Stay – Rovaniemi is incredibly popular with tourists during the winter months and because of that most accommodations get booked very fast. If you want cheap accommodation, you’ll need to hurry!
A five-star hotel costs between €600 (!) And €150 per night. Four stars cost around €250 to €150 per night, while for a three-star hotel you would pay around €100 and €150.
Is all that luxury not necessary for you? Then you’ll be happy to hear that there are quite a few budget accommodations. These cost €65 for a single room or €35 if you want to spend some time in the only hostel in the city.
Are you addicted to the aurora borealis? Then you can enjoy a unique experience by sleeping under the dancing lights. The Arctic TreeHouse Hotel will cost you about €500 per night, while a night in a glass igloo will cost about the same.
A hotel made entirely of snow, of course, is also an option! The Arctic Snow hotel costs around €180 for a single person, or €250 for a double room.
Nearly all hotels in Rovaniemi are listed on Booking.com. Check the availability and don’t hesitate too long, because sometimes, one a day later you’ll already be charged a hundred euros extra…
Eat – The cost of a restaurant in Rovaniemi isn’t that bad compared to the other costs of this winter town. You can already buy lunch for €9 per person. Dinner is more expensive, but still affordable. Depending on what you take you’ll pay around €15 and €22. A fizzy drink costs €2,5 to €3. A beer € 3,5. Dirt cheap if you compare that with the rest of Finland!
Be sure to try a dish with salmon or reindeer, I assure you: you will not regret it!
Transportation – The center of Rovaniemi is located quite far from a few attractions or landmarks such as the Santa Claus Village, Santa Park or to / from the airport. The cheapest way to get there is by taking public transportation (all are accessible with bus 8). Otherwise you should use a taxi. If you want to join one of the many excursions, you don’t normally have to arrange your own transportation. The companies usually pick up their clients from the hotel.
For public transport (bus) you pay at least € 3,30 per trip in Rovaniemi. For a taxi, you pay € 5,90 as the basic fee and €1,75 per additional kilometer you cover (from the center to the airport, you pay a little more than twenty euros).
There is also an airport taxi for seven euros per person. But during my stay in Rovaniemi (and even afterwards) they never sent back the promised confirmation to pick me up…
Book in advance! – The golden tip to save money in Rovaniemi is to book ahead as much as possible. Excursions won’t necessarily heighten their prices, but they will be sold out quickly. The cost of a hotel on the other hand can increase with tens of euros daily. Don’t hesitate too long when searching for accommodation. Once you like something, I suggest you book it. In most cases you can cancel for free afterwards anyway.
Compare excursions – There are dozens of companies offering trips in the Arctic regions. Of course, some are much more expensive than others! Most excursions are organized completely the same way and therefore paying a higher price just id a waste of money… Look for a wide range of excursions on GetYourGuide and Viator.
Use public transportation – Santa Claus Village and Santa Park is located a few kilometers from the city center. You can walk, but in thick snow this might not be the most comfortable way of visiting. Instead of taking expensive taxis, you can use the excellent public transport in Rovaniemi. A single ticket costs €3,30 and with bus number 8 you get dropped off right in front of Santa Claus Village, Santa Park and the airport.
Snowmobile driving – A ride on the snowmobile takes you flying through the snowy landscapes of Rovaniemi. The beginning is often quite bumpy as you speed through uneven forests, but once you arrive on the thick frozen lake the racing really starts! These excursions are usually combined with a campfire and a small snack. You pay depending on the hours you want to speed on the snowmobile. For one hour you pay €75, two hours €100, €125 for three hours and a full day costs aproximately €200 per person.
Husky sledding – Personally, I liked husky sledding just a bit better than snowmobiling. Your personal carriage is carried further by six dogs who seem to have a never ending supply of energy. The beautiful snowy landscapes flash by while the barking huskies give the best of themselves. The slide down is pretty laid back, but if the terrain isn’t that flat it can get quite hard work to get around! A sleigh ride with the cousins of the wolves starts at around €120.
Aurora Borealis – The northern lights or aurora borealis is mother nature’s most beautiful spectacle. Atoms that traveled for millions of miles are attracted by the poles of the earth. Once they are flown through the earth’s atmosphere, they collide with our oxygen and nitrogen atoms and the resulting energy that is released is visible as the stunning northern lights. The dancing light is breathtaking and you just can’t get enough of this beautiful spectacle! The best chance of seeing the aurora is when there are no (or few) clouds, no fog and no light pollution.
Santa Claus Village – SANTA CLAUS’ OFFICIAL HOMETOWN!!! Everybody should go there, right?! A photo with the good old man isn’t really cheap (€40), but hey… How many times in your life will you visit the real Santa?
Be sure to visit the post office of Santa Claus as well. From here you can send yourself (or family/friends of course) a nice card home OR you can even have it sent by Santa himself!
Santa village has a lot of activities. Go and be curious!
Reindeer rides – Not nearly as active as a ride with huskies, but perfect for younger children. An easy ride behind a reindeer makes you focus more on all the beauty of this arctic region.
The Arktikum – In the center of Rovaniemi there isn’t that much to see, but if you’re there anyway, you should really go visit the Arktikum. In this grand museum you’ll find interesting exhibits about global warming and its impact on Rovaniemi, the Sami (indigenous people of Lapland), and everything to do with the Arctic region. If you are lucky you can the Northern Lights dancing under the glass dome at night.
Santa Park – There is of course also a lot to do for younger children. Santa Park is a great amusement park for young and old. Again, you can meet Santa Claus, but also participate in all sorts of fun workshops and activities that revolve around Christmas.
Forgetting your tripod – If you want to capture the beautiful northern lights capture on your camera, you shouldn’t forget your camera tripod! Without a tripod, there is no way that you can take clear pictures of the dancing, bright light. And you di want to make your friends jealous, right?! Taking pictures of the northern lights is quite difficult, and you need to be able to work with your manual camera settings. Very important is that your shutter speed is well above 10 -15 seconds.
Not wearing a lot of layers – The best way to stay warm in Lapland is to dress yourself in a lot of layers. Thick sweaters and pullovers are less helpful than several layers of clothing. Personally, I always wore an undershirt, a shirt, two or three sweaters and a jacket. Don’t forget to buy some thermal underwear as well. Just wearing a pair of jeans is a little too cold!