A to Z of My Family Visit to Santa’s hometown
We have just returned from the most amazing five days in Rovaniemi Finland, known to most as Lapland.
It’s a place I’ve always wanted to bring my three daughters (and myself) to but I always felt the cost of packages to Lapland were exorbitant. So this time last year I started researching how to get to Rovaniemi from Cork without spending an absolute fortune.
Since returning from Lapland myself and my husband have been inundated with questions from friends, family and work colleagues about how to go about planning a trip to Lapland. With this in mind I decided to write a (once off) blog on our experience from start to finish.
After hours of trawling through skyscanner I discovered Norwegian Airlines had direct flights to Rovaniemi from London Gatwick. The flight cost €660 return for the five of us and we used Ryanair to get to the UK which cost €200 return. If you travel with Norwegian Air be sure to sign up for their rewards club and you can earn cash points everytime you fly. We departed Cork Airport on Saturday the 25th Of November and made the decision to spend two nights with family but alternatively we would have stayed overnight at The Premier Inn at Gatwick Airport on the Sunday night, as the flight to Rovaniemi departed @ 05.50 on Monday morning.
We arrived in Rovaniemi Airport @ 11.10 local time on Monday and we hired a car from FiRent which I booked through economy rentals as they had the most competitive prices. It isn’t necessary to hire a car but to pack in loads it is the most efficient way to get around. All cars come with snow tyres as standard so the driving was fine and we used google maps on our phones to navigate our way to the various activities.
As for accommodation, there are lots of places to stay such as hotels, chalets, Santa Claus Holiday Village, The Tree House Hotel you can even stay in an Igloo at Snowman World or you can use booking.com like we did to find accommodation that suits your budget. We stayed at the Hotel Aakenus in the Kokki Cabin in the centre of Rovaniemi. It was a two bed cabin behind the hotel with self catering facilities but breakfast was also included at the main hotel every morning. For 4 nights B&B it cost €596. The only downside was check in was 4 pm but I imagine this is the case with most hotels so we used the time to get some lunch and off we went to check out the Santa Claus Village.
The Santa Claus Village is a Santa experience Village located about 8 km north of Rovaniemi; this is the same place you’d go if you went on a day trip to Lapland with a tour operator. Entrance to the village is free but you pay for each activity separately. There are lots of different activities on offer at the Santa Claus Village to keep you busy and most importantly it’s where you can visit the “real” Santa Claus. No need to book Santa, we walked straight in with only one family before us. Santa was everything I thought he would be. He chatted with the girls about where they were from and their Christmas Lists. Our youngest child, who is 6 was totally in awe of him. The visit is free but there is an optional charge of €27 for the photograph. They do not allow you take your own pictures in there. Another must see is Santa’s Post Office at the village. Check out the thousands of letters Santa receives from all over the world and make sure you post your letter here too!
Remember proper clothing
As you can see from our photos, it is important to have the correct clothing for the trip. For example, Super Warm Hat, 2 piece of jacket minimum (Fleece+outer jacket), thermal under layer+ thick wool jumper, ski pants+ thermal underlayer, warm/thick gloves and snow boots/hiking boots+ 2 pairs of 100% wool socks (merino wool is best). The above picture will give you an idea as to how many layers you need to wear. We purchased everything from various different websites like Trespass, Mountain Warehouse, Decathalon, Sports Direct and Outdoor Look. Watch out for deals in Aldi and Lidl also. If you plan ahead you can pick up some great deals off season. The main thing to remember is plenty of layers and that your clothing is waterproof as you will be wet from the snow. Another tip is to bring a power bank as the phones lose battery quicker than normal with the temperatures.
Article By Ciara Daly