Rovaniemi over Tartu for my summer vacation

The last time I posted my summer travel itinerary for Finland and Estonia, I had a few days up in the air but was leaning toward:

Days 1-3 = Helsinki

Days 3-10 = Turku

Days 10-15 = Tartu (was also considering Rauma & Tampere)

Days 15-22 = Tallinn

Days 22-24 = Helsinki

Now for days 10-15 I’m thinking of taking a night train north to Rovaniemi, Santa Claus’ hometown. I’ve never taken a sleeper train before so that’s part of the appeal. It’s a 13 hour trip so hopefully I’ll get used to the train part in time for some sleep. There’s a direct train from Turku, which is nice – there’s nothing direct to Tartu, of course. Rovaniemi is much further that Rauma or Tampere but it’s a rare chance to get so far north.

Interestingly, Tartu seems very slightly less expensive than the cities in Finland in terms of hotel prices. I was expecting it to be less expensive but it seems most hotels are already booked in Tartu so they don’t need to lower their prices.

One thing that’s scaring me is booking the train online – it seems overly complicated and I don’t really understand what the different numbers are for – I do know they add up to 150 euros for my wife and I so it’s not a cheap train ride…

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  1. I took the train from Turku to Rovaniemi back in 1999 on an overnight trip. Quite pleasant actually. Booking the train online wasn’t that difficult.

    Choosing a sample date of August 1st, there is one car that is non-stop between the two cities, the Express Train 933. Basically, the train went to Tampere and changed cars around as need be. As long as you were on the correct car (the conductor helped with this) you didn’t have to do anything. The 21:05 train would arrive in Rovaniemi at 10:48 the next morning.

    Your price of 150 euros is for the ticket only. On the assumption that you want to share a private cabin with your wife, I’d suggest the 2-person traditional cabin which adds 48 Euros to the journey. I think that 48 euros is a per direction cost.

    In Rovaniemi, Santa Clause village ( is something of a tourist trap. They do have an “arctic circle” line painted on the ground although the actual arctic circle is a few kilometers north of town.

    For a more authentic feel of Finland Lapland, you can take a bus several hours north of Rovaniemi to the Sami village of Inari on the lake.

    Having said that, and having been to these places, I wouldn’t necessarily go out of your way to visit unless you had something specific in mind. For me, I was an exchange student in Turku so I had months of “free time” to work with. If you’re on a limited time budget, which you appear to be, I’d consider sticking with your original plan.

  2. Sharon says:

    I agree that Santa Claus village might be too much like a carnival…so I’d skip that. As far as the train, from what I can tell, the upper level sleeper cabins have private bathrooms,and lower levels do not. Not sure what you prefer, but I would think that would be the best way to go even overnight, and it certainly would be worth the extra money for that convenience.

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