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5 days - Pre-Christmas tour near Rovaniemi with Santa's secret hideout
Visiting Santa in Lapland is a wonderfully magical experience – with the snow topped landscapes outside, and cosy fires indoors. This pre-Christmas tour is based in a small town outside Rovaniemi and introduces you to the incredible animals of the Arctic as well as Santa Claus himself. Enjoy a white wonderland in your own family apartment with self-catering facilities as well as breakfast and dinners fully included. Based within the wildlife park complex, in between your winter activities such as snowmobiling and dogsledding, see the polar bears as well as endless visits into the zoo.
Due to high demand, many of our Christmas tours are fully booked over the 24th and 25th December dates, however, most of our tours now have pre-Christmas departures running just before the busy Christmas period. These tours include a Santa visit which is still very exciting to the children as Santa can talk to them about what they are hoping to receive from him and his preparations for his imminent departure. Flights and activities are also easier to prepare at this stage.
- Action-packed pre-Christmas holiday with the opportunity to enjoy traditional husky sledding, search for the Northern Lights and visit Rovaniemi
- Visit Santa Claus in his secret forest hideout
- Stay within the amazing Ranua Wildlife Park and meet the creatures of the Arctic. Using modern & expertly crafted enclosures, see animals such as polar bears, moose, golden eagles, Arctic foxes, otter, lynx, elk and deer in the snow setting. Grab a sled for quick & fun travel around the zoo.
- Relax in contemporary style log cabins with your own sauna, lounge with log fire and kitchen, suitable for families and groups
- Day 1
- Transfer from Rovaniemi to your apartment
- Day 2
- Head out for an escorted Wildlife park tour before visiting Santa
- Day 3
- Snowmobile safari to a reindeer farm & evening Northern Lights tour
- Day 4
- Go dogsledding on the Husky Safari and then sleep in a Glass Igloo
- Day 5
- Depart the Wildlife Park and head to next location
- Start/End Place
- Rovaniemi, Finland
- Country Visited
- 5 Days
- Easy Christmas tour - suits families with children of all ages.
Please note that all our itineraries, inclusions, dates and prices displayed on this website may change at any time. If you book an itinerary today and have this confirmed it will be the itinerary that is delivered to you. However, the online itinerary on our website may change in the meantime.
Airport transfers to & from Rovaniemi (for scheduled flights). Car transfers from the Gulo Gulo apartments to the Glass Igloos.
- 3 nights in a self-contained apartment
- 1 night in a family glass igloo
- Half board (breakfast and dinner)
- Dinner is a daily three course menu (starter, main and dessert)
- Airport transfers from/to Rovaniemi Airport on days 1 and 5 (for scheduled flights).
- Winter Activities: Entrance to Ranua Zoo, Guided tour of Zoo, Snowmobile Safari to Reindeer Farm (3 hours), Search of Aurora Borealis Snowmobile Safari (3 hours) and Husky Safari (20 kms, 2 hours) and Santa Visit
- Thermal clothing for the whole stay - thermal winter suit, winter boots, socks, inner and outer gloves, winter hat and balaclava.
- Entrance fee and free sled use at the Ranua Arctic Wildlife Park
- Car transfers from the Gulo Gulo apartments to the Glass Igloos
- 24-hour emergency service
- Taxes and service fees
- Domestic flights
- International flight tickets, meals other than described, alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, travel insurance, visas, gratuities and any items of personal nature.
- Rovaniemi additional transfer on the last day which drops you off in Rovaniemi and Santa's village tours are optional - depending on your flight departure time, you may like to book an additional night in Rovaniemi city on the 23rd December if available. We can offer suggestions at the time of booking.
- Ice Fishing, Children's Snowmobiling (very limited dates), horse safaris, Lappish handicraft, Nordic Skiing and longer safaris can be added to this tour
Day 1 - Transfer from Rovaniemi to your apartment
Arrive Rovaniemi and enjoy an hour's transfer to your apartment. Relax by your log fire before heading out for your included dinner.
Day 2 - Head out for an escorted Wildlife park tour before visiting Santa
After breakfast, get ready for a tour at the Wildlife Park. Enjoy a guided tour of the wildlife park.
