Rovaniemi, a city of a bit over 60,000 people, is not a large place. That does not mean though, that there are not enough activities for you to do. It is the perfect place to travel, be it in summer or winter, alone, with family or your partner.
First of all, you should find the best place to spend the night and relax, get warm and just enjoy a nice cup of coffee, read a book while watching the aurora, or play at your favourite online casino. The most popular place to stay, especially if you are travelling with little kids, is at Santa Claus village. The facility offers a variety of cabins, small and big, you may rent for as long as you need. The cabins have all the necessities you may need, as well as a sauna, bathtub, kitchen, and some even a terrace. It is only a one-minute walk from the cabins to the village and all its available activities. The price of the cabins may vary a lot, depending on how soon you book them and also if it is high season (Christmas, New Year). A night may cost you from €99 up to €600 depending on the size of the cabin as well.
In case you are travelling alone or with your partner, and especially if you want to have more chances to admire the northern lights, you should definitely book a glass igloo or a treehouse. The Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos gives you the opportunity to sleep inside an igloo, or a hotel room, where you will be away from the lights of the city and have a perfectly clear sky for any aurora or stars to show. The windows and the ceiling of the igloo are made of cold resistance material, so even if it is -30°C outside, you will stay warm indoors. The Arctic TreeHouse Hotel offers as well a comfortable treehouse with big windows facing away from the lights of the city, in the middle of the woods. When booking a room in these places during summer, you may get really good offers, but during winter, one night may cost you more than €1000.
For those on budget, there are Airbnb apartments you can rent in the middle of the city, next to many great restaurants and shops. You may also check if you can rent a simple Finnish cabin for yourself. There are also three hostels available, with good processes and ratings. One is closer to the centre of Rovaniemi, while the others are closer to Santa Claus Village.
What activities are there to do? The best one would be to spend your first day visiting Santa Claus Village. It looks the most magical during winter times. There are lights all around the village decorating all the buildings and fences, there is snow, Christmas trees, and the aurora is the most visible then. Why is it called Santa Claus village? Well, of course, because Santa Claus lives there. His official address is in Rovaniemi, and not the North Pole, as many would believe. The first thing you should do when arriving is to meet Santa Claus. There may be a long line sometimes, but most of the time it moves on pretty fast. Meeting and talking to Santa is completely free, but you can buy a printed photo with him, or all other kinds of souvenirs to remind you of the day. If you are travelling with kids, be prepared to hear nagging, as there are many toys for sale.
There is also a really interesting exhibition in the Christmas house, which tells about Christmas traditions in Finland and around the world. The whole family will be happy to see this exhibition. In the village, you will also find Tallitontun Piha, which is a welcoming little farmyard and is loved by the family’s smaller ones. The zoo is inhabited by kind animals such as rabbits, sheep, goats, and chickens. The animals can be patted and fed. Especially in the summertime, the yard is full of life. In summer, there is a playground for children’s activities and a barbecue area where you can either enjoy your own snacks or buy a small snack from the elves in the yard.
The village offers many activities for an unforgettable holiday. You can go on a snowmobile safari through the snowy forests or in the summer on a night hike to enjoy the energy of the midnight sun. In the winter frosts, a great way to enjoy the Northern Lights is to hop on a snow train with landscape windows or sleep in a wagon with a large skylight in the middle of nature. During the summer, reindeer spend their summer holidays in the meadow next to Santa’s Chamber, where you can visit to meet them. There are many other services in the vicinity of the village, such as husky rides, ice fishing, rope climbing, rafting, and much more. Those who are not afraid of the cold can take a dip in the icy waters. Santa Claus Village has also many different restaurants to choose from.
On your second day, you should spend in the city centre. You should definitely not miss out on Arktikum. It is the Arctic Center as well as Laplands provincial museum. The building is really beautiful and makes for great pictures. The museum presents the culture and history of the area, while the Arctic Center gives you a more overall picture of the Arctic (not only Lapland, but Greenland, and Siberia as well). The museum also provides a great gift shop for any last-minute souvenir shopping. There are also many small boutiques and shops around the centre of the city in case you would like to purchase something more personal or handmade. You could end your day in one of the many small pubs or restaurants, while enjoying great Finnish food; do try reindeer meat if you get the chance to!