After spending one night in Swedish town Lulea and one night in Finnish town Kemi (Lapland tour: arriving in Sweden and crossing the border to Finland ) the next destination of the week-long journey in Lapland was Rovaniemi, the hometown of Santa Claus! Rovaniemi is a popular destination for families, because of the Santa Claus Village, where you can personally meet Santa himself and take a picture with him (after a very long queue). But, in my humble opinion, the town is lovely for couples, too, as there are many activities to do there. My favourite activity was the snowmobile tour, where you get to drive across fairytale landscapes and woods, covered in snow and with reindeers popping out from behind a tree. The operator we chose was Lapland safaris.
Besides that, you can also ski, snowboard or do the amazing Finnish sauna experience, which involves getting heated up in a floating sauna over Rovaniemi’s frozen river and then dipping yourself into the ice cold water of the river, as the guide makes a hole in the ice and you access the water through a little stair. This sounds like madness BUT it’s very good for your health! It’s said to stop your heart for a second (I wasn’t really reassured by this at the time though, I was afraid of dying)
We decided to take the train to go from Kemi to Rovaniemi, which takes 1 hour and 20 minutes and costs between 13 and 20 euros.
After this journey the decision to always travel with backpacks and ditch big, inconvenient trolleys was made.
Big suitcases are never handy, on the snow (the worst) or on the sand…or in the jungle!
The train journey was lovely, we spent the whole time in the restaurant and looked outside the window, sipping hot, hyggeligt drinks, eating cinnamon rolls and feeling as if we were on the Orient Express.
After arriving in Rovaniemi’s train station, we took a taxi to the rental agency to collect the keys and check in. The tiny rented apartment, small but so well planned, was just around the corner from the agency. It even had a sauna, as the tradition wants most Finnish houses to have (Kotimaailma apartments).
Finding an accommodation in Rovaniemi wasn’t that easy, or rather, finding a hotel was feasible but the prices skyrocket in the high season, obviously, and we travelled there just after Christmas to spend New Year’s Eve, therefore that was the case. Moreover, I booked quite late during the year so not a wide choice was left. But I managed to find a great flat for an acceptable cost.
If your budget allows it, there are some luxury, breathtaking hotels which provide bungalows with a transparent roof that lets you see the stars and, if you’re extremely lucky, the Northern lights.
The apartment was right in the town centre, near all the restaurants and the agencies where you can book the activities. I recommend booking well in advance because when I booked, almost last-minute, there weren’t many time slots available.
The flat was so modern and cosy and the sauna was just what you needed to find comfort after the minus 7 degrees outside. As we spent New Year’s Eve in Rovaniemi, the first activity of 2018 was finding some refuge in the sauna after watching the fireworks by the frozen river.