeside or luxury, Rovaniemi offers plenty of options. If you’re brave enough, some of the saunas just outside of the city offer a dip into an avanto, an opening in the ice of a frozen lake or river, before your sauna.
Ice swimming, as it is affectionately known, is both refreshing and healthy, especially when paired with the hot temperatures of the sauna post-dip. Whichever way you decide to experience it, a sauna in Lapland will be an unforgettable experience.