Ready for an unforgettable winter adventure? Discover Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, and as extra options experience an incredible husky safari on snowy trails, visit Santa Claus Village and the Arctic Circle.
Our Finland expert Hendrik, decided to take it slow and stopping over in the capital of Lappland.
Here is his experience in the wonderful winter world of Rovaniemi:
We are fans of leisurely travel. We like to take our time and enjoy the ride. On our way south from Saariselkä, my son and I decided to stop in Rovaniemi for a closer look.
If you’re traveling to Lapland, be sure to spend a night in Rovaniemi. Here you can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. Hostel Café Koti is the perfect place for those who love comfortable beds and Nordic design. Located in the middle of the city, everything is within walking distance!
A walk along the riverside is a must in Rovaniemi. Here you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city.
If you are curious and want to learn more about culture, the Arktikum Museum is the place for you. Or how about a hike on the (winter) trail of Ounasvaara?
For more action, try a fatbike tour with RollOutdoors or you go for a sleigh ride, pulled by huskies (more to that later).
Travelling North and South
When my son and I returned from our adventure in snowy Saariselkä, we had a brilliant idea: we wanted to spend a night in Rovaniemi to avoid the long and exhausting public trip south (VR and Matkahuolto should really coordinate their schedules, right?).
And what can I say? It was just great! We had so much fun and were totally inspired by the city.
Instead of an endless travel day full of rush and stress, we took our time and slept late at the hotel in Saariselkä before enjoying a delicious breakfast and catching the 11 am bus to Rovaniemi. We arrived relaxed a few hours later.
The next day we enjoyed another delicious breakfast at the Hostel Café Koti and walked to the train station with our extensive luggage to catch the train south.
As you can imagine, this travel plan was much more comfortable than a day of stress that started at 6am and didn’t end until 10pm when you finally arrived home.
So what did we do in Rovaniemi?
The Capital of Lapland
We arrived in the center of Rovaniemi on our bus from Saariselkä and were just a short walk from our cool hostel, Café Koti.
This gem of a hostel is only a few years old and is located in a completely renovated bank building – the former offices are now rooms for singles, doubles, families and dormitories.
The café on the first floor has good drinks and snacks available all day and serves a delicious breakfast.
After checking in, we put our ski bags in the old vault, which now serves as a secure luggage storage area. Then we went upstairs to our room.
I’m usually a tent guy, but I can appreciate good design and decor, and our room at Koti – which means “home” in Finnish. It was beautiful. The room has natural materials and colors, lots of windows with great views, and the beds were fantastic – I was starting to feel like a little nap wouldn’t hurt. 🥱
But we wanted to explore wintery Rovaniemi and had other plans!
Only two minutes away from the main square of Rovaniemi is the Hostel Café Koti.
On our way to the Angry Birds Playground, which is also only 300 meters from the hostel, we had the opportunity to finally arrive after a long day on the bus. The playground is free and has lots of cool Angry Birds themed equipment – perfect even for kids who are more familiar with other games.
After a fun visit to the playground, we took a walk along the river. If you feel like it, you can go XC skiing here – there’s a trail along the river. But we decided to walk around and enjoy the beautiful view of Ounasvaara.
This is truly a paradise for those who live in the city and are looking for outdoor action.
By the way, if you feel like fatbiking, you should visit RollOutdoors!
So we continued towards the city, as our hungry bellies craved a delicious meal and my son was dying for a burger. We decided to try Kauppayhtiö as they were supposed to have the best burgers in town.
We were not disappointed!
Both the vegetarian and the traditional burgers were a treat for our palates. 🍔
The place is decorated with great attention to detail and has a casual 50’s/60’s punk rock gallery vibe. If you like this aesthetic, you’ll feel right at home at Kauppayhtiö!
Come, we stroll through the center of Rovaniemi on the way back to Koti. It looks so nice, everything is lit up and there are even some Christmas decorations.
It’s clear, Santa Claus has his residence here, it just has to look Christmassy. 🙂
When we got back to the hostel, we checked out the sauna and then played a round of Carcassonne in the common room. We are big fans of board games and it’s always a highlight when a hostel/hotel/cafe has a selection of games available.
