I can’t believe we are nearing our trip to Lapland to see Santa in his hometown. From having booked it all in February, to finally packing and getting ready to hop on that plane, the last ten months have flown past. And our time in Rovaniemi has been made all the more special with the help of the Visit Rovaniemi tourist board who have helped us create an amazing Lapland Bucket list for our winter visit to northern Finland. Here’s what’s in store for us next week.
As you know by now, we decided to try and visit Lapland on a budget. And, with help from my amazing sister-in-law, that’s exactly what we’redoing. Instead of paying around £1700 for an overnight trip to Finnish Lapland from the UK (not including the flights and hotel to get back to the UK), we’ve bagged ourselves a 10-day trip-of-a-lifetime for less money.
For those who didn’t catch the first post, we are flying from the Algarve to Helsinki via Lisbon. Then, after a day in the city to get some rest, we are taking the Santa Express train to Rovaniemi, the Official Hometown of Santa Claus. We have four nights and almost five days in this magical place before we head back to Helsinki on the Santa Claus Express. We have 3 days and 3 nights in Helsinki, during which time we will be taking the ferry to Tallinn for a day in between exploring the city with the help of My Helsinki.
But, with so much on offer in the winter wonderland of Rovaniemi, we asked Visit Rovaniemi for some help and they’ve come up trumps. We are collaborating with them during our time in the city and they have laid on some amazing winter activities for us, as well as allowing us to experience some of the best things to do in Rovaniemi with kids. Aside from the experiences we are collaborating on, they gave us some advice for additional things we have planned during our visit, all of which has become an amazing Lapland bucket list.
7 Amazing Lapland Bucket List Experiences
Visit Santa Claus
There are two opportunities for us to visit Santa Claus. The first will be during our time at Santa Claus Village, located just 8km from the city centre.Visit Rovaniemi have arranged a private meeting with the big man himself and we’re really looking forward to seeing our son’s face when he is greeted by Father Christmas in his hometown.
The second opportunity we will have is when we spend a day at Santa Park, also courtesy of Visit Rovaniemi. SantaPark is the underground cavern home of Santa Claus and is an indoor Christmas theme park under the Arctic Circle. Not only will we see Santa again (he has to split his time between the two locations of course), our son will also get the chance to enrol in Elf School, enjoy the Elf Show on the main stage, decorate cookies in Mrs Gingerbread’s Kitchen and take the magical train through an enchanted wood. And as if that wasn’t awesome enough, we will also be able to visit the Post Office, the Ice Bar and the Ice Gallery. And we’ll get to step across the Arctic Circle, something my husband and I haven’t done since our pre-kids trip to Tromso in Norway.
So, two opportunities to meet Santa during our trip will amazing.
Meet the Reindeers for a Sleigh Ride
In Santa Claus Village, there is the opportunity to not only meet Santa’s reindeer, you can also take short or longer reindeer sleigh rides. And Visit Rovaniemi have organised one for us. So, before our special meeting with Santa Claus himself, we’re going to say hello to his reindeer first, get a few pictures and enjoy a sleigh ride with them. You can book longer rides, safaris and even northern lights excursions from the office at Santa Claus Village.
Have some family winter fun at Snowman World
We are going to be getting up-close-and-personal with some snowmen at Snowman World, a winter wonderland playground with Snowmen, ice-skating and lots more for family winter fun. There is also an Ice Bar and Ice Restaurant which we can visit which have beautiful ice and snow sculptures. We can also partake in ice-skating (something I’ve only ever done once), snowtubing and sleighing.There may not be much snow at the moment but there’s still lots of things to do in Rovaniemi with kids.
Learn about the indigenous people, history and culture of Lapland with the Culture Pass
Visit Rovaniemi have been kind enough to arrange a Rovaniemi Culture Pass which is valid for 7 days and gives entry into three of the museums in the city; Arktikum, Pilke and Korundi. At Arktikum we can learn about the indigenous people of Lapland, as well as the history of Lapland and Arctic research. At Korundi House of Culture we can learn about northern contemporary art while there is an opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the many meaning sof northern forests at Science Centre Pilke. With the pass being valid for 7 days, it gives us the flexibility to visit the museums around our other winter activities.
Cross the Arctic Circle
As mentioned already, there is the opportunity to pass across the Arctic Circle or 66° North. The Arctic Circle runs directly through Santa Claus Village and is clearly marked. You can even get a certificate of crossing the circle to prove you’ve done it. And, SantaPark is also the only known place in the world where you can cross the Arctic Circle underground. So, we plan to do it both overland and underground and get the certificates to prove it!
One thing I really wanted us to do while in Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland was a husky safari ride. Visit Rovaniemi recommended a local company called Bearhill Husky and I got in touch with them to see which of their safaris would be suitable for a family with a four-year-old. We are booked onto a Happy Trail Morning Husky Safari.
During this two-hour experience we will get a safety briefing and information talk, demonstration and, after getting suitably kitted out, we will enjoy a 30-40 minute safari where we will get the chance to drive the dogs ourselves. After returning to the kennels we’ll get the chance to meet the dogs and warm up with berry juice and cookies. To say I’m excited about this would be an understatement. And I’m so happy Visit Rovaniemi have recommended Bearhill Husky for us. I’ve been following them avidly on Instagram and always enjoy their live updates.
Family Winter Photo Shoot
This one is one we’ve organised ourselves. I’ve managed to find a local photographer who does family lifestyle shoots and we’ve booked Kaisa Siren for a two-hour photo shoot. Kaisa will be taking us to the nearby Ounasvaara Forest where we will have some fun before relocating to a husky kennels to enjoy some shoots with the dogs. We do hope there is some snow in the forest for us to enjoy but either way I’m sure we’ll enjoy ourselves and I cannot wait to seethe photos afterwards.
These were our top 7 Lapland bucket list experiences we really wanted to fit in during our time at the Arctic Circle and I truly believe our December visit to Finnish Lapland is going to be amazing. We would love to also see the Northern Lights again. My husband and I enjoyed a two-hour display by them during our trip to Tromso and we’d love to see them again. There is the possibility to view them, if they are strong enough, from the city, not too far from Arktikum. So, we’ll be downloading the Aurora Watch app to our phones and may head to this spot with our camera to try and capture them again.
Had we had more time I would have added a snowmobile safari and a stay in either the Ice Hotel or an igloo but there is always a return trip to ensure we don’t miss out on these experiences. But I do think our Lapland bucket list is pretty amazing as it stands.
What would you love to do if you were visiting Lapland? Let me know in the comments.
And don’t forget, if you are visiting Lapland in December or the other winter months, you’ll need to wrap up really warm. Here’s my post about what to pack for Lapland with kids to help you ensure you’re ready for the cold arctic temperatures. And be sure to check out the Visit Rovaniemi website where you will find so much more information about where to stay, what to do and all the fun activities you can do in Rovaniemi with kids.
*We are collaborating with Visit Rovaniemi on this trip.They have organised our activities and excursions apart from our husky safari with Bearhill Husky and our family photo shoot with Kaisa.