Skip to Content

Where to Stay in Rovaniemi

Located on the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi is considered the gateway to Finnish Lapland. It is the most populous city in the region, and thus serves as an important tourism hub. The city is home to a regional airport and bustling train station, a wide range of tour operators, and of course, numerous hotels.

Choosing where to stay in Rovaniemi is actually pretty interesting. The city is huge geographically — in fact, it’s the largest by land area in all of Europe. Things are spread out, and not always easily connected by public transportation. On top of that, there is some massive price disparity across hotels and seasons. Finding a balance of location, price and quality to perfectly meet your needs is a bit of a dance.

In this post, we’ll go over three of the most popular places to stay in Rovaniemi. We’ll explain the pros and cons of each area, and of course the best hotels you can find there. We’ll explain how different traveler styles, itineraries and seasons might impact the value of each location, to help you make the best decision for your trip.

If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Rovaniemi, keep reading for some helpful analysis.

Option 1: Rovaniemi City Center

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Rovaniemi, the city center is the easiest and most obvious option. This area, located just northeast of the main train station, offers convenience, simplicity and creature comforts. It is also where you can usually find the lowest prices.

Rovaniemi’s city center — “downtown” Rovaniemi if you will — has the city’s highest density of hotels. It offers the widest selection of traditional hotels with private rooms, but also has a few guesthouses and hostel options as well.

With the density of hotels comes the density of amenities. If you stay in this area, you will be able to choose from a wider variety of restaurants and cafes within walking distance. You’ll also have other shops and services within walking distances, including convenience stores, grocery stores and a pharmacy.

City center itself is walkable, but it’s also the best connected to the rest of Rovaniemi by public transportation. The main train station is about a mile south and the regional airport is about 6 miles north, both of which are accessible by bus. You can also take the city bus (#8) to Santa Claus Village. In fact, all of Rovaniemi’s city buses pass through the city center, so you can easily go wherever the buses go.

This area is not without flaws though. One notable disadvantage to staying in the city center is that it’s not particularly exciting. There’s a science museum and some parks, but there’s not a ton to actually do in the city center.

You also miss out on some of the natural beauty and wonders that Lapland is known for. The city center has some light pollution, so the views of the northern lights won’t be as good. You will also need to take some sort of transportation to do any sort of hiking or nature activity.

Sometimes you can find a deal on hotels in the city center, but don’t expect it to be significantly cheaper. While the city center hotels are not always the most sought after hotels, in many causes they’re the only ones available. Many of the more appealing, boutique options in the area book up quickly. That means that the city center hotels end up being in pretty high demand and thus still charge relatively high prices.

Stay in City Center if …

You are interested in a variety of activities and tours. If you’re planning to take tours and go on excursions, you don’t need to worry so much about ‘missing out’ on the nature at your actual hotel. Having a central home base gives you the flexibility to go out and see it all, without committing to a specific location or feeling confined to a single activity.

Read more: Speaking of tours! Be sure to check out this post if you’re interested in a snowshoeing excursion from Rovaniemi.

You are not renting a car and want to walk or use public transportation. If your prefer not to drive, the city center is a perfect location because you won’t need to. You can walk to restaurants, shops and parks nearby, plus you’ll have access to all of the city buses and shuttle services.

You are planning a single day Santa Claus Village. Santa Claus Village is one of the most popular attractions in Rovaniemi. If you’re only planning a single day there (which is plenty for most people), you probably don’t need to spend the premium to stay on property. Instead, do Santa Claus Village as a day trip (via city bus or tour group) from city center. You’ll save a little bit of money and have more dining options. You can then fill the rest of your time with other tours or excursions.

You’re visiting during the Holiday Season. Winter (November through March) is high season for Rovaniemi, but December is extra busy as people flock to Santa Claus Village. Even if Santa Claus Village is the highlight of your trip, I still wouldn’t recommend staying on property during the holidays. It books up quickly, it’s expensive and it usually requires a minimum stay of 2 or 3 nights. Most hotels in city center will give you more flexibility, and will be slightly cheaper (not cheap, but cheaper). The city center is also pretty charming and festive this time of year.

Andriychenko, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Where to Stay in City Center

  • Luxury: Arctic Light Hotel
  • Moderate: Hotel Santa Claus
  • Value: Hostel Cafe Koti

Recap: Staying in Rovaniemi City Center

  • Pros: Central location, nearby amenities, public transportation, slightly cheaper
  • Cons: Not much to do, further from nature, uninteresting accommodations
  • Best for: Travelers who treat their hotel like a home base, and want to do a variety of different things during the day (group tours or DIY day trips.)
  • Best time to Stay: November and Decemeber

Option 2: Santa Claus Village

Santa Claus Village is one of the main tourist attractions in Rovaniemi. The city prides itself on being the official hometown of Santa Claus, and the big man himself lives in Santa Claus Village.

