Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland draws thousands of visitors each year to meet Santa Claus, but there is a lot more to the town and region for them to discover. The area is full of unspoilt wilderness, once-in-a-lifetime sights, and adventures for thrill seekers. These are some of the most unique things you can try on a winter trip to Rovaniemi, which are hard to find anywhere else in the world.
Night hiking may not sound very safe, especially in Lapland during the middle of winter, but if you go with an experienced guide and take the right supplies, you can see the countryside differently than you would in the daytime. Aurora spotting trips make for the best night hikes, as you can see them without light pollution. You can find a remote spot, have a cookout, tell campfire stories, and wait for the majesty of the Northern Lights to appear before you.
The latest trend in Rovaniemi is ice floating – literally floating in a frozen lake wearing a thermal wetsuit. It may sound insanely dangerous, but with the wetsuit to keep you warm and a lifeguard to watch over you, it is actually surprisingly relaxing to float in the water and gaze at the night sky. Professional guides will help you find the best spots and keep you safe while you float.
Thrill seekers will love the chance to climb up a waterfall that has been frozen solid in ice. Not only is it a fascinating and beautiful sight to see a waterfall literally frozen in time, climbing up and abseiling down the waterfall is a real physical challenge even more intense than an indoor climbing wall. Some of the waterfalls are over 60 metres high! An ice climbing day trip will take you out to one of the ice fells and provide all the equipment you need. All you have to take is the proper winter clothing.
Ice fishing may sound like one of the most boring – not to mention freezing – Nordic activities, but there is something highly enjoyable about walking on a frozen lake and pulling a live fish from its depths. Even better is the chance to light a fire on the lakeside, cook the fish yourself, and eat it freshly caught.
Even sleeping in Rovaniemi can be a unique experience. The Arctic Snow Hotel and a few other travel companies have a range of hotel rooms built into heated glass igloos so that you can fall asleep underneath the night sky or watch the aurora from your own bed, perfect for a honeymoon or romantic holiday. Other quirky hotel options are the rooms made entirely from ice and the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel. Be sure to book in plenty of time as these rooms are popular and sell out quickly.
In Rovaniemi you can not only sleep in a room made of ice but eat and have a nightcap in one, too. There are several ice restaurants built in Rovaniemi every winter, such as the one at Snowman World, where the tables, chairs, and even the drinking glasses are made from ice. While you can’t exactly wear your best evening dress, you can enjoy some quality Lappish cuisine in some of the world’s most delightfully strange restaurants.
Watching the Northern Lights from the ground is amazing, but have you ever thought of watching them from the air? Wild Nordic offers Northern Lights plane flights from Rovaniemi airport. Not only does this prevent the need to crane your neck to see the lights, you can feel close enough that you could almost touch them.
Going on a bike ride in Lapland during winter sounds both impossible and dangerous, but it is in fact possible thanks to fat biking. These bikes have large wheels designed to grip the ice and can be used even in the harshest winter conditions. Going on a fat bike ride around Rovaniemi is another unique way to take in the beauty of Lapland and get your adrenaline pumping at the same time.
Escape rooms have become so popular that they have reached the top of the world too. The Rovaniemi Room Escape has a themed playroom called ‘The Thief Who Stole Christmas’, in which players have an hour to solve the mystery of who stole Santa’s important documents. Not only is it a unique escape room experience, it is a highly different family bonding activity with a Christmas theme.