Come one, come all, to the most festive Packs Project destination yet: Rovaniemi, Finland. Never heard of it? We don't blame you. Finland is almost as far north as you can get, past Germany, Denmark, and Sweden.
The icy wonderland might seem an odd destination when there are so many other, more well-known, cities to explore across Europe, but it has one magical claim to fame: It's the official hometown of the one, the only, Santa Claus!
Why Rovaniemi Is Worth Visiting
Yes, you read that correctly. Santa's original hometown was the long lost town of Korvatunturi, located somewhere in the ice and snow of Finnish Lapland. Since no one knows quite where it once stood, Santa set up shop in Rovaniemi instead!
Visitors can explore Santa's vibrant village, with quaint shops, restaurants, reindeer rides, snowmobile tours, and so much more. The village is the most popular attraction in the area, but there's also a snow castle to visit, a world of snowmen, an arctic zoo, and an ice restaurant!
Oh, and did we mention? Rovaniemi is so far north, you can easily catch a glimpse of the swirling, ethereal northern lights.
If you visit during the month of June, you'll get a big, sunny surprise: It. Doesn't. Get. Dark. Technically the sun still sets, but because of Earth's slightly tilted axis and the magic of refracted light, the nights are white. 3 am jetskiing? Go for it!
Where to Stay
Out of all the hotels available in Rovaniemi, one takes the cake for the most unique hotel in the area...probably the most unique on the entire continent! The Arctic Snow Hotel offers rooms that are completely made of ice and snow- even the beds! It's always cold, so guests sleep in cozy sleeping bags.
If that's a bit too extreme for you, try a glass igloo instead. They're warm and toasty inside, but they offer 360-degree views of the starry sky. There's even an optional alarm to wake you if the northern lights appear while you're asleep!
What to Pack
Needless to say, this is one winter destination that requires some serious cold weather-wear. You'll probably need to bring a suitcase for that, especially if you plan on playing in the snow. (And who wouldn't?)
For strolling around Santa's Village, a backpack is all you need. To stay toasty and warm, make sure you bring:
- Warm, fleece-lined mittens or gloves
- A wool hat
- An extra pair of socks, in case a stray snowball sneaks into your boots
- A camera, to capture every magical moment, aurora borealis included!
What’s the most unique destination you’ve been to so far? Let us know in the comments!