Santa Claus Village sits on the Arctic Circle about 5 miles north of the city center. Here you will find several Christmas themed attractions clustered around a main square. You can visit Mrs. Claus and the reindeer, mail a letter from Santa’s post office and cross the Arctic Circle. And of course, you can also meet Santa in his office every day of the year.

If Santa Claus Village is the focal point of your visit to Rovaniemi, it would only make sense that you’d want to stay as close as possible. There are a couple different accommodations on property, but the main hotel is Santa Claus Holiday Village. (There are also two glass igloo hotels, but these have very low occupancy and are pretty expensive.)

Staying on property at Santa Claus Holliday Village can be a great option. The main advantage being location. From this hotel, you can walk to any attraction at Santa Claus Village. You can enjoy all the sites at your leisure, as many times as you want. You can get there as early as you want, stay as late as you want, and even take a break at your hotel midday if you want.

More than convenience, this hotel is also really nice. The hotel is made up of bright red cottages scattered across the property, each with two private rooms inside. All of the rooms include apartment style amenities, including a kitchenette and a private sauna. On top of that, there’s a lit Christmas tree on the front porch of every single cottage.

While Santa Claus Holiday Village may seem like the obvious choice if Santa Claus Village is the point of your trip, don’t be too quick to make your decision.

For one, you’re limited to the dining options on the property. Many of these restaurants have reduced hours outside of the holiday season (even in the post-holiday winter months), and some restaurants are closed completely in the summer.

The season in general is an important thing to consider. Santa Claus Village is open all year and you can meet Santa all year, but not all attractions are open all year. You can only visit the reindeer, Snowman World and Elf School during select winter months. While the hotel is cheaper during the off season, it still might not be worth it to stay there.

Another thing to factor in is how much time you want to spend at Santa Claus Village. If you’re only planning a single day there, and are going to spend the rest of your time on other tours or excursions, it’s probably not worth the up charge to stay on property.

On a similar note, Santa Claus Holiday Village often has a minimum stay during peak season, including the holidays and winter months. This might mean you have to stay longer than you otherwise wanted to. This might end up digging into your budget even more than you planned.

Stay in Santa Claus Village if …

You’re visiting in January through March. This is the best time to stay at Santa Claus Village. You avoid some of the surge pricing and crowds of the holiday season, but still get the snowy north pole experience. Staying on property helps create and preserve the full, Christmasy vibe even after the rest of the world has moved on for the year.

You’re traveling with young kids. If you’re traveling with kids, you will probably spend a bit more time at Santa Claus Village than the average adult. Not only will staying on property allow you to do that easily, but it also helps create a magical Christmas bubble for them to live in for the duration on your stay. Transiting from the city center isn’t hard, but it’s harder with kids (especially if they require car seats.) It also allows for midday naps, which is huge!

You want to spend 2 or more days at Santa Claus Village. Even if you don’t have kids, if you’re planning to spend multiple days at Santa Claus Village, it’s worth it to stay on property. If you want to spend that much time there, you’re probably the type of person who values the aesthetic and energy, which helps make it worth it.

Where to stay in Santa Claus Village

There are not a ton of options in Santa Claus Village, and I would put them all in the luxury category. (The only other options nearby are a few RV parks, but that requires a specific type of travel.)

  • Luxury: Santa Claus Holiday Village (main hotel with the largest capacity)
  • Boutique: Nova Skyland Hotel, Glass Resort and Santa’s Igloos Arctic Circle

Recap: Staying in Rovaniemi at Santa Claus Village

  • Pros: Walking distance to Santa Claus Village, themed accommodations, private cottages/cabins
  • Cons: Limited dining & services nearby, crowds during high season (which leads to limited availability, high prices and minimum stays), places close in the off season
  • Best for: Families traveling in the post-holiday winter months who want to spend at least two days at Santa Claus Village.
  • Best time to Stay: January and February

Option 3: Boutique Accommodations

Lapland — the region in which Rovaniemi is located — is known for its natural wonders. While it’s beautiful all times of the year, it’s most renowned for its winters.

From December to April, Rovaniemi is covered with a thick blanket of snow, transforming the surrounding forests into scenes from a story book. Because of its location on the Arctic Circle, people flock to the area for a chance to hopefully see the northern lights. Rovaniemi also famously has more reindeer than people, and animal encounters and sleigh rides are very popular.

If you want to fully immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Lapland, Rovaniemi has some of the most interesting and beautiful accommodations to help you do that. While the first two sections of this post focused geographical area, this section is more about a specific type of accommodation.

There are a few different options, but I would put them into three main categories.

