12 Reasons To Visit Rovaniemi In Summer (+ Midnight Sun Tips!)

Rovaniemi in summer is magical, but unfortunately, few people choose to visit Rovaniemi or the Arctic in the off-season.

Sadly, this means many people do not get to enjoy everything summer in Rovaniemi has to offer.

This guide will take you through 12 reasons to visit Rovaniemi in the summer.

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When is summer in Rovaniemi?

Summer starts in Rovaniemi in late May when the snow has fully melted away and the days are getting longer. During this time, the Arctic comes alive and the temperatures start to warm. Summer runs until the end of August when fall quickly starts to return.

Reindeer calf feeding
A baby reindeer are an excellent reason to visit Rovaniemi in summer

I find daylight in the north changes quickly. In summer the days lengthen at incredible speed, and once fall starts to set in, they shorten quickly. Before you know it, summer has ended and winter in Rovaniemi has set in.

Rovaniemi in summer: how warm is it?

Temperatures in Rovaniemi during summer vary. The middle of summer can bring higher temperatures but there is also a chance it could randomly snow during the middle of July!

Here is a breakdown of the average temperatures for each month of summer:

  • May – average high: 11°C (52°F), average low: 2.5°C(36.5°F)
  • June – average high: 17°C(63°F), average low: 8.5°C(47.3°F)
  • July – average high: 20.1°C(68.2°F), average low: 11.8°C(53.2°F)
  • August – average high: 17.2°C(63°F), average low: 9.6°C(49.3°F)
  • September – average high: 11.1°C(52°F), average low: 4.9°C(40.8°F)

One thing I have noticed when spending summer in Rovaniemi is the rain storms are not to be messed with. Even though I grew up in England, I do not think I have experienced rain quite like it. The storms do not last long but they are pretty extreme!

Is it really daylight all day long?

Yes! From early June to late July the sun does not technically set. It will lower in the sky but not really go below the horizon.

A river flowing through a nature reserve
Blue skies late into the night are a common sight

From April, there is no longer a true night, and even once the sun does start to technically set, it won’t get completely dark until late August. For more information on daylight lengths, I recommend checking out the time and date website.

How do you sleep in Rovaniemi during summer?

Sleeping during the midnight sun period is a challenge. You will feel very energized and barely notice how late it has gotten.

I have experienced nights where I have been sitting on the sofa with the blinds open and suddenly realized I am wide awake at two in the morning. Thankfully, nearly every accommodation option will have blackout curtains.

I have found the best way to combat the midnight sun is to close the blackout curtains at a reasonable hour so that your body starts to feel naturally tired. This is especially vital if you are traveling with children, as it will help keep them on a regular sleep pattern.

Are there mosquitoes in the summer in Rovaniemi?

Yes (unfortunately)! The one issue with traveling to Rovaniemi in summer is the number of mosquitoes.

They are very prevalent outside of the city center and are incredibly annoying. Luckily, mosquitoes in this part of the world do not carry any diseases and their bites only cause itch.

During this time, wearing loose-fitting clothing that covers your skin will help protect you from mosquitoes. They say that wearing certain colors like pastel hues can also help keep them away from you.

Using a thermacell to protect myself from mosquitoes during summer in rovaniemi
The must-have accessory for summer in Rovaniemi

In the supermarkets, you will find numerous products to help you keep the mosquitoes away such as nets covering your face, mosquito repellent sprays, and Thermacells.

Nearly everyone I have met in the north has sworn by using a Thermacell and I have to admit I have found them effective (although they should not be used close to bodies of water).

Is everything open during summer in Rovaniemi?

As Rovaniemi is a larger city, you will mind most places are open despite it being the off-season. During this period, family-owned businesses may close for a few weeks to go on holiday.

Some of the hotels that focus on winter tourism are closed during this period like the Glass Resort in Santa Claus Village.

ice cream stand in Rovaniemi city center
During summer, Rovaniemi is full of ice cream stands!

One of the best things about traveling to Rovaniemi during summer is that the hotels tend to be cheaper.

Can I visit Santa Claus in Rovaniemi during the summer?

Yes, Santa Claus Village is open all year. Santa can be visited no matter the time of year and is always happy to have visitors. The advantage of visiting the big man during the summer period is there are generally no queues and you can spend a little more time talking to him.

The post office and gift shops are also open during this period, but some of the facilities at Santa Claus Village might be closed.

