24 Tips for Renting A Car in Rovaniemi in 2024

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Located inside the Arctic Circle and known as the official home of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi is a true bucket list destination for adults and children alike. Planning a trip to Rovaniemi is a lot of fun and one of the big decisions you will face is whether to hire a rental car or not. Having rented a car in Rovaniemi and driven extensively in Lapland, we’ve put together this guide to help anyone planning a trip to Rovaniemi and considering renting a car.

We most recently spent a week exploring Rovaniemi with our rental car in December 2024 and had an amazing time. From exploring Santa Claus Village and Santa Park to chasing the Northern Lights and sleeping in a glass igloo, our rental car was invaluable and we’re so happy we decided to rent a car in Rovaniemi. We hope our tips for renting a car in Rovaniemi help you to plan your trip.

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Apukka Resort in Rovaniemi

Tips for Renting a Car in Rovaniemi

Having spent lots of time exploring the area by rental car, we’ve put together our guide for renting a car in Rovaniemi. From why you should consider renting a car to tips on getting the most out of your rental car during your trip.

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From car to sleigh in Rovaniemi!

Why Rent a Car in Rovaniemi?

Having rented a car during our time in Rovaniemi, we highly recommend it to anyone planning a trip there. There are two big reasons why you should consider renting a car in Rovaniemi: money saving and flexibility.

Having a rental car saved us a lot of money during your trip:

An airport transfer to Santa Claus Village is typically €25 for a family of 4 and €30 to the city centre. We travel with our 3 young kids so have to pay extra for a larger taxi.

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Santa Claus Village

Most of the major attractions in Rovaniemi are spread out across the city so you will likely need to get around the town. Like us, most visitors will want to visit Santa Park, Santa’sVillage, and do some day trips like reindeer, husky or snowmobile rides. Each of these will require taxis or private buses and the cost adds up quickly.

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Reindeer rides at Apukka Resort

Transport costs in Rovaniemi are very high and hotel transfers and taxi costs can really add up over your trip.

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Most bus transfers are an additional cost that adds up fast

Renting a car in Rovaniemi tip: We also saved money by picking up supplies are the grocery stores with our rental car.

The second big reason to consider renting a car in Rovaniemi is flexibility. Having a rental car allowed us to experience everything we wanted on our own schedule. We didn’t need to wait for any taxi or bus pickups, which is a big consideration during the colder months. Our rental car also allowed us to explore the winter wonderland outside the city and search for the Northern Lights. We were also able to eat where we liked (we found an awesome Mexican restaurant in the city and loved the kebabs at the station opposite Santa Claus Village!). We traveled as a family with our three young kids and having a nice warm car to hop into each day was worth it alone.

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Santa Park was easy to visit with our rental car

1 | Is it worth renting a car in Rovaniemi?

Based on the savings and flexibility that a rental car offers, we think it is worth renting a car in Rovaniemi. We would recommend it to anyone planning a trip, from couples to families, as the benefits of a rental car make it well worth the cost. A car will allow you to do a lot more with your time in Rovaniemi and we love being able to do things at our own pace.

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Apukka Resort is one of our favorite places to stay in Rovaniemi and easy to visit with our rental car

2 | Is it safe driving a rental car in Rovaniemi?

We found it completely safe. This was one of the first things we checked when planning our trip to Rovaniemi as we prefer to visit during the colder winter months. With well-maintained roads, winterized rental cars with winter tires, and good driving standards, driving is very safe and easy in Rovaniemi. The cold temperatures and snow do present challenges to those visiting from warmer countries, however it is very straightforward once you take your time. Having spent a week driving in Rovaniemi we can say that we had a very positive experience and would recommend it to anyone planning a trip to Lapland.

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Meeting Santa Claus at Santa Park was a real highlight in Rovaniemi

3 | Booking your rental car

Similar to the other Scandinavian countries of Norway and Sweden, Finland is relatively expensive compared to other European countries. Due to this, you can expect to pay a bit more for your rental car in Rovaniemi but you can still get a good rate by booking well in advance. Rovaniemi airport has a number of the main rental car agencies so there is good competition for prices.

