Things to do in Rovaniemi before snow comes (2022)

Mother Nature being unpredictable, you might arrive in Rovaniemi in Autumn before the first snowfalls, whereas you expected to experience the white winter wonderland postcard… Unfortunately, Autumn is always uncertain about the amount of snow that arrives in Lapland : some years, snow comes as early as the end of October, some other years you may need to wait until the end of November to have the first white layers covering the surrounding landscapes… But don’t worry, we have presented here a selection of fun and unique activities to do in Rovaniemi that will make your stay in Lapland memorable, even without snow! Adaptation is key when venturing into Arctic regions!

1. SPOT THE NORTHERN LIGHTS 

You might have seen it on the internet, you might have heard of it and it is probably on your bucket list … Seeing the Northern lights in Rovaniemi!

While the nights are long and full of darkness, it is to be expected that Mrs Aurora would brighten it up! However, this phenomenon depends on several factors, the most important of them being the weather forecast! Believe it or not, aurora hunters don’t like snowfalls! With a clear sky or partly clear sky, and a dry climate, the weather conditions are indeed more favorable for northern lights observation. The weather also changes very fast in Lapland, so be ready to drive away from Rovaniemi to end up in the most promising locations! 

With more than 90% of success on our Northern Lights Photography tours (actually 94.2% in season 2021-22), you can trust our experts to do whatever is possible to make this hunt memorable, even if it means driving far into Sweden to escape the cloudy sky covering the Finnish Lapland!

We recommend the best northern lights hunting tour in Rovaniemi where you will get guided by one of our professional Aurora experts, enjoy some snacks and explanations around the fire and, of course, get memorable photos!

tipee in the forest with northern lights

2. HIKE INTO THE WILD

Hiking is an all year long activity in Finland and especially in Lapland regions! You can visit the same nature reserve during different seasons and observe the changes of scenery. In the Rovaniemi region, there are plenty of scenic hiking trails with viewpoints and beautiful nature features, that are perfect for a half-day trip. Your outdoor expert guide will lead you through arctic nature, teach you about your surroundings and survival tips and will prepare a Finnish barbecue lunch on an open fire.

If you would like to enjoy an all-day experience, we recommend our longer guided trips to other regions of Lapland. This is then the opportunity to discover different landscapes, with fells (tunturi) or some gorge. In November we recommend our Korouoma Canyon trip departing from Rovaniemi, located in an area with a colder climate. Despite the lack or small amount of snow you may find there, you will still enjoy the breathtaking rock canyon with their waterfall starting their freezing process! You do not need to have the physical condition of an athlete but be prepared to walk a 5km trail during approximately 2 hours, concluded by a lunch break around an open fire. 

View of the canyon from above in autumn

3. RELAX IN A WILDERNESS SAUNA

With an estimate of three million saunas for a population of five and a half million, it is fair to say that saunas are an important component of Finnish culture. It is also said that most important decisions in Finland are taken in saunas. So, how about starting your holidays in Rovaniemi by a sauna, to think about the next activities you can book? 

Finns go to sauna regularly to relax their body and mind! The whole process of sauna and cooling has been known for its various health benefits and that is why, you should have at least one sauna stop in your journey! 

We have two options for you to try this very  local activity : either by night to (maybe) spot the Northern Lights, or during the day coupled with a visit to a long-established reindeer farm. Both offer an authentic experience in a log sauna lost in the middle of nowhere! Don’t worry if you are not familiar with the sauna process : our guide will be there to assist you, light the wood-burner in the sauna and give you more instructions on how to use it in the very Finnish way. There is also a pontoon that leads directly to the lake if you are brave enough to go in the cold water!

Our sauna experiences are always private for intimacy reasons. Please contact us if you would like to organise it for yourself or your group, at [email protected].

 

Sauna wilderness Rovaniemi

4. FEED THE REINDEER

Did you know that there are more reindeers than people in Finnish Lapland ? It would be a shame to miss the opportunity to encounter a reindeer in its very local habitat. Reindeers are semi-domesticated animals, half tame and half wild ; they all belong to a herder, even those you might meet in the forests!

Before the snow comes and being able to hop on a sleigh, you still have the chance to visit a reindeer farm, hear about the lifestyle of herders and get close to their lovely animals by feeding them directly from your hands! The off-season visits indeed allow for a more intimate experience where you can really go inside the fences!

A woman feeding reindeers while smiling

5. RIDE A HUSKY WHEELCART

Huskies are another animal you can get close to in Finnish Lapland. While they need cold temperatures to feel comfortable, their favorite activity is running : they don’t just love running and pulling sleighs, they need it for their well-being! Mushers then have to prepare their dog teams before the busy snow season starts. As soon as lower temperatures allow it in Autumn, sled dogs practice on wheel carts to build their muscles and cohesion. So even without snow, you get the opportunity to enjoy a nice ride and take part in husky training!

