Travel Guide Europe Finland Rovaniemi



Lapland Arctic Circle

Lapland Arctic Circle

© iris'

Rovaniemi is a city in the north of Finland. It is the capital of the Finnish province of Lapland and the last big city that you encounter when travelling north to the cape. Rovaniemi, the business centre of Finnish Lapland since the 19th century, was razed to the ground by the Germans in the final days of World War II with only a handful of buildings left standing. Rebuilding after the war and economic development over the ensuing decades have left much of the city a featureless expanse of concrete blocks, regardless of Alvar Aalto's famous reindeer antler city plan (try to recognize it if arriving by plane). Rovaniemi became a city in 1960, and in 2006 it merged with the surrounding rural municipality.

Most tourists come because of Rovaniemi's central position for transportation, because of its location at the Arctic Circle or to see Father Christmas, but there are several sights worth a visit.

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.



Sights and Activities


Santa Village and Santa Park lie just to the north of the city. From Rovaniemi you can follow the number 4 motorway, and after a few kilometres you will see the park. The park is not only opened during the winter. (in 2010/2011, from November 27 daily until January 8), but also in summer for a couple of weeks between the end of June and the middle of August. Expect cues during the weeks leading up to Christmas. The prices of the tickets are steep, but valid for 2 days. For families it is interesting to inform for family tickets.


The Arktikum is a museum of Finland's and the world's Arctic regions. Besides a museum it is a science center and a conference centre. The permanent exhibitions focus on the Sámi culture, the development of Rovaniemi, since the first settles came here, and the changes that are taking place in Artic regions. Check the website for temporary exhibitions and special events.


Across the river on the Ounasvaara hills lies the Ounasvaara ski center. With snow on the ground for around 180 days a year, it's a sure bet for having snow.

Aurora Borealis

Another sight many people want to see is the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. Whether you will witness this phenomenon of nature or not, depends on the activity of the sun, but it is sure that you make a much better chance here to see it, than further south.



Getting There

Rovaniemi town in Lapland

Rovaniemi town in Lapland

© iris'

By Plane

Rovaniemi Airport (IATA: RVN, ICAO: EFRO) is the fourth biggest airport in Finland and is located about 10 kilometres north of the city centre. Besides daily flights to/from Helsinki, Riga, and Tampere, there are also many seasonal charter flights in the winter with flights from/to Amsterdam, Milan, Zurich, Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Durham/Tees Valley, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Hull, Glasgow, Leeds-Bradford, London (Gatwick), Newcastle upon Tyne, Belfast, Dublin, Manchester, Paris, Madrid, Cork, Budapest, Katowice, Prague and Warsaw.

By Train

Rovaniemi is the terminus of most trains from the south. The line extends only a little further north-east 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 next to the city centre and is within an easy walking distance – you facing north when you exit the station, and the city centre is to your right, to the north-east. Most of the long-distance buses stop here as well.

From Russia you can either go via Helsinki or take the train to Kandalaksha on the Murmansk railway and continue by bus.

By Car

If you want to reach Rovaniemi from Helsinki, you can simply follow the Number 4 motorway.

By Bus

Coming by bus from the south is relatively cheap but requires about 14 hours of sitting. Gold Line and possibly other companies operate daily night buses to Rovaniemi from Helsinki via Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Timetables and tickets available through Matkahuolto. There's also a seasonal Onnibus connection, not listed by Matkahuolto. There are connections to Tromsø, Alta and Vadsø in Norway, at least in summertime. For travellers from Russia, there's a twice-weekly cross-border service with Kandalaksha (Finnish: Kantalahti). The bus station is in the centre, a few hundred metres from the railway station.



Getting Around

The core of the city is small (a radius of about one kilometre), i.e. everything there is easily reached by walking. Some attractions located farther away might require other forms of transportation.

Local transportation is provided by private bus companies. Information about local buses can be found here. You can use route planner to seek local bus routes between given locations and addresses. Local transport is more frequent during daytime of weekdays of school years and less frequent during weekends, summer time, evening and night time.

The Rollaattori city guide, a must for younger or younger-minded travellers, is sold at locations including railway station's restaurant, Suomalainen kirjakauppa bookstore, City Hall and Roifoto. Created by a few locals who got tired of existing brochures and decided to make their own, the Rollaattori guide lists places which are popular among locals but not mentioned in guidebooks or official Rovaniemi city guides.




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.




  • Doris. Next door to the Restaurant Fransmanni, next to all the safari companies. Fashionable crowd, safari guides, hotel guests and high school students.
  • Kahvila Kauppayhtiö, Valtakatu 24 (100 metres from Hotel Santa Claus), ☎ +358 16 3422422. Sandwich shop, ice cream, milkshakes, sushi restaurant and bar. Its slogan is "the café where everything is for sale".
  • Paha Kurki, Koskikatu 5, ☎ +358 16 317 230. Notable rock-ish beerhouse, located opposite to the safari company offices near the river.
  • Tivoli, Valtakatu 19 (200 metres from Hotel Santa Claus). Two-room night club popular among students, famous for its Beach Party in February. Occasional live acts. safari guides and a bit more older crowd.
  • Zoomit. Café and bar in Hotel Santa Claus.