After a few games, it was time to settle into our comfortable beds and finally relax. The beds were so inviting and comfortable that we fell asleep right away.
Our sleep was deep and restful, and when we awoke the next morning, we felt fresh and alert. However, our hungry stomachs were crying out! Without hesitation, we made our way to the charming café where we would enjoy breakfast.
The place was crowded, as breakfast attracts not only hostel guests, but also many locals. This alone is a sign that we were in a great place for a delicious meal!
For vegans, the breakfast options were a bit limited, but in the end I was full and satisfied – and the coffee was really delicious, a real plus.
After dinner, we played a few board games and relaxed in the common room before heading to the train station to head back south to Vaasa.
Although it may seem to outsiders that we didn’t do much in Rovaniemi, we were sure that our plan to explore the city, relax, eat well, and make our trip south stress-free was right on target. We got what we wanted and are very happy with our time in Rollo.
If you’re traveling to Lapland by public transportation, we recommend spending two days in the south. It is always worth visiting Rovaniemi and discovering the diversity of the city. Hostel Café Koti in the city center is a great place to stay. We will definitely stop here again on our next north-south trip.
We love to take our time and travel relaxed!
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Extra Travel Dudes Tips: Husky Safari on a Snowy Trail
You can also experience an unforgettable adventure at a husky safari in Finland, by driving your own dog sled team through the picturesque forests. Whether you’re the driver or a relaxed observer on the sled, enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the snow-covered landscape.
Visit a local husky farm and learn all about the breeding and training of these incredible Arctic animals. Learn how they are trained to race and work in the forest.
After a short briefing, you will embark on an exciting 10 km ride through the Finnish winter landscape. Feel the thrill of racing through the snow with your team of sled dogs.
Don’t forget to capture this unforgettable moment and enjoy the beautiful scenery. After the ride, warm up with a hot juice and Finnish gingerbread – the locals’ favorite winter snack.
Listen to interesting stories about huskies and immerse yourself in Finnish culture and traditions. This is an adventure you will remember for a long time.
Good to know
They will pick you up and take you to your accommodation within 15 km from the center of Rovaniemi. Duration of the tour is 3.5 hours.
With an English speaking guide (other languages on request: German, French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese) will take you on a 10 km husky sled ride. You will also visit a husky farm and enjoy Finnish snacks and hot drinks. Best of all, you will be provided with winter clothing – overalls, boots and gloves.
Important to know: Departure times may vary depending on season and availability. It is best to check with the tour operator. On weekdays and Saturdays they need a minimum of 2 people for the tour. On Sundays and holidays they need a minimum of 4 people. If the minimum number of participants is not reached, the tour may be canceled or postponed. And please note: Children under 12 must be accompanied by a paying adult. You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance and receive a full refund.
Extra Travel Dudes Tips: Option to visit the Santa Claus Village and Arctic Circle
There is also the option to go on a journey to a place where Christmas is celebrated all year round – Santa’s Village in Rovaniemi.
Here you have the chance to meet Santa Claus in person and cross the Arctic Circle to take unique souvenir photos. What would a visit to Santa Claus be without greetings to your loved ones? Send your holiday greetings directly from Santa’s post office.
If that’s not enough, you’ll also have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the reindeer that help Santa with his duties. On your way to the Arctic Circle, you will pass the painted white line that marks the border of the Arctic region. When you cross this line, you will receive an official certificate that you can proudly display.
But before you head back to your accommodation, a culinary treat awaits you: a Lapland lunch buffet. Let yourself be tempted by the regional specialties and enjoy the unique atmosphere of Santa’s Village. An unforgettable experience that will stay with you for a long time.
Good to know
The duration of this tour is 3.5 hours and you can cancel up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund. The tour offers you the possibility to be picked up and transported comfortably from your accommodation within 15 km (driving distance) from the center of Rovaniemi. You will be greeted by an English speaking guide who can also speak other languages such as German, French, Italian, Spanish or Chinese upon request.
A delicious lunch buffet awaits you. The highlight of the tour is a meeting with Santa Claus, which will leave you with unforgettable memories. And you’ll receive a certificate to prove you’ve crossed the Arctic Circle.