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Snowshoeing Excursion from Rovaniemi (With a kid!)

Located along the Arctic Circle in the Lapland region of Finland, Rovaniemi is covered with a thick blanket of snow from November to April. One of the best ways to experience this Arctic wonderland is to strap on a pair of snowshoes and hike right on into it. We decided to do just that … with our 3-year-old toddler.

In this post, we’ll recap the details of our snowshoeing excursion from Rovaniemi. We’ll share the exact tour we booked, what the experience was like, and how we liked it. Along the way, we’ll highlight specifically what it was like to do this with a kid.

Keep reading to learn all about what it’s like to go snowshoeing in the Arctic on a guided tour from Rovaniemi.

Choosing Our Snowshoeing Excursion

If you are in Rovaniemi and want to go snowshoeing, there are a handful of different ways to do. The easiest way, though, is to book a tour. Rovaniemi is the largest city in Finnish Lapland and a major tourism hub, so there is no shortage of tour providers to choose from. Nearly all of these providers offer some sort of snowshoeing excursion.

We started our search on the official Rovaniemi tourism website, Visit Rovaniemi. They partner with a variety of local tour providers, so you can search them all in one place. There were a few different snowshoeing excursions available, but I had one important criteria. I needed a tour that could accommodate a 3-year-old.

This proved a bit tricky, as many of the tours had a minimum age of 5 or 6. Only a handful of tours had a snowshoeing available for all ages. I quickly homed in on this one: Arctic Snowshoeing Day by Nordic Unique Travels.

Note: You can also book this tour directly through the Nordic Unique Travels website here.

This particular tour included pickup at local hotels, gear rental (including snowshoes, outwear and boots), a guided group hike through the forest, and snacks at the end (which I definitely over-prioritized as the mom of a snacky toddler.) The description of this tour specifically mentioned that it was good for “little kids” and there was both an “Infant” and “Child” booking option.

It was actually the “Infant” option that made me pause before booking. Infants can’t walk, let alone snowshoe, so that meant they were allowing you to book the excursion for participants even if they wouldn’t themselves be snowshoeing. I didn’t want to book the excursion only to find out that my child could come, but couldn’t actually fit into the snowshoes.

Before I booked, I emailed the tour provider directly to confirm what size snowshoes they actually had available. They confirmed that the smallest snowshoes they offered were size 25 EU, which was about a toddler 9 US. At age 3.5, my child was currently wearing a toddler size 8 US. I figured that was close enough.

We booked the tour for two adults and one child, for a total cost of €217. (There was a discount for children ages 3-12, and infants under 3 were free.) We immediately received a booking confirmation, that noted exact times may vary. The following day, we received a second confirmation with our exact pick-up time, which was scheduled for 12 PM.

Pick-up at Santa Claus Holiday Village

This excursion included hotel pickup. Unfortunately, the pick-up situation wasn’t exactly smooth. During our booking, we selected pickup from Santa Claus Holiday Village, the hotel where we were staying. Our final confirmation email said that we would be picked up at 12 PM from the hotel lobby.

We arrived in Rovaniemi the morning of our excursion, and our room wasn’t ready. We actually spent most of our morning that day in the hotel lobby, watching other tour providers come and go. So when 12 PM rolled around, we assumed that our tour provider would also make themselves known — by a sign, a branded vest or a hardy yell — just as the other tour providers we watched had done.

My toddler and I sat back in the kids corner while my husband hovered near the lobby entrance, waiting for our ride. We watched as 12 PM came and went. No pick-up. We waited 15 minutes, and still nothing. Finally, after 30 minutes, we called the number we had for the tour provider. Apparently, they had quietly come and gone, and we had no idea. They missed us and we missed them.

In hindsight, there should really be a more detailed plan. They should be clear about where exactly you should stand or who you should look for. It shouldn’t be possible that we are actively looking for them for 30 minutes and we still missed them. But alas, that’s what happened.

As you can see in the photo below, one of the vans was clearly branded and the other was not. Naturally, the van on the left is the one that came to pick us up. So you can see how we would have missed it.

