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Rovaniemi touts itself as the capital of Lapland and even has its roads forming the shape of reindeer antlers. It is a great place to study Lappish or Sami culture and to explore the landscape within the Arctic circle.
One sight which is a must-visit is the 172 metre long glass tunnel called the Arktikum, which houses numerous buildings and exhibitions of interest, including the Provincial Museum of Lapland. This museum highlights Sami crafts, culture and costumes and shows how their lifestyles have changed over the generations. In the same building is the Arctic Centre, which gives a thorough treatment of all things circumpolar, from Inuit and Aleut languages to mineral exploration and hunting from kayaks.
Fans of the outdoors can take a walk or sleigh trip in the Arctic Circle, only eight kilometres from town. Further away is the Ranua Wildlife Park, which contains lynx, wolves, reindeer and bears within its large forested environment. Visitors can either walk through the nature trails or see the animals safely from a vehicle.
Restaurants specialising in Lappish cuisine such as reindeer, elk and arctic hare abound, as do cheap eateries specialising in fast food and fish. For nightlife options try the numerous late bars, which serve regional drinks like Finlandia Vodka. Shopping centres around Sami clothing and traditional handicrafts and Santa Claus related trinkets.
A few kilometres from Rovaniemi is the Santa Claus Village which plays on the fact that Santa’s traditional home is Lapland. Here you can visit Santa in his chamber every day of the year in a cave at Santapark. The Santa Claus Post Office, complete with elf staff, is also based here. Every year 700,000 letters arrive from all over the world addressed to Santa and letters from the man himself are sent out from here complete with unique stamp.
There are five Finnair flights from Helsinki to Rovaniemi every day, and five trains. Many bus companies also stop at Rovaniemi on their way to the north.