Visiting Lapland is a dream for many and I was so excited when we finally booked a trip there! We’d planned a jam-packed itinerary visiting Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, dog sledding and staying in an ice hotel – so many ticks off the bucket list in such a short period of time! This region is a true winter wonderland and we had an amazing day at Santa’s Village, which is located right on the Arctic Circle!
Getting to Rovaniemi
Finland was the last stop of our whirlwind Scandinavian and Baltic trip and I honestly cannot think of a more incredible place to end an amazing winter holiday. We took an early morning flight from Helsinki to Rovaniemi with Norwegian, which was easy and took just over an hour. We have read mixed reviews about Norwegian, but we certainly had no complaints.
Getting to Santa Claus Village from the Airport
The terminal at Rovaniemi is tiny but was so cute, with Christmas decorations everywhere! We collected our luggage and walked outside to get a bus to the Santa Claus village. It was slightly confusing as I read there is a bus which goes from the airport to the village, but we couldn’t find the right stop or timetable so we jumped on a minibus shuttle. The shuttle only cost €5 each and dropped us right at the village which is actually less than 10 minutes from the airport (only 3km)!
Arriving at Santa Claus Village
We arrived at Santa’s village around 8am and while most of the shops don’t open until 10am, I can’t recommend arriving at this time more highly! The only negative was if you aren’t staying there and have luggage, you will obviously need to leave your bags somewhere. We’d read online that you could store your bags at the Tourist Information as well as a number of shops (all of which open at 10am). There was hardly anyone around and we figured who would steal at Santa’s village, so we left our bags tucked away to the side on the deck of the Santa Claus Main Post Office until 10am.
It’s hard to put into words just how magical it was. It was dark and snowing heavily and even though it was -15°C, it did not feel cold because there wasn’t even a whisper of a breeze! There was only a handful of other people, so it felt like we had the place to ourselves. The buildings were all lit up with Christmas decorations and lights, with Christmas carols playing through the speakers. It was so surreal; it almost felt like we were on the set of a movie!
We walked around for an hour, taking photos and just trying to savour the experience. We also ducked back to the post office a few times to check on our suitcases (still there)! By 9:30am, we were a tad chilly and very hungry, so headed to Christmas House for breakfast. It was €15 each for buffet breakfast which was well worth it as we were starving and cold.
Arctic Circle Central Square
After breakfast, we dropped our luggage off at a souvenir shop next to the post office for €5 each. It was now just after 10am, all the shops were opening and it was gradually getting lighter! We took the time to wander around the Central Square which was filled with the post office, office, tourist information, gift shops and cafes.
It is also here that you can cross the Arctic Circle! The Arctic Circle is clearly marked and runs right through Santa Claus Village and you can even get a certificate to say you’ve officially crossed the Arctic Circle!
You can also officially meet Santa here and get a photo with him (at cost). We joined the queue and walked through Santa’s Office, however didn’t end up meeting him or getting a photo as in our opinion this was the only slightly-tacky part of the whole place. I know that kids would absolutely love it however and I think it is up to individual’s whether they think this cost is worth it.
Santa Claus Reindeer
We decided to take a reindeer ride nice and early, before it got too busy. Just off the main square you will find Santa Claus Reindeer where you can take a reindeer ride in a sleigh. It was €36 for a short 400m ride through the forest (which was quite slow and took about 10-15 minutes).
It felt so magical to be wrapped up in a blanket in the sleigh being pulled by a reindeer as the biggest snowflakes I’ve ever seen fell around us. There is options to take longer rides, however we feel like we got all that we were hoping from the experience from the shorter ride.
The Arctic Circle Husky Park is located about a 5-10 minute stroll from the mains square and has around 100 beautiful Siberian Huskies! It is here that you can have husky rides and safaris. We paid the €10 entrance fee each to enter and visit the huskies, but didn’t have opt for a ride. We had booked a longer husky safari with Bearhill Husky for the next day and wanted to wait for that.
The entrance fee allows you to come and go as many times as you like. We went back three times throughout the day to visit the huskies, give them lots of pats and of course, take a million photos! They are such beautiful animals and boy are they noisy!
Accommodation, Dining & Shops
There are multiple restaurants in Santa Claus Village, we ate at Christmas House for breakfast and just had coffee and lunch on the go. There’s plenty of lovely Christmasy souvenir shops too so you can buy that perfect Christmas decoration!
There’s also several accommodation options within the village and nearby. We stayed at the Arctic SnowHotel in Sinetta which you can read all about here.
A Winter Wonderland
I had always wanted to visit the Santa Claus Village and Lapland, but was a little concerned it would be a bit tacky and a rip-off. My concerns were without cause as it was not tacky and the prices were no more expensive that the rest of the Scandinavian region.
We visited in mid-January and it was actually fairly quiet! We were really surprised as we’d expected it to be manic, but none of the attractions were packed and there really was minimal tourists. I would definitely recommend visiting this time of the year as the Christmas/New Year rush is over, yet there is guaranteed to be amazing snow!
It was incredibly easy to get there, with our flights from Helsinki costing €96 euros in total, and our return flight to London Gatwick €175 with EasyJet. Visiting Santa Claus Village was honestly one of the most incredible experiences and another big tick off the bucket list! I personally wouldn’t visit this part of the world in Summer or when you aren’t guaranteed great snow as I just don’t think it would be magical or fairy tale like.
We loved Lapland so much, it is a true winter wonderland and I would go back in a heart beat!