Rovaniemi is probably not on most people’s travel radar. I hadn’t even heard of the place before I cycled by on my way to the North Cape. I decided to stay in Rovaniemi for a day or two anyway, and take a look around.
It kind of surprised me. A lot.
Located in northern Finland, 10 hours drive north of Helsinki, Rovaniemi is the administrative and commercial center of the Finnish province of Lapland and has a population that slightly exceeds 60,000. The city was nearly completely destroyed by the Germans at the end of World War II and had to be rebuilt from scratch. Reconstruction didn’t exactly result in an architecturally beautiful city. Rather the contrary: Rovaniemi is made up of concrete buildings, apartment blocks and other dull structures. It’s not a city to visit for its impressive architecture. The city is, however, blessed with a truly magnificent location and a superb museum, two things that have recently caused a huge boom in tourism.
Three Major Rovaniemi Attractions
Santa Claus Village Rovaniemi Finland
Cut in half by the mighty Kemijoki River and flanked by the Ounasvaara and Korkalovaara Hills, Santa Claus Village Rovaniemi Finland is located exactly ten kilometers (six miles) south of the Arctic Circle. Additionally, this is considered to be the official residence of Santa Claus. The is located right at the Arctic Circle, just north of the city. This large tourist attraction features stores, restaurants, reindeer rides, a visit to the old fellow himself, the ‘official Santa Claus post office’ and so on.
Arktikum Museum Rovaniemi
A second major highlight is the great Arktikum Museum. This comprehensive museum has information on all inhabitants of these northern latitudes, from the native Sami people to reindeer and bears, as well as displays on the geology and history of the region.
In summer, such as hiking, canoeing and fishing. During the winter season, this is where the Northern Lights illuminate the night skies and dog sledding and snowmobiling are popular activities.