  • Guesthouse Borealis, Asemieskatu 1, ☎ +358 16 342 0130, fax: +358 16 310 261, e-mail: [email protected]. 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 metres (80 feet). If you are looking for a warm and hospitable place to stay then this is worth checking out.
  • Hostel Rudolph, Koskikatu 41-43, ☎ +358 16 321321, fax: +358 16 321 3222. Inexpensive, but the reception for this location is off-site; check-in is at the reception of the Santa Claus Hotel just down from Lordi's Square. €50/double.
  • B&B Reindeerstreet 24, Porokatu 24, ☎ +358 40 531 5280. Friendly bed & breakfast next to Ounasvaara, about 1.3 km from downtown, can arrange tours and activities during your stay.
  • Ounaskoski Camping, Jäämerentie 1, ☎ +358 16 345304. Camping site (100 places) on the other side of the river with view of the city, c-store, cafeteria, laundry, sauna, playground. From €15/RV or €14/tent, +€6 for power (10A), +€7/person.
  • Hostel Café Koti, Valtakatu 21, Rovaniemi, ☎ +358 44 7961 333, e-mail: [email protected]. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. from €30 for a bed in a 10-bed dorm, from €99 for a double room.
  • Scandic Hotel, Koskikatu 23 (in city centre), ☎ +358 16 606000.
  • City Hotel, Pekankatu 9, ☎ +358 16 3300111, fax: +358 16 311304. In the heart of Rovaniemi, next to Sampokeskus shopping mall and Lordi's Square.
  • Cumulus Rovaniemi, Valtakatu 23, ☎ +358 16 333600. Mid-priced hotel, centrally located.
  • Santa Claus Holiday Village, Tähtikuja 2, ☎ +358 16 3561513. Hotel-like accommodation in cabins in Santa Claus Village, Arctic Circle.

Lapland City Apartments, Varies. Small but comfortable apartment close to the town centre, including fridge, oven, microwave, shower, television and optional internet. Booked through prices may vary if shared. €87 per night single plus €5 internet.

  • Hotel Santa Claus, Korkalonkatu 29 (in centre of town), ☎ +358 16 321321.
  • Rantasipi Pohjanhovi, Pohjanpuistikko 2, ☎ +358 16-33711. Four-star downtown hotel with saunas and swimming pool.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)



Keep Connected


Internet is usually always broadband and fast. Most libraries have a free internet connection, so look for a sign "kirjasto" for a library. Internet cafes are not hugely popular, as most Finns have internet at home. Wifi hotspots are also increasingly common. 4G networks cover the capital region and major cities. You'll find wifi in many restaurants, cafes and in stations and on public transport.


See also: International Telephone Calls

The general emergency number is 112. Finland's country code is +358. The prefix for international calls (from local land lines) is 00, as in the rest of EU.

As you'd expect from Nokia's home country, mobile phones are ubiquitous in Finland. GSM and WCDMA (3G) networks blanket all of the country, although it's still possible to find wilderness areas with poor signal, typically in Lapland and the outer archipelago. The largest operators are Sonera and Elisa, a Vodafone partner, but travellers who want a local number may wish to opt for DNA's Prepaid package, which can cost as little as €6. Ask at any convenience store for a list of prices and special offers.

Public telephones are close to extinction in Finland, although a few can still be found at airports, major train/bus stations and the like. It's best to bring along a phone or buy one. A simple GSM model can cost less than €40.


Post is fast and reliable in Finland. You can receive mail simply by marking it Poste Restante, and the postal code of the town (check with the particular post office). First class stamps can be bought from machines or inside the office, and the fare is the same anywhere in the world up to 20 grams, so your postcards will be fine. The current rate for a stamp is €0.75. Heavier letters and postcards have different prices though, you can check them online at the Posti Website. There is also a 'track and trace' system available. Stamps are widely available and sold with the postcards, in kiosks, stationary shops and souvinier shops. Parcels abroad are expensive. You can buy all the packing from the post office, including boxes, tapes etc. For sending parcels internationally, you can also check companies like FedEx, TNT, UPS or DHL.

The Santa Park has a special post office, the letter or postcard will be stamped with a special Santa stamp.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 66.498753
  • Longitude: 25.721054

Accommodation in Rovaniemi

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Rovaniemi searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

Rovaniemi Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Rovaniemi

This is version 11. Last edited at 10:51 on Mar 8, 19 by Utrecht. 7 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License