When we called, they said they would pick us up in about 30 minutes. They took our size information over the phone, and said they’d pack our gear for us. At the time, this was frustrating. We had already waited 30 minutes past our scheduled pickup, and now had to wait another 30 minutes?

But as it turned out, we actually lucked out. We got to skip the part where the van drives around and picks everyone up and the part where everyone went to the office to pick out their gear. Instead, we got to get picked up last on the way to the destination (we successfully found our guide this time), and had all of our gear in our exact size ready for us when we got there.

Gearing up to Snowshoe

It took about 15 minutes to drive from our hotel to the start of the trail. I checked the map later, and confirmed that we were at Vikaköngäs nature trail. When we arrived, we met up with a second van, making our total group size about 20 people.

We parked in a lot near the trail head. The two guides (one from each of the vans) unpacked the snowshoes, snowsuits and boots, and distributed them to everyone. There were no seats or benches nearby, so we all just threw on our gear while standing in the parking lot.

The company offered snowsuits for adults and children. We started with our little one, and they gave us the smallest snowsuit they had. Our toddler was 3.5 years old and just shy of 40 inches tall. The snowsuit was a bit big, but fit well enough. It was a one-piece, full-body, zip-up snowsuit.

The guide also packed a snowsuit for each of us, based on the height we gave over the phone. We looked around though, and noticed hardly any of the other adults in the group were wearing the snowsuits. It was actually pretty nice out — temperatures were in the 20s °F, plus it was sunny and we’d be moving around. We decided to turn down the snowsuits, and stick to our personal winter jackets and snow pants.

Read more: For more information about our gear, be sure to check out this list of 10 Things to Pack for a Winter Trip to Finland.

The company also had boots available for everyone. My husband and I were happy with own own boots, but our toddler definitely needed a taller pair. Again, they gave us the smallest size they had available, which was a size 26 EU / toddler 9.5 US. There were a smidge too big on our kid who usually wears a size 8 toddler US, but we made it work.

Finally, it was time to put on our snowshoes. The snowshoes came in a couple different sizes, and then each had adjustable straps for the perfect fit. The smallest ones set to the tightest setting just barely fit our kid’s tiny little boots. They were still a bit big, so we ran into a few issues walking, but overall, they were fine.

If there was any information or instructions given about how to put on (or wear or walk in) snowshoes, it was at the tour office part that we missed. It wasn’t hard to figure out how to put them on, but it was hard to figure out the closure and sizing. After some trial and error, we all got strapped in.

Snowshoeing in Lapland

Less than 15 minutes after we arrived, everyone in the group was ready. We left the parking lot and headed out to the trail.

Again, if there was any instructions or tips about how to actually walk in snowshoes, we missed it. Maybe they went over it at the tour office while we weren’t there, but we never learned how to do it properly. It wasn’t hard per say, but it was tough to get used it. It’s an awkward gait, and I’m still not sure if there was a trick to being less clompy. Eventually, we all got the hang of it.

First, we crossed a long bridge over an icy river. Then we made our way into the forest, which was absolutely stunning. The towering birch and spruce trees soared above us, with each individual pine and branch covered in a healthy layer of snow. Before we got too far, we stopped at a clearing for some of the most stunning views of the forest. This was one of the most picturesque spots, so we hung out there for a while so everyone could take photos.

It was a group tour, but everyone hiked at their own pace. One of the guides led the way in the front, while the other followed in back to be sure no one got left behind. We held up the rear, with the second guide, usually alongside the one other family in the group. The front of the pack often disappeared from view entirely, behind tall trees and windy trails. Every so often, though, the group would stop and wait for everyone to come together again.

At each stop, the guide would teach us something about the nature, local culture and/or history. (They offer the tour in many languages, but our specific tour was in English and French.) We also stopped for photos in the particularly scenic areas, and one of the stops had benches for everyone to rest.

