As the official home of Santa Claus in Finland, Rovaniemi has... two Santa Claus theme parks!
In a sad attempt to exploit the Santa Claus connection, Santa Park was opened in 1998 in a former nuclear shelter (now converted into a jolly grotto). It is a couple of kilometres before the Santa Claus Village on Route 4 coming out of Rovaniemi.
Having visited both, I can only encourage everyone to avoid Santa Park. As of the end of 2012, the price of admission was a steep 29 euros for adults and 24 euros for children aged 4-14. We had the chance to be here in the middle of summer, with hardly anyone around, and therefore were able to see everything in less than 2 hours. The only way to squeeze more time out of this place would be to come here with the winter crowds and take part in waiting lines.
The last straw came when we had lunch at the cafeteria. The food was grossly overpriced and simply not that fresh. So much inferior to the wonderful reindeer meatball stew I had at Santa Claus Village.
The best parts of our visit here were the train ride for our little one and seeing the sculptures in the Ice Gallery.
Fun Alternatives: Visit the Santa Claus Village instead. It is also very commercial, but at least there is no entry fee, and you can choose to pay just for what you want. Furthermore, the REAL Santa Claus is there -- so much more convincing than the one at Santa Park.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Santa Claus Village
Well its a double edged sword as you have to meet Santa and children will love it, however 23 euros for a photo is a lot and really its all shops there so go prepared to spend if you have to!
Unique Suggestions: Meet santa claus. He told us a lovely story about Rudolph on holiday lol. We went just before closing to see him which saved on all the queueing.
- Family Travel
The post office
There is a special post office at the Arctic Circle location where you can send special Christmas cards home, to relatives and friends. You can even ask them to send them to arrive only in the next Christmas
Santa village and all related
OK, so some might kill for this one as this is the soul heart of the tourism industry here, but its not my fault that most tourists that visiting Rovaniemi are here for average 48 hours and not interested in the real nature, history and culture of this region. All they come to see in Santa Claus and Reindeers.
So, to be honest, to my point all of this is a big fuss and big rip off, so each one can make his choices what to do, where to go and how to spend the money.
I am glad my kids are more interested in the lakes and forests then sitting on the lap of man dressed like Santa.
Unique Suggestions: You can stop here, visit all the souvenir shops, hang around where there is no admission fee.
Fun Alternatives: go north...
I think that Santapark is one of them, but don't tell them that I told you!! You will probably waste your money if you go there..!
Open: Daily 10-18 BUT there are exceptions which can be seen in www.santapark.com
Unique Suggestions: BUT if you have young children I think they
will love Santapark! And Santapark is much BETTER place now AFTER the REFORMATION!! So, have fun if you end up there! :)
Santa Claus Village and Santapark
Yep, this is a tourist trap... The Finnish people say that Santa Claus / Father Christmas lives in Rovaniemi. Actually in the Arctic Circle, which is 8 km north from Rovaniemi.
In Santa Claus Village there are many different buildings built in a funny, half modern half traditional style. The village DOES resemble some winter fairytail story. There are shops, cafés, activities like reindreer or dogsledging, christmas songs, snowslides for children, the Arctic Circle borderline, a ice-sculpture park in some years, Santa Claus Post Office which actually GETS MAIL FROM ALL AROUND THE WORLD!!
And of course, the main character of this all, Santa Claus. Okey, warning, the following sentence contains a spoiler. Santa Claus is played by various actors who take turns. They speak many languages and they can say just some word in most of the languages that are heard in this tourist trap. That's maybe something that makes people happy! "Santa speaks my language!!!"
Then there's Santapark. It's supposed to be a sort of an amusement park, but it's actually not much fun. For youth and adults it's waste of time, for kids it's fun! :) It's just near Santa Claus Village (200m) and there's a tiny little Santa-train going between the two places just fot the fun for children! Santapark is actually a cave, so it might be an interesting way of having a small amusement park.
Unique Suggestions: Go to these places with humour!!! Take silly pictures, climb on snowpiles and do things ment for children even if you're an adult. That's a good way of making your trip to the Arctic Circle unforgettable, otherweis it would be a little boring... :) But if you take it with humour, it'll be fun!
- Family Travel
- Theme Park Trips
Santa Claus Village in the Arctic Circle
Arctic circle is a few km north from Rovaniemi. The first cottage was built when Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of the former US president, visited the Arctic Circle in 1950. After that more and more tourists on their way to North Cape (Nordkapp) did stop there. So gradually more gift shops, restaurants and other buildings where built there. There is also the Office of Santa Claus, where you can meet him (free) and take a picture of you with him (about 18 euro). 500.000 visitors every year from all over the world.
Unique Suggestions: A lot of people want to take pictures of themselves in the arctic circle. The place is more beautiful in winter, when the area is covered by snow. So far Santa has received nearly 8 million letters in his Main Post office. You can see some of the letters there. You can also mail Christmas greeting cards for example in summer, but the receiver will get them in Christmas. Just choose the correct mail box.
- Family Travel
Snowmobiling and Santa Claus
They take Your money and give You just unpleasant service. That's it.
Unique Suggestions: If You want to go snowmobiling, book Your safari from some smaller company. Even if it is a little bit more expensive, they serve You better.
Fun Alternatives: Nature. Skiing, snowshoewalking, icefishing, getting to know Finnish mythology and so on.
Santa Claus village in Lapland
You can meet Santa Claus here and cross the Arctic Circle . You can send friends and relatives greetings from the Santa Claus Main Post Office with the unique Arctic Circle postmark.
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