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; t 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.