Getting to Rovaniemi during summer?

As summer is the off-season, getting to Rovaniemi is a little more inconvenient as there are no direct flights from other countries in Europe.

Instead, you will need to take a flight to Helsinki and then transfer via a smaller internal flight to Rovaniemi. This flight connection is honestly stress-free, and the Helsinki airport is one of the nicest in Europe, if not the world.

Alternatively, from Helsinki, you can opt to take the train to Rovaniemi either throughout the day or overnight. The train journey is smooth and quite enjoyable provided you have enough snacks to last the journey!

The santa claus express train
The Santa Claus Express train runs between Rovaniemi and Helsinki all year

On the train, you have the option of sleeper cabins or single seats. If you are traveling as part of a group overnight, I recommend choosing a sleeper cabin.

However, solo travelers may find that the cost of the sleeper cabin is less affordable, as you essentially have to pay for two people. Some of the trains will also allow you to take a car on them between Helsinki and Rovaniemi.

You need to book trains in advance to avoid disappointment and to get cheaper tickets. I recommend only booking through the official VR website. I have heard some horror stories of people booking through other websites and having their tickets canceled at the last minute.

Companies who offer tickets far in advance are unable to guarantee these tickets the trains can only be booked up to 6 months in advance officially.

Reasons to visit Rovaniemi in summer

Rovaniemi in summer is unbelievably beautiful and there are many reasons to visit during summer.

I have compiled 12 of my favorite reasons to visit Rovaniemi during summer below. If you feel I have missed something or neglected your favorite reason to visit, please leave a comment below!

1. Spend a summer evening moose watching

I can spend hours watching animals, and thankfully, around Rovaniemi, you will find an abundance of wildlife. Close to the city, there is a great area where you can see moose roaming in the wild.

Every year when the snow clears, the moose return to a protected area outside of Rovaniemi, where it is illegal to hunt them. The best time to see the moose is during the morning and evenings when the temperatures are cooler and the animals are more active.

Trees from above trying to spot moose
Using a drone to try and spot moose in the forest

The route to see them is a large loop that takes you through forests and large open spaces. While moose can be seen throughout summer and into autumn, the best time to see them is later in summer when mating season starts.

Moose watching can be done as part of a tour from Rovaniemi or you can drive yourself.

🦌 Click here for moose watching tour rates and availability.

2. Enjoy summer on the water in Rovaniemi

As spring takes its grip on the Arctic, the snow and ice that has encased the land and water for months on end starts to melt.

Once the water is free from its icy prison, it becomes perfect for canoeing. There is something incredibly magical about paddling through the still water while basking in the midnight sun.

Boats are a great way to get around Rovaniemi in summer
Boats are a great way to get around Rovaniemi in summer

Thankfully around Rovaniemi, there are plenty of great lakes and rivers where you can canoe or stand-up paddle board.

The river system is perfect for multi-day canoe trips, while the lakes are perfect for learning. For those looking for something more exhilarating, head out to Kuusamo for the day where you can experience white water rafting.

In the center of Rovaniemi on the river, you can enjoy various watersports at Roiske Summer Activities Centre, including wakeboarding and an inflatable floating obstacle course.

🛶 Click here for canoeing under the midnight sun tours

3. Take an epic road trip from Rovaniemi in summer

Summer in the Arctic is perfect for road trips and Rovaniemi makes for the best starting point. The never-ending day means you can cover larger distances as the sun never sets.

Starting your road trip from Rovaniemi makes sense due to its large airport, an abundance of rental cars, and an extensive road network that leads in all directions. Thanks to the open borders, your journeys can take you into neighboring Sweden and Norway.

However, make sure you can take your rental car out of Finland. You have to pay an extra charge to allow cross-border travel.

A reindeer in the middle of the road
A Rovaniemi traffic jam

There are plenty of beautiful places you can visit during your road trip. For example, in the north of Finland, you can visit Inari, the cultural center of the Sámi in Finland.

My favorite road trips involve heading north into Norway and visiting various spots on the Arctic Ocean coast, like Vardø or Hammerfest. Along your route, you can choose to stay in hotels or try out wild camping in the Finnish wilderness.

Keep an eye out for Nordic traffic jams, they are generally caused by reindeer casually walking down the road. When renting a car in Lapland, you are likely to get a hybrid, which is better for both the environment and your wallet.

