Napapiiri & Santa Claus Village

The southernmost line at which the sun doesn’t set on at least one day a year, the Arctic Circle (Napapiiri in Finnish) crosses the Sodankylä road 7.5km north of Rovaniemi (although the Arctic Circle can actually shift several metres daily). There’s an Arctic Circle marker here; surrounding it is the ‘official’ Santa Claus Village, a touristy complex of shops, activities and accommodation including the Santa Claus Holiday Village cabins, and the new Snowman World (http://snowmanworld.fi), with glass-sided apartments and a winter-only ice hotel complete with restaurant and bar.

The Santa Claus Post Office receives over half a million letters yearly 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. For €7.95, Santa will send you a Christmas card.

At the tourist-information desk you can get your Arctic Circle certificate (€4.20).

But the top attraction for most is, of course, Santa himself, who sees visitors year-round in a rather impressive grotto, with a huge clock mechanism (it slows the earth’s rotation so that Santa can visit the whole world’s children on Christmas Eve). A private chat (around two minutes) is absolutely free, but you'll need to pay for official photographs (no other photography is allowed). You can also get a certificate of 'niceness' or of meeting Santa (each €7.95).

Other attractions include a husky park; reindeer-pulled sleigh rides (on wheels in summer, traditional runners in snow; from €17/13 per adult/child for 400m); ice sculpting; and varying Christmassy exhibitions.

Bus 8 heads here from the train station, via the city and airport (€3.90, 25 minutes, up to three hourly 6.30am to 6.30pm).

Closer to Rovaniemi town centre, the separate Christmas theme park Santapark is also linked by bus 8.