Bucket list experience:
Santa Claus Village
Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland, Finland
Credit Shutterstock.com/marcela novotna
Not to be confused with SantaPark, the nearby ‘village’ just down the road is also home to a (smaller) Santa grotto and post office. It is, however, more of an activity centre.
You can sign up for the usual mix of winter activities: reindeer and husky sleigh rides, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, swimming in ice holes, and so on – so plenty for older kids, not just the youngsters. There’s a reindeer farm and husky farm close by. In winter months, Snowman World – an icy playground within the village – has ice slides and ice skating.
For parents, Santa Claus Village hosts stores selling three of Finland’s top design brands – Iittala, Arabia and Marimekko. There’s even an ice restaurant and ice bar for parental escapism.
Getting there & doing it
The village is a 25-minute bus ride from downtown Rovaniemi. A shuttle bus runs every hour. You can also grab a taxi (8km).
You don’t need to book in advance to get in or to see Santa – just turn up.
When to do it
It’s open all year round, seven days a week – and yes, you can meet Santa every day. The Christmas season officially opens with a ceremony in late November.