A tourism boomtown, the ‘official’ terrestrial residence of Santa Claus is the capital of Finnish Lapland and a more-or-less obligatory northern stop. Its wonderful Arktikum museum is the perfect introduction to the mysteries of these latitudes, and Rovaniemi is a good place to organise activities from. It’s also Lapland's transport hub.
Thoroughly destroyed by the retreating Wehrmacht in 1944, the town was rebuilt to a plan by Alvar Aalto, with the major streets in the shape of a reindeer’s head and antlers (hint: the stadium near the bus station is the eye). Its unattractive buildings are compensated for by its marvellous riverside location.