Rovaniemi is the provincial centre of Lapland, located right on the Arctic Circle. The town lies at the confluence of the rivers Ounas and Kemi, and is a historical meeting point for trade, people and cultures of the north.
Today, Rovaniemi is a lively university town and a popular travel destination, as well as the regional, commercial, administrative, educational, cultural and sports capital of Finnish Lapland. In terms of geographic area, Rovaniemi (8 017 km²) is one of the largest towns in Europe. With approximately 60,000 inhabitants, it is the 15th biggest town in Finland.
The legal age for the possession and purchase of alcoholic beverages up to 22% ABV is 18 years, and 20 years for spirits containing more than 22% ABV. Beers and ciders up to 4.7% ABV are sold in supermarkets and kiosks from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Drinks stronger than 4.7% ABV are only sold at Alko shops. There are three Alko shops in Rovaniemi: one at the Rinteenkulma shopping centre, one at Citymarket and one in Eteläkeskus. Opening hours are 9-20 from Monday to Friday and 9-18 on Saturdays. Alko shops are closed on Sundays.
Debit and credit cards are widely used in Finland, and the most common cards (Visa, MC and Maestro) are accepted pretty much everywhere. Some places might ask for personal identification, so it’s recommended to have your passport or other official ID with you.
Carrying a bit of cash on you might come in handy when using local buses, for example. There are several cash machines in central Rovaniemi, marked either OTTO or NOSTO. Please note that some of the shops in Santa Claus Village only accept cash, and there is no cash machine in the vicinity.
If you visit Lapland in the winter, remember to dress warmly and in several layers! The outer layer should consist of a quality outdoor garment designed to repel wind and frost. However, there is no need to worry if you do not own proper Arctic gear, as you can also rent clothing from many of the safari companies located in the centre of Rovaniemi.
Warm, sturdy shoes are vital, as well as thermal socks. The layer principle also applies to your hands, which are best protected by wearing lighter gloves inside thick, warm mittens. Always wear a warm hat, even if you only go for a short walk in town – remember that freezing temperatures are accentuated by the wind chill factor. The colder it gets, the more important additional facial protection is, particularly for children whose delicate skin is more sensitive to frostbite. See Visit Finland’s fun video guide to dressing up warm.
In the summer, dressing in layers is not necessary. Quite the contrary – it regularly gets very warm in Rovaniemi in July and August. However, packing long trousers and long-sleeved shirts might be a good idea if nature excursions are on your list: while they’re not a nuisance in town, there are plenty of mosquitoes in the forests, and long garments are the best protection. But never mind if you forget something at home – Rovaniemi is a great place for shopping!
Finland’s currency is the Euro (€). Unlike many other Euro countries, Finland does not use one and two cent coins. The smallest coin in circulation is the five cent coin.
The only places that change currency in Rovaniemi are banks. They usually open at 10 AM and customer service hours vary from closing at 12 to closing at 16. Banks in Rovaniemi accept the most common currencies.
Finnish water is very clean and tap water is drinkable everywhere. Bottled water is sold in supermarkets and kiosks.
The mains voltage in Finland is 230V and frequency 50 Hz. As in most central European countries, the sockets are types C and F with two round pins. If you bring electrical and electronic devices, kindly check in advance whether you need an adapter, transformer or converter.
A fishing management fee must be paid by anybody aged 18-64 who intends to practice lure fishing. In addition, the actual licence must be acquired, either by paying the provincial lure fishing fee or obtaining a permit from the holder of the fishing rights. Angling and ice-fishing are included in the right of public access, which means that no licence is needed. More information on fishing licences here.
The following dates are public holidays:
1st New Year’s Day
Good Friday (2017: 14th April)
Easter Sunday (2017: 16th April)
2nd Easter Monday (2017: 17th April)
1st Labour Day
Ascension Day (2017: 25th May)
Pentecost (2017: 4th June)
Midsummer (2017: 24th June)
All Saints’ Day (2017: 4th November)
6th Independence Day
25th Christmas Day
26th Boxing Day
On Midsummer Eve and Christmas Eve, shops close early and many businesses including banks are closed.
The general emergency number is 112 and can be called from any telephone. Call this number in any emergency that requires the police, an ambulance or the fire department.
While there are no specific internet cafés in Rovaniemi, many establishments and hotels offer free Wi-Fi for customers. You can also buy a prepaid mobile data connection from kiosks. If you do not have an access device of your own, you can use the public computers at Rovaniemi Tourist Information and the City Library.
There are two official languages in Finland: Finnish and Swedish. Finnish is spoken by 92% of the population and Swedish by 5.5%. In Lapland, Sami is spoken as well. Most Finns speak good English and often other languages as well.
If you need to report lost or stolen goods, please contact the Lapland Police Department in Rovaniemi by phone 0295 460 321.
There are coin-operated storage closets for luggage of different sizes at Rovaniemi bus and railway stations. There’s also luggage storage at Rovaniemi Airport.
Pharmacies offer a good selection of over-the-counter medicines. Please note that some products (such as painkillers), which are sold in general stores in some other countries, may only be available from pharmacies in Finland.
Rovaniemi has two post offices – one of them is in the Revontuli shopping centre and is open 8-18 from Monday to Friday and 10-14 on Saturdays. The other is, of course, Santa Claus’ Main Post Office in Santa Claus Village at the Arctic Circle, and is open daily all year round. In the summer (June-August), opening hours are 9-18; in the autumn and spring (September-November and January-May), 10-17. During the Christmas season (1st December-6th January) Santa’s Post Office stays open 9-19.
Letters and postcards can be dropped in the orange mailboxes all over town, which are emptied every weekday. Stamps are sold at post offices, kiosks, tourist information desks, book shops, most supermarkets and hotels.
The right of public access (also known as Everyman’s Right) allows everyone in Finland to roam freely in the countryside without permits and free of charge, regardless of who owns the land. However, you may not cause a disturbance to nature or local inhabitants. As a generally accepted custom reinforced by national law, this right also extends to foreigners. For more information, see here and here.
Generally, department stores and supermarkets are open 9-21 from Monday to Friday, 9-18 on Saturdays and 12-18 on Sundays. Boutiques and smaller shops are open 10-18 from Monday to Friday, 10-16 on Saturdays and 12-16 on Sundays. Please note that some shops’ opening hours may vary. On public holidays, most shops are closed.
Smoking indoors is forbidden in all public spaces, including cafés and restaurants. Some bars have separate smoking rooms.
Tax free shopping is available for visitors from outside the EU and Norway. This service along with information and advice is restricted to shops marked with the “Tax Free” logo.
There are no public telephones in Rovaniemi. Prepaid SIM cards for your mobile phone are sold at “R-kiosks”. The international access code for Finland is +358 (leave out the first zero of the regular phone number when dialing from abroad). You will notice that many businesses give their phone numbers in international format, which can be used as is. If calling abroad from Finland, start with double zero followed by the respective international access code.
Finnish time is UTC+2 (UTC+3 during daylight saving time). Daylight saving time is in use from the last Sunday of March until the last Sunday of October.
In Finland, tips are neither common nor expected. However, it is not unheard of to leave a tip if you are pleased with the service.
No special vaccination is required when travelling to Finland.