Rovaniemi is one of the most magical places in the world. Main reason for this, Rovaniemi is the official home of Santa Claus. When you visit this place in Winter, with lots of snow and freezing temperatures, it actually feels like you’re visiting the North Pole.
We consider ourselves very, very lucky, because we got to visit Santa Claus in Rovaniemi twice already. After visiting Santa Claus Village two times now, one time in summer and one time in winter, it became one of my favorite places ever visited. And definitely the most magical place.
Because not many people know about Rovaniemi or the fact that it’s Santa’s hometown, and because it simply is my favorite place in Rovaniemi, I want to share all I know about Santa Claus Village in this guide.
About Santa Claus Village
Santa Claus Village is open every day of the year. Basically I would describe Santa Claus Village as the nicest, most cozy and most Christmassy village that exists. Whether you visit Santa Claus Village in Summer, with 35 degrees, or in Winter, the Christmas spirit is always there.
It is said that Ear Mountain in Finland is Santa’s secret hiding place. About a hundred years ago a passer-by started spreading the word about Ear Mountain and its famous inhabitant. To safeguard the tranquility of his secret hiding place, Santa Claus came up with a superb idea. He frequently started visiting the Arctic Circle near Rovaniemi, which allowed him to meet people who love Christmas and the many friends who come to greet him.
Fast forward a few decades to the current time. Nowadays Santa Claus Village is a top tourist destination in Finland, and has even become a significant international center for tourism. Each year, Santa Claus Village attracts more visitors who are provided an ever-growing number of services and attractions.
Santa Claus Village is located in Lapland, Finland. It’s located about 8km north of the city of Rovaniemi city center. Santa Claus Village really can’t be missed with its towers and grand gateway along highway E4 (European route E75). So travelling by car is super easy, just search for Santa Claus Village and you’ll find it!
Travelling locally is also no problem at all. You can reach the Village very easily with local bus nr. 8. If public transport is not really your thing you can order a local taxi. The drive to Santa Claus Village is a short 10-15 minute drive.
To most travelers, the Arctic Circle is something magical. Crossing the Arctic Circle is something many people have on their bucket list. The Arctic Circle is a circle of latitude that runs 66°33′45.9″ north of the Equator. It marks the southernmost latitude where the sun can stay continuously below or above the horizon for 24 hours. These phenomena are known as the Midnight Sun in the Summer and the Polar Night in the Winter.
The Arctic Circle is not always easy to cross, but in Rovaniemi the Arctic Circle runs through Santa Claus Village. It is clearly marked, it really can’t be missed. In Winter, the markers on the ground are obviously not visible, but there is a blue rope with lights which marks the Arctic Circle in Winter.
Santa Claus Office
I think Santa Claus Office is the main tourist attraction in the village and is located in the heart of Santa Claus Village. They have some impressive stats, they have been open every single day of the year since 1992!!
Hundreds and thousands of people of all ages from every part of our globe have visited the world’s nicest man at his Office. Here you will catch a glimpse of Santa’s secrets. One of his biggest secrets is the Earth’s Rotational Speed Regulator. It’s his secret tool to be able to deliver all gifts to everyone around the world in just one night.
When you visit Santa Claus Office you basically walk through his office, factory and warehouse before you meet the big man himself. If you have ever seen a Christmas movie where they show you Santa’s workplace at the North Pole, imagine all of this and more at Santa Claus Office in Rovaniemi. Walking there was like my childhoods dream I never knew I had come true.
Visiting and meeting Santa Claus at his personal office is possible every day of the year. Opening times vary a bit during the seasons. The best thing, visiting Santa is free of charge. Just walk in and you’re warmly greeted by him.
You’re not allowed to take photos or videos yourself, but Santa’s elves will capture your visit from the beginning to the end with premium quality equipment. You can purchase the photos and video after your meeting with Santa. These images are of high quality and the best you can get. And, it’s the best souvenir you can take from Santa Claus Village.
Insiders tip: If you want to visit Santa Claus, try to go there right at opening time or just before closing time. It gives you the best chances of short or even no queues.
Santa Claus Main Post Office
Next to Santa Claus Office, the Santa Claus Main Post Office is the second place where you can see Santa’s (postal) elves at work. If you have ever sent a letter, card or drawing to Santa, it ended up here at Santa Claus Main Post Office.
Did you know that every year Santa receives around half a million letters to his post office in the Arctic Circle? The letters and post arrive from children all over our world.
There is a small display with letters from a lot of countries from all over our world. To show visitors that indeed letters arrive from literally everywhere. They are a full service post office, which means you can send home postcards or even Christmas cards from here.