4. Head to the forest for awesome hikes

Rovaniemi is a great base for those wanting to complete some epic hikes. The Arctic Circle Hiking Area just outside of the city is probably the best spot for those looking to do some easy and relaxing hikes.

There are plenty of hikes, including some that are mobility accessible, that vary from short 1.5 km (0.93 mi) circle trails to longer 10 km (6.2 mi) one-way hikes.

An accessible hiking trail
An accessible hiking trail in the Arctic Circle Hiking Area

If you are looking for a little more of a challenge, you can take a trip to one of the nearby national parks. Oulanka National Park, about 200 km (124.3 mi) from Rovaniemi, has some incredible hikes in some of Lapland’s most dramatic scenery.

Oulanka National Park also has Finland’s most famous multi-day hike, the Karhunkierros Trail. This trail is an 82 km (51 mi) four-day hike, where you will pass through incredible scenery and camp out in the Finnish wilderness.

5. Spend a night bear watching

The most incredible summer experience I had in Rovaniemi was a day trip to Kuusamo to go bear-watching. Karhu-Kuusamo is a fantastic spot in the middle of the Finnish wilderness where cabins have been set up that allow you to watch bears feed, play, and fight throughout the night.

There is a 99% chance you will see a bear, although occasionally they will not come until later in the night.

The cabins are simply set up with windows for viewing and holes for your camera. You can choose to do an evening watch or spend the night in the hut and watch the bears throughout the night.

A bear wading through a bog
A bear cooling off in a natural pond

We saw a fair few bears throughout the evening, with the first few arriving within minutes of us getting to our cabin!

The bear-watching season in Kuusamo runs from May to September, but for the best photo opportunities, I recommend going during mid-summer when there is no darkness.

We took a tour with Wild About Lapland that included a visit to a reindeer farm, a hike, and an overnight stay at the bear-watching cabin. Alternatively, you can book your own visit and drive out there yourself.

6. Experience the midnight sun

One of the biggest draws to the Arctic in summer is the chance to experience the midnight sun. Sitting on the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi experiences it every year and it is truly a surreal experience.

Having spent most of my life in Northern Europe, I am used to long days, but 24 hours of daylight feels like something completely different. The weirdest sensation about the midnight sun is how energized you feel throughout the day.

A lake under the midnight sun
A lake under the midnight sun in July

You can be out driving at two o’clock in the morning and it will feel like it is just late afternoon. The midnight sun officially lasts from the start of June until the start of July in Rovaniemi. However, you won’t experience true nighttime until August.

Midsummer is generally on the 21st or 22nd of June and is a time when there are normally festivals and parties going on to celebrate the solstice.

7. Spend time at a husky farm

Huskies are not only for winter, but for summer too. Every year throughout the summer, husky farms struggle financially as people do not think to visit them as there are no sledding opportunities.

However, they are just as fun to visit in the summer as you have the same opportunities to interact with the pups, and instead of sled rides, you can go for walks with the dogs!

If you are lucky during summer, you might get to meet the latest litter of puppies!

A puppy in their kennel
A puppy in their kennel

When the mornings get cooler and fall approaches, you may have the opportunity to do training runs with the huskies where they pull a cart with wheels through the forest.

Visiting a husky farm during summer will help to keep the farm operating and look after their dogs before the crowds arrive in winter.

My favorite husky tour provider is Bear Hill Husky, which is known to take exceptional care of their dogs and offer incredible sustainable tour options.

8. Marvel at the colors of summer in Rovaniemi

The Arctic in the summer is full of color. The melting of the snow and the arrival of the midnight sun accelerates growth, as the forests and tundra burst into life.

Throughout the forests and along the road sides, you will find plenty of wildflowers blooming and providing a colorful pop to the deep greens and browns of the forests.

A field of flowers
Flowers bursting with color

As fall starts to push south from the north, the second round of Arctic colors arrives. Towards the end of August, Ruska sets in, and the nature surrounding Rovaniemi turns into warm orange and red hues.

The colorful summer months are a photographer’s dream and you can capture some amazing images.

9. Eat dinner at SavuRafla Kotisaari

While many places in Rovaniemi are only open during winter, some special places are only open during summer. SavuRafla Kotisaari is a restaurant that only opens during the summer and can only be visited by boat. The restaurant serves a take on delicious American-style BBQ.

