santa clasu village rovaniemi

Rovaniemi, Lapland-weekend trip from Helsinki

The funny thing about having a bucket list is that it keep growing and no matter how many things you slash off from the top, the list grows a tail; a longer one, each time. So after years of dreaming, I finally managed to fulfill one of my wishes and ended up adding another. This special wish came true after I did a trip to Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland and experiences what it’s like to live in this wonderland.

But, since I didn’t see the Northern lights due to very bad weather, I simply added Iceland to my list as chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis there is pretty much higher than in Finland. Other than this sad part of the aurora ditching us, Rovaniemi was everything I imagined it to be.

Rovaniemi- the word itself to my ears sounds like a magical incantation; a code word for a world of ancient secrets beyond our understanding. Yet, I know that to some it is just another Finnish word derived from an archaic idea of celebrating forest fires that used to be no less than a magical phenomenon back in time. Each time I repeat the word in my mind, it makes me want to go back to this magical abode where everything around you gives off a vibe that is somewhat mystical and I am not even going to try to put it in words.

But cut this romanticized part out of my story and I think you would still want to visit this wonderland where there is no dearth of fun activities throughout the year. There are countless winter activities like snowmobile tours, husky and reindeer-pulled sleigh rides as well as aurora hunting picnics on offer.

Likewise, summer days in Rovaniemi are filled with long forest hikes, boating excursions, canoeing trips and what not. For hopeless romantics, this place is the doorway to not only the arctic world but to numerous wonders which make you believe that anything is possible here; just like in the magical world. Right from the midnight sun to the long and dark polar nights to the Aurora Borealis itself, this land is full of unimaginable legends and facts.

After all, it is our very own Santa Claus’s home. The fact that Rovaniemi is the home of Santa Claus is not just a local legend. In fact, it was officially declared as the hometown of Santa Claus in 2010. However, the legend is always bigger than the fact. For the same reason, people from all over the world have been traveling to meet the man in red for over three decades now ever since they first set up the post office of Santa Claus back in 1985.

We too met Santa and it was really a fun experience as the whole abode of Santa Claus at the Santa Claus Holiday Village was made of dreamy stuff. Here, the little elves welcome you at the gate and the man himself spares a few minutes of his busy schedule to have a little chat with you. What more can you ask for?

It may be a tourist trap but it is fun nonetheless! The entry to the village is free but you have to pay for everything inside. The highlight of my trip to this place has to be the certificate I got for crossing the Arctic Circle on a sleigh pulled by Santa’s reindeer. Now I have read some reviews of the village about how this whole arctic circle crossing the village is a sham but that is not true. The arctic circle, indeed, passes through Lapland and there are many places other than the Santa Claus Village where one can cross the circle. But the village is one of the most convenient places to do so. So if you add this experience to your list of wishes then this is the best place to be. But if you don’t like the crowd, wait until February.

When the crazy tourist season of the Christmas month passes, this busiest part of Lapland (the Northernmost province of Finland) goes back to its usual pace and everything around this pretty town looks inviting. We chose a quiet Airbnb apartment for our stay and it offered us the perfect peaceful setting we were looking for. Imagine waking up to a view of distant cottages half buried in snow and almost no sound!

Our host was an amazing fellow who took the pain of taking us on an aurora hunting picnic by a frozen lake. We didn’t see the light like I mentioned but this picnic was really a memorable one as the whole experience of sitting inside a Lavvu, sipping warm glögi and grilling sausage over an open fire was something we hadn’t experienced before. Besides, one never forgets the warmth of friendship. This is why I keep saying that people remember a place by its people and our adorable hosts Esa and Minna just proved me right again.

By the way, a Lavvu is a traditional but temporary tent-like structure mostly used by the indigenous Sami people but popularly used by other people for camping purposes. Also, glögi is a sweet spiced drink that helps in keeping the body warm in the bitter winter months.

We tried our luck again by taking the professional aurora hunting picnic tour offered by Safartica but saw nothing. The tour was equally fun, though. This time we toasted marshmallows over an open fire deep in the forest under the sky.

I will further let my photographs speak for what I saw and experienced In Rovaniemi.

Hope you enjoy the photographs.

Photo Gallery:

Rovaniemi

View from our Airbnb apartment

Rovaniemi

Narnia

Rovaniemi

Seen at the background is the famous Jätkänkynttilä Bridge in Rovaniemi. The bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in the city

Rovaniemi

A Finnish Lavvu for temporary shelter and camping

Rovaniemi

Grilling sausages inside a Lavvu

Aurora hunting in the forest

Rovaniemi

The entrance to the Santa Claus Village

Rovaniemi

Posing with the giant snowman is a must 😀

Rovaniemi

He was there of course 😛

Rovaniemi

The moment you see a real reindeer for the first time in life!

Rovaniemi

And get to hop on a sleigh pulled by one

Rovaniemi

Crossing the arctic circle! Checked.

Rovaniemi

When everywhere you stand has a view!

Rovaniemi

This is what walking in a wonderland looks like 🙂

Rovaniemi

Roaming around in this fairy tale

Rovaniemi

And pampering the kid in you

Rovaniemi

Want more snow? Get inside the Snowman’s world

Rovaniemi

Even grab a bite

Rovaniemi

or a drink

Rovaniemi

The ideal winter drink eh?

Rovaniemi

Else admire some ice sculpture like this

Rovaniemi

or this…

Rovaniemi

Kick starting the travel season of 2017 🙂

P.S- We took a bus operated by onnibus.com from Helsinki to Rovaniemi. Before the trip I looked up on the internet about how this bus journey is actually like but there was not much information. So I guess I should write down a few points for people looking for the same-

  • This is an ideal way of travel for someone with last-minute plans as getting a flight or train ticket could get really expensive. The journey takes about 11 and 1/2 hours with a few stops in between. So travelling in a bus for that long is not very ideal for the obvious reasons
  • The journey may not be very comfortable If you are an insomniac or claustrophobic as the heating inside the bus can cause you discomfort. Otherwise, the bus has very comfortable seats, free wifi and and an attached toilet
  • The bus stops for 45 minutes in Jyväskylä where one can grab some midnight snacks and you get to stretch you muscles a bit.
  • The bus doesn’t stop for breakfast. So it’s better to stock up food and lots of water
  • The bus travels through pretty towns and forests. But you don’t get to see much in winter time as it is pitch dark outside for most part of the journey.

2 Comments

  • Ticket to Adventures February 16, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    What an exotic trip you had! I really want to travel up to Lapland as well, I would love to do raindeer sledding. Very beautiful photos!

    Reply
    • Jutismita Hazarika February 16, 2017 at 8:25 pm

      Thanks a lot 😊..Everything at Santa Claus Village was super fun. I am sure you too would enjoy a reindeer sleigh ride. I wish we could see the Northern Lights too. But there is always a next time.

      Reply

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