Top 14 things to do in and around Rovaniemi | Complete Guide


The magical city of Rovaniemi is the official home and office of Santa Claus. It is indeed a winter wonderland. Endless ice with its beautiful wilderness, the innumerable winter sports, huskies and reindeer carrying people everywhere and the northern lights enlightening the sky all night, this place is straight out of a fairy tale book. With so much to do, here is a list of unmissable things to do in and around Rovaniemi.


1. Santa Claus Village

  • I’m sure you have picked up a pretty swell idea by the name itself. Its a theme park which houses the official home, office and post office of Santa Claus. No matter what time of the year you visit its always Christmas, just imagine!!  Those childhood stories suddenly seem real now, right?
  • Here you can get a photo clicked with Santa but, he has his own photographer (which is chargeable) so you won’t be able to click it yourself.  Millions of letters to Santa are addressed to the post office in this park. Their staff at the theme park try to reply to as many as possible.
  • Another super exciting thing to do here is officially crossing the Arctic circle. Yes, you read that right. The Arctic circle crosses the town of Rovaniemi through the Santa Claus village. This specific point is well marked in the park, which you can cross and get a certificate of crossing the Arctic circle.
  • There are a lot of other things to do here. To get all the additional information, please visit the Santa Claus Village website.
Aerial view of Santa Claus village in Rovaniemi

2. Ride a Snowmobile (Winter only)

  • The snowmobile is like a bike which moves through the ice. It is one of the most exciting mode of transport through ice-filled roads. What a better place to try riding it than the Arctic circle? Riding a snowmobile in Rovaniemi is like visiting Eiffel tower in Paris, you just have to do it. Trust me, it will be an experience of a lifetime!
  • There are various companies providing snowmobiles for hire and snowmobile tours. If you know how to ride one and you know the trails than you can simply take one for hire which is obviously the cheaper option.
  • Otherwise, just opt for a guided tour. There are plenty of tour options for every kind of rider from beginner to expert. The tours for beginners generally involve riding for around 2 hours in a fixed area. Then it progresses to tours offering a ride for hours in the trails of wilderness. Many such tours offer riding over frozen lakes with stunning views of endless ice and snow-covered trees. You can even do a northern lights chasing tour on a snowmobile.
  • As mentioned, there are many companies providing tours. I personally did it through Lapand Safaris, and I have no complaints at all, there are amazing.  You can visit their website for the tour options and booking.
Riding a snowmobile in Rovaniemi
Photo by Robert Tjalondo on Unsplash

3. Ride a Reindeer and Husky Sledge (Winter only)

  • There is an abundance of reindeer in Lapland. In fact, there are more reindeer than people there. Riding a reindeer sleigh and enjoying the stunning view of endless ice and wilderness all around is one of the most famous things to do in Rovaniemi.
  • There are many tour options provided by many companies. The basic tour involves around a 2-hour ride. These rides also include a stop for tea and cookies by a bonfire. The guide narrates some stories of the local Sami people along with the music. Talking about chilling like a pro. You can also opt for tours that offer more ride time and take you to deep forests with more splendid views.
  • For tour options, please visit the Wild Nordic website which is one of the companies providing great tours.
Husky pulling a sldge in Rovaniemi
Photo by fox jia on Unsplash

4. See the northern lights(or aurora borealis) (Winter only)

  • Northern lights is a breathtakingly beautiful natural display of light in the sky. Just imagine gazing the endless sky full of stars and suddenly you see green hues floating along like liquid electricity, wouldn’t that be the best thing ever?
  • Roveniemi is one of the best places on Earth to see the northern lights. There are certain areas or spots which not only has the highest probability of seeing them but also offer the best views of it. So you can simply opt for a Northern Lights tour provided via several companies. As mentioned earlier, seeing them is not a guarantee no matter which tour you take, so pray to the lords that you get to see it.
  • There are various options for guided tours of Northern lights. You can go on a husky/reindeer sleigh, snowmobile, car etc. The tour operators generally pick a spot in the woods which is hours away from the city centre. These tours also offer snacks and tea served by a born fire as the guide narrates stories about the northern lights. For the tour options, please visit the Wild Nordic website.
Photo of northern lights clicked from Rovaniemi
Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash

5. Midnight Sun (Only summers)

  • Due to the North Pole (and countries in the Arctic circle) being exposed to 24 hours sunlight during the summer season, you can experience, the midnight sun in various such places in the Arctic circle.  You can literally see the sun setting a little bit at midnight, only to shine bright again after some time. This is an experience you should have in a lifetime, no matter where you choose to see it.
  • There are many companies operating tours for this, I will recommend Lapland Safaris. These tours take you places offering perfect landscape options to experience the midnight sun, sunset and sunrise .
Aerial over Rovaniemi shot during midnight sun, just before a rainstorm.
Photo by Tommi Selander on Unsplash

6. Stay in a Glass Igloo and see Northern lights

  • This is a thing which should be on your things to before I die list. As I mentioned above, there are plenty of tours you can take to see the Northern lights. Well, how about skipping that tour and seeing the Northern lights right from your bed! Doesn’t that sound like a fairy tale?
  • Lapland is home to many hotels and resorts providing glass igloo accommodation. These individual igloos are generally built with an all-glass exterior with the bed in the centre. So the view from your bed is a sky full of stars which you can gaze all night long. And wait for the showstopper, Northern lights.
  • Such resorts are not exactly in Rovaniemi, but a few hours away. Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort and Arctic Fox Resort and the two most famous igloo accommodations near Rovaniemi.

