Rovaniemi, the capital city of Lapland in Finland, is well-known for being the home of Santa Claus and one of the wonderful location to catch the Northern Light. A trip to Rovaniemi only takes about 1 hour by plane from Helsinki, as there are no direct flights from Singapore to Rovaniemi.
& yes, it is possible to explore almost the whole city in 3D2N, as there are only a few well-known attractions there. The attractions there close pretty early, latest being 5pm, so you probably can only go to one attraction a day because it’s likely that you need to spend a whole day in one attraction.
Firstly, visit the famous Santa Claus Village!
How to get there: Bus number 8 from the city center bus stop stops directly outside the village, as it is located only 8km from Rovaniemi, and because the hotels in Rovaniemi are all pretty much concentrated in one area, you can reach the village in less than 30mins! This is an example of the bus schedule you will see at the bus stop or you can get it from your hotel receptionist, so you can see what time the buses arrive at the different pick-up point.
Inside the village:
You will see a stretch of souvenir shop the moment you step into the village’s reception area, but don’t be in a hurry to buy anything yet, there are souvenir stores in the other parts of the village as well:)
The husky park is within the village, a short walk within 10mins should get you there, just pay 5euros for the entry to see the adorable huskies!
Husky rides are available in the park, charges varies, so find out more from the staff if you are interested!
There is a reindeer place in the Santa’s village where reindeer rides are available (prices as below), unfortunately it was closed when we were there that day, so no rides for us:(
There are small restaurants in the village just a level above the reception area where you can stop over for some snacks as well. (Their waffles are pretty good:p)
You can write a postcard for yourself or your family and friends sent from Santa’s post office, with the signature arctic stamp (of course you need to pay for the postcards and stamps!)
Lastly in the village do remember to visit Santa!
& yup Santa is right in there, you can also ‘buy a letter’ from Santa whereby you fill up the form, pay now & wait for Santa’s letter to come during Christmas! Santa’s ‘visitation room’ is right behind the souvenir store when you step in! Q up and wait for your turn to talk to Santa! (Q is not long don’t worry)
& here you go, take a nice photo with Santa, they will at the same time do a recording of the conversation between you & Santa, at the end, you can either just choose the photo or choose the photo + video package. I took the package and I get to download the 2 photos & videos. If you just choose the photo, they will print it out nicely for you with a beautiful cover!
Oh yes, one last important thing is to get a certificate for yourself for passing the arctic circle! You can grab yours at the reception counter at the entrance of the village, the friendly lady there will be the one who ‘certify’ you. The certificate will cost a few euros, but since we’ve come so far, of course we should get it!PS: The Santa Park is right next to the village, but it is only open during the end of the year, Christmas season, so something to take note of if you want to include the Park in your itinerary!
Visit the Ranua Wildlife Park the next day!
How to get there: Take the bus from the Rovaniemi bus station (terminal). It will roughly take about 20mins walk from the hotel to the terminal. But before you go, do check out the timetable for the bus departure time from their website. The sanctuary opens at 10am & closes at 5pm, and the interval between the buses are quite far apart, so you probably have no choice but to take the early morning buses. It will be a 1 hour bus ride to the sanctuary.
This will be how big the zoo is, 40 spots & it took us about 3.5 hours to complete the whole zoo (That includes time to take photos etc.)
It was definitely a unique experience to visit a zoo in winter filled with snow, everything you see seems so movie-ish, and it definitely is better than visiting the zoo in a hot humid weather.
Santa Claus told us there are only 2 polar bears in the Zoo, here they are, can you spot them?
Nooooo I’m not part of the ‘exhibtion’, just side track a bit to show how pretty the Zoo is that you can take nice photos too *wink
Those are just some animals that are in the Zoo, a Zoo that needs 3.5 hours for you to finish definitely have more to show, so I shall leave it for you guys to visit there & see for yourself!
Anyway~ there is a Fazer shop just right at the entrance (also the exit) of the Zoo, yes that famous Fazer chocolates we are talking about! Apparently I realized at the end of my whole Finland trip that this shop sells the cheapest chocolate bar, so if you are planning to get Fazer chocolates, get some over here! Sounds weird I know that a tourist attraction sells cheaper stuff than the supermarket, but I guarantee it’s true!
The other attractions include the Angry Birds Activity Park, which is actually a playground the size of a football field, for parents and kids, and if you like to just find a place to sit & relax. It’s just a 5 mins walk down the street from the hotel.
Definitely a place for the Angry Bird fans too 🙂
The Rovaniemi Church, it’ll be just another 5-8 mins walk down from the Angry Bird Activity Park, you probably can see the significant building from far already, so don’t worry about getting lost.
The present church was actually completed in 1950, after the former wooden church was burnt down by German soldiers during WWII in 1944. It is considered a landmark of post-war construction in Rovaniemi.
Tips: Do check out if the church is open for visit on the month that you will be visiting before you go, as the church is not open every month/everyday for public’s visit. Unfortunately, we were there recently in April and it is one of the month that’s not open, nevertheless we still decided to just go and have a look at the exterior (better than nothing right)!
Lastly the Arktikum Museum
How to get there: From the various hotels in central Rovaniemi, which I suppose where most tourists will stay in, it is about a 15-20 mins walk.
A museum filled with many good exhibits, from global warming to Aurora Borealis to the ancient history. We spent about 2-3 hours there as well, don’t worry about finding a place to rest when you are tired, there is a cafe in the museum for you to take a break!
If you are looking for malls, there are a few for you to walk around in central Rovaniemi & probably find dinner, but these are not very big malls, more of like plaza, so maybe you can save your luggage space for more shopping in other parts of Finland 🙂
So these are what you can do in the day time in Rovaniemi, at night time, you can go for activities like aurora hunting, snowmobiling etc. There are quite a few agencies around central Rovaniemi which organize such tours, so you may want to visit some of them to see which you will be interested in.
But do take note that Aurora hunting depends on luck as well, we weren’t able to catch it because it was cloudy everyday when we were in Rovaniemi (It’s okie, I’ll plan another aurora hunting trip soon #diediemustsee). So do check out the weather before you go!
& yes if you realized, I mentioned a lot of ‘walking’ in this post, because most of the attractions are located near each other, so very convenient for tourists who don’t like to travel here and there to different attractions (Good exercise too)! &… all the walking distance time are based on my assumption that you guys will be staying in hotels in central Rovaniemi, where most of the hotels are concentrated at, so if you are staying further away, do plan your time well!
We actually make a trip to Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort on one of the day, will be posting on it in the next post! For now Hyvästi!