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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
This is personal preference! Any age would be fun, though kids ages 4-10 might find it especially magical.
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.
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.
Affiliate Disclosure: Travel Mom Squad uses affiliate links. We may receive compensation if you use our links when applying for a credit card at no extra cost to you. This compensation does not impact how or where products appear on this site. We have not reviewed all available credit card offers on this site. Thank you so much if you use our links!
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this site is not provided by credit card issuer. All opinions, reviews, and recommendations are expressed by the author, not the credit card issuer.