Traveller By Birth

An influencing photo travel blog where exploration is limitless

Rovaniemi : Happiest Destination of Finland

I am writing this article to drag your attention towards this one small city in Finland called Rovaniemi. It might be a small city but it contains worldly happiness and can give you the time of your life. Trust me when I say that, Rovaniemi is the happiest destination of Finland.

From Helsinki to Rovaniemi:

We took a train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi. You can select a train time as per your choice as overnight trains are available too. The journey is about 9 hours. There are direct trains and also the ones that you can change from Oulu.

Train Journey Experience:

Nine hours appear to be a huge amount of time but it went by quite fast because of two reasons.

Eurail:

One being Eurail, the most buttery and meticulous train journey I’ve had until now. We had to change our train from Oulu and we had only seven minutes for that act. Unbelievably we accomplished the same in less than four minutes. Europe trains are on the dot. It reaches perfectly even if the time to reach is as imperfect as 16:13. All along I sat with the time-table in my hand hoping for the train to be not a single minute late since changing train in seven minutes already was a panicky moment. However, they were spot on and the deed was done impeccably.

My Finnish Lapland Story of Rovaniemi
View from the train window
Journey:

Second reason was the journey itself. The voyage from the south to the north of Finland through the window was utterly picturesque, yet what I relished was observing life and simple human virtues. A girl, who probably came home for vacation, rushing and hugging her little sister; an old lady carrying herself on a wheelchair confidently without anyone’s help from the train to the taxi; a suitcase of a Chinese man slid on its wheels across the aisle of the train making our whole compartment shake with laughter.

Quote by me:

That is what travelling is all about. It is serendipity, an art-form, a skill that makes you humble and liberal.

On Reaching Rovaniemi:

My Finnish Lapland Story of Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi train station

As soon as we reached the station, I don’t know from where the cheerful vibes hit me. I was giggling and jumping, taking pictures, dragging my suitcase, enjoying the drizzle and then the reality struck when I had to figure out how to reach to the Santa Claus Holiday Village.  We already had our cottages booked in the village. Consequently, taking a cab was an only option left for us, since it was bit late at night, about quarter past nine. Moreover, the services of the one and only bus no. 8 that runs in Rovaniemi, stops at 5 PM.

 

Santa Claus Holiday Village:

Rovaniemi is the last small town in the north of Finland before the country enters the Arctic Circle and it is considered to be the official residence of Santa Claus. At the stretch of this town, is located, Santa Claus Holiday Village, where the main post office of Santa is situated and is right in the middle of where the Arctic circle crosses.

“If you think Disneyland is the happiest place in the world, your perception might change after visiting Santa Claus Holiday Village.”

My Finnish Lapland Story of Rovaniemi
Me at the Arctic Circle

We stayed in the cottage, lit up our very own Christmas tree outside the cottage, met and chatted with Santa and it was Christmas all over again in August for us. It is such a joyful place where everyone greets you with a wide toothy smile and a chirpy face. Somehow, I noticed that everyone working in the village has this gleeful ‘ho ho ho’ type of Santa voice which is effective enough to instantly lift the spirits of the visitors. Everyone is super friendly, funny and marshmallow-y; they make sure that not even a single shred of gloominess enters the site.

There are separate edifices deployed as restaurants, souvenir and clothing stores.

Santa Claus Official Post Office:

Also, in the Official Post Office, one can select Christmas cards from the store and send them to anyone, anywhere in the world by dropping them into either of the yellow and red post-boxes marked as ‘Today’ and ‘Christmas’ respectively.

My Finnish Lapland Story of Rovaniemi
My family and I with Santa Claus

I thought of surprising my childhood friend in California and wrote her a card wishing Merry Christmas and posted it in the red post box which she received right on the Christmas Eve of that very year, making her overwhelm with astonishment, to my intent.

Night at the Santa Claus Holiday Village:

At night, although the sky never went too dark for a night to happen, the luminous Christmas trees of every occupied cottage and the candle bridge lights visible from the windows gave eggnog warmth to the magical aura. After all, I studied at a Convent school and have always believed in the magic of Christmas.

My Finnish Lapland Story of Rovaniemi
Christmas Tree of our cottage
Huskies and Reindeers:

Huskies and Santa’s dearest Reindeers have a home here. We fed them some broad leaved grass hay and sedges. Reindeers are quite vulnerable during fall as they shed their velvet skin under which a new antler grows every year during this season. On the contrary, they are very active during winter making them a best fit for Santa’s sleigh.

