Rovaniemi is a true winter wonderland experience. The Finnish Lapland offers adventure, wildlife and culture. Located in the furthermost part of Europe, you will discover dense forest and stunning skies made even more beautiful with the expanse of white snow in the colder months.
Speed off on a snowmobile
Hold your hand up if you’ve dreamt of speeding through the snowy forests of Lapland? It was top of my list and snowmobiles are an exhilarating way to experience this. After a short safety demonstration on how to drive the vehicles, visors down and off you go through the Lappish wilderness. It gets pretty cold so extra layers needed for this unforgettable snowmobiling safari experience.
Be a husky musher!
When else would you get to be a husky musher? Controlling the pack of the huskies towing the sled across the 10km wilderness was an awesome experience. These four-legged artic animals go crazy when they know they are ready to go out but they are also up for a cuddle too. You get taught the basics of being a husky musher which sounds more difficult than it is. Once you get into your stride, husky sledding is a fabulous way to explore the winter wonderland.
Explore Lappish culture on a reindeer safari
Learn about the reindeer herding from the Sami people, an indigenous group from Lapland. Only Sami people are legally allowed to own reindeer which generally roam free with close monitoring. Traditionally, reindeers were a primary mode of transport but nowadays tourists are big users for fun sleighs in the snow. Reindeer have 2 coat layers where air is trapped to keep them warm, stroking the reindeers would move this air so no petting these Arctic beauties. Finding out more about the culture on the reindeer safari was a bonus!
Relax and float in and icy lake
Sounds a strange concept but floating on a frozen wilderness lake looking up at the sky was a very soothing experience. You get decked out in a big orange survival suit so only your face is visible – this will keep your body warm and your clothes dry. Be warned, they are not the most attractive of outfits but they sure do work. You will feel the vacuum effect when you enter the water which is a hole carved out of the ice. We went ice-floating at night hoping to gaze at the Northern Lights but you can also do this ice-floating activity in the day.
Brave the Artic sauna
You will find a range of Finnish sauna experiences in Lapland. We immersed ourselves in the traditional wood sauna and when things got too steamy, we ran out for a roll around in the snow between sessions. Dipping into the numbing cold and after bathing in the sauna is good for circulation. Sounds bonkers but do as the locals do, the Finnish sauna is a experience you cannot miss. As there are twice as many saunas than Finnish people, you can be guaranteed your hotel will have one.
Feel festive in Santa Claus Village
This amusement park at the Artic Circle is a place where you can meet Santa all year round, send your letters from the Post Office, go reindeer and husky sledding, visit the Elf’s Farm Yard, have a gander round the shops and dine in the restaurants – I’d recommend the Smoked Salmon soup in the Three Elves in Santa Claus Village.
Rovaniemi: The Essentials
Where to stay:
Apukka Resort –Featuring an ice village on site in the winter months, Apukka Resort – Aurora Centre is in Apukka, just 17 km from Rovaniemi. The property features 6 saunas, including an ice sauna, igloo sauna and movable saunas.
Santa Claus Village – Located at the heart of Santa Claus Village, 10 km north of Rovaniemi, it offers heated cabins with private saunas, a kitchenette and a terrace.
Arctic City Hotel – Located in central Rovaniemi, a 2-minute walk from Sampokeskus Shopping Centre. It offers free parking, 2 relaxing saunas and rooms with a flat-screen TV and free WiFi.
Tours and local information:
- Choose from a wide selection of tours with local guides.
- Visit Roveniemi will tell you all you need to know about the place.
- Whilst it’s not a cheap place, you can do Finland on a budget.
- Plane – Daily flights between Rovaniemi and Helsinki are operated by Finnair and Norweigan. There’s direct flights from London Gatwick between October and March.
- Train – Rovaniemi is easy to reach by rail from many Finnish towns, with several trains running to and from Helsinki every day. Trains by VR run year round, whatever the weather.
- Coach – Services by Matkahuolto and Onnibus, offers services in most of Finland.
Especially with the winter activities in Finland, make travel insurance a priority! World Nomads is my go-to guys, I’ve learnt this from experience. You can buy and claim online even when you’ve left home. I love that they give a little back too and support community development projects in various countries.
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