Santa Claus does exist! And his home country is Finland. He lives right above the Arctic Circle, just outside a snowy little town called Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland. No, we’re not kidding. Rovaniemi was officially named Santa’s Home in 2010, despite the fact that he’d already been residing there for over 30 years.
Santa’s village is actually located 8km from Rovaniemi’s city center, in a place called Napappiiri.
Legend has it that the exact home of Santa is in Ear Mountain. The location is secret and all that’s known is that it’s somewhere in Lapland. Only a few chosen ones (the elves!) are aware of its whereabouts. Santa has set up his office in Rovaniemi to be available to hear visitors’ Christmas wishes.
Whether you believe in Santa or not, visiting Santa’s village is quite enjoyable. It’s a place where magic happens, whether you’re a kid or an adult!
Must-dos in Santa Claus Village
- Stand right on the Arctic Circle line!
- Send a letter back home! It’ll be stamped with a special Arctic Circle postmark not available anywhere else!
- Have your passport stamped with a special stamp from Santa’s Office!
- Check the stacks of letters that Santa receives to his address. Where does your country stand?
The more than 300,000 visitors to Santa Claus Village every year serve as a proof that the village is really worth travelling to! Plus, if you stay for a few days and experience more of Lapland’s fun activities, you’re going to have a great trip full of fantastic memories!
The best part is that you can come anytime of the year. Santa is always there. And his elves are always busy too. After all, it takes some effort to satisfy every child in the world!
The tragic magic history of Santa Claus village
World War II hit Finland, and especially Rovaniemi, pretty hard. There wasn’t much left of the city. In 1950, with the rebuilding process in full swing, Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of US President Roosevelt, came to see Rovaniemi. Supposedly, the purpose of the visit was to see how post-war aid was helping Rovaniemi rebuild. Eleanor Roosevelt, however, was very fond of Santa Claus and requested a visit with Santa himself. The Finns put up a wood cabin in less than a week, right where they measured the Arctic Circle would be and set up a Santa’s office.
Her visit also helped make the final decision to move Santa to Rovaniemi, as he couldn’t be visited by Christmas-loving people from all over the world at his secret location in Ear Mountain.
Since then, the tradition has remained and even though Santa’s office has become more commercial over the years, it still manages to keep the Christmas spirit alive without too much commercialization. The only bitter pill parents have to swallow is the hefty price for a photo with Santa Claus (€25-30). It’s a one-in-a-lifetime experience though, so we recommend paying for the memory.
Christmas in Rovaniemi
If you want to enjoy the real magic of Christmas, there’s no better place to visit than Lapland’s Rovaniemi. Approximately a month before Christmas, Santa announces the season open and he and his elves get even busier at work.
On December 23, Santa departs on a sleigh pulled by reindeer (Rudolf’s not missing) on a mission to hand out gifts to the children of the world! Elves hop around, there’s a lot of cheer and the atmosphere is very festive. It’s quite a show for kids and adults alike!
When to visit Santa Claus in Rovaniemi
The good news is that you can come anytime. Santa’s office is open every day of the year and you’re welcome to visit in summer as well. The atmosphere is always festive, even without the snow. It’s somewhat wild to hear Christmas carols in August, but visiting in summer makes it easier to enjoy Santa’s village without the Christmas crowds.
How to get to Rovaniemi & Santa Claus Village
Rovaniemi has an international airport, and you can find direct flights from Berlin, Warsaw, and Riga. Most often, though, you’ll have to transfer in Helsinki. Flights via Helsinki are usually cheaper, too. Feel free to extend your stay and explore Helsinki on the way, it’s a nice city!
Santa’s village is located 8km outside of Rovaniemi. The area is called Napappiiri and you can get there on bus no. 8 for a few euros, or grab a taxi for around €20-25 from Rovaniemi’s city center.
Numbers and Stats
- Since 1985, Santa Claus has received 15 million letters from 198 countries
- Santa Claus Village has been around for 30 years
- 300,000 visitors come to Santa Claus Village every year, from all over the world
- Santa’s real Finnish name is Joulupukki
- Santa Claus Main Post Office is a real post office operated by Posti, Finland’s national postal service
- Santa Claus likes to sing, so he might surprise your child with a Christmas carol!
- Santa can be reached at the following address: Santa Claus, Santa Claus’s Main Post Office, 96930 Napapiiri, Finland.
- Santa and his elves answer all letters that provide an legible address!
- There are two post boxes in Santa’s Post Office: one for sending letters and postcards immediately and one for sending just on Christmas
- The designer of the Santa Claus image as presented by Coca-Cola, Haddon Sundblom, was the son of Finnish immigrants
- Not such a fun fact: due to crisis and a decrease in the number of Russian visitors, Santa’s office almost went bankrupt in the summer of 2015. A local safari operator, Lapland Safari, saved it by purchasing a majority stake.
Upon writing this post, I myself feel an urgent need to head to the Arctic Circle yet again! And in case I haven’t convinced you with my words, watch the kind Santa himself inviting the world to visit him in Santa Claus Village. You really won’t be able to resist!
Have you met Santa yet? Was it in Rovaniemi? How was your trip? Or do you just now plan to go?