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Rovaniemi

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Santa's Village at the Arctic Circle in the winter season

Rovaniemi [1] is the capital of Finnish Lapland.

Understand[edit]

Rovaniemi has been the business centre of Finnish Lapland since the 19th century. It was razed to the ground by the Germans in the final days of World War II, with only a handful of buildings left standing. The rebuilding after the war and the economic development in the ensuing decades have left much of the city a featureless expanse of concrete blocks. Officially Rovaniemi became a city in 1960, and in 2006 it merged with the surrounding rural municipality of Rovaniemi.

Because of its central location and status, Rovaniemi has become a center of education in Finnish Lapland. There are as many as 10 000 university and university of applied sciences level students living in Rovaniemi. Compared to the number of inhabitants living in the old city area (pre-2006), as many as one in three or four people are students. During summers this shows as a large drop in the number of people vacating the city.

The river Kemijoki, notable for being the longest river in Finland, runs next to the city center. On the west side of the river there is a large hill called Ounasvaara.

Get In[edit]

By plane[edit]

Rovaniemi Airport [2] (RVN or EFRO), located eight kilometers north from the city center, is the largest airport in northern Finland. Most of the flights go south to Helsinki, but it fields a limited number of international flights mostly to North Russian destinations like Murmansk. To get to the city center you have to take a bus or a taxi. Flights from Helsinki, operated by Finnair or Blue1 or Norwegian, may be cheaper than corresponding train.

By train[edit]

Rovaniemi railway station

Rovaniemi is the terminus of most trains from the south. The line extends only a little further northeast to Kemijärvi. The journey from Helsinki takes 9–12 hours and is reasonably comfortable in a sleeper. You can also take your car with you. The railway station is located right next to the city centre and is within an easy walking distance - you facing north when you exit the station, and the city center is to your right, to the northeast. Most of the long-distance buses stop here as well.

Rovaniemi Santa Claus Village

By bus[edit]

Gold Line [3] and Oy Matkahuolto Ab [4] operate daily night buses to Rovaniemi from Helsinki via Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Coming by bus from the south is relatively cheap but requires about 14 hours of sitting.

The bus station is in the city center and is just a few hundred meters away from the railway station.

Get around[edit]

The city center itself is very small with a radius of about one kilometer, and everything inside it is within an easy walking distance. Only some of the tourist attractions are located farther away from the center and might require other forms of transportation than your feet.

There are several bus companies providing transportation to other local areas in Rovaniemi, but the schedules are bad during weekends and summers. During evenings and nights there is practically no bus service available.

The Rollaattori city guide that can be bought from the restaurant at the railway station, Suomalainen kirjakauppa-bookstore, City hall, Roifoto etc. is a must for younger or younger-minded travellers. Rollaattori is made by few locals who got tired of existing brochures, so they made their own. Rollaattori guides you to places which are meaningful to local people too, but which are not mentioned in "ordinary" guidebooks like Lonely Planet or official Rovaniemi city guides.

See[edit][add listing]

Most tourists come to Rovaniemi for precisely one thing: The Santa.

Santa Claus Village
  • Santa Claus Village [5], 8 km north of Rovaniemi and right on the old computed place of the Arctic Circle (currently computed to be 2km north), is a tourist trap if there ever was one – but few tourists can miss the chance to meet Santa himself. Apart from meeting the man, there are also other attractions like small-scale sledding hills for kids, Santa Claus post office with nice special stamp, souvenir shops etc. The village hosts also several safari companies that organize various activities. During dark times the village has nicely lit ice sculptures. Bus number 8 goes from town to the village.
Rovaniemi statistics
  • Within some walking distance from the Santa Claus Village is Santapark [6]. An underground amusement park. Santapark has been under heavy re-decoration recently and should now be much less Disney-style place than before. Ticket price is €20 for adults and €10 for children but considerable place to visit still.
  • The rebuilding of Rovaniemi after World War II was largely planned by famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto - particularly its reindeer antler layout. He also designed the Administrative and Cultural Centre which includes the Lappia Hall (culture and congress centre), public library and city hall.
  • Pilke Science Centre. Ounasjoentie 6 (next to Arktikum), tel. 0205 64 7820, [7]. Do you feel attracted by northern forests? If so, your place to visit is Pilke. exhibition tells about use of northern forests and about the forests' diverse yields,products and commodities. Admission €7 for adults, €5 children (7-15yrs) or €5 for students, re-entry at same day free of charge, open Tue-Fri 9AM-6 PM, Sat-Sun 10AM-6 PM. Lockers available.
  • Lutheran church was built in 1950 and is located close to the administrative centre. The church is for its considerable large fresco "Spring of the Life" by professor Lennart Segerstråle. Interestingly the uses elements of Lapland in Biblical context (for example there are no lambs but reindeers). There is a nice park by the pool Kirkkolampi right next to the church. A small orthodox church is on the other side of Kemijoki river (address: Ounasvaarantie 16).
  • Korundi House of Culture [8]is located not very far from the shopping centre. It offers art, music and events. Korundi is art museum but also home of the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland. It's consists mostly of modern Finnish art. Ticket price is €8/adult, €5 for students and 3€ for children 7-15 years. Korundi is closed on Mondays.
  • Jätkänkynttilä bridge is one of the most important symbols of Rovaniemi. It runs over the Kemijoki close the northern end of the city center. Bridge has a high pylon with bright yellow light on top.
  • Log Train Terminal, about a kilometer west from the train station. Might be worth of seeing during dark times, as the that lift the logs have lights on their arms. Climb to the opposite hill and sit on the fence for a nice view.
  • German Soldier Cemetery is in Norvajärvi (19 km northeast from Rovaniemi). Constructed of large stone blocks and located virtually in the middle of nowhere it might be of interest to some. During autumn one can eat berries on the way.
  • 14 giants kettes (hiidenkirnut), including three very deep ones, can be found from Sukulanrakka slopes near the island of Rautiosaari, (22 km south from Rovaniemi, turn left from the road 926).

