After our stay in the igloo hotel was over, we took a 3 1/2 hour bus from Kakslauttanen Hotel (near Ivalo) to Rovaniemi, Finland to go to the Santa Claus Village and continue our fairy tale experiences.
We purchased the bus tickets online here. The one way ticket cost was 47.20 euros per adult and 23.60 euros per child or student (only if you have a local or international student ID). If you are not going to Ivalo, you can get to Rovaniemi by flying from Helsinki.
Rovaniemi in Lapland Finland is the official hometown of Santa Claus. At the Santa Claus Village you can meet Santa in the Santa Claus Office. Also you can go to Santa’s Main Post Office to mail your post cards or letters, so that they arrive to your loved ones with the Arctic Circle’s postmark.
Lapland is the northernmost region of Finland and Rovaniemi is Lapland’s capital. Rovaniemi is right on the Arctic Circle. In fact, the Arctic Circle runs through Santa Claus Village and it is marked there for you to cross it. The Arctic Circle is a circle of latitude that runs 66° 33’45.9″ north of the Equator. It marks the southernmost latitude where the sun can stay continuously below or above the horizon for 24 hours. These phenomena are known as the Midnight Sun in the summer and the Polar Night (Kaamos) in the winter.
As a Christmas lover, I had great expectations for our visit to Santa Claus Village. I imagined it as a mystical, fairy tale like place. Unfortunately, what we found was mainly a big shopping area with individual stores and business not integrated as Santa Claus Village. The area is still beautiful because it is full of snow, there are Christmas lights and a huge snowman, but I expected more.
Santa Claus Office
The bigger building is “Santa Claus Office.” Sadly, instead of making the entire building more like Santa’s house, what you will find in front of you when you open the door are stores. And the two stores on the sides are not even XMAS related! From a marketing point of view, I think they are missing a great opportunity here, but that is not the objective of this blog. I have great ideas on how to improve the place, but they would need to hire me. Hahaha. www.santaclausvillage.info
When you open the door that says “Santa is Here,” you find yourself in a circular walkway that I think is supposed to resemble the Arctic Circle. There you start making the line to get to Santa’s Office where you meet Santa and have your video/picture taken. The entrance is free but you have to pay for the picture. Each picture costs 25 euros but for 40 euros you can get the digital video and pictures (2) for download. Santa was nice and had a very long beard which made him kind of special. Here is our picture with him!
Santa Claus Main Post Office
Santa Claus Main Post Office was the highlight of our visit! Here you get a more “Christmassy” feeling. There are many post card stands for you to chose from, comfy tables with chairs and pens so that everyone can sit to write to their loved ones. Everyone is really excited about sending their postcards and letters, so that they arrive with the Arctic Circle postmark.
There is an area where thousands of letters from all over the world are received and sorted for Santa and his elves to read.
There are two mailboxes, one for immediate delivery and a red one, specially for Christmas arrival.
Those of you who want your child or loved one to receive a personalized letter from Santa postmarked from the Arctic Circle, can use this service. The letter is available in 17 languages or you can also write your own. The cost per letter is 8.50 euros (aprox. $8.97). I suggest you do it immediately if you want it delivered by Christmas.
Click here www.santagreeting.net
If you want to send your letter to Santa’s Main Post Office in Rovaniemi, Finland this is the address:
Santa Claus Main Post Office
FI-96930 Arctic Circle
Note as it appears in their webpage: Please be sure to write the country name FINLAND in all capital letters in the mailing address to ensure proper delivery.
Santa Claus Holiday Village
This is the only hotel inside the Santa Claus Village. All other hotels are located in Rovaniemi’s City Center, which is located about a 10 minute drive from Santa Claus Village. To move from the Village to the City Center and viceversa, you can take bus #8 at the bus stop located right in front of the village. You can buy the tickets directly with the bus driver. The cost is 3.50 euro per person one way or 7.00 euro p/p both ways (or “return”- as they call it in all Europe). We went to the city using the bus and it was pretty easy. A taxi will charge 20-25 euros each way.
The accommodations in Santa Claus Holiday Village are little cottages that include a kitchenette and private sauna. This hotel is independently owned, so they have their own “Santa” in their registration building, a restaurant, store and you can even have Santa visit your villa if you buy that special package. Don’t let the name fool you, the rooms aren’t specially decorated like XMAS or with any Santa Claus reference, but the cottage village is really cute. The price per night is pretty high if you want to have the convenience of staying right there. We stayed there one night. www.santaclausholidayvillage.fi
In addition to many stores selling Finland or Christmas related items and souvenirs, you can also get reindeer sleigh, snowmobile rides or book many other tours available in the area such as aurora borealis hunting or husky sleigh rides. There is also a nearby attraction called the Santa Park which we didn’t visit.
The best restaurant in the Santa Claus Village is called Kotahovi and serves traditional Lappish food. Their building is a traditional “kota” or Lappish hut with a fireplace in the middle and reindeer antler lamps. We had the sautéed reindeer with mashed potatoes, lingonberries and pickeled cucumbers and it was really good. www.laplandrestaurant.fi
For any child or person who’s young at heart that loves Christmas, it will be an experience to visit the Santa Claus Village during a trip to Lapland, Finland. It’s open all year long and Rovaniemi has an airport with direct flights to and from Helsinki which only takes 1 hour.
DON’T WAIT, MAKE A PLAN, POSTPONE NOTHING.