Travelers might find themselves in Rovaniemi either on a pitstop on their way to the deeper north, coming to visit Santa Claus in his village, or in search of a real life winter wonderland in the untouched nature complete with the aurora borealis in the proximity of a city. Rovaniemi is the capital of Finnish Lapland. It’s huge by land area, small by population, so there’s plenty of room to roam for those seeking solitude from the tourist masses of the super popular travel destinations in the world. Besides the Santa Claus village, here are the other three things to do in Rovaniemi recommended by a local.
- Vaattunkiköngäs hiking area
There are several easy trails, long and short. They take you through snowy fairytale forests, across bridges over icy rivers, to several laavus (traditional, ethnic lean-tos) where you can stop for a rest or make a fire to cook. The area starts at around 15-20 minutes drive outside the city.
- Rotary park and Arktikum area
Rotary park consists of perfect-looking Christmas trees planted in a perfect wheel, or some might stay star, formation when viewed from above, so I would strongly suggest bringing a drone to this location if you have one. The surrounding natural forest is beautiful too, and it’s close to the Arktikum museum and its Arctic garden. The museum is worth to visit for anyone interested to learn more about the Arctic.
- The library and theatre buildings by Alvar Aalto
The city of Rovaniemi suffered a near-total destruction in 1944 when it was burned down by the retreating Germans’ scorched-earth military strategy in the War of Lapland. The rebuilding was taken part in by Finland’s architecture superstar Alvar Aalto, who designed several buildings for the city that showcase his world-renowned, modern, functionalist design. They include theatre and library that make for a delightful visit for architecture and culture enthusiasts. The Rovaniemi City Library has a comprehensive collection with a section for Lapland and the Arctic region themed literature specifically, in many languages.