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Rovaniemi, Finland is known as the official hometown to Santa Claus. What many may not realize is there is a variety of other wonderful activities to participate in while in Rovaniemi. Join us as we share 10 things to do in Rovaniemi with kids.
*Some of our activities were sponsored by Visit Rovaniemi. I will indicate below which activities these are. Please know that even those these activities were sponsored, we only share honest opinions of the attractions.
Visit Santa Claus Village
When planning things to do in Rovaniemi with kids, Santa Claus Village was priority #1. Santa Claus Village is located 8km or approximately 5 miles from the city of Rovaniemi. You can easily spend an entire day experiencing all that Santa Claus Village has to offer. We were graciously hosted by Visit Rovaniemi and provided tickets to Snowman World, the reindeer ride, and our digital downloads while visiting Santa.
The quaint village is full of magical Christmas wonder. There are a variety of activities for your family to participate in while visiting Santa Claus Village. You can jump aboard a sleigh and take a ride behind the reindeer. Or if you are interested in petting reindeer or trying nordic skiing you can stop by the Elf’s Farmyard and Petting Zoo. Of course, you will stop by and share your Christmas wish with Santa. You might also stop for a visit with Mrs. Claus. Snowman World is a great place to experience ice and snow sculptures. You can also ride the most intense tube ride I’ve ever seen. You’ll also want to stop by the Main Post Office to see all of Santa’s Mail and send a postcard to a friend.
There are so many wonderful things to do in Santa Claus Village. Be sure to head over to our Family Guide to Santa Claus Village Finland post to learn more about everything offered.
It can often be confusing when planning a trip to Rovaniemi to learn that there is both Santa Claus Village and Santa Park. Santa Park is located just down the road from Santa Claus Village. Santa Park is an indoor Christmas theme park located in an underground cavern. It is where the elves make the toys 🙂
Santa Park was not originally planned on our list of things to do in Rovaniemi with kids. However, when I found out about it I knew we had to go experience it. We had a great time. What really sold me was that the tickets allow you to attend for two consecutive days. From watching an elf show to participating in elf school, there are a lot of fun activities to participate in at Santa Park. Head on over to our article, Should we visit Santa Park? to learn more about all Santa Park has to offer.
One thing that we did not have on our plan of things to do in Rovaniemi but wish we would have was the Ranua Zoo. Located approximately an hour from Rovaniemi the Ranua Zoo features 50 wild animal species. Ranua Zoo is open year-round with the following hours:
- June 1 – August 31, daily between 9 am – 7 pm
- September 1 – May 31, daily between 10 am – 4 pm
You can rent a car and travel up to Ranua Zoo. There are also many safari groups that will take you up there. I would suggest you plan a full day to visit if you are visiting in the winter. With such a short window of daylight in the winter, the time you will want to be at the zoo will be midday. Since our free day was taken up with two sick kids we weren’t able to visit.
Check Out The Playgrounds
This might sound like a strange addition to our list of things to do in Rovaniemi with kids but I highly recommend you take some time to play at the local parks.
Our first day the bus we took from the train station dropped us off right next to the park. We couldn’t resist and we let our kids go play. Of course, we had to be extra cautious due to the snow but it was a fun way to get some energy out after 2 days of travel.
Rovaniemi also has the Angry Birds park which is free. The Angry Birds Park is located on the riverbank by Valtakatu-street, within walking distance from the city center. With something for the young kids, older kids, and the young at heart 🙂 this is a park you should definitely check out. Of course, you should always use your own discretion to check the weather conditions and decide if it is safe for your kids.
Rovaniemi Cultural Pass
The Cultural Pass is one ticket that gives you entrance to 3 cultural museums (Arktikum, Pilke, and Korundi) in Rovaniemi. You can visit the museums as many times as you would like in 7 days. Visit Rovaniemi graciously hosted us and provided our family with the cultural pass. I will detail the three museums included in the Culture Pass below.
Arktikum is both a science center and museum that allows you to experience the Arctic culture. There were so many great exhibits but our kids really enjoyed the Northern Lights exhibit. In this exhibit, you can lay on your back and experience the northern lights and the Finnish folklore behind them. We also enjoyed learning about the history and culture of Lapland by completing a scavenger hunt that the children were presented when we checked in. Whether learning about the native animals or about the indigenous people of the region there was so much to learn while at Arktikum!