We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in almost 50 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. We book all our rental cars on Booking.com and find they have a wide selection of cars and rental car companies to choose from. Their prices are competitively priced and we’ve always secured the car we want at a good price – check prices now!

Book your rental car in Rovaniemi now

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Our kids wanted to check out the Angry Birds playground!

4 | Book your rental car well in advance

This is a big money-saving tip. You can get very good deals on rental cars in Rovaniemi if you book well in advance. On our first trip, we booked our car around 4 months in advance of our trip and got a really great price. We only planned our most recent a couple of weeks in advance and we paid a huge premium as the prices rose considerably in the run-up to our trip. We recommend booking your rental car as far in advance as possible to ensure you get a great price and secure the particular vehicle you want.

Demand for rental cars in Rovaniemi is generally high during the winter months and extremely high in the months before Christmas. If you’re planning to visit Lapland before or during the Christmas period we’d recommend booking your rental car well in advance. Prices can jump very quickly during these availability can get very low and may sell out during busy periods. We usually book our rental cars weeks or months in advance through Booking.com and usually get a great price on the car we want.

Book your rental car in Rovaniemi now

Renting a car in Rovaniemi tip: If you are travelling during November and Decmeber we recommend booking your rental car as far in advance as possible as availiability can be very low if you leave it to the last minute. Lapland is understandly very popular in the lead up to Christmas!

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Our rental car at Rovaniemi airport

5 | Choosing a Rental Car

There is a good selection of rental car agencies available at Rovaniemi airport that offer a wide range of vehicles to choose from. We’d advise getting a car that’s a little larger than you need. This is especially true if you’re planning to drive north to Levi or any of the other popular areas in Northern Finland. A larger car will be more comfortable and allow space for all your winter gear such as your coats, trousers and snow boots.

The popular rental car agencies in Rovaniemi airport are Hertz, Thrifty, Greenmotion, Europcar, and Avis. There are also some local operators such as Finnrent.

We rented a Skoda Karoq from Hertz during our visit to Rovaniemi and it was perfect for us as a family of 5 with three young kids.

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The car rental pickup at Rovaniemi Airport

6 | Picking up your rental car

After arriving at Rovenami Airport visitors can pick up their rental car keys from the agency counters in the airport. After exiting the arrivals hall, the rental car agencies are located down the corridor from the exit to the airport.

At peak times there can be a lot of people in line at the car rental desks which might mean you’ll have to wait. Hertz and Avis had no queue when we picked up our car, however, this will depend on how busy the arrivals are when you land.

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Rental Car counters at Rovaniemi airport

Once you’ve picked up your rental agreement and car keys, make your way to the car park which is located a short walk from the exit to the airport.

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The rental car parking is a short walk from the arrivals hall

7 | Rental Car Insurance

The law in Finland requires that all car rentals have the minimum insurance of fire and third-party liability insurance included in all rentals. This will be included in the base price of your car rental agreement unless you choose any optional insurance.

The basic insurance bundled with rental cars will include the mandatory fire and third-party liability and a basic Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). The CDW covers damage to the car in the event of an accident or any accidental damage. There is generally an excess payable under the basic CDW, where you will pay the first x Euros of any damage up to the excess amount, with the CDW covering any amount over this.

The basic CDW excess can vary but is usually around €2,000 which means you’ll pay the first €2,000 in case of an accident.

Due to the nature of driving in Finland and the icy roads and car parks, we highly recommend purchasing fully comprehensive cover when renting a car in Rovaniemi. We found driving in Rovenami in winter to be very safe, however, the slippy surfaces and snow banks increase the chance of small bumps and knocks on your rental car.

You can reduce or remove this excess by paying an additional daily rate for full CDW coverage – some travel credit cards have this included as a benefit so make sure to check your cards! We always purchase the additional insurance and recommend it for two reasons:

  • it gives us peace of mind that any damage to the car is covered (i.e. less stress on your trip).
  • returning and picking up the rental car is a lot easier and quicker as the rental car agencies usually don’t have to check the car for damage at pick up or return.

You can purchase the additional insurance when you pick up your rental car, however we usually purchase it in advance when we reserve the car. This way you know how much in total the rental will cost so there are no surprises!