In Finland, hunting and selling reindeer’s hide and meat is legal. Finnish folks blissfully devour on the reindeer meat, the hides become either rugs, jackets or a door curtain of a teepee and the antlers serve as decorations.

Rovaniemi: Happiest Destination of Finland
Rovaniemi: Happiest Destination of Finland
Rovaniemi: Happiest Destination of Finland

Hiking Experience inside the Arctic Circle:

Apart from having a sugarplum time, we also went for a midnight hike inside the Arctic Circle and encountered the ‘Midnight Sun’ of the Finnish Lapland. The walk in the forest was breathtakingly beautiful and I have never felt this closest to the nature ever; a polka dot design made on the ground by mushrooms, the sound of the gushing water, feel of the crispy chill and the whiff of the purest air my lungs have ever experienced.

Types of Berries:

All types of berries grow abundantly in the Scandic regions. Amongst them, we found a lot of blueberries, blackberries and lingonberries’ plants growing wildly here and there. Another type of berry, cloudberry, also known as Lapland’s gold, pops up in July and stays ripe for only three weeks. Alas! We couldn’t get our hold onto those in August. For the reason that, those were, probably, already picked by the locals for their exclusive cloudberries jams, tarts and liqueurs, which are a dominant part of the Finnish cuisine.

Rovaniemi: Happiest Destination of Finland
Rovaniemi: Happiest Destination of Finland
Rovaniemi: Happiest Destination of Finland
Rovaniemi: Happiest Destination of Finland
My Finnish Lapland Story of Rovaniemi
Camp Fire Roasted Corn-on-the-cob

We stopped for a break at a camp site, picked fresh and misty blueberries, gnawed on a camp-fire roasted corn-on-the-cob with a glass of lingonberry juice.

Kuksa (The traditional cup of Finland):

Fortunately, we came across a Scandinavian hiker who introduced us to a “Kuksa”. It is a traditional cup made of a birch wood and the tradition says that you either have to carve it one for yourself from a birch gnarl or receive it as a gift from someone else. No people residing in Lapland leaves their house without a Kuksa hanging from their back pack. It can last a lifetime, if cured properly with a brandy, and can withstand the constant fluctuation of hot and cold liquids and temperature.

My Finnish Lapland Story of Rovaniemi
My personalized “Kuksa”
My Finnish Lapland Story of Rovaniemi
Me at the hike

Finland might only be about Nokia or Helsinki to the utmost, for most people, but to get to the core of the Finnish culture, one must extend their journey towards the Lapland.

Hike into the Arctic Forest:
My Finnish Lapland Story of Rovaniemi
Hike deep into the forest

Furthermore, we continued our hike until midnight, walked on the wooden trail in the middle of the swamps, deeper into the Arctic forest, inhaling in the pine trees aroma and capturing the scenes as much possible into our brains through our eyes, since I had given up on taking pictures at that point of time.

Some awestruck moments are better experienced in tranquil rather than trying to fill it up in a memory card. I fancy infiltrating myself while amidst nature, but the photographer bug in me goes in an opposite direction creating turmoil in my head. Yet, I manage both somehow.

On returning, we took a detour on our way out and came up against a boulder which was said to be a remnant of an ice age. Loitering on the wooden bridges, we halted to notice the water of the stream had a distinctive cola colour. Not quite sure about the reason, but it, may be, due to excessive rock abrasion.

Pasmajarvi Lake:

Exiting the hiking area, we drove back towards our cottage. It was almost one in the morning but we still took one last stop at the Pasmajarvi Lake. It was almost impossible to figure out that whether the sun was trying to set or rise. The pine trees reflected on the lake and the sky gave an orange and greyish hue to the lake water. A boat lied in solitude in a corner. The sight was parallel to a dream.

It had been a very chilly night but thanks to the sauna in our cottage that I steamed up my exhaustion and the rest of the night-time went in a restful sleep.

Farewell, Rovaniemi:

Another morning we decided to check out the city. Hence taking the bus no. 8, we reached at the city centre. We walked around the town, explored bits and parts, shopped at a Finnish famous Marimekko store and ran back to catch the bus because we couldn’t afford to miss it.

Afterwards, collecting our luggage and gloominess, we bid adieu to this wonderful town and flew back to Helsinki.

My Finnish Lapland Story of Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi City Centre

What Rovaniemi is to me:

To my way of thinking, Rovaniemi crowns it all; where utopia is unwrapped in the form of Santa Claus Holiday Village, soul is soothed within the depth of ethereal nature and minds are widened exponentially with the understanding of culture other than your own.

