Rovaniemi, also known as “the official hometown of Santa Clause” is a city of contrasts. While the actual downtown area may be called functional yet not exactly picturesque, the capital of Lapland is set in a beautiful river delta of Kemijoki and Ounasjoki. The view from the riverbanks of Ounaskoski Camping makes up for the lack of a charming city centre.
Most tourists will probably come to Rovaniemi in search for the joulupukki or napapiiri. Conveniently, Santa and the Artic Circle can be found right next to each other in a place that’s every inch as tacky as it’s name suggests: Santa Clause Village. Here, Santa can be met in his office almost every day of the year. I’m sure in the winter time there must be a different, maybe even magical feel to it, but in bright July sunlight it’s a bit odd. Mats has no interest in meeting Santa anyway and so Markus is the only one who pays the poor guy a visit on this very slow day at the office.
There is a bit more to Rovaniemi though. If you are interested in the Artic climate, animals and living conditions as well as Sámi culture, the Arktikum museum might be for you. Worth visiting with kids of all ages is Pilke center right next door where you can learn about the Finnish forest. The exhibitions are very hands-on and attract visitors of all ages. Also, if you enjoy arts, Kulttuuritalo Korundi, home to the Rovaniemi Art Museum and chamber orchestra, should be on your list of places to see.