Taking the Train to Lapland (and back)

So I’ve detailed what we got up to in Lapland, let me tell you how we got there and back without taking to the skies.

It may not be known to people outside of Finland (it wasn’t to me) but there is an excellent rail network in place. One of the most popular trains is the night train to Rovaniemi (and beyond) otherwise known as the Santa Express. This train (IC 265) leaves Helsinki train station at 1849 daily and takes roughly 12.5 hours to reach Rovaniemi at 0713. Or 0714 on a bad day. You can decide on the level of comfort and privacy you require by choosing the following:

A regular seat – are you insane, it’s 12.5 hours!?
Facing seatsĀ  – are you and your partner insane, it’s 12.5 hours!?
Sleeping compartment with shared bathroom – if you’re ok with this.
Sleeping compartment with en-suite bathroom – if you absolutely, positively don’t want any human contact. We went for this. It worked out at 145 Euros per person. Which is cheaper than the 2 hour flight we could have taken.

The compartments with the en-suite bathrooms are upstairs. They are tiny so don’t bring a cat to swing. You won’t be able to. The bathroom has a shower behind a hidden door which is very cool, Kanye. I would like a little more space to have two seats at the window table but what ya gonna do? The beds were comfortable and cosy with electric sockets for the important charging of devices. Free wifi for the journey was excellent.

The restaurant/bar carriage is very popular at the beginning of the journey and tapers out as the witching hour draws near. The queues were nearly enough to put me off getting a few beers. But not quite. We didn’t bother with food as we had brought our own snacks with us. A lot of people just camp out in the bar for the journey or for the majority of the journey. Makes sense if you only have the seat. Alcohol makes all problems go away.

As the journey is all through the night there aren’t any spectacular views and after a few beers the only thing to do is get a good night’s rest. And that we did. Waking up about half an hour before arrival in Rovaniemi.

Be aware that you would think taxis would be lined up waiting for the night train to pull in. They aren’t. You might need to pre-book travel to your accommodation. We were lucky a taxi pulled up about 10 minutes after we arrived and we had cemented ourselves at the top of the taxi line. Also be aware you arrive very early and your hotel will probably not have a room ready for you until later afternoon so you might want to book some tours and keep yourself busy.

All in all, a pretty cool way to travel to Rovaniemi, especially for families I’m assuming. We took the 8.5 hour train back to Helsinki in a what they call a first class seating carriage (free tea and coffee and that’s about for the perks!) and leaving at 0603 (exactly) and arriving at 1435 (ish). It was very doable, cheaper, and during the day so we could see some lovely snowscapes. See video below of what that looked like.

As always, bon voyage ‘laineys.

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