10 of the best dog sled tours in Rovaniemi 

So, dog sledding is on your bucket list. Where do you go?  With its miles of pristine landscapes, frozen lakes and forests filled with snow-capped trees, Finland is a great choice.

Rovaniemi in Finland is a good place to go dog sledding

And Rovaniami on the edge of the Arctic Circle is probably Finland’s top dog sled destination.  

Read on for all the fascinating facts and fun of Finnish dog sledding – plus our top ten favourite tours.

Why Rovaniemi?
When to go
How much does it cost?
Is it worth it?
Is dog sledding cruel?
What to expect
How hard is dog sledding?
What to bring with you
10 of the best tours in Rovaniemi
Where to stay
Other tours in Rovaniemi
Dog sledding in other Finnish towns
Dog sledding in other Nordic countries

Why is Rovaniemi such a good place for dog sledding?

Right on the edge of the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi is a great location for dog sledding. 

It is close to some beautiful forests and lakes, which are frozen solid in winter and make for great dog sledding conditions.

There are several dog kennels near town. Some are smaller, more personal places but there are also larger kennels, so you can choose the type of tour you prefer.

Rovaniemi also has Finland’s best variety of winter tours and trips, so you can combine your dog sled tour with any number of other activities.  

Snowmobiling, northern lights hunting and reindeer sleigh rides are all possible – just take your pick!

It’s also home to the Santa Claus village (‘official home of Santa Claus’!), so you can even combine your dog sledding with a visit to Father Christmas.

When is the best time for a husky tour in Rovaniemi? 

There’s usually snow in Rovaniemi from late November to mid-April. But it needs to be thick enough for the huskies to run on, so December to March are a safer bet.

There's usually snow in Rovaniemi in Finland from December to mid-April

The days are shorter at the height of winter, so December is a good time if you want to combine a husky trip with seeing the northern lights.

For other daytime activities, though, you may prefer to go in March or early April when the days are longer and temperatures milder.

And you can even go dog sledding in Rovaniemi in summer and autumn, when the dogs take you out to explore the countryside on a wheeled cart.

How much does dog sledding cost in Rovaniemi?

Prices vary according to the length of the trip and what extras are included, but on average you can expect to pay around US$180 for a classic two-hour, 8km sled ride, where you can “mush” the dogs yourself.

Adding extra activities such as snowmobiling or a reindeer ride will increase the price to nearer US$240, but this still works out much cheaper than doing the two activities separately.

Is dog sledding worth it?

Gliding across the snow through a frozen landscape being pulled by a team of enthusiastic huskies is a bucket-list activity – and well worth every penny, we think!

And certainly if you do want to try it, Rovaniemi is our top choice in Finland.

Prices are a bit lower here than in other Finnish resorts, and other Nordic countries, due to the high number of kennels that offer trips. And there are plenty of other fun activities to do as well.

Is husky sledding cruel?

There is an ongoing debate about whether dog sledding is unkind to the animals. 

Check that your dog sledding kennel has good animal welfare standards

Some people believe that dogs should not be kept in cages, harnessed up and made to run to schedule. Others feel that, provided the dogs are well cared-for, they find running exhilarating and are perfectly happy.

Obviously animal welfare conditions are the main consideration, and Finland has strong rules and regulations that dog kennels have to abide by.

So how do know whether the kennel you’ve chosen is following ethical standards?

Well, first all, they will normally tell you! Those kennels that have strict animal welfare standards usually say so on their website. 

And if not, good dog handlers will be happy to tell you all about the animals welfare and habits.

Also, look at the dogs and watch how they respond to the handlers. Are they happy to see them? Do they look clean, well-fed and well-groomed?

What to expect on a sledding trip from Rovaniemi

On most trips, transport to the kennels is included, as well as expert tuition that teaches you how to drive the dogs.

Some dog sledding trips in Rovaniemi allow to make friends with the dogs and have a cuddle.

Many trips include time with the dogs beforehand, so that you can get to know them and feel comfortable with them.

And some trips include a hot drink and snack at the end – “mushing” a husky sled is hungry work!

Some tours take you out for a full 10km run, while others just offer a short taster trip of 1km. Make sure you check the small print beforehand so you know what you’ve signed up for.

How hard is dog sledding?

Once you’ve had some basic tuition, driving a dog sled is pretty easy and anyone can do it without any previous experience.

The dogs are well-trained and usually do all the hard work for you!

However, it is a physical activity, and if you opt for a full 10km run out into the countryside in cold weather, you may find it tiring.

Most tours aren’t suitable for children under four, wheelchair users or those with mobility issues, pregnant women.

What to bring with you when dog sledding 

Of course, most husky tours take place in the snow, so warm, waterproof clothing is a given.

Sometimes overalls are provided by the tour leader, but not always so check first when you book.

If they’re not included, you should bring your own waterproof coat, winter gloves, scarf, hat and boots.

If you’re doing a summer wagon cart trip, you probably won’t need a woolly hat or gloves, though even in summer waterproofs are a good idea!

Wearing layers that you can shed if necessary is a good idea, as dog sledding is a physical activity and you can get hot when “mushing”. 

You should always bring a bottle of water too.

