Friday Family Vacation: Visiting Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland


Visiting Santa Claus Village in Lapland is always a popular destination for our readers when the winter months hit. It is located in Rovaniemi, Finland – where the Arctic Circle begins. Rovaniemi is also the official hometown of Santa Claus – making it a magical place to go this time of the year!

Using credit card points and miles on this trip is a little tricky, though, as there are no big-brand hotels in the Rovaniemi area. However, there are ways one can use points to cut down on other costs for the trip or earn more points by paying to splurge a little in order to stay right in Santa Claus Village.


Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland

Santa Claus Village is located in Rovaniemi, Finland. This cute little town is open every day of the year, so you don’t have to just visit in the wintertime, though that seems to be the most popular season. Here, you can meet Santa, visit his little village, meet some of his reindeer, cross the Arctic Circle (which runs right through the town), experience the Northern Lights (in Finnish: “Revontulet”), and enjoy the beautiful nature Lapland has to offer.

Fun Fact: The city plan for Rovaniemi, Finland is designed to shape the head of a reindeer. It was designed by Alvar Aalto, one of Finland’s national architects.


Sample One Week Itinerary for Visiting Santa Claus Village in Lapland

  • Helsinki, Finland, 3 nights
  • Day trip to Porvoo or Sipoonkorpi National Park
  • Tallinn, Estonia, 1-2 nights
  • Lapland/Rovaniemi, Finland, 3 nights
  • Back to Helsinki to fly home

If you have more time, one could add in a few days in Stockholm, Sweden or Copenhagen, Denmark then fly into or home from there.


How to Get to Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland

The best airport to fly into would be Helsinki, Finland. Flying Blue is a favorite airline for families to get to Europe because they offer a 25% points discount for children.

A quick look at October 2024, you can fly a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children) from JFK or Chicago for about 70k miles, with 1 layover in either Paris or Amsterdam. If you want to spend a few days in either Paris or Amsterdam, you can call Flying Blue to book an extended stay/stopover in either city before continuing onto Helsinki.

The best part of flying Air France or KLM is that all four major banks transfer to them. So if you have Amex, Citi, Capital One, or Chase points to use, it’s easy to rack up enough points for their flights.


Tip: Always check the monthly Flying Blue Promos. These change each month, giving special lower rates for specific destinations.

After flying into Helsinki, you can either take a short domestic flight into Rovaniemi or take the Santa Express Train.

Best credit cards for points to transfer to Flying Blue:



Santa Claus Express Train from Helsinki

One of the easiest ways to visit Santa Claus Village is to take the overnight train from Helsinki. This is a special overnight train called the Santa Claus Express that runs from Helsinki to Rovaniemi. There are a number of daily connections to choose from and you can have a regular seat or a sleeper cabin. These trains are equipped with wifi, power outlets, and, if you want to splurge, even a shower+toilet in your cabin.

This is a direct train route (no stops) and takes about 12 hours. You can depart at 7 pm, arriving at 7 am, or depart at 9 pm, arriving at 9 am. It is now bookable online through VR. I picked random dates in October 2024 – the cost of a regular seat on the 7 pm train is about 79,30 euros/adult and 47,60 euros/child. The 9pm train is much cheaper, costing 34,80 euro/adult and 20,90 euro/child. Sleeper cars will be more expensive, and you can add these when booking online as well. Children 4 and under can travel for free!


Helsinki Hotels Using Points

Helsinski is a much easier location to use your credit card points. There are a number of hotels with big brands like IHG, Marriott, and Hilton. Keep in mind that, as with most European hotels, the room occupancy rates are only 2-3 people. So a family of 4+, will likely need to get 2+ rooms.

Here are a few hotel options on points in Helsinki:

Crown Plaza Helsinki Hesperia – IHG

Helsinki Hotels Using Points

Hotel Indigo Helsinki – Boulevard – IHG

Helsinki Hotels Using Points

Hotel St. George Helsinki – Marriott

Helsinki Hotels Using Points

Tallinn Hotels

Hotel Telegraaf, Autograph Collection – Marriott

Tallinn Hotels using points

Hilton Tallinn Park – Hilton

Talinn Hotels using points


For the IHG hotels, we recommend these cards:


For Marriott hotels, we recommend these cards:


Cards for Hilton hotels:


Rovaniemi Hotels

Hotels in Rovaniemi are almost exclusively boutique or family-owned B&B’s. There are no IHG, Hyatt, or Marriott hotels in the area. Santa Claus Village does have lodging right on site, some even have the option to book airport transfers. There are a variety of price points, from caravan parking (RV camping) to glass igloos for about $1,000/night.

Though you can’t use your brand hotel points to book the hotels here, this could be a great opportunity to use your $300 travel credit that comes with the Capital One Venture X, using the Capital One Purchase Eraser, or putting the spend towards meeting a minimum spend on a new card.

Best cards for Capital One Purchase Eraser:


Adding a Few Days in Stockholm, Sweden?

Story Hotel Riddargatan in Stockholm has suites that can sleep a family of 4 for only 20-24k Hyatt points per night. Standard rooms start at 12k/night and sleep 2.

Story Hotel Riddargatan in Stockholm




Some FAQ’s about Visiting Santa Claus Village in Lapland

What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Santa in Lapland?

Mid-November to mid-January seems to be the most popular times to visit Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi because of the holiday season. Additionally, the snow and Northern Light conditions are best from mid-November to March. However, Santa Claus Village is open all year round!

Do I Need a Car in Rovaniemi, Finland?

If you’re only going to be visiting Santa Claus Village, a car will not be necessary. Once you arrive at Rovaniemi train station, Santa Claus Village is about a 10-minute, 30-euro taxi ride. However, if you want to explore beyond the village, you will definitely need a car. There are a number of car rental places near the train station and the airport.

What Are the Best Ages for Kids to Visit Santa in Lapland?

This is personal preference! Any age would be fun, though kids ages 4-10 might find it especially magical.


Things to Do In/Near Rovaniemi, Finland

  • Ski lessons
  • Visiting Santa’s Post Office
  • Reindeer sleigh ride
  • Dog sledding
  • Rent mini Snowmobiles for the Kiddos
  • Ranua Arctic Wildlife Park
  • Lampivaara Amethyst Mine (about 1.5 hours drive)
  • Visit an Ice Hotel
  • Go Ice Floating in a Frozen Lake

One final tip: You can rent your winter/cold weather clothing from a number of local shops. This would be helpful to be able to pack less.


Bottom Line

Visiting Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland is on a number of families’ Christmastime bucket lists. While there are no big brand hotels within the area, there are a number of ways to use your points to get to Finland, visiting Helsinki, Tallinn, and/or Stockholm, and saving a little or earning more points by paying cash for a stay inside Santa Claus Village itself.

Dogs leading sled in snow

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