One frustrating part of OUR experience here is Finland is trying to get information from the Finns on traveling within Finland. So different from the USA. When you ask about a destination it is usually quite easy to get info about traveling to places within the US and outside the US. Some of our experiences here in Finland have been completely blind – Lapland was definitely the case here. Lapland was a last minute decision with less than a week before we would leave. We found an excellent deal at least what we felt was an excellent deal with the train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi. It would be an overnight train experience. Everyone was very excited! Rovaniemi is located at 66°30′N 025°44′E which is just south of the Arctic Circle.
As a family we put Lapland on our bucket list. With that bucket list we wanted to see reindeer, see Santa’s home, dogsled ride, ice fishing, snowmobiling and the Northern Lights.
This trip was going to be quick as we would be one night on the train to Rovaniemi , one night in Rovaniemi and then one night on the train back to Helsinki. I spent a lot of time investigating what to and how to make the most of it in such a short amount of time. I had basically no help from anyone on trying to figure out what to do. We found a get deal for our hotel in Rovaniemi on TripAdvisor which included breakfast. The hotel was called Rantasipi Pohjanhovi. If you click on the link it will take you to our HotelRoomTours site and you can view the room we stayed in. A short distance from the hotel was a great outdoor AngryBird Park.
I knew I wanted to find the best possible tour with what was on our bucket list and not spend too much. Lapland is quite expensive, almost comparable to Disney in my opinion if not more. I found Lapland Safaris online. They seemed to have the best tour packages in my mind and good feedback. Basically, they could cover everything on our list if we wanted to spend a lot of euros. We narrowed it down to one specific tour – Santa Claus Safari which takes approximately 6 hours total. The weekend we went (first weekend in Decemeber) was the opening season for Rovaniemi. Our safari would include nature, culture and the spirit of Christmas. This would be perfect for our family. When I booked the trip I was experiencing some difficulties and their customer service was quite helpful. The cost for the Santa Safari was 197,00 euros per adult and 98,50 euros per child. This also included lunch.
When the train arrived into Rovaniemi we found our way to where we should catch a taxi. This ended up being the most difficult part of the trip. We stood for quite some time in the cold snowy weather with two young children waiting for an available taxi. We made several phone calls and the hotel was trying to assist us the best they could. Rovaniemi is a small town so it was a pretty quick trip to the hotel. We arrived into Rovaniemi around 8:00am and we had our safari scheduled for 10:00am. Lapland Safari start point was located right next door to the hotel we were staying in. This was quite convenient. We had time to check in and use the restroom with plenty of time. We headed over to Lapland Safaris to check in. The first part of the trip would be a snowmobile safari to a reindeer farm. We were taken to the clothing area where we were all fitted with proper Lapland attire. I might add it is quite cold up in the Arctic Circle. From head to toe we were completely covered. We then took a bus ride to the snowmobiles. The children rode in sleighs pulled by snowmobiles and any adults that did not want to drive a snowmobile. They sat in cozy sleighs with a nice warm blanket. We got a short explanation on the use of the snowmobile and hand signals we would be using and then we all loaded up. I believe we had about 25 ppl in our group. The snowmobiling was on a frozen river. We did see a small herd of reindeer in the distance on the river running. That was pretty cool! Christian did the first round and I drove the second half. Here is a short video clip of the snowmobiling.
Our destination on the snowmobiles was to a reindeer farm. Here we would learn more about the reindeer and the Lappish culture. We went inside a structure where there was a warm fire and a guide dressed in his Saami attire. After this we headed back outside and had a reindeer sleigh ride. This was a lot of fun! We were able to fit our family of four on one sleigh pulled by one reindeer. This was a special experience for our family. Here is a short video clip of our sleigh ride.
After the sleigh ride they girls played in the snow and we were waiting to have a visit with Santa Claus. We were the first ones to go and have our own private visit with Santa. After everyone had their visit with Santa we got back on the snowmobiles to head back to catch the bus to take us to Santa’s Village. Santa’s Village was pretty much a tourist area. The best part was getting some postcards and stamps. The postcards would be stamped from Santa’s Post Office! I don’t think I’ve ever written so many postcards in such a short amount of time.
The next day we decided we would take the girls to Santa’s Park. This was pricey, but fun. The girls were the perfect age. The park is completely underground which was pretty cool! The girls would go to Elf School, calligraphy class, decorated gingerbread cookies in Mrs. Claus’ kitchen and another visit with Santa. Lots of fun at Santa’s Park.
After Santa Park we found a great outside Angry Bird Park right in Rovaniemi just two blocks from our hotel. The girls played for a bit and then we had some Subway in the lobby of our hotel before heading to the train.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The girls had fun and we were officially in the Christmas spirit. This was perfect for our family. We felt like we had enough time and were not rushing to get things accomplished. Another time would be ice hotel or glass igloos and trying to find the Northern Lights.