The Most Beautiful Buildings of Rovaniemi, Finland

Classic holiday cabins in Rovaniemi
Classic holiday cabins in Rovaniemi | © / Flickr
Jessica Wood

After its near total destruction in World War Two and restoration by famed Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, Rovaniemi has become known as a hidden architectural gem of the North. Visitors to the city are amazed not only by the winter landscapes but also by the stunning, modernist architecture. These are some of the best buildings in Rovaniemi to visit on an architectural tour.

Rovaniemi City Library

The first completed building of the Administrative and Cultural Centre designed by Aalto, the others being the neighbouring Town Hall and Lappia Hall, the city library is a marvel inside and out. Completed in 1965, the exterior is lean and multi-faceted while the inside is simple yet refined. Students and book lovers have plenty of space amongst the rows of shelves and the walls are designed to draw in as much natural light as possible due to Rovaniemi’s short hours of winter sunlight.

Rows upon rows of books in Rovaniemi City Library


A phenomenal museum held in an equally phenomenal building. Arktikum was designed by Danish architects Birch-Bonderup & Thorup-Waade and opened in 1992 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Finnish Independence. The main entrance building, completed in 1997, is crescent-shaped and full of Finnish materials, including hard granite floors and chairs made from birch and reindeer hide.

Most spectacular of all is the Arctic Garden, which is also known as the ‘Gateway to the North’, a 172-meter long sculpture garden encased by over 1,000 panes of glass. From the outside, the structure appears to burrow into the ground, imitating the way the Lappish wildlife hides from the northern winter. It is regarded as one of the best places in Rovaniemi to watch the northern lights.

Arktikum’s crescent-shaped main entrance building.

Korundi House of Culture

The city’s main cultural centre holds the Rovaniemi Art Museum, the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, and numerous other cultural events. The centre was previously a bus depot and is one of the few surviving post-war buildings in Rovaniemi. After the war, it was expanded using bricks picked up from the city’s ruined buildings. While the old structure doesn’t hold any significant architectural value, it is still somewhat of a monument to the old Rovaniemi that was destroyed in the war.

New additions were opened in 2010, designed by architect Juhani Pallasmaa to replicate the look of the older building but with a modern minimalist style reflecting the contemporary art held inside.

Lobby of Korundi House of Culture

Korkalorinne residential area

Even the regular residential buildings of Rovaniemi are something to see and brighten up even the most mundane areas of the city. The Korkalorinne residential area just off the town centre is particularly interesting as it was mostly designed by Alvar Aalto as part of his plans to rebuild Rovaniemi and are now highly sought-after properties. The butter-yellow apartment blocks are warm on a cold night and are surrounded by attractive parklands.

Korkalorinne apartment building

Science Centre Pilke

Unusual for Rovaniemi, and for all of Finland, Pilke is constructed almost entirely from wood, which is usually only reserved for summer cottages. This is highly fitting as the science centre is operated by the Finnish Administration of Forests (and also holds their offices) and focuses on Rovaniemi’s logging heritage and natural history. It is also highly reflective of Finland’s strong environmental stance. Ninety percent of the building’s materials, especially the nearly 20,000 planks of wood, were sourced from Finland to support ecological and sustainable construction. The structure only gives off one-third of the carbon emissions of a steel or concrete building of the same size, setting an example for future architects.

Wooden facade of Science Centre Pilke

Santa Claus Village

Sure, it may be touristy, but the buildings of the Santa Claus Village do have a rustic charm to them. Like a theme park, they are designed to temporarily take visitors out of the regular world and immerse them in a fantasy. The Elf Tower greets visitors with a sloped roof and a mural of Santa. The rest of the buildings, including Santa’s house and the post office, are made from natural stone and pine to resemble classic, Finnish log cabins. Nearby is the Snowman World resort, which builds ice igloos and even an ice restaurant each winter, with a new design every year.

The Elf Tower greets visitors to Santa Claus Village
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.