The best reindeer rides in Rovaniemi

On the edge of the Arctic Circle in Finland, the town of Rovaniemi and its surroundings are home to the native Sami. 

Rovaniemi is a great place to take a reindeer sleigh ride with kids.

Europe’s only officially recognised indigenous people, the semi-nomadic Sami have been herding reindeer in Lapland for thousands of years. And these magnificent shaggy creatures play a vital role in Sami life and culture. 

So visiting a reindeer farm, feeding reindeer and gliding over the snow in a sleigh pulled by reindeer are all popular activities in the region. 

Read on to find out all you need to know about reindeer tours in Rovaniemi – and to discover which are our favourite tours.

Why choose Rovaniemi?
When is the best time to visit?
Can you see reindeer without joining a tour? 
Things to consider before joining a tour 
How much do tours cost?
The best tours to join 
Alternatives to reindeer rides
Cool places to stay in Rovaniemi

Why is Rovaniemi so good for reindeer tours?

Reindeer are everywhere in the area around Rovaniemi, and are culturally important to the local people and the region.

There are loads of reindeer rides from Rovaniemi in Finland.

There are plenty of companies running reindeer tours here, and the town itself is even shaped like a reindeer!

After the original town was destroyed during World War II, it was rebuilt to a design by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, with the streets as antlers and the town’s football stadium as the reindeer’s eye.

Rovaniemi is also a short distance from the famous Santa Claus Village, where you can ride on a reindeer sleigh, and do a huge variety of other tours and trips, such as husky sledding, snowmobile trips and northern lights tours

Quick take: our 3 favourite tours

We’ve looked at a load of reindeer tours from Rovaniemi and here’s are our top 3.

Best for kids: Visit Father Christmas and ride on a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

Best for animal lovers: Ride on a sleigh pulled by reindeer, plus a sled pulled by huskies.

Best for thrill-seekers: Whizz across the snow on a snowmobile to visit a reindeer farm.

When’s the best time to do a reindeer tour in Rovaniemi?

Clearly if you want to experience a real reindeer sleigh ride, gliding across the snow through icy landscapes, you’ll need to come in winter.

And you’ll need to have enough snow on the ground, which in Rovaniemi means late-November through to mid-April.

If you are visiting in summer or autumn, however, you can still visit a reindeer farm, feed the reindeer and learn all about their habits and behaviour.

Can you see reindeer without joining a tour? 

There are roughly the same number of reindeer as people in Finnish Lapland, so you’ll almost certainly see them along the roadsides as you’re driving around, or grazing in the forests and fells.

You can feed reindeer and visit them in Rovaniemi in Finland.

Although the reindeer are semi-domesticated and owned by reindeer herders, they roam freely over areas up to 1000 square kilometres and constantly change their location.

They are shy creatures too, so you’re unlikely to get too near them in the wild – and disturbing or frightening a reindeer is against the law in Finland.

So if you want to get up close and personal with a reindeer, your best bet is to visit a reindeer farm, where you can feed them and learn all about their behaviour and how to care for them.

Things to consider before joining a tour 

So, are reindeer rides ethical? Although it’s clear that pulling a sleigh is not natural behaviour for a reindeer, most sleigh rides are sedate affairs and probably no different to a horse pulling a carriage.

You can visit a traditional Sami reindeer farm in Rovaniemi.

In Lapland, reindeer have long been farmed for their meat and their skins, and the native Sami have a good bond with their animals. 

However, it’s hard to make a living from this alone, so the income from tourists helps to sustain their traditional way of life.

We think that visiting a traditional Sami reindeer farm helps to provide an income for the reindeer-herders and is a great way to learn about their culture and lifestyle and the lives of the animals they care for.  

How much do tours cost?

The price for a tour varies depending on how long it is, whether you want a sleigh ride, and whether you’re doing other activities as well. 

But as a ballpark figure, a two-and-a half-hour trip, such as this one, including hotel pick-up, guide, reindeer-feeding at a farm and a short sleigh ride costs from around €90 (US$96) each.

