Santa holding our baby in Santa's Village in Rovaniemi, Finland
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Everything about Santa Claus Village in Finland (by a Local)

Everything you need to know about visiting Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland. Here are our tips as locals to help you get the best out of your trip.

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Santa Claus Village is truly a magical place! We have visited multiple times both in winter and summer time, and we have always had so much fun. Kids love it, adults love it, and if nothing else, you will find yourself in true Christmas spirit. Or if you get very lucky you might even see a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

Santa Claus Village is located in Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland. It is a quite remote place in the northern part of the country, right at the Artic Circle. Rovaniemi is over 500 miles (833 kilometres) from the capital city of Finland, Helsinki.

Lapland is home to the indigenous Sami people who have been inhabiting the area for thousands of years. Their culture and traditions can be seen in many ways in Lapland, especially in reindeer herding. You might hear them speaking the Sámi language, which is an officially recognized language in Finland.

The official languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish.

Christmas tree decorated with flags in Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi, Finland.

Here are some answers to common questions about visiting Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi:

How to get to Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi

As I mentioned earlier, Rovaniemi is a quite remote place and located in a less populated area of Finland. However, there are many ways to get there depending on your budget.

By Air

I would first check if there are any airlines flying directly to Rovaniemi Airport from your country. Or if you are planning to explore Finnish Lapland further, you might be flying to Kittilä, Ivalo or Kuusamo.

Most people end up flying to Helsinki and from there to Rovaniemi as the flight time is only about an hour and fifteen minutes.

By Train

Another way to get to Rovaniemi from Helsinki is by train. The train ride however, is very long.

The normal train will take you there in 8.5 hours, but most people choose the Santa Claus Express which is a night train. The night train takes about 12 hours, but you can get a cabin with a bed and sleep the whole way. If you have a car, you can even bring it with you on the train.

Trains and airplanes in Finland are quite comfortable and mostly run on time. Sometimes during the winter the extremely cold weather might cause some delays. Trains usually have a separate car for kids to play as well as a restaurant car.

Our daughter sliding down a slide in Finnish train's playcar.
Our daughter playing in the play area in a Finnish train.

When booking a train ticket, make sure to choose the direct train with no transfers, so you don’t have to drag your luggage in and out of the train. However, a train from Helsinki Airport usually requires a transfer at Tikkurila.

If you need to stay the night by Helsinki Airport, Clarion Hotel Aviapolis is our favorite airport hotel.

Also, you are better off booking your train ticket as early as possible as VR (the local railway company) has adopted a new pricing policy where the tickets now cost more, closer to departure.

By Car

Many locals drive to Rovaniemi, but it takes over 10 hours from Helsinki without including any stops.

If you are driving during the winter, the speed limits are slower than at summer, and the roads can be icy especially in Lapland. Oh, and watch out for the reindeer on the road!

However, if you do have car you can combine visiting Arctic Ocean in Norway or Sweden to your trip like we have done.

Rental cars are available both in Helsinki and Rovaniemi.

Reindeer on the road in Finnish Lapland.

Things to do at Santa Claus Village in Finland

Visit Santa

Isn’t that why we all go there? Santa meets people in his office at the main building of Santa Claus Village. He is there everyday from 9 AM to 6 PM. The hallway leading to Santa’s Office has many things to see. They have decorations, presents and little peak holes on the walls for kids. It’s so fun and exciting for kids!

Meeting Santa in his office is free of charge, but they do sell a photo package after the visit. On our first visit we did purchase the package, but the last time, we chose just to get one photo.

The photos were good quality and the package had several of them with the whole family and also just Santa with our kids. It also included some general photos of Santa’s Village and a video of us meeting him.

Each time we have been there meeting Santa has been very pleasant. We haven’t felt rushed at all, even though the line behind us was sometimes long. Last time Santa asked us many questions and we did manage to give our Christmas list to him too. Now, we are just waiting for him to come visit us!

Way to Santa's Office is marked with a huge sign at Santa Claus Village.
Our daughter peaking through an elf hole on the wall on the Santa's office.
Our daughter in the hallway on her way to Santa's office.