Later, in the backwoods of Ranua, close to the Ranua Wildlife Park, you have the chance to visit Santa in his very, very secret place, his Hideout Cabin in the wilderness. Within merely a 10 minute ride by snowmobile, you will see a tiny light flickering from far away. As you come closer and closer, you will see a tiny wooden cabin appearing in the shimmering darkness, with candle lights flickering in the windows, smoke rising up from the chimney.
Your family will have a private visit for approx. 15 minutes with Santa, inside his private cabin where you can take photos together and receive pre-organised gifts.
Day 3 - Snowmobile safari to a reindeer farm & evening Northern Lights tour
The snowmobile safari starts with driving instructions, after which we head towards Laivala, a small, authentic reindeer farm. The reindeer herder welcomes the visitors and takes you on a reindeer sled ride for a little less than one kilometre. After the reindeer ride, a hot meal is served in a Lapp hut. The owners of the farm will tell you more about reindeer husbandry and living in harmony with nature.
Two persons share one snowmobile, and there will be a chance to change drivers. Children travel in a sleigh pulled by a guide on snowmobile. All drivers must have a valid driving licence.
After dinner, get ready for an evening Northern Lights tour. Follow your guide from Gulo Gulo to the snowmobile track to receive instructions on how to drive the snowmobile in the evening. The snowmobiles have excellent headlights that guarantee good visibility, even on dark forest trails. We take a couple of short breaks on the way and enjoy a cup of hot juice by an open fire at the halfway point. If we are lucky, we will be treated to one of the most amazing natural phenomena in the world: the Northern Lights.
Two persons share a snowmobile, and children will travel in the sled pulled by the guide.
Day 4 - Go dogsledding on the Husky Safari and then sleep in a Glass Igloo
This morning, check out of your apartment and then enjoy a free morning, remembering you have free entry to the Wildlife Zoo, head out on a Husky Safari.
You will first receive detailed information on steering the sled. Then, the comfortable sleds head from Gulo Gulo into the winter wonderland. A sled can transport two adults and a child. You have the opportunity to steer your own sled, and change drivers with the other adult in the sled halfway. After the safari, you have a chance to ask our guides anything you have always wanted to know about sled dogs, who love to run fast and pull a sled, thus offering the visitors an unforgettable experience to enjoy this ancient, natural way of travelling in the wild.
On your return, check into your Glass Igloo accommodation. It is eight kilometres between the Gulo Gulo apartments and you will be privately transfered. Your luggage will be looked after.
The Arctic Fox Igloos are located by the beautiful Lake Ranuanjärvi, far from city lights. Each igloo has an unobstructed view with ice-covered open waters and far-reaching treeless northern horizons where the Northern Lights usually appear. And as you are on the Arctic Circle, they appear often - almost every other night, if the sky is dark and clear.
At Arctic Fox Igloos you will stay in the middle of arctic nature without compromising your comfort. In addition to the glass-walled bedroom, each well-equipped igloo has a kitchenette, toilet, shower and even a sauna. The entrance, sauna and toilet are on the side of the igloos facing the forest, with wooden walls for privacy. There is approximately 10 metres between each igloo, all with a horizontal view of the lake.
Day 5 - Depart the Wildlife Park and head to next location
Either transfer back to Rovaniemi or head off for further adventures to Kemi for some ice swimming or icebreaker voyage - all within an hour or two drive.
Depending on your flight time today, you might have time to visit Rovaniemi's Santa Village and post office.
Standard price, per person twin/double share in family igloo. Family triple price is 2 adults sharing with 1 child and family quad is 2 adults sharing with 2 children in Family Igloo (age 4-14).
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Please note that polar bears are not native to Finland. Brown bears will be hibernating during Christmas and you will not seem them during your time at the resort.
The order of the itinerary is subject to change. The Arctic Fox Glass Igloos have limited availability so the night that you stay in the igloo may change (first or last night ideally). Up to four people can sleep in the glass igloos. There is a small kitchenette and sauna as well as bathroom in the glass igloos.
Remember to bring a gift for Santa to deliver personally to your children. Please note that included lunches in Scandinavia are often hearty soups with bread. When lunch isn't included, you have the option to dine at the restaurant adhoc, cater in your room or visit Ranua cafe which can be arranged with the reception.