I think it’s my top recommendation, to send home Christmas cards from Santa Claus Village to your loved ones. These are special in every possible way. The beautiful cards often feature Santa Claus of course and come with unique and one of a kind stamps. Nowhere else in the world will you be able to get these special stamps.
We have sent home Christmas cards to our loved ones in the Summer of 2022. Just before Christmas they arrived and we received very lovely and enthusiastic reactions to these special Christmas cards.
If you decide to send home Christmas cards from Santa Claus Main Post Office, make sure you use the special red post box. The secret behind this post box, all letters put in here will be held and sent for Christmas, not earlier!
House of Mrs. Claus
Even though she is slightly less popular than her husband, we must never underestimate Mrs. Claus. There wouldn’t be Santa Claus without his Mrs. She keeps Santa Claus Village running when Santa is busy delivering presents all around the world, or meeting every one of you at his office in Rovaniemi.
Luckily, you can also meet Mrs. Claus when visiting Santa Claus Village. Her house is located right behind Santa’s Reindeer. It can’t be missed. Mrs. Claus and her elves are waiting for you and can’t wait to meet you. She invites everyone to visit her charming Christmas Cottage. Unlike visiting Santa Claus, a visit to Mrs. Claus isn’t free of charge. The entrance fee is €5. Any extra’s such as a photo with Mrs. Claus or a certificate of visiting Mrs. Claus at her Christmas Cottage come at an additional fee.
Santa Claus Village is today one of the main travel destinations in Finland and northern Europe. At the center of this bustling village is a tiny, unique cabin. This cabin is called Roosevelt Cottage. Did you know that it all started with this cottage? Roosevelt Cabin is the very first building of Santa Claus Village.
Not many people know that Rovaniemi got completely destroyed and burned down by the Germans during WWII. Except for a few buildings, everything in Rovaniemi was burned down to the ground. However, in 1950, Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, came to visit Rovaniemi to witness the rebuilding process. She wanted to visit the Arctic Circle, and Rovaniemi officials rushed to build a cabin eight kilometers north of the city. This cabin marked the birth of Santa Claus Village and still stands today next to Santa Claus Main Post Office.
Today, this unique cabin symbolizes not only the cooperation of America and Finland, but also the idea that when different nations support each other during challenging times, something beautiful and historic like Santa Claus Village can emerge, bringing together millions of tourists and media followers from around the world every year with its fairy-tale Christmas spirit.
Santa Claus Reindeer resort offers reindeer rides and experiences with Santa’s reindeer in Santa Claus Village all year round. In Winter they offer reindeer rides at the village. They offer 400 meter, 1 kilometer and 3 kilometer reindeer rides. The 400 meter ride goes just around the village, where the 3 kilometer ride goes into the forest for the full experience.
As a concrete memory of your sleigh ride you can also get yourself a reindeer driving license. How cool is that, proving you know how to drive Santa’s reindeer. In Summer Santa’s reindeer are less busy and just relaxing and recharging for next Christmas.
Of course you can also visit them in Summer. Summer visits are all about education on the reindeer. You learn a lot about them and get to feed them too.
Through pre-booking they also offer a range of other activities such as Northern Lights reindeer safaris, Arctic Circle crossing ceremony and Summer walks with reindeer.
We visited Santa’s reindeer in Summer and Winter, both truly fantastic experiences. Make sure you pay them a visit when you visit Santa Claus Village.
A village is of course not a real village if there is not something to shop. Luckily Santa Claus Village has plenty of shopping opportunities, and some very interesting and special ones too.
Some of the best and finest shops at Santa Claus Village are the factory outlets of real Finnish brands. Ittala, Marimekko and Pentik have some amazing stores in Santa Claus Village. And I warn you now, it will be hard not to buy anything!
Even though I had never heard of these brands before, I recognized quite a bit when I walked through these stores. Because many hotels and accommodations throughout Finland, and also in Rovaniemi, use these products.
Surprisingly enough Marimekko recently collaborated with Adidas on an exclusive clothing line. And right now they have a collaboration with IKEA. So you might already have been introduced to this Finnish brand without even knowing it.
Not to worry, the village offers a wide range of souvenir shopping opportunities. I think Santa Claus Village is even the best place to get your souvenirs when in Rovaniemi.
Of course, this simply cannot be missed here. Christmas shopping is a must when visiting Santa Claus Village! Personally we collect Christmas ornaments from all our travels around the world. We expand our collection every year and our Christmas tree is becoming more and more international.
It was the number one thing we wanted to bring from Rovaniemi, a Christmas ornament. We found a really nice one, but it was hard to choose. So many Christmas stuff to buy here.
Things to do
Whatever you’re looking for or want to do, Santa Claus Village offers it all. Meeting Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, Santa’s Reindeer, souvenir and Christmas shopping, sending home Christmas cards, there is so much to do. We like to highlight a few of our favorites here.
