Rovaniemi at a glance
As the capital of Lapland and hometown of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi is the perfect base for exploring the eight seasons of the Arctic Circle, as well as the wilderness, which begins a few steps from your hotel’s doorstep.
The forest-covered hill of Ounasvaara is a popular meeting place for sporty folks and a hideout for locals looking for some peace and quiet surrounded by nature.
You probably didn’t know
Every March the world’s oldest reindeer street sprint race takes place on Koskikatu street with harnessed Rudolphs pulling jockeys on skis.
The Lovers of the Arctic Circle (1998) a film by Julio Medém.
- Population: 61,300 (2015)
- Annual visitor numbers: 500,000 (2015)
- January mean temperature: -10.9°C
- August mean temperature: 12°C
Things to do in Rovaniemi
The grotto-like dining hall at Nili has been decorated by a local artisan couple and the ingredients originate in the nearby forests and villages. If you ask, the staff will even name the people who hunted the game or picked the berries on the plate. Try the reindeer and Lappish squeaky cheese for dessert.
This award-winning artisan chocolate factory and bakery serves beautifully crafted cakes that glisten like gemstones. Pair the treats with hot chocolate or a big scoopful of local gingerbread gelato.
Set on the campus of the University of Lapland and the Faculty of Arts and Design, this international student cafe, grill and bar serves a wide variety of home food, vegan dishes, artisan pizzas and pastries. After the lunch you can hit the surrounding galleries free of charge.
Pick your own superfood
A law called Every Man’s Right allows you to hike and pick berries, herbs and mushrooms from both the state-owned and private forests. The sunny summer nights pack the clean produce with huge densities of vitamins, and make the ubiquitous taigas (forests) basically a free buffet of superfood.
Cafe Bar 21
A place that definitely doesn’t live up to the stereotype of grumpy Finns, Cafe Bar 21 is a stylish gem of a lounge that has elaborated cocktails and Lappish tapas. Hipster DJs keep the people bopping around on the terrace.
The interior design of Uitto and its name hint to the old lumberjack tradition of Rovaniemi. Introduce yourself to the most peculiar candy liquor shots and play a round of darts with your friends.
In the heart of the town’s retro-oozing culture district lies the small street style store of Hih-hi. Run by two young entrepreneurs, it sells Finnish jewellery and fashion alongside international skater brands. If you’re after something local, get your hands on Ilahu snow surfboards, manufactured and designed in Rovaniemi.
The history of Lauri-tuotteet goes back to the 1920s, when the goldsmith Johannes Lauri began manufacturing and selling Lappish knives and handicrafts in the street. Lauri-tuotteet is not just a shop but a historical provincial house, where locals often celebrate weddings and christenings.
Korundi Culture House
Korundi, a 1930s post bus depot turned into a thriving culture house, introduces northern contemporary artists and their work in changing exhibitions. The building’s modern concert hall is home to the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, the northernmost of its kind in the EU. The group is known for its collaboration with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.
Santa Claus Village
Santa Claus is undoubtedly the most famous Finn of all time, so you can imagine how many visitors he meets annually in his home at the Arctic Circle. The village houses the Official Post Office of Santa Claus and plenty of family-friendly activities all year around.
Sauna of Metsäkyly
In Finnish the water vapour of sauna is called löyly, or “a soul”. The poetic etymology of the word gives a good insight into the Finns’ attitude towards their famous steam rooms. Traditionally, saunas like Metsäkyly, offer an easy access to the outdoors. Enjoying the brisk air is a significant part of the experience, so don’t feel embarrassed to exit the room if you feel dizzy in the 80°C heat.
- Arctic Lapland Rally (January)
- Arctic Design Week (February)
- Rovaniemi Reindeer Sprint Race (March)
- The Summer Solstice (June)
- Rovaniemi Marathon (July)
- Rovaniemi Old Time Fair (August)
- The Rovaniemi Night Of the Arts (August)
- Beginning of the winter Swimming Season (November)
- Riverlights Fire Art Event (November)
- The Grand Christmas Opening (November)
- Santa leaves for his journey around the Globe (December)
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