Equipment for cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing is available for use by guests throughout their stay as is entrance to the Wildlife Park. There is complimentary twice daily transportation to the nearby town of Ranua and a chance to buy additional provisions for your villa such as hot chocolates and snacks, please contact the hotel reception for details on your arrival.
After your pre-Christmas tour, Helsinki is an incredible city to spend Christmas, with Christmas lights, markets, and of course, the traditional Christmas buffets.
Christmas across the Nordic Region is celebrated only from the late afternoon and evening of the 24 December until midday on the 25 December. Outdoor activities are plentiful on the morning of the 25 December such ice skating in the heart of Helsinki. Local families all enjoy a sleep in and longer breakfast before heading outside to enjoy the time in nature.
Our hotels and apartments are all filled with Christmas cheer including Christmas trees, music, and celebratory hospitality. Traditional Christmas buffets for the evening of the 24 December can be booked at your hotel or in local restaurants such as Restaurant Savotta in central Helsinki. Afterwards, you can join Christmas Mass in one of the cities' Cathedrals.
Pamper packages are also available at many of our hotels with spas and treatments for the whole family. Alternatively, you can join the locals, such as spending their Christmas morning at the Löyly Sauna complex, with an ocean front location in Helsinki.
Tile image credit: Santa Claus Foundation
Interactive Tour Map
Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours with 50 Degrees North. The safety of our travellers, staff and operators is a major priority of 50 Degrees North. With an operational office in Norway, 50 Degrees North has access to an up-to-the-minute flow of information regarding the countries we work in. We are also in regular contact with the various operators we use. Their in-depth knowledge and understanding of their various areas is vital.
Practical Information for travelling and packing for Scandinavian Winter
- Warm wind and water proof jacket and trousers large enough to fit thick woollen jumper/clothing underneath
- Rain trousers – waterproof and breathable material
- Warm windproof cap/hat
- Warm gloves or mittens. Mittens where all fingers except the thumb are together are often warmer than gloves.
- Windproof gloves or mittens, which you can pull over the warm gloves
- Warm scarf
- 2 pairs of long woollen underwear (Merino wool in a few different thicknesses is perfect)
- 1-2 warm woollen jumper(s), or one jumper and a warm fleece
- Woollen or fleece trousers
- 2-3 pairs of warm woollen socks
- Warm & sturdy footwear with good grip
- Clothes for indoors, i.e. a shirt, T-shirts and jeans or cotton trousers
- Back pack for day trips (approx. 30 litre)
- Light footwear/trainers (mainly for indoors)
- Sun screen & Lip salve (the sun reflects off the snow and the air is dry)
- Hand warmers
- Nordic Grip anti-slip soles for walking on ice
- Personal medication
- Water bottle - thermo, or include a cover to keep warm (or you can stick it into a warm sock)
- Travel documents (including insurance)
- Photo ID
- Note book and pencil
- Camera, memory cards and charger
- Chargers for other gadgets
- Extra batteries for your cameras as they are used fast in cold conditions.
Travelling with young children
Here are some suggestions and tips from our staff who have kids themselves, for travelling in Scandinavia with younger children. We hope that you will find this advice helpful and be sure to ask us for more information before travelling as our staff have all grown up in Scandinavia.
In general, Scandinavia and Finland are very child-friendly destinations and if you have any special requests or questions while here, please contact the staff at your hotel immediately. Almost all restaurants can be considered child-friendly with baby chairs and sometimes also drawing utensils, books or toys, and when using public transport, Scandinavia offers some great support for families with younger children. Baby changing tables in public toilets, play equipment and play rooms at airport terminals and family wagons in trains with playing area for the little ones are common place.
When possible, we suggest arriving to Scandinavia or Finland a day or two earlier before your holiday program begins so that your younger children can adjust to the time zone. Young children arriving from the Southern Hemisphere generally wake up at around 4 - 5am for the first few mornings before they get accustomed to the new time zone. Be sure to have breakfast provisions ready for this, as it is unusual for anything to be provided from the hotel at this early hour. We suggest bringing packages of the child's favourite breakfast cereal from home plus tea bags etc. to help in those first few days. Likewise, quiet entertainment for those early hours might be a good idea as well.