Most rental car companies on Booking.com allow you to add this full or super insurance in at the time of booking so you won’t get any price shocks when you pick up your car – check prices now!

With Booking.com you can add the full insurance at time of booking so there’s no surprises at the airport

Book your rental car in Rovanemi now

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Snow drifts and ice mean you can easily get minor damage on your rental car

8 | Unlimited Kilometres

This will only be an issue if you are planning longer drives from Rovaniemi. Driving distances in Finland can be very long, especially if you plan to drive around a lot of the country. If you are planning to drive further north of Rovaniemi such as Levi or Saariselkä we’d recommend getting a rental car that has unlimited kilometres in the contract. This way you won’t have any extra charges for extra mileage when you return the car.

9 | Drive on the right

Similar to the US and most parts of Europe, cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Finland and overtake on the left.

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Drive on the right in Finland

10 | Rental Requirements and Documentation

The minimum driving age in Finland is 18, however, you will need to be at least 20 to hire a rental car. There may also be a surcharge for anyone under 25 so it’s worth checking the rules with your rental car provider before you book as this may vary.

You will also need the standard documentation to rent a car in Finland: a valid credit card in the main driver’s name, a valid license, and a passport. Visitors from outside Europe may also require an International Drivers Permit (IDP) to hire a car in Finland. This will depend on the issuing country of your driver’s license.

International Drivers Permit (IDP)

An International Drivers Permit (IDP) is a document separate from your driver’s license that is simply a translation of your driver’s license into several different languages. Most rental car agencies will require an IDP from customers if they do not hold a European driver’s license. You can easily pick up an IDP in your home country prior to traveling.

Renting a Car in Rovaniemi tip: It is usually not possible to obtain an IDP once you leave your home country so make sure to pick one up before you leave if you require one.

11 | Speed Limits

Finland has very strict speed limit laws and has significant fines for speeding that are enforced if you are caught. Speed limits are very well signposted and it’s generally clear what the speed limit is.

Generally speaking, the speed limit in Finland is 50 km/h in built-up/urban areas and 80 km/h outside of them. Most of the driving you’ll experience in Rovaniemi will be under these speed limits, unless you plan to use the motorway network. There is a variable speed limit on the motorways, which is 120km/h in summer and 100 km/h in winter.

The Finnish police have zero tolerance for speeding and the fines are very high by international standards. A fine is issued where the actual speed exceeds the signposted speed by no more than 20km/h. The fine amount varies from €100 to €200 depending on how fast you are going above the speed limit.

The fines for anyone caught driving in excess of 20km/h over the speed limit can be significantly higher as they are calculated as a percentage of your annual income. This applies to both Finnish residents and overseas visitors, with a minimum fine of €115.

Basically, you should know the speed limits and stick to them!

Renting a Car in Finland tip: There is also an €100 fine for using your mobile phone while driving

Speed checks are generally carried out by fixed-speed cameras that are dotted around the road network in Finland.

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A sign in Rovaniemi indicating the road is monitored by speed cameras

During our time in Rovaniemi, we did find that some of the road signs could get covered in ice spray and snow from the road which did make some signage difficult to read. It’s worth being aware of your surroundings and adjusting your speed accordingly.

12 | Parking in Rovaniemi

Parking is generally free at most hotels, visitor attractions, and at Santas Village in Rovaniemi. If you are staying at a hotel in central Rovaniemi make sure to check if parking is included in the room rate. We’ve stayed at the Apukka Resort outside the city and the Arctic Light and Arctic City hotels – there was no charge for parking our car in any of them.

Book your stay in Rovaniemi now

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Apukka Resort was our favorite place in Rovaniemi

The only places we found charged parking were on-street parking and some private car parks in Rovaniemi itself. These are clearly marked with signed and operate on a ticket basis. The meters cost around €2 per hour on average and are paid at the ticket machines on the side of the street. The tickets are timed, so you can move you car to another space in the city once there is still time remaining on the ticket.

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What the on-street parking signs look like in Rovaniemi

Cars can only stop or park on the right-hand side of the road, so you are not allowed to cross the road to find a parking spot.

