Lapland is THE destination for the ultimate family Christmas. We finally made it to the most northern point of our travels ever, Rovaniemi in Finland. And we knew this town was all about the winter experiences. Most people coming here spend hours sifting through the numerous attractions available in Rovaniemi, trying to narrow down the selection. But we wanted to do them all!
Without a doubt the experiences we chose for our short 3-night stay in Lapland were amongst the most exhilarating and entertaining experiences we’ve had in our decades of travel.
If you are thinking about celebrating one Christmas to top all Christmases then here are the top 8 things you should do in Rovaniemi, Lapland:
Family Husky Safari
I have always wanted to do this and when I found that Lapland Safaris offered a family friendly version, we were so excited. This tour company is really polished, they have thought of everything. They provided high quality cold-weather gear before we jumped on a shuttle bus to the husky farm.
Siberian huskies love nothing more than a vigorous dash through the snowy forest. Josh was the driver on the back of the sleigh, while the kids and I comfortably sat in the front. Those dogs were jolly fast. Read more about our husky adventure here.
Northern Lights By Snowmobile
It has always been Josh’s dream to see the Northern Lights. And when I found out we could do it by snowmobile, well I was sold. Lapland Safaris again came to the party with warm outfits, helpful guides and a bus ride out to the middle of the cold winter wonderland where all the vehicles were waiting. The kids loaded into a large sleigh pulled by a friendly staff member riding a snowmobile, while Josh and I roared across the unsullied frozen landscape in the afternoon darkness of Lapland. Did we find the lights? Read on here.
Traditions of Christmas
Tucked away in a snowy enchanted forest is a quaint elf village. We were collected from our hotel by shuttle and taken, almost blindly, out to this magical setting. It’s here that we had a taste of the elves teachings – how to peek through windows, tiptoeing, decorating gingerbread cookies, making traditional Finnish desserts, crafting Christmas decorations and searching the captivating forest for the perfect Christmas tree. But when the person responsible for carrying the decorations (ie. me) accidently tipped them over in the middle of the darkened forest, what’s an elf to do? Read more about our Traditions of Christmas experience here.
Visiting the Real Santa
Rovaniemi is the official home of Santa Claus and we had a chance to visit him in person at his office. It’s said his actual home located further north is barely accessible, however his office is open to public and easy to reach. Located nearby is Santa’s post office where you can post a letter anywhere in the world. You will also find that all the letters written to Santa Claus from children across the globe make their way here.
Within the mini village are reindeer rides, snowmobiles for kids, ice slides and snow mounds. If the outdoor snow is not sufficient you can head over to Snowman’s World. Here we zipped down intense ice slides on inflatable tubes and checked out the ice hotel. If you want more details on our visit to Santa’s Holiday Village, read here.
Cross the Arctic Circle Underground
Nearby to Santa’s Holiday Village is Santa Park. This attraction also has it’s own Santa Claus to meet, plus an elf school, gingerbread making workshop and an Angry Bird-themed playground. All of this is indoors, or more specifically underground, which is a bonus after spending a chilly day outside at Santa’s Holiday Village. And an extra bonus is that it’s the only place in the world you can cross the Arctic Circle underground!
Feed a Reindeer
Lapland is home to over 200,000 reindeers, each with an owner. We took the opportunity to visit one of the reindeer farms. We enjoyed a reindeer ride through the Finnish forest, gently patted these beautiful creatures and fed them some yummy lettuce.
And on top of all this we took part in an ancient ceremony inside a cosy Kota (traditional Finnish wooden hut).
This kid-friendly science centre was located in the middle of Rovaniemi and was an easy 10-minute walk from our hotel, Santa Claus Hotel. The kids adored this place as they could touch everything – including a karaoke TV, a giant tractor to climb, guns to virtually shoot moose, drawing, train sets and so much more. They didn’t even realise they were learning about the environment because it was so fun.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable few hours that allowed us to get out of the cold and at the same time explore the Finnish countryside.
Northern Lights at the Artkikum
If you miss the Northern Lights on your visit you can still see them at the Artkikum. This museum is devoted to aurora borealis and they have an exhibit where you can lie on cushions and watch a short video taking viewers on a virtual journey focused on these beautiful light formations. It’s very relaxing, just don’t fall asleep!
The museum has plenty to touch and also a drawing table so the kids will stay amused. The centre features life-size stuffed animals: bear, moose, and seals, which are fun and engaging for youngsters.
The Final Word
If you are looking for a truly magical Christmas for your family, your search is over. The charming experiences on offer in Lapland, Finland will be etched vividly in their memories for decades. And undoubtedly your children are never ever going to forget meeting Santa. You are bound to be on their “good list” for many Christmases to come.