The restaurant is on a reservation-only basis and the meal is set with a range of smoked meats and some delicious sides. This experience, though, is unfortunately not great for vegetarians or vegans as the food is very meat-centric.

Meat smoking on a barbecue
Impatiently waiting for the meat to finish smoking

The meal is at a set time, with a boat taking you to the island for the meal. Once you’re finished with your meal, you can remain on the island for a while to enjoy drinks and some games or simply take the boat back.

You will want to make your reservation as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment. I was fortunate to get a last-minute reservation, but it was the only one left for that day.

It is possible to visit the island during the day when you can purchase pulled pork and some other dishes to take with you, but you will need to do this with your own boat.

🍖 Click here to book a table at Savu Rafla Kotisaari.

10. Help take care of reindeer

Reindeer normally spend the summer and fall out in the wild and away from the farms. However, every farm tends to keep the castrated males who are no longer used for breeding on the farm, and occasionally some females with calves.

You can visit a Rovaniemi reindeer farm in the summer on a tour. On the tour, you will get the chance to help feed the reindeer with both regular feed pellets and lichen.

Guide feeding the reindeer
Our amazing guide feeding the reindeer lichen

It is amazing to see these giant antlered males come running out of the forest to the feeding location. Each of them knows the call of the farmer for feeding.

You can feed the males from your hand with the lichen and they will delicately eat it out of your hand. Once you feed the reindeer, you will head back and learn all about reindeer farming while sitting around a fire.

🦌 Click here to book a trip to a reindeer farm.

11. Forage for berries

As summer draws to a close, the forest floors and bogs burst into color with various berries ripe for picking. As you walk through the forests, you can pick as many blueberries as you want- a perfect little energy boost for your hike. In other areas, keep an eye out for cloudberries, the world’s most expensive berry.

Berries ripening in a forest
Blueberries make the best forest snacks

Cloudberries are generally harder to find as they often choose to grow in inaccessible places, and those that grow in easier-to-reach areas are picked as soon as they ripen.

The last berries to ripen are lingonberries and cranberries that can be found in the bogs surrounding Rovaniemi. However, these are not as nice to eat on their own and are better cooked down and served with reindeer meat.

Once the berry-picking season arrives in Lapland, the supermarkets in Rovaniemi are filled with berry-picking tools to help you gather as many as possible!

12. Spend a night wild camping

There is something freeing about spending time in Rovaniemi during summer, and I believe part of that is due to everyone’s right, or jokaisenoikeus in Finnish.

This is the freedom to roam, allowing residents and visitors alike to explore the land freely, fish in still waters, forage for food, hike, and wild camp.

Wild camping allows you to pitch your tent in the forests and wilderness areas providing it is safe to do so, does not impact the wildlife, or is too close to someone’s property.

Hiking route through a forest
Looking for a place to set up camp

This is a great way to explore the countryside around Rovaniemi and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Arctic summer.

If camping is not quite your thing, everyone’s right in Finland also allows you to park up campervans in public and spend a night.

The important things to remember when you take advantage of everyone’s right is to leave no trace of your visit, respect nature, keep away from people’s property, and only stay one or two nights in one spot.

In national parks, you will need to make sure that wild camping is allowed and in some parks, there may be spots that are restricted.

Best hotels for summer in Rovaniemi

During summer in Rovaniemi, nearly all of the hotels are open and are, on average, much cheaper than in the peak season.

Here are a few of my favorite hotels for all budgets:

Arctic Treehouse Resort (luxury) – One of my favorite places to stay in Rovaniemi is the Arctic Treehouse Resort. The luxury rooms are beautifully furnished with everything you could possibly need. There is an onsite restaurant for those not wishing to travel into the city center.

Snowflakes Suites (mid-range) – Located directly in the heart of the city, Snowflakes Suites are comfortable apartments offered in various sizes. The apartments are very comfortable with separate bedrooms and living spaces. Each apartment has a fully functional kitchen, perfect for those wanting to stay in and cook.

Living room of Snowflake Suites, with a couch and kitchen
Snowflake Suites in Rovaniemi

Koti Hostel (budget friendly) – In the middle of the city close to the river you will find Koti Hostel, the perfect budget-friendly accommodation option. The hostel has the choice between private rooms and dorm rooms. There is an on-site cafe that also has an affordable breakfast buffet.

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