Walk over the Artic Circle line

Santa Claus Village sits right on top of the Arctic Circle at latitude 66°33′45.9″. So one can literally just walk over the Arctic Circle line while visiting Santa.

If you visit SantaPark located right next to Santa Claus Village, you will be able to cross the Arctic Circle underground and get a diploma as proof that you did it.

Blogger Paula standing on the Artic Circle line.
Santa's Village has a sign telling the distance to most big cities.

Send a postcard

Santa Claus Village has a post office where you can mail cards and get them stamped with a special Artic Circle postage stamp. It’s a great way to surprise family and friends back home.

I have also heard of people stamping their actual passports with the Artic Circle stamp. It sounds very cool, but I don’t recommend it. Some countries are very specific that passports not have anything in them but official stamps from border control, and might deny you entry based on the extra stamps.

Our daughter picking up a postcard at Santa's Village to send it to her friends.

shop some souvenirs

There are many little shops and souvenir stores in Santa’s Village. You can buy things like t-shirts and magnets, but also local crafts and foods.

Popular items are reindeer skins, bells and things made out of reindeer horn. If you want to take home some local treats, then Fazer chocolates and candies are the best!

Underneath Santa’s office there is a shop where elves sell all kinds of cute Christmas decorations. And if you like Finnish design, then you should stop at the Iittala, Pentik and Marimekko stores.

Reindeer bells at souvenir shop in Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi.
Our daughter together with an elf in one of the shops.

Try out Finnish delicacies

There are quite a few restaurants in Santa’s Village to choose from. You can find anything from pizza to Asian food with both casual and fine dining options. Vegetarian food is not difficult to find either and gluten free or lactose free food is served in almost every restaurant.

Some local dishes are reindeer stew or fried vendace served with mashed potatoes and lingonberries. You can even find a reindeer burger which is quite delicious!

A traditional dessert is oven baked cheese served warm with cloudberries.

The tip is always included on the bill in Finland and the service staff gets paid fairly well compared to most other countries. So in general, you don’t have to tip, but if you are super happy with the service, then the staff will for sure appreciate it.

A local delicacy is reindeers stew served with smashed potatoes and lingonberries.
Reindeer stew
Fried vendace and smashed potatoes is a delicious dish.
Fried vendace

Pet a reindeer

After meeting Santa and crossing the Arctic Circle, you should head behind the buildings at Santa’s Village and go meet the reindeer. Elf’s Farmyard has many animals such as reindeer, alpacas, sheep, goats and rabbits. You can pet reindeer and also book a forest walk together with them. Or the kids can go riding with ponies.

Santa Claus Reindeer Resort is also a great place to see reindeer and is located right behind Santa’s Office just like Elf’s Farmyard. They offer different kinds of reindeer sleigh rides and snowmobile safaris. For a small fee, you can also pet and take photos with reindeer if you are not interested in the sleigh rides.

Reindeer are fairly calm and docile animals who often let people pet them. While driving around Finnish Lapland, you can sometimes see hundreds of reindeer as they herd freely around the northern parts of Finland.

Ride huskies

Husky rides are a popular activity in Finnish Lapland and there are couple different places at Santa Claus Village to find them.

For example Artic Circle Husky Park organises unforgettable experiences with sleigh rides, hikes and kennel visits. They have over 100 Siberian Huskies that you get to pet and hug, and they operate right by the Santa Claus Village.

If you want to experience both; reindeer and huskies, this tour is the best!

Meet Mrs. Claus

Behind Santa Claus Village and Santa Claus Reindeer Resort is Mrs. Santa Claus’ Christmas Cottage. There you can meet Mrs. Claus, chat with her and purchase a photo taken together with her.

Mrs. Claus Cottage has a small entrance fee and it is recommended to book your visit before in advance. The cottage is open from November to April. You can make a reservation here.

Visit SantaPark

SantaPark is actually not part of Santa Claus Village, but I want to mention it because we enjoyed it quite a bit.

It is a theme park built underground in a huge cavern. There is a fee to get in, but it includes unlimited time to explore everything they have. And I totally thought it was worth the money.