The Pilke Museum is a science museum has exhibits that help you see the forest in a whole new way. Similar to a children’s museum in the states, Pilke has many hands-on activities to help the children learn.
There were so many exhibits that my children loved. My oldest really loved getting behind the wheel of a forestry machine. The special arts & craft section in the middle museum was my daughter’s favorite. She was able to create a special Christmas craft. My youngest loved the pretend saw to cut wood and the train set with a logging truck. Let’s not leave out the parents 🙂 Mom and dad loved singing karaoke on an anthill (you’ll have to watch our youtube video to catch a glimpse of that 🙂 ) This was a lovely museum and my kids definitely asked to come again. Unfortunately our schedule did not allow us to do so but we hope to visit again someday in the future!
Korundi is the Art Museum in Rovaniemi. The museum features works from artists who either work in the North or were born there. My oldest son and I visited this museum on our own. My youngest two were sick so we felt like it was a perfect time for our visit to the museum. We had such a nice time together. The exhibits were nicely spaced and several had benches were you could sit and just take in the art. The museum also had a nice little gift shop and a small refreshment area. While this was a great place to visit with my oldest, I don’t know that it would have been appropriate to bring my three-year-old to.
Family Outing With Happy Fox
When I was planning our things to do in Rovaniemi, I knew that I wanted to find activities that were family-friendly. There are a lot of companies that have outings but they are often for large groups of people. Anyone with children knows that flexibility is key to having a good experience when you are traveling.
When scouring the internet and the Visit Rovaniemi site I came across an outing with a company called Happy Fox. The excursion I booked was the Family Winter Fun excursion which lasts 4 hours. Our hosts were Mika and Kristina. From the moment they picked us up until they dropped us off, they put their full energy into making our experience the best it could be. I appreciated that not only were they great hosts, but they were fully committed to the safety of our family.
Our family fun time included a snowmobile pulled sled on the frozen river, skiing, ice fishing, and lots of sledding on a variety of sleds. It was such a precious time of playing together as a family. Mika & Kristina graciously answered all the questions we had about the culture (and I’m a question-asker 😳). They were also very organized. They always had the next activity ready before my kids could even ask “what’s next?” We finished our time together by eating sausages, berry juice, coffee, and tea in a traditional kata. It was such a beautiful day.
Husky Tour & Farm Visit
We’ve never been husky sleigh riding and/or driving (it’s really not that popular in Florida 😂) so it was at the top of our list of things to do when traveling to Rovaniemi. I contacted a variety of tour groups to find the perfect fit for our family. Boy what a beautiful fit that I came across Husky and Yoga Nature.
We spent our time with Aksana & Antti and their beautiful Siberian Huskies. We booked the private family excursion which included a lengthy sleigh ride, hot drinks, pancakes, and lots of snuggle time with the dogs.
The beauty of this outing vs going with one of the larger outfitters was all the personal touches. We truly felt as if we were part of Aksana & Antti’s family. You could tell that the dogs are considered part of their family in the sweet demeanor they had when interacting with the children.
I’m not gonna lie I was a little nervous when they told me I was going to be driving one of the sleds (I went thinking I was going to be sitting cozy dozy in the sleeping bag with the kids). However, they were so kind teaching me and getting me going that within minutes I was loving it! My oldest son even got to drive a little with dad for the very last part of our trip which was special. We loved our time with Husky Yoga and Nature and highly recommend them to families looking for a great place for a Husky ride.
Another experience we considered when thinking about things to do in Rovaniemi was skiing at Ounasvarra Park. Ounasvarra Park is a ski resort in the heart of Rovaniemi. Again we didn’t have enough time to do this activity but if we would have had more time we definitely would have.
Ounasvarra offers 13 slopes that include a variety of skill levels. I really love that they have a special section called Rendi’s Snow World for the younger kids in your family. This section includes a child slope that provides a safe place for little ones to learn to ski. It also has a tubing section.