Hotel rooms in Scandinavia more likely than not, only have twin beds pushed together to make a double if required. The spare children's beds are often foldout beds. Generally, it is easy to arrange at reception for the cots but be sure to ask for help if something doesn't seem right. We were provided a cot without a mattress once - very uncomfortable indeed if we hadn't chased that up!
Also, in Scandinavia it is not common practise to have tea or coffee provided in the room, and even if there is a kettle, there might be nothing else. We suggest travelling with a small supply of your own tea bags/coffee, and asking directly at reception for a kettle on arrival.
Feeding your children adequately is probably the hardest thing to do on an arranged holiday - kids are out of wack with jetlag, fussy and hungry for their own comfort food. When hotels and packages provide set times for meals and buffets, it is important to come prepared.
It is handy to take a small cooler bag already from home filled with snacks, utensils and fresh food. From the breakfast buffets it is usually acceptable to take a small amount of fresh food such as boiled eggs, rolls and fruit for morning and afternoon tea for the little ones.
We would also suggest that you give your kids a taste of what’s to come before their holiday on some foods that they are likely to get in Scandinavia. Meatballs, European flavoured sausages, soups & then treats like cinnamon buns and waffles are typical children's menu items. Cinnamon is a very common flavour used in Scandinavia and Finland.
If you are part of an arranged program, be sure to ask at reception if you need anything in particular. The hotel staff will be more than happy to warm up baby food and organise more snacks or fruit.
We recommend seeking all available information from the reception or activity provider when considering what optional activities will suit your younger children. These activities can be cold and involve a transfer a certain distance from the hotel. If you are uncertain why the activity is being run at a particular time, please ask for clarification as there is often a reason that you might be unfamiliar with. We all know as parents that children generally perform better earlier in the day than later, however, the activity providers might have a safety, logistic or climate reason for picking a certain time.
In Scandinavia, it is often left up to the parents to make decisions about age limits and suitability (unlike other regions where everything is stipulated) so be sure to ask reception or other guests who have done the activity for further advice.
We usually don't recommend winter activities, such as longer husky safaris, snowmobile safaris and late evening Aurora Hunts to children under the age 4-5. This of course depends very much on a child as every child is different, but for younger children we recommend shorter excursions as it can get very cold sitting still in a sled. Some operators also do not take children under the age of 5 on their tours, so please ask us specifically before travelling about these limitations.
This is going to make or break your holiday in Scandinavia in the winter. Be sure to refer to our comprehensive packing list provided in your pre-departure information and be on the look out for the best protection for your children in the cold. Winter is great time for kids to play outside and snow-based activities will keep the young ones entertained for hours as long as they have appropriate clothing.
Extra (non-cotton) layers that can be added or taken away when needed, heat warmers and slip on crampons for the older children are recommended. Mittens where all fingers except the thumb are together are often warmer than gloves, and extra pair of mittens will come in handy after building a snowman or two. A balaclava type of hat that covers both the neck and ears and which can also protect part of child’s face if needed, is also great under a warm and windproof beanie.
The base-layer next to skin should be either wool or synthetic blend, never cotton. With perspiration cotton turns quickly damp and then cold, no matter what other warmer clothing items are layered on top of it.
Many of the hotels and activity providers also do offer warm outer clothing for hire, but if traveling with small kids, please do check beforehand that correct sizes are available.
- Heat warmer pads for inside gloves and boots. Please note that these should not be used directly against the skin, hence for hands, you will need to use the pads in between the two pairs of gloves/mittens recommended in our packing list
- Good boots and warm woolly socks for your little ones
- Bags & suitcases that can easily be carried by one parent if the other is carrying children. Many of us use Trunkies for our travels so that our kids can sit on them, or sometimes the kids can pull the cases themselves. If your child is small enough to be carried, we highly recommend a baby or toddler carrier that leaves your hands free for handling the luggage.
- Provisions for the first day or two whether it is snacks, nappies or fruit drinks.
- Books, drawing pencils or other tranquil inside activity and your child’s favourite teddy!