Some of the attractions are the Magic Train, Elf School and Elf Show, crossing the Arctic Circle underground, meeting the Ice Princess at the Ice Gallery, decorating cookies with Mrs. Gingerbread and doing crafts at Elf’s Workshop.

Santa Claus himself is of course there too, and they have their own Post Office.

Two cute teacher elves gave us a lecture at Elf School in SantaPark.
Elves doing an acrobatic show at SantaPark.

There is so much to do in Finnish Lapland and Santa’s Village is only a small part of it.

The most popular activities are husky safaris, northern lights tours and reindeer sleigh rides. Oh, and snow mobiling for sure! Rovaniemi has great trails for snowshoeing and they even have a huge snow hotel you can visit.

Arctic SnowHotel has things like an Ice Restaurant, Ice Chapel and even a snow sauna!

This is where you can check out the northern lights forecast.

Best time to visit Santa’s Village

Winter

Winter, and especially December must be the most popular time to visit Santa Claus Village. With all the snow and Christmas right around the corner, it is definitely the most magical time at Santa’s office. But it is also the busiest. We did it once and the line to see Santa was TWO HOURS long!

Above the Artic Circle line you can experience a phenomena called Polar night (kaamos in Finnish), when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon at all. At its longest extent, the Polar night lasts for 52 days, depending on what part of Lapland one is in. So if you are visiting during winter, prepare yourself for the darkness.

January, February and March are also great times to visit. The days will start to get longer and the sun will even come up during the day. There are less tourists which is lovely. And, these are great months for seeing the Northern Lights!

Spring

Spring time in Lapland is nice. Even though the sun is up and it’s getting warmer, the last snow doesn’t melt until May. You might still be able to go skiing. Hiking trails are slowly opening and you can see the nature coming back to life after the long, cold winter.

Spring time is probably the slowest time in Lapland when it comes to tourism, so you might get Santa all to yourself.

Summer

There are pros and cons to visiting Santa’s Village at summertime. We have been there at least two or three times during summer and it has been great.

There are less tourists, no lines and the hotels are much cheaper. June is especially beautiful, because instead of polar night, it is now the opposite: Midnight sun.

Summer of course, is not as Christmassy as winter, but Santa’s Village is always special. It’s warm and the nature in Lapland is just beautiful. It is definitely my favorite time of the year, but be prepared to meet the local air force: mosquitos!

Fall

Fall is my least favorite time in Finland, because it is very dark and rainy. However, in Lapland the fall is beautiful. Many people travel there just to be in the nature and see the foliage.

The forests are full of blueberries, lingonberries, cloudberries and mushrooms, and by Finnish law, everyone has the right to pick them. Don’t forget to bring your rain boots!

What to wear in Finland at winter

The winters in Finnish Lapland can be quite harsh depending on the year. The northern part of Finland usually gets snow at the end of October and it doesn’t start melting until April or May. Temperatures can be anything from 0C to -35C (from 32F to -31F) so bring your warmest clothes with you!

Use layers under your other clothes. As a base layer Finns often use thermal underwear with long sleeves. If you are unable to get thermal underwear, leggings will also do the job.

As a mid layer we use warm fleece or wool shirts and sweat pants. This is the layer that other people will see when you go inside and remove your jacket.

Your outer layer should be a warm, water proof jacket and pants, or overalls.

The locals often use wool socks (villasukka) inside their shoes to keep their toes warm. They are hand knitted and you can find many different designs sold even at Santa’s Village. On top of their regular gloves they might pull wool mittens (lapanen) or insulated mittens. They are perfect for the cold weather and snow play.

Kids are especially vulnerable to get frostbite, so pay extra attention to their little fingers, toes and ears. When the weather is very cold you can lift the scarf to cover most of their face and add a hoodie, or a second hat on their head. This helps since people lose about 80% of their body heat through their head.

If you are planning a tour such as snowmobiling or dog sledding, they often give you warm overalls to wear.

Blogger Paula next to a giant snowman at Santa's Village in Finland.
Santa Claus Village thermometer reminding us that it was -15C.

