Apart from being the home of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi is famous for one more thing. It is also one of the best Northern Lights hotspots in Scandinavia. Millions fly to this small Finnish town every year, hoping to get a good shot of this magical light show. Below, we’ll present the best places to see the Northern Lights in Rovaniemi, and what you need to know before you visit.
What makes Rovaniemi great for aurora viewing?
Rovaniemi combines those elements that make an ideal location for Northern Lights viewing. The main reasons that make the chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Rovaniemi high are the following:
- Its geographical location: Rovaniemi is in Lapland, Finland, right on the Arctic Circle. This location in the north is ideal for the appearance of the Northern Lights. Due to the Earth’s magnetic field, the charged particles are heading towards the poles. So there’s a good chance you’ll see it while you’re there.
- Limited light pollution: Rovaniemi is a small town, relatively remote from major urban centers in Finland. If you exclude the city center, other areas in and near it do not have light pollution. This favors clear viewing of the Northern Lights in Rovaniemi when there are no clouds in the sky.
- Its idyllic atmosphere: Rovaniemi is known as “the hometown of Santa Claus” and “the capital of Lapland”. It consists of beautiful little houses, surrounded by forests and Scandinavian wildlife. Most of the year, Rovaniemi is covered by snow. So, can you imagine a better setting to see the Aurora Borealis?
What is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Rovaniemi?
The Northern Lights appear in Rovaniemi most months of the year. It is possible to see it even at the end of summer. However, if you want to increase your chances, the best time to visit is during winter. From the beginning of December to the end of March, the chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Rovaniemi are more than 50%.
The best Northern Lights Tours in Rovaniemi
The most convenient way to see the Northern Lights while being in Rovaniemi is to join a tour. Well-trained, experienced guides will guide you to the best spots depending on the day and the weather.
Find the cheapest Northern Lights tours in Rovaniemi here:
The best spots to see the Northern Lights in Rovaniemi
If you prefer to do some Northern Lights chasing on your own, here are the best spots to try spotting them.
Jätkänkynttilä bridge (Lumberjack’s Candle Bridge)
This impressive bridge crossing the Kemijoki River is on the way from Rovaniemi to Santa Claus’ village. In winter, the water freezes, creating a beautiful scene when the Northern Lights appear. Next to the bridge, there is a small park, from where you can watch this magical phenomenon.
How to get there:
- If you have a car, take Lumberjack’s Candle Bridge Road. It will take 10-15 minutes to get there from city center.
- Explore the scenic route on foot or bike. Distance from the city center is 5 kilometers.
- Take a taxi for a direct and easy journey.
Arktikum Museum and Science Centre
This museum is the best spot to see the Northern Lights in Rovaniemi without getting far from the city center. It has a north-facing glass walkway that protects you from the cold as you wait for the Aurora Borealis to appear. Outside, a small beautiful lake and some trees create a wonderful setting.
How to get there:
- A pleasant walk of around 15 minutes is your best option. Head south on Pohjolankatu and cross the bridge to reach Arktikum.
- Go in the same direction if you want to get there by car.
- Local buses pass near Arktikum. Bust stops are conveniently located all around the city.
Ounasvaara Fell is a small hill just 5 minutes drive away from the city center. It is an ideal place for hiking and winter sports during the daytime, and perfect for Northern Lights watching at night. Two trails lead to Tottorakka ski station, which is an ideal spot on the hill to wait for the Northern Lights to appear.
How to get there
- Reach Ounasvaara fell by foot or bike. The starting point of the two trails leading to the hill is the famous Sky Hotel. The distance is 2-3 kilometers from the hotel.
- Reach Ounasvara fell using Bus Line 8, which connects the city center to Ounasvaara.
Arctic Circle Hiking Area
Just a few kilometers away from Santa Claus’ Village, you will find the Arctic Circle Hiking Area. Many hiking trails pass through the forest and rivers. If you follow them, you can enjoy the wonderful Finnish nature. Also, zero light pollution favors clear views of the Northern Lights when they appear.
How to get there
- Go to the Arctic Circle Wilderness Lodge, which is located 25 kilometers north of Rovaniemi city center. Then, cross the river from the bridge at Vaattunkiköngäs and find the path leading to the hiking area.
- Cross the bridge situated further north at Vikaköngäs. The Arctic Circle Hiking Area stretches along the river of Raunanjoki.
Santa Claus Village
Santa Claus Village is one of the top spots to see the Northern Lights in Rovaniemi. Well, not really the village itself, but the area surrounding it. Santa Claus Village is not free from light pollution, with all the bright houses and spectacular shows. However, if you move a little away from the village, you can find several secluded spots and experience the Northern Lights in peace.
How to get there
- Use Bus Line 8, which regurarly runs from the city center to Santa Claus Village.
- Enjoy a walk or a bike ride to Santa Claus Village. The distance is 8 kilometers, and many routes are available for cyclists.
- Take a taxi. It takes 15 minutes to get there from the city center.
Can you see the Northern Lights from Rovaniemi city center?
Yes, you can see the Northern Lights from Rovaniemi city center. Usually, they are visible either from the city center or the streets and hotels nearby. However, you won’t be able to see them very clearly. City lights reduce visibility -and most of the time- they are blurry, or just a glow is visible. The best thing to do is to walk a little outside the center of Rovaniemi, somewhere dark and quiet. The distances are very short, so in 5 minutes walking distance, you can find some much better place for Aurora watching.