If the wheel cart ride is not something for you, but you still want to enjoy nice moments with the dogs, a simple visit to the ethical kennel is still possible. 

Our recommendation : make it a combo! Visit a reindeer farm in the morning and enjoy a husky ride (or simple visit) in the afternoon!

Reindeer Husky Summer Rovaniemi Lapland Autumn Rovaniemi

6. THE RANUA WILDLIFE PARK

Most Arctic animals will be very difficult to spot in the wilderness, especially when the winter season is coming up : they will hear, see, smell you before you can even imagine they are nearby! Don’t worry about missing your chance to encounter the animals of the Far North! 

Located one-hour drive away from Rovaniemi, the Ranua Wildlife Zoo is the world-northernmost wildlife park where you can spot polar bears, arctic foxes, wild reindeer, wolves, wolverines, lynxes, predatory birds, otters, wild boars… A gentle path through the forests takes you from animals to animals, giving the feeling of an immersion into their natural environment. And even without snow, the park keeps all its charm. Actually, the lack of snow is even your luck, since you will be able to spot them more easily in their large habitat! 

Treat yourself and your family with a guided trip from Rovaniemi to Ranua Park ; our guided tour includes transportation in very small groups, entrance tickets, buffet lunch at the Ranua restaurant and the explanation of our outdoor guide!

Pine marten Ranua

7. RIDE A FATBIKE AND VISIT ROVANIEMI CITY

You feel like getting some speed and exploring around Rovaniemi? Unfortunately, snowmobile tours usually start at the very end of November, when the snow amount is enough to offer a good layer on the ground. As an alternative, you may opt for a not less adventurous fatbike ride to discover Rovaniemi area and the surroundings of our lovely little town. 

Equipped with big tires, fat bikes are an easy way to move around in October and November as they adapt to most types of terrain (including snowy roads!). So don’t be afraid of slippery tracks, the tyres are made for Arctic conditions and will offer you a safe ride!

Whether you are a beginner or a more experienced biker, you can enjoy an experience adapted to your level. For example, we offer cultural guided tours around the city and Santa Claus Village to discover Rovaniemi and its history, as well as more physical rides into Arctic forests to reach viewpoints! Independent travelers may also rent the bikes at a very affordable price.

Two people with their fatbikes in Santa Claus Village

8. TRY TO CATCH YOUR OWN FISH!

No snow does not mean no ice… The minus temperatures usually come a bit earlier than first snowfalls. From early November, small lakes and ponds start freezing, soon allowing for one of locals’ most favorite activities : ice fishing! 

Ice fishing has been part of local culture in the Far North for centuries. Traditionally it was one of the rare ways to get food in wintertime when the conditions are the roughest. Nowadays, many Finnish people still enjoy sitting on a frozen lake for hours to try to catch their lunch and relax. So, don’t you want to try?

One good place where you can experience ice fishing is at our wilderness sauna lake! The pure waters are full of pikes and perches ; so why not test your fishing skills while waiting for the sauna to warm up?

Ice fishing November Rovaniemi

9. VISIT THE ARKTIKUM MUSEUM

Clouds and gray days usually call for museums! And the Arktikum Museum, lodged on the shore of the Ounasjoki river, is definitely a must-see when visiting Rovaniemi (no matter if there is snow or no). You will be probably surprised by how rich and diverse the Museum is, covering the wide topic of “life in the Arctic” : indigenous Sámi cultures, arctic fauna and flora, history of Finland, Northern lights, climate change… 

If you are interested in museums, we recommend buying the cultural pass that gives you access to the three main museums of Rovaniemi : Arktikum, Pilke (Forest & Nature) and Korundi (Contemporary Art). The pass can be bought in any of the three places.

Two people in the museum looking at things on the wall. A fake reindeer in the first plan.

10. SANTA CLAUS VILLAGE

Rovaniemi has named itself as the official hometown of Santa Claus. A necessary stop is therefore required at Santa Claus Village when visiting Rovaniemi, even though the village might seem a little less fairy without the snow… From mid-November, the underground cavern of Santa Park is also opening its doors, giving a nice opportunity to enter the Elf’s world and immerse yourself in the Christmas magic! Unlike the Santa Claus Village which is free, you will need to purchase your entrance at Santa Park. 

We do not offer a guided tour for these activities as we believe you can easily discover the village and the Santa Park by yourself. The two places are located 6 and 8 km away from Rovaniemi city centre ; you may get there by taxi or city bus (no. 8) or by renting your fat bike to enjoy the scenic cycle path!

That’s it! We hope you enjoyed reading this blogpost.
If you have any question, feel free to contact us!
We will be super glad to help you plan your trip to Rovaniemi!

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