As incredible as it may seem, several trains a day travel between Helsinki and Rovaniemi in all seasons.
The day trains tend to be slightly faster (they can complete the trip in as little as 8½-9 hours), but make you lose at least half a day. The journey takes 11-12 hours on the night trains, but won't seem that long if spend the majority of the night sleeping! Travelling by night also save one night's worth of accommodation.
So many people come to Rovaniemi to go to the Santa Claus Village or Santa Park that the city has created bus line #8, also known as "Santa's Express," to shuttle visitors between these two attractions and some key locations in town.
The trip takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on where you get on/off in Rovaniemi. Not taking any chances, we took the bus at its first stop, outside the railway station. There is about only one bus every hour, so check the schedule (available on the Internet at the link provided) before you take it.
As of 2012, the fare was €3.80/adult and €1.90/child for a one-way ticket or €7.00/adult and €3.80/child for a return trip).
Just outside the airport building we saw taxis and shuttle buses waiting for everyone who needs a lift to Rovaniemi. According to the website they even stop at various hotels - or at the local bus station/train station. Buses seem to cost 7 €, taxis will be around 25 €.
You can also make reservations here
We flew to Rovaniemi with Finair from Frankfurt via Helsinki. We noticed that also Norwegian is flying there, Blue1 and Airbaltic plus that there seems to be a direct flight from Rovaniemi to Tokyo!
Rovaniemi Airport is a small cute little airport with not too much traffic, it has two baggage claims, 6 counters and 6 gates and a handful of flights each day. It has two small souvenir shops and that is about it!
The airport is just 10 kilometers away from the city center, so travelling is really easy!
Since our cottage was a little remote and since we wanted to have a chance to do a little sightseeing while in Lapland, we had to opt for a rental car. We prebooked the car through a German website http://www.billiger-mietwagen.de that we knew from previous bookings to be very good!
There are several companies available at Rovaniemi Airport, like Sixt, AVIS, Hertz and Budget and we found the service to be very good!
One of the cheapest way of get to Rovaniemi it's by Train. If your first Finnish city is Helsinki you may take the train from the Helsinki Railway Station. If you want to save some coins with the hotel, take the night train. It's very comfortable. You take a night rest and save the hotel money. There are bed compartments, restaurant and other facilities. In your bed compartment you'll find even potable water. Train Restaurant serve hot meals but anyways it's better to eat something in Helsinki or Rovaniemi before get in. For example a sleeping compartment for 3 persons costs around 350 Euros, wich is less expensive than airplane + hotel or train+hotel. It's a quiet journey and the conductor wake you up about 30 minutes before your station. VR ( finnish train comapany) have a relation of how many persons are in each compartment and where they go. So it's a good choice. In Helsinki you have bus line to the airport ( Bus number 615 T or Finnair bus) and to the boats. If you want you may walk until the harbour. The night train stops 1 hour in Tampere, so if you want to take the risk you may take a look of the city. You also may make the reserve by e-mail after check out the prices and time schedules in the internet. It's safe and it works. You only have to get to the station and inform your reservation code number. Payment with Visa isa available in the stations.
If you go to Santa Claus or Santa Park, try to get some more people that might be waiting for a bus or a taxi and share a 9 seats taxi. For example from Santa Park to Rovaniemi ( MacDonalds) it cost only 25 euros. If you split those 25 per 9...it's cheaper than to take a bus.
Don't be shy.
Just ask people waiting if they agree.
Now, if you're going to Rovaniemi from Finland's capital, Helsinki, you'll probably take the same train ride as I did, spanning an amazing epic length of some 800km. Our journey, though fuss-free and comfortable wasn't without difficulty. Liz and I faced the common language problem in Helsinki Train Station when we tried booking a double sleeping berth .Somehow, the ticketing attendant did not understand our request even though we used all hands, heads and even a portable Magna Doodle to indicate what we wanted. She booked us 2 bunks in a triple berth instead.
Now if you're accustomed to train travel, you would know that a triple berth is bloody high. It took some getting used to but this little mistake turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We were later joined by a pretty Finnish blonde who regaled us with stories of the Finnish Ruska ( Autumn Colours) . This made us even more excited to go to Rovaneimi and after the conversation, Liz and the Blonde slept like good little gals on the lower bunks while I fretted at the top.
When our train finally arrived at Rovaniemi Station at 7:55 a.m, some 12 hours and 35 minutes after we left Helsinki, I was stone asleep. As luck would have it, I failed to wake up when the train conductor moved around the compartments to rouse the passengers. I only woke up in horror when the conductor came to the berth again and said that we were the last passengers on board. We were very lucky to have been discovered by the conducter, if not we would have landed in Helsinki some 12 hours again.
Cost of the Sleeping Berth ( 21 Euros ) . Our Train fare was covered by the Scanrail Tix.
Schedule for the Express Train from Helsinki to Rovaneimi ( Click on weblink below)
Click here to read more of bpacker's dingbat adventures in Rovaneimi.
If you're travelling low budget and you want to travel comfortably anyway, take a night train to Rovaniemi from Helsinki, Turku, or wherever in the southern Finland you are.
It's easy and compared to normal Finnish prices it's quite cheap, too. For students it's something like 35 euros to get more than 800 km north from Helsinki! For adults it's twice the price.
The trains are very comfortable and if you get a cabin (that's a bit more expencive, then) I can guarantee that you sleep well. I myself usually sleep in the normal sitting cars, because they're okey too.
There are usually restaurants cars in the train and all the announcements are also in English. Sometimes there are also fancier Pendolino and InterCity trains travelling during the night. They're even nicer to travel!
The web-page is exellent, you can find all the timetables and calculate the best trip for you and also see the exact price for that particular trip.
There is direct train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi 2-3 times a day, but if you could, take the night train with a sleeping compartment and you will arrive early in the morning to Rovaniemu fresh and energetic.