You have probably heard of Lapland and its breathtakingly beautiful nature. The natural wonders of Lapland keep attracting thousands of tourists year after another. And being the most well-known city in Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi is the center of all this attention. With Santa Claus Village and northern lights, Rovaniemi is truly the capital of winter and Christmas. Social media influencers, photographers, and many celebrities have already found their way to this Arctic land – let me show you why you should explore Rovaniemi in winter, too!
The Northern Lights & Other Phenomena
Rovaniemi offers a spectacular view of the northern lights. The best time to see the dance of the skies is during the darkest months, from around September to March. It’s actually possible to see the northern lights in northern Lapland almost every night.
Finland is all about ice and snow during winter – the longest season in the region. In winter the days are short, which makes it easy to understand why Finns drink the most coffee in the world per capita. And in the northern regions, the sun does not rise above the horizon for 52 days. Instead, the sky glows in the middle of the day for a few hours. This phenomenon is called the polar night. To explore Rovaniemi in winter with all its wonders, make sure to catch sight of the northern lights and the polar night.
Nature of Finland
The natural ambiance in Finland is one of a kind. With lofty mountains, thousands of lakes and millions of hectares of forests, the air in Finland is the cleanest in the whole world. Finland is called “land of a thousand lakes” for a reason. There are 168.000 lakes in Finland and the water covers roughly 10% of the area. And that is not all – the lakes in Finland has the purest water in the world. Forgot to fill your water bottle before hiking? No worries! You will surely be able to find a water spring on your trail. Also, 74.2% of the land area consists of forests, which makes Finland the most densely forested country in Europe.
As you might guess, there are lots of national parks and walking trails in Finland. Hiking is a very popular activity in this Nordic country, especially in the northern region, Lapland. Also, you might have heard of these little fire cottages, called laavu or kota. There are endless amounts of laavus in Finland and every popular hiking trail has at least one, where you can rest and grill some makkara (sausage). Some of the best places for hiking in Rovaniemi are Ounasvaara, Santa Claus Village forests, Kuninkaanlaavu in Santavaara, and The Arctic Circle hiking area. If you’re up for a day trip, Pyhä-Luosto national park is only a 1.5-hour drive from Rovaniemi. Remember to dress accordingly! Hiking is the most ideal activity to explore Rovaniemi in winter.
The Arctic Circle
About one-third of Finland is north of the Arctic circle and it’s one of the most northern countries in the world. It is also geographically remote. It’s not a surprise that the famous Santa Claus Village is located in Rovaniemi. In case you didn’t know, Santa Claus is originally from Finland. Here you can meet him and many of his elves, and take a sleigh ride with his reindeer or even with his huskies! You can take a tour around the village for free, but if you wish to participate in activities, most of them come with a price tag.
The Arctic Circle is the best region to try many winter activities! Downhill skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, dog and reindeer sledding, skiing, ice swimming… The list goes on and on! Finns appreciate the great outdoors of their land and the best thing to do after enjoying it all is to step into a steaming hot sauna. What makes the sauna so special to Finns is the fact that the steam room of today was originally invented in Finland.
The City of Rovaniemi
One of the best things about Rovaniemi is the nature that surrounds the city. But there are plenty of things to do within the city as well. The best times to visit are winter and summer when you can either experience the snowy Christmas in Finland or the warm summertime. I already mentioned the polar night, when it’s dark for 52 days straight. However, during summer the sun doesn’t set at all. Which means that the sky is bright even in the middle of the night. So if you are visiting Finland in summer, you might want to make sure your accommodation has thick curtains to keep out the light.
There are many cozy cafes, restaurants, and pubs along with interesting museums, shops, and galleries. Many of them are within a walking distance from the center. Ounasjoki river flows near the center and is one of the most beautiful boardwalks in Finland. Across the river stands Jätkänkynttilä Bridge. It was the first cable-stayed bridge built in Finland. Jätkänkynttilä is one of the main landmarks of Rovaniemi.
Rovaniemi is a very unique place and definitely worth visiting. I invite you to explore Rovaniemi in winter and enjoy the beautiful nature and the kind people of Finland!