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.
Rovaniemi Airport  (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, may be cheaper than corresponding train.
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.
Gold Line  and Oy Matkahuolto Ab  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 located in the city center and is just a few hundred meters away from the railway station.
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.
Most tourists come to Rovaniemi for precisely one thing: The Santa.
The famous midnight sun is seen between June 6th and July 7th while Sun doesn't set at all. Nightsky is luminous from May until mid August. At wintertime auroras are seen on most nights if the sky is clear.
Various arctic safari companies, many of which are on the west bank of the river, can arrange all sorts of cold and snowy activities like snowmobile safaris and dog sledding. There is winter sports resort  on the large hill Ounasvaara couple of kilometers from the centre. Arctic Golf Finland has a 9 hole golf course  close to the skiing resort.
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 mosquitoes 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.
SimeRock  Rock festival in July
Jutajaiset  is about one week long international folklore festival arranged in the July.
Internet access 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 Kauppayhtiö 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!
Despite being best known as a superficial themepark-like attraction for charter tourists around Christmastime, the town has the EU's northernmost university:
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 cranberry 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.
University canteens offer cheap alternatives (€2.5-5 per meal) but the meals are served only around noon.
The restaurant at the railway station is not bad or expensive either. Ask for student pizzas.
On the main central square (former Sampoaukio, now Lordi aukio) there is often a fisherman selling freshly catched and fried smallfish.
We are the alumni we make the cum fly.
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.