The famous midnight sun is seen between June 6th and July 7th while Sun doesn't set at all. Nightsky is luminous from until mid August. At wintertime auroras are seen on most nights if the sky is clear.

Do[edit][add listing]

Various arctic safari companies, many of which are on the west bank of the river, can arrange all sorts of cold and snowy like snowmobile safaris and dog sledding. Most of the tour operators have summer activities available too.

Lapland Welcome is a DMC, incoming agency and a program services company offering unforgettable experience in Lapland and all over Finland for both individual travelers and groups.

  • Lapland Safaris (Tour operator), Koskikatu 1 (On the west bank of the river, next to Hotel Pohjanhovi), +358 (0)16 3311 200 (, fax: +358 (0)16 3311 233), [9]. LAPLAND SAFARIS Lapland Safaris answers customer needs by apply a personal, safe and quality-conscious approach when introducing clients to environment.  edit
  • Wild and Free (is an incentive tour operator catering to the most demanding of customers.), Kivirinne 16, +358 403 447 795 (, fax: +358 403 447 771), [11].  edit
  • There is winter sports resort [12] on the large hill Ounasvaara couple of kilometers from the centre.
  • Arctic Golf Finland has a 9 hole golf course [13] close to the skiing resort.
  • Santamus, +358 16 318 552 (), [14]. Finish your active day with a visit to Santamus, an unique log with Lappish atmosphere at the Arctic Circle. Customize an unforgettable evening with a program that may include gourmet Lappish dinner with live music. You may want to relax your muscles in Sauna & jacuzzi spa with foot bath. Conclude your night with fun activities like waterfall cinema, gold panning or playing in a band of your own.  edit

At summertime you may hike on the marked routes around Ounasvaara's forests. Interestingly there are some rocky areas, which are ancient shores from the time of ice age, still visible by these routes. Prepare to face in the forest... From the top of the hill you'll find great wiews to the forests, hills and swamps outside the city. The city centre is not very easy to see from the top, however a short walk to the Belvedere viewing tower provides an excellent panorama.

  • Santa Claus Marathon [15] Travel sport event in June
  • SimeRock [16] Rock festival in July
  • Jutajaiset [17] is about one week long international folklore festival arranged in the July.

Internet is hard to come by but the Hotel Santa Claus has a laptop in the lobby which is meant for guests. Just stride in and look like you know what your doing and you can sit at the computer and use the internet for free. There are internet access also in the library (might require reservation), Arktikum and cafe. Free WiFi access is available in many places, for example the 'trendy' coffee shop Kauppayhtiö and 'authentic Lapland' Pub Tupsu.

At summer a small sand beach is located next to the camping area on the Ounasvaara side of the Kemijoki. Swimming close to the shore is safe but because of the dangerously strong stream, do not even consider to swim across the river!


Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Sampokeskus shopping centre, main entrance on Lordi Square [18]
  • Rinteenkulma shopping centre, main entrance next to Scandic hotel [19]
  • Revontuli shopping centre, next to Rinteenkulma, main entrance above highway E75 [20]
  • Marttiini factory outlet, offering the famous knives, located opposite to Arktikum

Eat[edit][add listing]

A traditional meal is sautéed reindeer (poronkäristys), consisting of reindeer meat cut in slices and stewed on a frying pan with butter and water. A "bowl" of mashed potatoes is made on the plate and filled with stewed meat. This is garnished with lingonberry jam and slices of pickled cucumber. It's worth trying out once at least - you should be able to find this dish in most restaurants around town.

Budget[edit]

The second most northern McDonald's in the world

University canteens cheap alternatives (€2.5-5 per meal) but the meals are served only around noon. (and should really be only sold to students as they are subsidized by the state, so looking you might be a good idea ;))

  • Rotko, Faculty of Art & Design (red-yellowish building). University canteen conveniently located right opposite the railway station.

The restaurant at the railway station is not bad or expensive either. Ask for student pizzas.

