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Reviewed on 14 Mar 2021
Reviewed on 11 Jan 2020
Reviewed on 23 Mar 2020
Rovaniemi, known as the home of Santa Claus, is the largest city in Europe in terms of area, and visitors come to study at the university, and for sport and culture. The city of Rovaniemi, situated at the point where the Kemijoki and Ounasjoki rivers meet, has a colourful and eventful history stretching back 8,000 years. Over the last 1,000 years, people from many different cultural and linguistic backgrounds have come to the area, shaping the Rovaniemi local dialect, which consists of Finnish with influences from Swedish, Norwegian and even German. Rovaniemi is a city of music, culture and sport.
Internationally, Rovaniemi’s undisputed number one attraction is Santa Claus Village, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to meet Santa Claus. The northernmost university city in the European Union also has art and science to offer visitors. Visit the Arktikum museum and science centre, designed by Birch-Bonderup & Thorup-Waade, and learn about Lapland’s history and culture. The Rovaniemi Local History Museum, meanwhile, is devoted to local farming culture.
For architecture lovers there are the Lapland Provincial Library (1965) and the Lappia House (1975) designed by Alvar Aalto, and the Rovaniemi Church (1950) designed by Bertel Liljequist. Korundi House of Culture is home to both the Lapland Chamber Orchestra and the Rovaniemi Art Museum, and offers top quality art exhibitions and concerts throughout the year.
In winter, Rovaniemi’s beautiful, wide-open landscape entices visitors to come enjoy the trails and slopes at Ounasvaara Ski Centre. However, most visitors come to Lapland to admire the magical Aurora Borealis, which can be seen in the Northern skies up to 200 days a year. Stay in a snow suite or glass igloo for a unique hotel experience. Rovaniemi also offers snowmobile safaris and reindeer and husky sled rides, as well as excellent hiking trails and marked boating routes on the Kemijoki and Ounasjoki rivers. At Harjulampi, located near the city centre, numerous different bird species are visible.
In Rovaniemi, you can try both traditional and international cuisine, with dishes prepared from local ingredients. Lapland dining experiences include different kinds of fish dishes, sautéed reindeer and Lapland mashed potatoes, Finnish squeaky cheese with lingonberry or cranberry jam, and several other traditional delicacies made from fresh ingredients. Restaurants range from idyllic tepees and ice restaurants to modern cafes, Irish pubs and American-style grill restaurants.
There are excellent transport links to Rovaniemi from the rest of Finland. A flight from Helsinki takes just over an hour, while a train journey is just under nine hours. Similarly, there are many different accommodation options in Rovaniemi, making it easy to find accommodation that match your budget. However, do remember to book your trip in advance, especially in winter.
Rovaniemi, located near the Arctic Circle, is a mixture of the North of myth and legend, and a modern city of culture, a developed tourist destination. Rovaniemi’s many attractions tempt you to stay for a longer family holiday on your way toward the mountains in the north.
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