  • Glass Igloos: These rooms are either entirely made of glass or have glass ceilings. The point is that you can see the northern lights anytime from the warmth of your room.
  • Snow Hotel: This entire hotel, including the walls, beds and chairs, is made of ice. It’s a unique experience that is only available in an Arctic region like Rovaniemi.
  • Cabins & Guesthouses: If you want to be out in nature, but are on a more realistic budget, there are other options. You can find hotels, cabins and guesthouses that aren’t necessarily fully private cottages, but are still located out in the wilderness. Some of these even have a public glass-roof space in the lobby or common area.

These types of accommodations are each unique and interesting in their own way, but they have some important things in common.

First up, most of these hotels are pretty far away from the city center, so you will have less light pollution. The further you are from any clusters of light, the better view of the night sky. This matters a lot if you’re hoping to see the northern lights.

We didn’t see any northern lights in Rovaniemi (granted, we never really tried to look,) but we did see them at our next stop in Tromsø.

On a related note, most of these hotels offer privacy. Whether it’s private cottages, private igloos or a private sauna, these types of hotels are made to feel like home. Not only is each room private, but the hotels themselves are usually pretty secluded. Many of these accommodations have a restaurant on property, but that might be it. There’s not a lot of buildings, cars or people nearby, which is part of their charm.

More than anything, these hotels offer an experience. They’re not just a place to stay, they are the attraction itself. You won’t need to book a northern lights tour if you are watching it from your bed. You won’t need to go on a snowshoeing excursion if you can rent them at your hotel and walk right outside.

Staying at a boutique accommodation like this is surely a bucket list experience, but it might not be right for everyone. There are two main downsides to these types of stays.

The most obvious is price. A stay at one of these hotels starts around €500 a night, but prices can quickly soar well above that during peak periods. Like Santa Claus Holiday Village, many of these accommodations also have a minimum stay. Tied to that is availability. Despite being wildly expensive, they sell out quickly. Be sure to plan ahead if you want to stay at one of these places.

Transportation can also be tricky for some of these remote accommodations. Some offer shuttle services to select destinations, but they are often on a set schedule. You might need to book a taxi to get to get around at your preferred time. This can get extra clunky if you’re traveling with children who need car seats.

Stay in a Boutique Hotel if …

Rovaniemi is the main destination for your trip. If Lapland is the sole reason you came to Finland, go big on one of these unique accommodations. It’s the best way to immerse yourself in the natural wonders of the region. If you came to see that, see that. If Rovaniemi is just one part of a larger trip around Finland and/or the Nordic countries, you might not be able to justify the splurge.

You really want to see the northern lights. The northern lights are never guaranteed. You should give yourself as many chances as you can to maximize your odds. Staying at a glass-top hotel where you can look to the skies every night of your stay from the warmth of your bed is a really good way to do that. Plus, they usually have alarms that will wake you up when they’re spotted. If this is your goal, I’d also recommend staying outside of Santa Claus Village, which has a decent amount of light polution.

You’re traveling with adults. Plenty of these hotels allow children, but they’re generally better for an adults or couples trip.(SnowHotel doesn’t allow children under 5 in the ice rooms.) The restaurants on property tend to be fancy and often expensive. Taking a taxi out to the resorts is easier when you don’t have to deal without car seats. Plus, adults are more likely to enjoy the serenity and nature.

We didn’t stay at the SnowHotel, but we did eat at Ice Restaurant in Snowman World, which is built and run by the same group as SnowHotel.

Best Boutique Hotels in Rovaniemi

Again, all of these hotels would go in the luxury category.

  • Glass Igloo: Glass Resort
  • Snow Hotel: Arctic SnowHotel
  • Cabin: Arctic TreeHouse Hotel

Recap: Staying in a Boutique Hotel in Rovaniemi

  • Pros: Unique experiences, stunning accommodations, breathtaking views
  • Cons: Difficult to get to without a car, expensive, limited availability
  • Best for: Adults who want Lapland to be the focal point of their vacation.
  • Best time to Stay: December though March

Closing thoughts

There’s no right or wrong place to stay in Rovaniemi. Based on who you are traveling with, when you’re traveling, and what your plans are, the right place to stay will be different for everyone.

As you might have gathered, we personally chose to stay at Santa Claus Holiday Village. We were traveling with a child in February, and Santa Claus Village was the main reason we went to Rovaniemi. It was definitely the right choice for us, even though the food options were rough.

We couldn’t justify the price of an ice igloo on top of all of the other expenses on this particular trip. It’s definitely still on our bucket list, and we hope to stay at one someday.

No matter where you stay though, Lapland in the winter is magical. I hope you have the chance to walk through the snowy woods, spot the northern lights, and say hi to a reindeer.

Where would you stay in Rovaniemi?