Our next grand adventure takes us far from the warmth of Greece’s beaches. It takes us all the way up to the Arctic Circle where the sky lights up at night. Where the warm feeling of the holiday season reigns all year long. And where cinnamon buns, fortresses and frozen seas are more plentiful than white sandy beaches.
In December, Surviving Europe will spend one week exploring Rovaniemi and Helsinki, Finland.
Our 7-day itinerary in this magical winter wonderland
Overnight ‘Santa Clause Express’ Train to Rovaniemi
This double-decker train aka the ‘Santa Claus Express’, departs from Helsinki’s station. It will take us on a 13 hour overnight journey to Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland. Not only is Rovaniemi famous for viewing the Northern Lights, it’s also the official home of Santa Claus!
2 Days in Rovaniemi, Lapland
We’re renting a car upon our arrival to Rovaniemi, giving us the flexibility to explore the city and surrounding area ourselves. There is so much to see in Rovaniemi, and we don’t want to miss a single thing!
Santa Claus Village:
Santa, reindeer, huskies and snowmen – OH MY!
Chasing the Northern Lights in Finland (best time is just before midnight)
The Northern Lights can of course be unpredictable. Luckily, by renting a car, we’ll have lots of flexibility to search for them ourselves. We’re only in the city for a few days, so we’ll need every chance that we can get!
Secret spots to see the Northern Lights near Rovaniemi:
- Sodankyläntie 1656, Rovaniemi, Finland
- Trails near Rovaniemi
- Arctic Garden
Ranua Wildlife Park – The northern most zoo in the WORLD!
The Lumberjack’s Candle Bridge – A famous landmark of the city.
Tuhat-Tori Flea Market: Because we LOVE vintage finds.
Vintikki: More vintage items and the largest cinnamon rolls in ALL of Rovaniemi!
5 Days in Helsinki, Finland
We strategically planned our visit to Helsinki, so that we can experience some of the holiday events the city is known for:
- St. Thomas Christmas Market: Helsinki’s largest market, located right in the heart of the city! Crafts, hot Glögi and of course delicious FOOD!
- Kaapelin joulu Market: Over 150 Finnish craftsmen take over the Merikaapelihalli at Kaapelitehdas.
- Aleksanterinkatu Street Lights: The most festive street for the holidays! Window displays, shopping, and festive lights.
- Annual Lucia Parade 2015: An annual parade that begins at Senate square and spreads joy throughout the city on December 13th.
Day trip to Porvoo: A beautiful medieval Finnish town, just 40 minutes from Helsinki!
Old Market Hall: For some tasty Finnish treats.
Suomenlinna: The ‘fortress of Finland’ and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Helsinki Olympic Stadium: The Olympics were meant to be held here in 1940, but were cancelled due to WWII. Instead, Helsinki, Finland hosted the Olympics in 1952.
Helsinki Zoo: Situated on the island of Korkeasaari, the Helsinki Zoo is the largest zoo of Finland, and one of the world’s oldest!
Helsinki’s Central Park (Keskuspuisto): 10 km of nature in the heart of Helsinki!
Rock Church: This church is built into a rock! It is a very unique and popular site of the city.
Seurasaari Island & Open Air Museum: Where we can learn how Finns lived long ago.
Sinebrychoff Park or Toinen Linja: For SLEDDING of course!
A stroll on the frozen Baltic Sea off Helsinki
Sibelius Park & Monument: A famous monument and park
Finnish National Museum (Kansallismuseo): Learn all about Finnish history from the Stone Age to today!
As you can tell, we’ve got a packed 7 day itinerary, but we can’t wait! Aside from all the attractions, we are looking forward to tasting Finnish food, experiencing Helsinki’s nightlife and of course getting to know Finnish culture and people.
It will be an adventure to remember, especially with the magic of the holiday season surrounding us in every direction!
Surviving Finland CUSTOM T-shirt
PS don’t forget to check out our newest custom designed tee to represent this beautiful country! Visit our Surviving Europe store to see how you can get your hands on this stylish staple in your wardrobe! By clicking ‘purchase’ you’ll also be supporting our site and mission to inspire (and inform) our readers about moving abroad and European travel.