The best tours to join

So, if you fancy visiting a reindeer farm, riding on a reindeer sleigh and learning all about Sami culture, here are our 7 best reindeer tours from Rovaniemi.

Visit a Sami reindeer farm

Learn all about Sami culture and make friends with the reindeer before taking a sleigh ride through the snow-covered forests and fields. 

We like that you’ll also get to warm up with a hot drink in a Lappish kota hut afterwards.

Go on a night-time sleigh safari

We love this night-time sleigh safari, where you’ll glide across the snow pulled by reindeer, with the stars shining in the sky above. 

You can do a night-time reindeer safari in Rovaniemi

Then warm up round the campfire with a hot drink – and you may even get to see the northern lights too!

Visit Santa Claus and ride on a reindeer sleigh

You can’t get more festive than Father Christmas, reindeer and huskies! 

On this trip to the Santa Claus Village, you get to meet Father Christmas, have a short husky ride and a reindeer ride and cross the Arctic Circle. We think this trip is particularly good for kids – and grown-up kids too!

Snowmobile to a reindeer farm

This tour combines two of our favourite things – snowmobiles and reindeer! You’ll start off by driving across the snow in a snowmobile to a reindeer farm, where you can meet the animals and take a short sleigh ride.

You’ll also get an International Reindeer Driving Licence to prove you’ve done it!!

Ride a reindeer sleigh and a husky sled

Combine a husky sled ride and a reindeer sleigh ride on one trip in Rovaniemi

We love this tour, that includes two Arctic animal rides in one trip. Visit a husky farm first and take a sled ride pulled by huskies, then move onto a local reindeer farm to meet the animals and ride on a reindeer sleigh.

Look out for the northern lights and ride a reindeer sleigh

Combine two spectacular Arctic activities in one trip, with this northern lights and reindeer sleigh ride tour

You’ll have a sleigh ride and a Lappish barbecue at a local reindeer farm before heading out to search for the northern lights with an experienced guide.

Alternatives to reindeer tours

One of the big advantages to picking Rovaniemi as a base for your reindeer experience is that there are plenty of other fun activities that you can do round here too. 

This being Finland, having a sauna is a must-do, and this Finnish snow sauna and outdoor hot tub at the SnowHotel is a really wow experience. It includes a tour of the artwork and ice sculptures at the hotel, plus dinner in the restaurant too.

We also like this trip to the Korouoma Canyon when you can hike along the canyon and explore Lapland’s largest frozen waterfalls.

And for a real once-in-a-lifetime experience, we love this amazing trip on a ice-breaker ship in the Bothnian Sea. You’ll don super-warm flotation suits and bob around in the freezing waters, surrounded by a sea of ice.

We also recommend taking a northern lights tour from Rovaniemi, as it’s known to be a great place to view the aurora borealis. 

For more ideas on tours, see our guide to the best northern lights tours in Rovaniemi. And check out Rovaniemi’s best husky tours and snowmobile tours too.

Cool places to stay in Rovaniemi

And there are plenty of cool places to stay in and around Rovaniemi too. 

If you’ve got kids, we recommend staying in the Santa Claus Village itself. It’s got all the activities on site, including reindeer rides, and you can rent family rooms or cottages with their own sauna.

Rovaniemi has some really cool places to stay, like the Lapland Hotels Sky Ounasvaara.

And if you’re looking for some luxury, we like the Lapland Hotels Sky Ounasvaara. Set in the forest, with beautiful views from the rooms, it’s got a top-class restaurant and direct access to the ski slopes.

We also like the cabins and glass-domed igloos at the Apukka Resort, just outside Rovaniemi. It has loads of activities on-site, including an ice sauna, an igloo sauna, husky safaris, reindeer rides and snowmobile trips.

See also:
5 of the best photography tours in Rovaniemi, Finland
Ice floating in Finland: what is it, and where can you try it?
Getting from Helsinki to Rovaniemi

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