Here’s a list of the basics that you’ll need to bring when dog sledding:

  • warm clothing (layers are a good idea)
  • hat
  • gloves
  • camera 
  • bottle of water
  • a high-energy snack (if food isn’t included in your trip)

10 of the best dog sledding tours in Rovaniemi

Learn how to “mush” a dog sled

This classic husky tour from Rovaniemi takes you out to Apukka to meet the huskies, and learn how to “mush” (drive a husky sled!).

Then you’ll harness up the dogs and go on a 10km dog sled ride through the snowy forest.

See the northern lights by a husky sled

You get two bucket-list activities in one on this trip – driving a husky sled and seeing the northern lights.

You can see the northern lights on a dog sled tour in Rovaniemi in Finland

You’ll ride the dog sleds out to a traditional Lappish camp, where you can relax around a campfire and look out for the northern lights. 

Ride a snowmobile and a dog sled

Combine dog sledding with a snowmobile tour in Rovaniemi in Finland.

Go snowmobiling and dog sledding on the same tour. First of all, you’ll have a lovely ride through the Arctic wilderness on a sled pulled by huskies, then jump onto a snowmobile for a high-adrenaline whizz across the snow.

Visit Santa, huskies and a reindeer farm 

Ideal for kids, this trip to the Santa Claus Village includes three festive activities in one.

First of all, you’ll meet Father Christmas, then visit the local husky farm to learn all about the dogs – and even have a cuddle!

You’ll then visit a reindeer farm, to feed the reindeer or take a reindeer cart ride.

Go husky-sledding in summer and autumn

Even if there’s no snow on the ground you can still enjoy a ride on a sled pulled by huskies

When there’s not enough snow, the huskies pull a wheeled cart though the forest – which is particularly beautiful in autumn when the leaves are golden brown.

Make friends with the dogs on a small-group trip

This small-group tour gives you the chance to make friends with the dogs and enjoy the tranquility of the Arctic scenery.

You’ll meet the dogs at a small kennels, then ride past Lappish lakes and forests, before stopping in a traditional yurt for a warm drink.

Enjoy three snowy rides on one tour

Glide across the snow in three different ways – by a speedy snowmobile, on a romantic reindeer sleigh and on a sled pulled by huskies.

Learn how to "mush" a husky in Rovaniemi, Finland.

This fun tour includes all the snowy activities you could want, plus a chance to meet cuddly huskies and cute reindeer!

Go ice fishing by a husky sled

Learn the traditional art of ice fishing, and try your hand at catching an Arctic salmon.

Then ride across the snow on a husky sled to a Lappish yurt for a snack – and if you managed to catch a fish, you can get it smoked here too. 

Enjoy an Arctic adventure

The ultimate Arctic adventure, this seven-hour tour includes a reindeer sleigh ride, a dog sled trip, a Lappish barbecue and a northern lights tour.

After a reindeer and husky sled ride, your guide will take you to a frozen lake, away from any light pollution, where you can walk on the lake and look out for the spectacular northern lights in the skies above.

Take the kids on a snowy activity day

This tour is great for kids, as it includes a taster session of loads of different snow activities.

Children, and adults, can have a go at ice sculpting, tobogganing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and, of course, have fun on a short reindeer and husky sled ride.

Three spectacular places to stay

One of the reasons why Rovaniemi makes a good base for dog sledding is because it has a good range of accommodation to suit all budgets. Here are our top three favourite places to stay.

Sleep in a snow dome

Top choice is Santas Igloos Arctic Circle, snow domes with a glass roof, surrounded by forest right by the Arctic Circle line.

You can lie in bed and watch the northern lights, or the midnight sun, while staying warm and cosy. Some even come with their own outdoor hot tub! 

Stay at the home of Father Christmas

And if you’d got kids, these wooden cabins in the Santa Claus Holiday Village are ideal.

They sleep four, come with a kitchenette and sauna – and are close to all the festive fun and magic of Father Christmas.

Chill out on the island of Vartiosaari 

The comfortable Hotel Vartiosaari sits on a small island in the middle of the Kemijoki river, a short drive south of Rovaniemi.

Away from any light pollution, it’s an ideal place for aurora spotting and there’s a wood-fuelled sauna by the river. They can also organise activities including dog sledding and snowmobile trips.

Other tours in Rovaniemi

There are loads of other tours available in Rovaniemi, from ice floating to exploring an amethyst mine

You can also ride Arctic horses, visit a frozen waterfall and take a cruise on an ice breaker ship in the Bothnian Sea. 

For more, see our guides to 6 of the best snowmobile tours in Rovaniemi and 8 of the best northern lights tours in Rovaniemi.

Dog sledding in other Finnish towns

Dog sledding is also possible in other places in Finland. Levi is the country’s largest ski resort and probably has the best choice of tours after Rovaniemi, but you can also go dog sledding in Kemi, Ivalo and Inari. 

For more on other destinations in Finland, see our guide to dog sledding in Finland

Dog sledding in other Nordic countries

And, of course, other Nordic countries run dog sledding tours including Norway and Sweden.

For more on these, see our guides to dog sledding in Sweden and Norway.

See also:
The best dog sledding tours in Kiruna 
The best dog sled tours in Tromso
Getting from Helsinki to Rovaniemi

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