It’s the ultimate winter activity in Lapland, enjoying a once in a lifetime husky sleigh ride. Luckily for you, the Arctic Circle Husky Park is located right in Santa Claus Village. They offer year round husky activities, so plenty of choices.
The best time of the year, but also the busiest, is in winter. That’s when they offer these amazing husky sleigh rides through the beautiful Rovaniemi nature. You can also visit them in Summer, when they also offer summer rides, but I can tell you, they are not as fun as the ones in Winter.
Summer is the perfect time to visit if you want to know everything about huskies and have some good cuddling time with some of the huskies.
Snowman World is located in Santa Claus Village. And for me, after visiting and meeting Santa Claus this is the best thing in Santa Claus Village. It’s the nr.1 alternative for an ice experience if you’re not staying at the Arctic SnowHotel. Click on the link to read how we slept in an ice hotel.
Snowman World is the most exciting and exhilarating snowy and icy playground of Santa Claus Village. Here you can enjoy a full day of thrilling Winter activities.
There is so much to do here, you need at least half a day to experience it all. There is an Arctic SnowHotel Show Hotel Room, where you can get an idea of what it’s like to experience a night in Arctic conditions.
They also have an Ice Restaurant and Ice Bar, which I think are fantastic. Having dinner or a drink at one of these bars is a must do when visiting Santa Claus Village!
Then there are plenty of activities to do, such as, an Ice Slide, Ice Skating, Snow Labyrinth, a small Snow Slide, and our personal favorite the Big Snow Slide. We visited this place ourselves last February and we had a blast. Way to go for the bracelets you get when you first enter. It allows you to re-enter as often as you like that same day. So we often went back for another ride on the Big Snow Slide.
The Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park is a Finnish family business and they are based in the Santa Claus Village. Basically right behind Santamus Restaurant. Their Mini-Snowmobiles immediately caught my attention when we walked passed here. I could see our nephews and nieces riding these kids snowmobiles instantly when I saw them going. This is such a clever idea, as kids never get to experience the ‘normal’ snowmobiles. They created a mini snowmobile track right next to the office, where kids can have a go on their own.
The Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park also offers a wide range of Summer and Winter activities, so could be your perfect place to go for some fantastic Lapland Winter activities.
Okay, fair enough, Santa’s Motorpark is not actually located in Santa Claus Village. But, it is located right across the street from the village, so that’s why I’m including them anyway here in the blogpost. We went there for a few laps on the ice and it was super awesome. After one test lap you’re ready for the real stuff. And that real stuff is so much fun. You can feel the rear of the kart slipping and sliding constantly. That makes driving challenging but so much fun. The team at the track are young, enthusiastic and super fun guys. They take photos and videos throughout the experience and share them with you before you leave the track.
Santa Claus Village in Winter, with a decent amount of snow, literally makes you feel and think that you’re at the North Pole. Where else in the world would you be able to meet Santa Claus, his reindeer and a lot of his elves?
Restaurants in Santa Claus Village
If you get hungry at Santa Claus Village, you only have yourself to blame! Basically the village consists of shops, activities and restaurants. There are too many restaurants to have been able to try them all, but I would like to shortlist our two favorite restaurants here, of which we think you really need to experience them.
Santamus is so much more than just a restaurant. It’s a full experience. On their website they welcome you to the mysterious Santamus, and that is exactly what it is. A mysterious place, but once you go in and experience it, you want to keep going back.
We had lunch here in Summer, but that was all outside with an outside bar, kitchen and seating area. In Winter they offer buffet lunch and dinner inside. I was mind blown and simply speechless when I walked into this place. In the middle of the restaurant there is a pond with salmon in it and a bridge crossing the water.
They have their own sauna’s, so if you fancy a sauna after dinner, it’s possible here. You can also do gold panning here and find some real Finnish gold. A full on experience. The food here is super fresh and super delicious. It’s buffet style so you can go as often as you want. They mostly use local and organic products and seasonal ingredients.
This one is for on your bucket list! The Ice Restaurant is located at Snowman World in Santa Claus Village. Snowman World is a full experience you certainly don’t want to miss out on. We tell you more on Snowman World further in this article. Please note, you can only visit the Ice Restaurant in Winter!
Ever since I found out about this place, I put it on top of our travel list to go to. Little did I expect that I would visit this place twice within 7 months. Every expectation I had is met and exceeded by Santa Claus Village. This place is magical and simply a must visit, whatever time of the year.
This blog was written by travel writer and Traveltomtom team member Ashley. She visited Rovaniemi recently and wrote this blog about her favorite thing to do in Rovaniemi.
Enjoy your trip to Rovaniemi and Santa Claus Village. And if you go, say hi to Santa for me!