Luxury holidays in Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi, the provincial capital of Lapland, was badly blitzed in World War II; its fortunes reversed, though, when Finn starchitect Alvar Aalto stepped in to rebuild it, designing a new town in the shape of reindeer antlers to honour the area’s famed fauna. The library, theatre, town hall and several housing blocks bear Aalto’s unique stamp, but Aalto didn’t have a hand in Rovaniemi’s biggest draw – Santa Claus Village, St Nick’s official address, where there’s plentiful festive fun in the run up to Christmas (and if you just can’t get enough of the guy, there’s also SantaPark just down the road). Beyond Rovaniemi’s limits, though, there’s a more authentic feel to the wintery landscape: reindeer and elk prancing through pristine fields of snow and vast swathes of crystalline pines…

When to go

Come Christmas, families arrive en masse to hand-deliver letters to Santa; but the wilds keep the peace. Each season brings its own delights, but in winter (from December to March) Rovaniemi looks a smidge more magical under a layer of snow.

Getting there

  • Planes

    You can fly direct to Helsinki from London, major cities in Europe or New York; most other flights arrive via London or the Middle East. Internal flight routes are frequent and affordable, served by Finnair and Norwegian airlines.
  • Trains

    Take the VR overnight train ( from Helsinki Central to Rovaniemi rail station (around 11 hours) to wake to Christmas-card panoramas – choose from cosy private berths or economic bunk-beds. If you’re travelling by day, you’ll need to change at Oulu or Tampere.
  • Automobiles

    Those with sturdy tyres and an even sturdier constitution can attempt the nine-hour drive from Helsinki to the hotel – it’s pretty much a straight drive north on the E75 route.