Rovaniemi is touted as the capital of Lapland, and while its fairly bland shopping streets are a far cry from the surrounding rural hinterland, the town’s Arctic sensibility makes it worth spending a day here while gearing up for an exploration of the truly wild Northern Finland. The midnight sun is visible from Rovaniemi for several weeks each side of misdummer.

Prepare yourself for what lies further north by visiting the 172m-long glass tunnel of Arktikum at Pohjoisranta 4 (mid-Jan to May & Sept–Nov Tues–Sun 10am–6pm; June–Aug daily 9am–6pm; Dec to mid-Jan daily 10am–6pm; €12). Subterranean galleries house fascinating insights into Sámi culture, the log-floating industry and all things circumpolar.

At Koskikatu 1, Lapland Safaris (branches also all over Lapland, including Inari;016 331 1200), and are the go-to adventure outfit for organizing excursions in Lapland proper, including their wonderful husky rides (€126 per person).

The biggest attractions are outside town. The Arctic Circle, 8km north is connected by hourly bus #8 from the train station (€6.80 return). A few paces north is the Santa Claus Village (daily: early Jan to May 10am–5pm; June–Aug 9am–6pm; Sept–Nov 10am–5pm; Dec to early Jan 9am–7pm; free), a large, very commercialized log cabin where you can meet Father Christmas all year round.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Finland features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
In pictures: brushing shoulders with bears in Finland’s newest national park

In pictures: brushing shoulders with bears in Finland’s newest national park

In 2017, Hossa – an area of pristine wilderness with superb hiking near Finland’s eastern border – will become the country’s 40th national park. Photog…

19 Sep 2016 • George Turner insert_drive_file Article
Brave new world: the quirks of Finland’s saunas

Brave new world: the quirks of Finland’s saunas

To Finns, it is the most natural thing on the planet: disrobing, sweating it out naked in front of strangers in temperatures of 80°C, occasionally self-flagell…

11 Aug 2016 • Luke Waterson insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month