Route, Distance & Difficulty

The tour lead us through an established trail through the Vikaköngäs nature area. After we crossed the bridge near the parking lot, we picked up the main trail. It was a looped trail that was about 4 km around. If you factored in the walk to and over the bridge, it was about 5 km of total snowshoeing distance.

The trail was marked, with a few directional signs along the way. We didn’t have to worry so much about where exactly we were going, because we had the guides leading the way. However, it was nice to see the distance updates every so often.

The trail itself varied in quality at different points. Sometimes, the trail was wide and well packed. These sections were pretty easy to walk through in the snowshoes.

Other portions of the trail were harder to navigate. In some areas, the packed trail got super narrow. In these sections, you had to walk single file. Other areas weren’t packed down at all, and you had to forge your own trail through a thick layer of fluffy snow.

Overall, snowshoes were definitely necessary for this hike. We could not have walked this trail easily or comfortably without them.

Other than the snow, the hike was relatively easy. It was almost entirely flat, there was no real ice to content with, and there were no technical sections. We even lucked out on the weather, which wasn’t bitterly cold, like it can sometimes be.

Walking the trail in snowshoes was definitely more effort than it would have been walking the same trail in the summer. However, I would say that if you can comfortably walk a 5K, you can comfortably make this hike in snowshoes.

Snowshoeing with Kid

According to their website, kids of all ages are welcome on this tour. The limiting factor is the snowshoes. As we confirmed, the smallest snowshoes available were 25 EU / toddler 9 US, and the smallest boots available were 26 EU / toddler 9.5 US. On average, that’s about the size shoe a 3 or 4 year old child would wear.

Children with feet much smaller than that could come, but couldn’t snowshoe. (Unless you brought your own tiny snowshoes for them.) In this case, you’d probably need to put your child in a baby carrier and wear them while you snowshoed.

Read more: We have not snowshoed with a baby carrier, but we did test out a lot of baby carriers when our child was young. Check out this post for every thing you need to know about baby wearing for travel.

In our group of about 20 people, there was only two children. Most of the group was adult couples and friend groups, plus two families. We had our 3-year-old, and then another family had one child who looked to be about 7 or 8. We were definitely the slowest ones in the entire group. Fortunately, the second guide stayed back behind us, so we never worried about getting lost or left behind.

As far as difficulty goes, if your child can walk, they can probably snowshoe. Our child picked up walking in the snowshoes faster than we did. As soon as they put them on, they took a few steps and were off to the races. At the start of the hike, they absolutely loved it.

However, snowshoeing is much more tiring on little legs. While I think that if an adult can walk a 5k, they can snowshoe this 5k route — I definitely wouldn’t say the same for a child. Children will likely wear out from snowshoeing significantly faster than they will from walking.

For context, our child is a very strong walker. (This is not to brag, but an important baseline.) We’ve never had a stroller, so they walk more than most children their age. They walk a mile home from school everyday, they’ve walked a 5K Turkey Trot, and they’ve walked many miles around theme parks for days on end. And even still, they were just on the edge of being physically capable of doing this 5k snowshoe hike on their own.

Halfway through the trail, they hit a wall. At this point, they started to melt down and were no longer having fun. Unfortunately, this trail is not ideal for a mid-hike breakdown.

The trail is looped, so there is no “escape.” At a certain point, quitting isn’t an option. The only way to be done, was to finish the trail. Even if the breakdown was before the midpoint, there was still no easy way to turn back without impacting the entire group. (The second guide would have had to go with us, leaving the rest of the group without a tail for safety.)

Our toddler was too big to carry at length without a carrier, and the snow was too deep to walk without snowshoes. The only thing to do was to keep going.

We stepped aside and had a pep talk. We talked about how we can do hard things, and how proud we were of them for how far they’d come. After a few deep breaths, the tears stopped and their motivation returned.

Fortunately, shortly after this, we reached the rest of the group at the final break spot that had benches. The guide was talking about wild animals in the area, and he really got our toddler involved and hyped again. Ultimately, they finished the hike on their own two feet and made it back to the trailhead with a smile on their face.

