Lapland, a region stretching across the Polar Arctic Circle, resembles the kind of magical, fantasy world that you may have conjured up as a child when you were wondering where Christmas presents came from. After all, the place is the official hometown of Santa Claus and his reindeer, where spectacular Northern lights whisper in tones and ripple the sky without warning. In the summer, the midnight sun hangs above at all hours, bathing even the Polar regions in a jubilant glow.
Although Lapland is famous for having more reindeer than people, the biggest reindeer is hiding in plain sight in Rovaniemi, made by architect Alvar Aalto himself and
Rovaniemi also has ample Arctic design stores, thrift shops packed with Marimekko dresses, a stunning Arctic museum as well as modern, minimal boutique hotels dressed up with items by Finnish designers. Here’s where you should go if you’re looking to discover design in this Arctic city.
WHERE TO STAY
The various rooms in the hotel are furnished with plenty of Marimekko home accessories, from the throw on the bed to the towels to the robes you’ll love to wear.
We also visited the
Everything on the restaurant’s fine dining menu is inspired by the richness of Lapland: game from the Northern forest and fells, fish and seafood from the Lappish lakes and the Arctic Ocean, forest berries and mushrooms, and meadowsweet and blueberries as a sweet note to end the meal.
WHERE TO VISIT
It’s hard to miss this long, transparent building that resembles a thin glasshouse, stretching along the grassy fields beside the highway as you enter the city of Rovaniemi.
Modern art lovers must visit
Rovaniemi often attracts Alvar Aalto pilgrims who come to experience his works in this Northern region. Apart from the housing projects in this area, the most prominent of Aalto’s works is Aalto center located right in the administrative center of Rovaniemi. Here, he designed Rovaniemi City Hall, the city library and Lappia House around a descending, stepped garden. You’ll want to step inside
The library was constructed in 1965. Alto’s following project,
WHERE TO SHOP
One of the most beautiful draws of Rovaniemi is the expanse of nature. While this guide focuses on Lapland for design lovers, it would be a shame not to wander outside, visit a reindeer farm, or hike through the dozens of trails leading from the city. Foraging is a common practice here because the forests are so rich with berries and mushrooms; and in the summer, thanks to close to 24 hours of daylight, you can hike until midnight and not have to worry about a headlamp. Try floating on the river while the midnight sun hangs over your head, or sitting around a fireplace by the Arctic Garden. While man-made design is thoughtful and exciting in Rovaniemi, nature’s design is abundant here, lavish and beautiful, and I urge you to take plenty of walks away from the city to enjoy the peaceful wellness and calm that comes from being in one of the Northernmost regions of the world.