Renting a car in Rovaniemi tip: If you are staying at a hotel in central Rovaniemi make sure to check if parking is included in the room rate.

13 | Using your car horn

There is a specific rule around using your car horn in Finland. You may only use the car horn if you are in danger. If you are trying to get another car’s attention use your headlights to flash them/

14 | Toll Roads

The good news for visitors to Finland is that all the roads, including the motorways, are free to use and there is no toll payable on any of them!

15 | Fuel and Rest Stops

There are plenty of fuel stations dotted around Rovaniemi. One of the more popular is the Shell station located opposite Santa’s Village. We used this station for fuel and food numerous times during our time in Rovaniemi. We’ve always paid by credit card and never had any issues.

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The Shell station beside Santas Village

Driving a Rental a Car in Winter

Most visitors to Rovaniemi will visit during the winter months when the weather in Rovaniemi can be extremely cold with heavy snow, limited daylight hours, and extremely low temperatures. Temperatures can range from -10 to -30 °C in December and January each year. During our visit in December, the temperatures dropped to as low as -20°C. These conditions present a unique set of challenges for driving a rental car and we have some specific tips for driving a rental car in winter in Rovaniemi.

We had a fun and safe trip to Rovaniemi in our rental car on the snow roads and would recommend it to anyone.

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Driving in the snow in Finland was very safe

16 | Clear Ice and Snow off your car before a journey

Snow and ice will accumulate on your rental car overnight so make sure to clear all the ice and snow off your car (including the roof) before you set off. Snow and ice can be extremely dangerous if left of the car as they can limit your vision while driving and falling snow and ice are a hazard to other drivers.

Your rental car should come with ice scrapers and snow brushes so make sure to use them!

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Your rental car should come with snow brushes and ice scrapers so make sure to use them

17 | Avoid renting the cheapest vehicles

Winter driving in Finland is a lot easier and more comfortable if you have a nice car. The basic models offered by the rental agencies may not have the added features of more expensive models. Our cars from Hertz had front and rear heated seats and a built-in diesel heater for warming up the car in the morning.

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The remote diesel heater in our car was super useful to pre-heat the car each morning

18 | Rent an Automatic Car

We’ve driven rental cars in various winter conditions in many countries, including the USA, Norway, Austria, and Germany. We’ve always found it much easier to drive an automatic car with ice and snow on the road. It avoids having to think about changing gears and lets you concentrate more on the road and the conditions.

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Our rental car in Rovaniemi city

19 | Drive below the speed limit and avoid heavy breaking

The road network is very well maintained in Rovaniemi during the winter, with snow and ice cleared and the roads gritted regularly. That said, you can still skid if you break heavily so leave plenty of

20 | Don’t Leave anything in the car overnight

Temperatures in Rovaniemi plummet at night, so avoid leaving anything in your car overnight. Things like liquids and food should especially not be left in the car for extended periods (even during the day) as they will freeze solid and can burst causing problems! We’d also recommend avoiding leaving electronics like phones, laptops, or cameras in the car for extended periods as the cold can affect them and damage the batteries.

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Temperatures in Rovaniemi can be chilly!

21 | Avoid overtaking

We tended to avoid overtaking traffic during our time on the roads in Rovaneimi. One of the riskier things to do on icy roads is to overtake and we didn’t find any need to do it during our time in Rovaniemi.

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We never found a need to overtake while driving in Finland

22 | Slow down on turns

We’d recommend slowing down more than usual when making turns, especially on the slip roads for the main roads.

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The road

23 | Headlights

It is compulsory to have your headlights on at all times in Finland. This applies during the day too so make sure your headlights are set to manual on and dipped on pickup.

When driving at night other vehicles may flash you. This may mean you have your full lights on or they may be warning you about an obstruction on the road up ahead.

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Driving at night in Rovaniemi is really beautiful

24 | Car Seats for Children and Babies

Under Finnish law, all children under 135cm in height must use an appropriate child restraint while travelling in a car. While you can usually rent car seats for kids through rental car agencies, we always bring our car seats from home.

Airlines allow at least one checked child item (like a car seat) and having your own when you rent a car avoids any headaches or extra costs once you arrive in Rovaniemi.

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