If you have older children in your family you might want to try the winter toboggan course that Ounasvarra offers. For children 12 years old or older, the toboggan course is a separate 800-meter course that is made specifically for sledding. The sleds have steering wheel and brake to help control your speed. Ounasvarra is a great place to have a day of family fun in Rovaniemi.
Hunting The Northern Lights
Hunting the Northern Lights was definitely something we were looking forward to on our trip to Rovaniemi, Finland. I did quite a bit of researching before going to figure out what was the best way to see the Northern Lights. While there are many service providers who will attempt to help you see the Northern Lights, the weather is the big determining factor as to whether you will see the lights or not.
We had been given the advice not to take a tour but rather rent a car and search for the Northern Lights on our own. We decided to take this option and in the long run we were happy with this decision. In order to help our hunt we downloaded the Aurora Alert! app which will give you a signal once the northern lights are visible in Rovaniemi. We also downloaded Aurora Forecast & Alert which is also helpful for identifying when there might be the possibility to see the Northern Lights.
While our recommendation for the Northern Lights would definitely be the same-to hunt on your own, some people are just more comfortable going with a local. If you would like to hire someone to take you in search of the Northern Lights you can find a list of providers at Visit Rovaniemi.
In the end we did not get to see the Northern Lights but we had a good time in search of them 🙂 Read more about that in the hiking section below!
Hiking in Rovaniemi
While hiking might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of things to do with kids in Rovaniemi (especially in the winter), it really was a fun activity for our family.
When we started looking for a place to view the Northern Lights we came across the Ounasvaara winter trail. If I’m honest I was a little nervous when my husband mentioned taking the kids on a hike at night. Thankfully the trail was well-groomed and once our eyes adjusted there was plenty of light from the moon to light the way. We were thankful that we had our headlamps that we had brought available if we needed them. We were also thankful to have a sled to pull our youngest in.
When we were planning for our trip to Rovaniemi we were told about laavu’s which are traditional Finnish shelters. These shelters are often stocked with wood and a great place to camp while waiting to see the Northern lights. The Ounasvaara Winter Trail was our choice because it included an observation tower and a laavu. This hike was perfect for little legs as it wasn’t too long and as I mentioned it was well-groomed. Since we were in search of the Northern Lights, we were on this trail at night.
Once we arrived at the laavu and lookout tower we realized that the steps up the lookout tower were very steep and covered in ice. We decided my husband would go up with my oldest first to assess the situation. They went up and said the view was gorgeous but that we needed to be very careful going up and coming back down. We decided it was too dangerous for the three-year-old so my daughter and I went up next. If I’m honest I’d tell you I was pretty scared, but the views at the top were unbelievable. From the top of the tower you could see the entire skyline of the city. I’m pretty sure this view would be gorgeous no matter what time of the year you visit.
Visiting Rovaniemi, Finland was an amazing experience for our family. There are a couple of additional tips we would like to share for when you visit Rovaniemi.
If you have small children having a sled is a must. We pulled our smallest around in a sled all through Santa Claus Village, on our hike, and we used it just to ride of course.
When visiting a new place sometimes it is difficult to find kid-friendly places to eat. Our favorite place we ate in Rovaniemi was Siipiravintola Wingston . We were referred to this restaurant by a local. We really enjoyed not only the food but the family-friendly atmosphere as well.
One of our favorite stores to purchase our sleds, food, and other necessities at was the K City Market. This store is very similar to Walmart in the states. It is not located right in the city but it is only a short drive away and we found the prices more affordable.
Remember that the location of Rovaniemi means there is only about 3 hours of daylight in the winter (possibly less depending on when you visit). Be sure to keep this in mind when planning your excursions/outings as it gets quite a bit colder once the sun has gone down.
Rovaniemi is such a great place to visit with kids. It has amazing things to do with kids and such kind and authentic people. If Rovaniemi, Finland is not already on your travel bucket list stop what your doing and add it now 🙂
Please leave us a comment below and let us know any questions you have about things to do in Rovaniemi. If you have any other questions about Rovaniemi we’d like to help you with those as well. Remember to sign up for our newsletter and join us over on Instagram where we are also sharing our adventures in Rovaniemi, Finland. Be sure to also subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the notification bell so you will be notified when all of our Rovaniemi videos are uploaded. Stay Peachy!