Overall, I’d say this snowshoeing excursion is probably best for kids 4 and up. (Unless you plan to carry them; they can be any age for that.) Our 3.5 year old did it successfully, but they were right on the edge of physically capable. They barely fit into the gear, and it really wore them out. Even as a strong walker with experience covering the distance, they still barely made it to the end in snowshoes. I think if they were even a few months older, they could have done it more comfortably.

Note: The other factor to be aware of is temperature. We got pretty lucky with February weather being be just below freezing. Our child actually got hot and had to take off some layers, but that won’t always be the case. I know that if it was 10 or 20 °F colder, this may have been a much different story.

Celebratory Treats

After we returned to the trailhead, the group sat down at a lean-to shelter to have some treats together. The tour included gingerbread cookies and hot blueberry juice, both of which were delicious. The guides had more than enough for everyone to have as much as they wanted.

Our little one made out like a bandit. Every time the guide came around with cookies, he gave our toddler an extra one. I think they ate six cookies, which was totally fine. They earned it!

The group sat together and enjoyed our treats for about 15 minutes. After that, we retuned to the vans, took off all of our gear, and settled in for the short drive back to our hotels. And lucky for us, our hotel was the first stop!


This excursion is scheduled for 3 hours, but it’s not an exact timeline. It might vary based on the day, number of people, and the speed of everyone in the group.

As an example though, the timeline for our snowshoeing excursion with Nordic Unique Travels looked like this:

  • 12 PM — Scheduled pick-up (We missed this pickup, but this is when our tour was scheduled to begin and when other groups were picked up.)
  • 1:10 PM — Actual pickup
  • 1:30 PM — Arrived at the trailhead
  • 1:45 PM — Crossed the bridge and started snowshoeing
  • 3:15 PM — Crossed the bridge back and gathered at the shelter for treats
  • 3:45 PM — Headed back to the vans to return our gear and depart
  • 4:15 PM — Arrived back at our hotel (We were the first stop.)

For us, the total excursion was just over 3 hours, from pick-up to drop-off. However, for most other people on the tour — who got picked up at the scheduled time and weren’t the first stop on the return — the excursion was closer to 4.5 to 5 hours.

As a part of that total excursion time, we all spent approximately 1.5 hours actively snowshoeing. Based on a conversation I had with the guide, that was a bit more than usual. He said the hike typically takes closer to 1 hour. However, it was a beautiful day, so we made the extra long stop for photos at the beginning. Plus the group probably moved extra slow, because they had to keep waiting for some family with a baby. (wink, wink)

Closing Thoughts

We had such a great time on this snowshoeing excursion from Rovaniemi. This particular tour with Nordic Unique Travels was great. Other than the botched pick-up, which was honestly a blessing in disguise, everything ran smoothly.

Once we actually got to the trail, everything was very well organized. The guides were familiar with the area, so we felt very safe following them into the forest. They were also knowledgeable about the region’s history, culture and nature, and they did a great job sharing that information with us.

The snowshoes and outwear that was included with the tour was all high-quality, clean, and fully functional. That surely made a huge difference in making us all feel comfortable in this new skill.

On top of all that, the scenery was just beautiful. It was surreal to walk through the wintery landscape, where every turn was more stunning than the last. Since we came all the way to Lapland, I’m so glad we took the time to experience the nature.

At the end of the day, we were thrilled our child did as well as they did. We weren’t sure how it was going to go or if they were even going to be able to do it. They crushed it and had fun 90% of the time, which is pretty good for a 3-year-old. (We never even got into the fact that our toddler was coming off a poor night’s sleep on an overnight train and was snowshoeing in lieu of their usual nap time.)

Overall, it was an incredible experience. If you’re visiting Rovaniemi in the winter and trying to build out your itinerary, a snowshoeing excursion is a great thing to add. Santa Claus Village is usually the main attraction in Rovaniemi, but that typically only fills up a day or so. You might be looking for just one more thing to round out your plans and justify trekking all the way up to Rovaniemi. A snowshoeing excursion in Lapland is the perfect thing.