How much time is needed to the visit Santa’s Village

Santa’s Village is not huge, but you can easily spend a whole day there. Especially during the busiest time, you should be prepared for a wait to see Santa, and sometimes even restaurants too.

If you are not interested in the shops at Santa’s Village then half a day might be enough for you.

If you are planning to do all the activities like the reindeer walk, or a visit to SantaPark, it’s better to reserve a whole day at Santa’s Village. You came all this way to meet Santa, so allow yourself some time to explore without being in a rush.

Where to stay at Rovaniemi

There are many great hotels in downtown Rovaniemi. I would recommend Arctic Light Hotel and Arctic City Hotel. We have also stayed at Scandic Pohjanhovi and it was a very nice, basic hotel with a great complimentary breakfast.

If you like shopping or exploring restaurants then it is better to stay downtown.

If you want to stay closer to Santa’s Village though, then Santa Claus Holiday Village is perfect! We stayed there one winter and absolutely loved it.

They have little cottages that have two separate apartments. We stayed in one and my brother’s family stayed in the other apartment, so we basically had the whole cottage to ourselves.

Most apartments at Santa Claus Holiday Village are for four people but they do have a family suite which accommodates five guests. Every unit has a kitchenette which is great when you are traveling with kids.

And the best part is that they all have a sauna. What a luxury! It is part of Finnish culture and something you should try out for sure.

When staying at Santa Claus Holiday Village you can walk to Santa’s Village and restaurants over there in five minutes. The parking is free and their front desk is always open.

If you want to experience something very special then you should try out the Glass Resort. It is located behind Santa Claus Holiday Village, so very close to Santa Claus Village as well.

Their apartments have glass walls and ceilings, and are perfect for spotting the Northern Lights! Each unit also has a private sauna and an outdoor hot tub.

We stayed in a glass villa in Kemi and it was so much fun!

Stay right at Santa’s Village! This was our favourite accommodation.

🎄🎄🎄

Santa Claus Village in Finland is definitely a place our kids will not forget! We are lucky that we are able to visit there often and enjoy the magic of Christmas no matter what time of the year it is. Meeting Santa is always very special!

Our Finland Travel Resources
If you are visiting Helsinki read about our favourite hotels or the day trips you should make from there!
And if you are heading to Lapland, here is everything you should know about Santa Claus Village or SantaPark in Rovaniemi.

🗝 We use this site to book hotels rooms when ever we travel.
🚗 For car rentals we use DiscoverCars everywhere in the world.
📞 If you need data during your stay then Airalo works well in Finland.
✈️ With a Priority Pass you can access over 1300 airport lounges around the world, also in Helsinki.
🗺 When looking for tours we use either Viator or GetYourGuide. They are both great.

Have you been to Santa Claus Village or planning to go? What are your thoughts of it?

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4 Comments

  1. Arctic Circle is my favorite in Finland. You made a great post and presented gorgeous photos. Thank you. Have a good day! Matti

  2. Hi Paula!
    First of all well done for the blog it’s really nice!
    Would you recommend a place to have a dinner ( specially a traditional Finnish!) in the centre of Rovaniemi that is not for tourist and overpriced?

    Thank you Fernanda.

    1. Hi Fernanda!
      Thanks for checking out my blog, I’m so glad you like it! There are plenty of restaurants at Rovaniemi that serve traditional Finnish food and the delicates of Lapland, like reindeer. Fish in different forms is popular and I personally would recommend to try smoked fish. Also salmon soup is a traditional dish. Nature is often seen in the menu, since anyone can freely pick up berries and mushroom from the forests. With reindeer, they often serve lingonberries and mushed potatoes, and if you get a change to try out some oven baked squeaky cheese, it often comes with cloudberries. Finns also eat a lot of rye bread. The closer you get to Santa’s Village or Lapland, the more expensive food gets. You could try restaurants like Nili or Artic Boulevard, but if you really want to try something that locals recommend (and is not so pricey), I would go to Ravintola Roka Bistro. They have both international and Finnish foods. Here is a link to their website. http://www.ravintolaroka.fi/en

      I hope you enjoy your visit!

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