  • Subway is just behind Lordi's Square.
  • Golden Rax Pizza Buffet, at crossing of Koskikatu and Korkalonkatu, GPS 66.502223333 25., [21]. Self-service all you can eat and drink, pizzas, chicken wings, etc.  edit
  • Haruno Pizza & Kebab Also has an excellent salad bar.
  • McDonalds, Poromiehentie 3.
  • Hai Long, Great buffet (9,90€) and lunch (8,90€) sold Monday through Friday from 10.30am to 15pm.

On the main central square (former Sampoaukio, now Lordi aukio) there is often a fisherman selling freshly catched and fried smallfish.

Mid-Range[edit]

  • Fransmanni, Koskikatu 4 (near Sokos Hotel Vaakuna), [22]. Serves great traditional Lappish dishes, as well as delicious French cooking. Also one of the best bars in town. Be sure to ask for Anton's special drink!

Exclusive[edit]

  • Santamus, Arctic Circle (In Santa Claus Village), [23] [24]. Serves gourmet Lappish menus mainly for groups and exclusive private events. log building with several fireplaces and a pond with purling brook creating an extraordinary Lappish atmosphere. The whole evening can be customized for you including live musical entertainment with many memorable surprise elements, like waterfall cinema, dessert delivered in a boat and activities like gold . Offers also private sauna, jacuzzi spa, foot bath. Make reservations beforehand. For visiting groups with strict time schedule they also offer daily visits so check for availability.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Kauppayhtiö, Valtakatu 24, about 100 meters from Hotel Santa Claus. The cafe where everything is for sale! Great sandwiches and ice-creams/milkshakes! Good place to stop by at daytime or start your evening with drinks! [25]
  • Tivoli, Valtakatu 19, a 200 meters from Hotel Santa Claus. Legendary and popular nightclub with 2 different rooms, crowd consisting mainly students, safari guides and a bit more older crowd and has occasional live acts. Its Beach Party in February is famous among Students througout Finland. [26]
  • Zoomit, cafe&bar in Hotel Santa Claus.
  • Paha Kurki, located to the safari company offices near the river. Notable rock-ish beerhouse.
  • Doris, next door to the Restaurant Fransmanni, next to all the safari companies. Fashionable crowd, safari guides, hotel guests and high school students.
  • Onnela, opposite from Scandic hotel. 4 different rooms with different music: pop, 80-th, rock, folk hall with dancing tables. Small games. Entrance €8, before midnight free of charge.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

  • Guesthouse Borealis [27],tel: +358 (0)16 342 0130, Fax: +358 (0)16 310 261, guesthouse.borealis@co.inet.fi. This is a very friendly guesthouse located in the immediate vicinity of the railway station. Cross the road from the railway station, directly in front of you is the red-yellowish university building, find a small walking road to your left (facing the building) that goes uphill. Turn left to the bigger road and walk 25 meters. If you are for a warm and hospitable place to stay then this is worth checking out.
  • Hostel Rudolph Koskikatu 41-43, tel +35816321321, [28] is the cheap place to go in town. The only catch is there is no reception at this location, you have to check in at the reception of the Santa Claus Hotel just down from Lordi's Square. Its a bit of extra walking but for €40 per bed in a double room, its well worth it.
  • UniHostel, tel. +35816347950, [29]. Run by the university housing association, it offers cheap accommodation about three kilometers away from the city center.
  • B&B Reindeerstreet 24, 24, tel. +358 40 531 5280, [30]. This is a friendly bed & breakfast next to Ounasvaara, about 1.3 km from downtown. can arrange tours and activities during your stay.
  • Camping site is on the other side of the river and has a nice view of the city.
  • Cabins in "the most beautiful village of Lapland", 48 km from Rovaniemi centre towards Kuusamo (road no 81). Viiri Holiday Village [31].

city hotel

Mid-range[edit]

  • Scandic Hotel Koskikatu 23, tel. +358-16-606000, [32]. In the city center of Rovaniemi.
  • City Hotel Pekankatu 9, tel. +58-16-3300111, fax. +358-16-311304, [33]. the heart of Rovaniemi, next to Sampokeskus shopping mall and Lordi's Square.
  • Cumulus Rovaniemi, Valtakatu 23, +358 (0)16 333600, [34]. A nice mid-priced hotel, centrally located.
  • Santa Claus Holiday Village, Tähtikuja 2, tel. +358-16-3561513, [35]. Hotel-like accommodation in cabins, located in Santa Claus Village, Arctic Circle.

Splurge[edit]

  • Hotel Santa Claus, 29, tel. +358-16-321321, [36] Best hotel in the centre of town.
  • Rantasipi Pohjanhovi, Pohjanpuistikko 2, tel. +358-16-33711, [37]. Four star hotel in the centre of town. Has not just the usual saunas, but a swimming pool too.

Get out[edit]

Ski centers are open during the winter season from November to April. The nearest ski centers are Ounasvaara just few kilometers from city center, Levi near Kittilä, Luosto near Sodankylä and Pyhä near Pelkosenniemi.


Routes through Rovaniemi
VardøSaariselkä  N noframe S  KemiHelsinki




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