Did you know that Santa Claus lives in Finland? He lives in Rovaniemi, Finland, to be exact. From Helsinki, it’s just over an hour by air, a little over nine hours by car, and a solid 11+ by train to reach his village. We took the Santa Claus Overnight Express train, which we’re pretty sure is the best way to get to Rovaniemi from Helsinki, cross the Arctic Circle, and meet the big guy himself. It’s definitely the greenest choice!
Catching the Train
From Helsinki airport, take a train to the Tikkurila train station, where you can catch the Santa Claus Express. Sing a Christmas Carol along the way if the spirit catches you as it did me. Tikkurila is a busy station, but the Santa Claus Express is easy to spot with its images of St. Nick. The train has lots of cabin numbers, so keep an eye out for your cabin number and move in its direction as soon as you see it.
Our Train Cabin
We booked a 2-passenger cabin for two with an en suite toilet and shower. The cost at the time we booked, in June 2023, was 259€. Given the cost of hotel rooms and rental cars, the 259€ price tag felt like a steal. Our room came with bunk beds, two bottles of water, comfortable bedding, and pillows. There was even a little desk by the window.
Speaking of windows. We went in mid-June, a time of year when the sun never sets in Northern Finland and barely sets in Helsinki. Our room was equipped with a blackout curtain for the window. It works pretty well, but not quite perfect. Before we made the train trip back to Helsinki, I bought a Cabeau Midnight Magic Sleep Mask. I will never travel anywhere without it again. It is AMAZING!
The Dining Car
After we slid our suitcases beneath the bunk beds and had our tickets scanned by the conductor, we headed down to the dining car. It was about seven cars away from us – a pleasant walk. We’d eaten dinner beforehand, so we just enjoyed a couple of drinks while gazing out at plentiful pine trees and the pastoral settings of the Finnish countryside. While both dinner and breakfast are available on the train, we did not try either, so I’m sorry, but I cannot give you any insights on what to eat. All I can say is if you have food allergies, you should plan to bring snacks and meals aboard.
Before we arrived at our destination, after a good night’s sleep, I tried out the shower. It was cold. Perhaps there’s a trick to warming it up. I did not have the time or sisu to find out. We dressed, brushed our teeth, and readied ourselves for our arrival at the Rovaniemi train station.
Taxis and Buses
There is a bus that’s route includes the train station and Santa’s Village. We recommend taking that. You can pay by card or cash. When we went, it was just 3€ each. The bus was clean and calm.
Arrival at Santa's Village
Santa’s Village charmed us from the moment we arrived. We could sense the magic in June and imagine how enchanting it must look when snow covers the ground in winter. When you walk into the lobby at Santa’s Village, it looks and smells just like Christmas! There’s a lot to do in and around the village, no matter the season. Those details are for another post.
Check This List to Make the Most of Your Santa Claus Express Journey:
- Bring an Eye Mask for Sleeping if it’s summertime.
- If you’re a light sleeper, earplugs are a good idea. While we found the train itself pretty quiet, cabin neighbors are easy to hear.
- Pack body wipes, so you can skip the shower without feeling scuzzy. I bought some for the ride back to Helsinki at Normal in the Revontuli Shopping Center near the train station. Their prices are reasonable, and they carry a wide range of products – everything from toiletries to toys to treats.
- Download a Christmas movie onto your iPad or laptop. The train has WiFi, but on their site, they warn that it can get interrupted.
- Brush your teeth using water from the bottled water provided. It’s a good idea to bring an extra bottle of water as well so that you have plenty to drink. The tap water is not drinkable.
Be sure to check out our video to see what the train experience is really like: