Napapiiri information

Rovaniemi , Finland
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The southernmost line at which the sun doesn't set at least one day a year, the Arctic Circle, is called Napapiiri in Finland. It crosses the road here, 8km north of Rovaniemi – and built right on top of it is the 'official' Santa Claus Village , a touristy complex of shops. Here too is the Santa Claus Post Office , which receives nearly three-quarters of a million letters each year from children all over the world. Your postcard sent from here will bear an official Santa stamp, and you can arrange to have it delivered at Christmas time.

But the big attraction is, of course Santa himself, who sees visitors year-round in a rather impressive grotto , where a huge clock mechanism (it slows the earth's rotation so that Santa can visit the whole world's children on Christmas night) eerily surrounds those queuing for an audience. The portly saint is quite a linguist, and an old hand at chatting with kids and adults alike. A private chinwag with the man is absolutely free, but you can't photograph the moment…and official photos of your visit start at an outrageous €25.

Bus 8 heads to Napapiiri from the train station, passing through the centre (adult/child €6.60/3.80 return).