7. Finnish traditional sauna and snow sauna

  • Finnish people love the sauna! So much so that you will find a sauna in almost every Finnish home.
  • They have 2 types of saunas. One is the traditional sauna cabin made of all wood which is generally heated by a wooden stove.
  • The other is a snow sauna (we cannot recommend this enough). These are small cabins which are made entirely out of ice except the wooden benches. The wooden stove generates heat while the ice walls contrast giving cold air. This combination is pure magic. The maximum time is 10-15 mins because if you extending it more than that will break melt the ice walls.
  • Now the most interesting part, you can combine the above-mentioned saunas with a superb cooling method like sitting in an outdoor Jacuzzi surrounded by all ice or jumping in a nearby lake or river or wrapping yourself in a blanket of snow! Doesn’t that sound interesting?

8. Experience sauna in a gondola

  • Yes, you read that right. As mentioned in the last point, Fins have their exiting and beautiful variations to the sauna. But they didn’t stop there. Lapland is home to the world’s one and only sauna gondola.
  • This gondola is located at the Sport Resort Yllas, a ski resort, which is about 2-hour drive from Rovaniemi. It offers you the unique experience of the sauna while enjoying 360° views of the endless ice and wilderness surrounding the ski resort. The gondola starts from the top, where the resort is located and offers a round trip experience to a maximum of 4 people at a time. You can club this activity with other types of saunas followed by rolling in the ice and end it with a hot water Jacuzzi as per your preference. Various combinations are listed on the resort’s website so you can chose whatever you like.
Sauna Gondola at Yllas Sport Resort near Rovaniemi

9. Ski Resorts

  • Rovaniemi is one of the best winter destinations in the world so naturally, it is also home to many ski resorts.
  • Ounasvaara Ski Resort is the best ski resort in Rovaniemi (in my opinion). It offers activities like downward skiing, snowboarding and lots more.
  • Yllas, which is around 2 hours drive from Rovaniemi, is home to two ski resorts, Ylläs Ski Resort Äkäslompolo and Sport Resort Yllas, which are one of the best and largest in Lapland. They have a wide range of winter and summer services many hotels, restaurants, different saunas including the sauna gondola, skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking and lots more.
Man skiing in a ski resort in Rovaniemi
Photo by Bradley King on Unsplash

10. Polar Explorer Icebreaker

  • This is one of the most unique experiences you can ever have and it should definitely make it to your ‘things to do before I die’ list. Cruising in the sea is one thing, but have you ever imagined cruising in a frozen sea?
  • As the name suggests, the Polar Explorer is an icebreaker cruise which runs in the Bothnian sea in Lapland. It moves forward by breaking the ice underneath so that it can access the water. As it is breaking the ice and moving simultaneously, it moves very slowly.  The views it offers seems unreal. Just frozen water for as far as you can see, it is just breathtaking!
  • The cruise makes a stop literally in the middle of nowhere to offer you the opportunity to walk on a frozen sea. Not only you can walk, but you can also swim! The narrow cut made by the cruise’s path provides enough area to swim. They provide special survival suits for swimming in the dark, icy water. Doesn’t that sound super exciting and unique?
  • Polar Explorer and Arctic Explorer are the same kinds of cruises operating from different locations in Sweden. Polar Explorer is a 2 hours drive from Rovaniemi and hence closer. The company also provides shuttle service from few cities of Finland and Sweden including Rovaniemi at additional cost. The price for the polar explorer starts at 200 Euros. Please check their website for additional information.

11. Ice Restaurant and Bar

  • This is one of the coolest things we did in Rovenami, literally. Many cold regions around the world including Lapland offer many ice restaurants and ice bars. The fascinating thing about them is that the entire structure of it including the walls, chair, table, glasses and everything else is made of snow or ice.
  • There are many such restaurants and bars in and around Rovaniemi. I personally went to Snowman World located in Rovaniemi which was amazing.
Ice restaurant in Finland

12. Sleep the night in an Ice Hotel

  • Now, this is a different level of unique. Like ice bar and restaurant,  Finland (and many other countries around the world) is home to many ice hotels. An ice hotel is made entirely of ice including the bed. So basically you are going to sleep for the whole night in a room made entirely of ice.
  • Ice hotels generally have a separate warm non-icy area where you can keep the bags, change, use the loo and more. The ice rooms are just meant for sleeping. They provide ice sleeping bags for comfortably sleeping through the night.
  • The best option near Rovaniemi is the Arctic Snowhotel. However, if you don’t mind the distance and little more in terms of tariff then Lapand Snow Village is the best place to be. It’s about a 2 hours drive from Rovaniemi.

13. Ice Fishing

  • The art of ice fishing is carried out on frozen lakes or rivers. People drill holes in the lakes/rivers to uncover the water underneath and then fish like in usual fishing. While it seems very similar to usual fishing, the tools used and the whole experience is completely different.
  • Standing on a frozen lake/river in the wilderness while admiring the spectacular views, and waiting for the fish in such extreme cold conditions is an unmissable experience. Again, many companies provides tours for ice fishing. I am giving the link for one of them below.
Man doing ice fishing on a frozen lake in Rovaniemi
Photo by schramroyal on Flickr (

14. Snowshoeing

  • Snow shoes are footwear used to walk over snow. These are usually used in areas where snow layer on the ground gets more than 5-6 cm thicker. They provide a wide base so that the foot doesn’t sink in the snow. They are used in combination with sticks for balance.
  • As there is nothing complicated about this, you can simple hire one and start exploring. Snow shoes are generally more used in the forest areas or area away from the city as ice from the city roads are cleared from time to time. You can explore such area by yourself if you are sure about it, or you can always sign up for a guided tour. Such tours takes you to quaint places in the forest where you can snowshoe around while admiring the beautiful views of the Rovaniemi wilderness.
Photo of a man snowshowing in Rovaniemi
Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

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