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10 Free Things To Do in Rovaniemi, Finland

17 Jan, 2024

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Eva Mitchell

Is Rovaniemi worth visiting on a budget? Yes, there are plenty of free things to do in Rovaniemi in winter. From visiting the big red guy himself, to having fun in the snow at this winter wonderland. After exploring the Christmas markets in Cologne, Luxembourg and France. Tim and I were lucky enough to spend three magical days exploring Rovaniemi in December 2023. We enjoyed our first white Christmas together and had an absolute blast playing in the snow!

Going to Rovaniemi during Christmas time is not cheap. That is why we chose to prioritise a couple expensive activities and then the rest of the time enjoyed budget-friendly and free activities in Rovaniemi. 

For the budget conscious, the best time to visit Rovaniemi would be from January to secure cheaper accommodation and flights than the peak time around Christmas. You are guaranteed snow in January as it is the middle of winter and you can live out all of your winter wonderland dreams in this incredible part of Finland. 

Here are some of our favourite free things to do in Rovaniemi in winter. 

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1.  Visit Santa at Santa Claus Village

One of the best free things to do in Rovaniemi is to meet Santa at his home in Santa Claus Village. We were chuffed to meet the real Santa, shake his hand, and snap a shot with him on Christmas eve before he headed off in his sleigh to deliver presents around the World.

Santa Claus village is 100% free to visit, so not only can you meet Santa for free, you can wander around his property, see his reindeer, peruse his gift shops and play in his snow.

There are plenty of paid activities you can do at Santa Claus village as well depending on your budget. Everything from reindeer and husky sledding to indulging in woodfired salmon for lunch and checking out Snowman World.

Here's a tip:

As soon as you arrive to Santa Claus Village, go straight to Santa’s home to grab a timeslot from one of his elves. You will be given a card with a time on it to return for your visit. There will be roughly a 40-minute wait to see the big red guy in person from the time stated on your timecard.


2.  Cross the Artic Circle

Another fun free activity you can do at Santa Claus Village is to cross the Artic Circle. We had a lot of fun taking videos of us jumping across the artic circle line hand in hand. Did you know that Rovaniemi is the only town in the World where you can cross the artic circle? 


3.  Make a Snowman 

Making a snowman is one of the best free things to do in Rovaniemi in Winter no matter your age! You will notice that the snow is soft and fluffy in Rovaniemi which is quite different to the snow we have back home in New Zealand. It does make it trickier to build a snowman but NOT IMPOSSIBLE! We love a challenge and managed to put together a three tier snowman on Christmas day in Rovaniemi. How cute is he though?! 

couple running in Sahara Desert


4.  Go Tobogganing 

There are lots of tobogganing spots around Rovaniemi that you can toboggan for free. If you are staying in the town centre, one of the best places to go tobogganing is at a small park in the middle of the town with a snow hill you can toboggan down. There are usually plenty of toboggans sitting around in the park that are free to use. If not, the supermarket sells toboggans.


5.  Take a Walk by the Frozen River 

There is nothing like a magical walk by the river with your love. No matter where you walk in Rovaniemi, it’s an unworldly experience. We were walking through the glistening snow under the streetlights with snowflakes softly falling from the sky, we honestly could not believe our eyes at how beautiful Rovaniemi is in the Wintertime. 


6.  Make Snow Angels 

When was the last time you made a snow angel? For some reason, there is nothing more satisfying than making a snow angel and standing up to see how perfect it looks indented into the snow. The snow in Rovaniemi is perfect for making snow angels as it is light and fluffy when you fall into it.


7.  Do a Snowy Photoshoot 

How often do you get the opportunity to be surrounded by snow as far as the eye can see? It truly is the perfect time to seize the moment and snap some snowy photos that you will look back on for years to come. Don’t worry if you haven’t got a fancy camera, your phone will work perfectly fine! 

8.  Visit the Angry Birds Park

If you are visiting Rovaniemi with children, you may want to check out the unique Angry Birds Park by the river. We decided to give this activity a miss this time around but would definitely consider visiting if we were to return to Rovaniemi with children. Angry Birds originated in Finland, making it an extra special playground to stop at during your Finnish holiday.

9.  Enjoy a Finnish Sauna 

Many homes in Finland will have their own private sauna. If you are lucky enough to snag an Airbnb or apartment with a sauna, you should give it a try. The classic sauna method would be to warm up in the sauna and then go outside into the snow to cool off. Unfortunately for us, we had a sauna at our accommodation but during our stay it was not functional. If your accommodation isn’t equipped with a sauna, there are places around Rovaniemi where you can pay to experience a traditional finnish sauna. 

Here's a tip:

Book your accommodation as far in advance as possible to secure the best deal.

10.  See the Northern Lights

One of the most fascinating free things to do in Rovaniemi in winter is to witness the Northern Lights flickering through the sky above you. The Northern Lights are not always guaranteed but are definitely worth watching the forecasts for just in case they make an appearance during your stay. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t get to see the Northern lights during our visit despite constantly checking the Aurora alert – Realtime App for the chances of their appearance. We didn’t want to book an expensive northern lights tour with a company as we knew there is never a guaranteed chance of seeing them.

Instead, we identified a location that was walkable distance from our accommodation where we could view the northern lights should the app indicate a forecast change. If you are staying in Rovaniemi town centre, the most recommended location to see the northern lights is by the Arktikum Museum near the river. We will have our fingers crossed for you during your trip to Finland that you get to witness this amazing phenomenon!

You are most likely to be blessed with the northern lights during the Winter months from December to February from 10pm to 3am.

Here's a tip:

2024 is predicted to be one of the best years to see the northern lights in Rovaniemi!


Bonus:  Post a postcard from Santa’s Post box

Not completely free, but a very cheap activity to do in Rovaniemi, coming in at around €3 in total per postcard including the postage stamp, is to send a postcard from Santa’s post box. You could send a postcard to your friends or family or even yourself as a fun way to remember your time at Santa Claus Village.

You will find many Christmas themed postcards to choose from at Santa Claus’s shop, Santa’s Post Office and the various gift shops around the Santa Claus Village. There are many post boxes available in the village with the main one being located in Santa’s Post Office.

Did you know? 

Every postcard sent from Santa Claus Village is stamped with a special Artic Circle postmark stamp added by Santa’s elves. 


Conclusion:  Is Rovaniemi worth visiting on a budget?

Yes! There are plenty of free things to do in Rovaniemi in winter that are just as fun as expensive activities. The best part about being in Rovaniemi is experiencing the Winter wonderland feeling. 

A trip to Rovaniemi is an experience of a lifetime!

Whether you love Christmas or not, the feeling of being surrounded by snow for as far as the eye can see feels completely and utterly surreal. By enjoying these free things to do in Rovaniemi, you can still have an epic trip to Rovaniemi all while keeping your budget in check.

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A word from the authors

Eva and Tim are the creators behind this world-class travel finance blog.

In 2021 they decided to travel the world for an entire year and begun implementing savings strategies to achieve their goal of long-term travel. By May 2023, they quit their jobs to embark on their year-long adventure, sharing their invaluable practical and achievable savings, planning and travel tips they learnt along the way/with the aim to help others Make Cents of Travel.

You can find Eva & Tim on Tiktok, Facebook and Instagram as Make Cents of Travel.

About Us

Hello, Hola, Ciao! We are Tim & Eva, a couple of kiwis who have spent the last few years saving for and planning our epic year-long adventure around the world. Our goal is to inspire fellow wanderlust souls (just like you!) to Make Cents Of Travel by sharing our experiences and strategies we used to turn our dream of long-term travel into a reality.


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