Hugging my memories and experiences close to my heart, I am now on my way for a new adventure as my globetrotting spirit says that exploration is limitless.


Hope my story of Rovaniemi was an interesting read for you. Show your reactions by clicking on the smiley, share the article and don’t forget to drop a comment below.

Travel often and become a story-teller! 

 

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44 thoughts on “Rovaniemi: Happiest Destination of Finland

  1. Though I never made it to Rovaniemi, I spent a lot of time in Finnish Lapland and loved it. We were there during the middle of winter so it looked very different from this – but still a beautiful part of the world to experience.

  2. This is awesome! I would love to do this. I am an absolute Christmas nut. Thank you for sharing and exposing me to another fun experience to add to my bucket list.

    1. Thank you so much <3 I totally get you. When I read about it, I was like I want to visit this place no matter what. I'm glad I introduced you to this amazing experience. 🙂 <3

  3. Totally bookmarked it! A colleague of mine will be sent to Finland for a conference. I don’t know when exactly but I’ll be sharing this post with her. She’ll gonna love this!

  4. I’ve been looking at visiting Scandinavia in June so I will definitely be researching Rovaniemi more before my trip – I love a scenic train journey!

  5. I’ve not made it to Finland yet, but this is so pretty & cool! I love the Arctic circle line painted on the ground – that’s awesome, I would have posed for the same picture.

  6. This place is so awesome! I would love to visit and stand over the Arctic Circle line. I enjoy small, relatively unknown towns and area so, I know I will enjoy a place like this. Plus, there seems to be beautiful nature around it. Train is my favorite mode of transportation. Hoping in and getting from one place to another feels so seamless. Wish we had more train options on the US.

    1. I totally agree. In US, it becomes hard without having a car. Thanks a lot for your sweet comment. Rovaniemi is such an amazing place, I cannot think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy it. 🙂

  7. For me it definitely looks like more fun than Disneyland! Wow, after reading this post, I would love to take the next flight and train to Rovaniemi 😀 This place sounds so lovely!

    1. I picked the place because of the same reason and then I discovered the city as a whole so unique that I’m glad I went to Rovaniemi. Thank you for your lovely comment 🙂

  8. To be honest, I don’t know much about tourism in Finland. When I think about the country, Frozen comes to mind. (or was that Norwegian? hmm) Anyway, now I know that Rovaniemi is a place to visit, thanks to you.

    1. Frankly speaking I was same as you before I was planning for Scandinavia. I had no idea what Finland has to offer but only the pictures of this place took my breath away and in real, it is truly amazing. I’m glad I was able to introduce Rovaniemi to you 🙂

  9. You said a few of the magic words to me in this article: HIKING, MIDNIGHT SUN, and BERRIES. WILD BERRIES literally make me complete in life, and the nature looks unmatched, so pristine here. What an adventure you had, and great that it was with Family.

  10. This is the first time I saw a picture of Santa with beard touching his lap. That is really cool! How fun it must be to have this experience. And as always, Finland’s landscape and nature makes me want to visit the country.

  11. Oh yeah! I also want to visit Santa in his hometown one day 🙂
    So far I have always been scared off by the temperatures up there… great read

  12. What a delightful trip! I love your description of the clean, fresh air, it was almost intoxicating to imagine breathing in such purity 🙂 Finland is a place that I’ve always been interested in visiting, and this looks like a must see once I finally make it there. How could I miss reindeer, hiking and Santa Claus?!

    1. Yay! I am glad you loved my writing style. Thank you so much. That was a huge compliment <3 and yes, you shall not miss Rovaniemi at all. I will be looking forward to read about your experiences after your visit. 🙂

  13. I actually really loved Rovaniemi for all the winter sports! I found the Santa Village to be a bit too commercialized, but I loved posting a postcard to myself and getting a stamp from there 🙂

  14. Hi never heard of this place either, but it looks awesome, loved your photos and the detailed info you provided, deffo a place to add to my list of places to visit as ot too far from UK. Bookmarked for future reference.

  15. This village looks magical! I love Christmas and I’ve always wanted to visit Lapland at Christmas time, but I like that you can visit this village anytime! I’m so jealous haha 🙂

  16. I am by no means one of those intense Christmas people but this looks INCREDIBLE! I love the ability to post a letter from the arctic circle, and such good luck you had with the date of arrival!

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