Finland Travel

How to survive a semester abroad in Rovaniemi

Maybe you´re in Rovaniemi right now, doing a semester abroad. Living a life between heaps of snow, reindeers, winter adventures and of course weekly ice hockey matches. Or you sit at home, wherever in the world that is, and wait that the day arrives on which you can finally enter the aircraft or train to start your semester in Rovaniemi.

I want to give you a few tips on how to survive a semester abroad in Rovaniemi. If you have anything to add feel free to leave a comment down below. Recently I posted my ultimate Lapland Bucket list, which you should check out if you need some inspiration or have some free spots in your weekly schedule. Enough with the self-promotion, let´s see what kind of tips I have up my sleeve for you.

A decent bike

When you arrive in Rovaniemi, the first thing you should do is to walk down to the second-hand shop located on a street called Harrikatu. That shop has a lot of used bikes, at least at the beginning of the semester. I bought one of the “more expensive” bikes for 90 euros, which I did not regret a single day. My bike was reliable, had a decent enough tire pattern and functional gears. The saddle was a nightmare though, but I could have bought a cushioned cover that’s available at Prisma.

If you ask yourself, “Do I really need a bike?”, the answer is easy. Yes, you do unless you want to walk one hour to university every day. There is a Bus connection to Kuntotie where the exchange student apartments are located, but it’s a poor one. Maybe it will be different when the new apartments have been built, let me know in the future.

When you buy a bike, pay attention to:

  • The pattern and thickness of the tire (a mountain bike tire is better than a racing bicycle one)
  • Does it have to change gears and to they work?
  • How does the chain look like? (you don´t want a rusty old one)
  • Does it have lights and reflectors? (if not, you can buy them at Prisma or Clas Ohlson, because you need them for the dark winter nights)

Second-hand shops

Speaking of second-hand shops, they are your best friend when it comes to cheap dishes, cutlery, clothes and other stuff. If you look through everything, especially the clothes, you can find quite the bargain. The following are the second-hand shops in Rovaniemi I know about, ranked from my favourite to the one I didn’t like as much.

  1. Kontti – Finnish Red Cross Shop

It was my absolute favourite second-hand shop because they have so many clothes that are still in a very good condition. I bought my purple skiing winter jacket, winter boots, a lovely jumper in Norwegian style and almost some hockey gear for my brother. It’s a very organized shop and a good place if you need seasonal clothes, equipment for your kitchen, shoos or ice-skates.

Address: Teollisuustie 13, 96320 Rovaniemi, Finnland

Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 9 – 18, Sat: 9 – 15


  1. Vintiki Oy Vintikki

This is the perfect place for spontaneous purchases. You need to search a little but it´s worth it.

Address: Varastotie 2, 96100 Rovaniemi, Finnland

Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 10 – 18, Sat: 10 – 16, Sun: 12 – 15


  1. Varastotien Kirppis

This second-hand store is super big, and with super big I mean huge. If you want to go through all the different racks you should plan some time. It is not very organized, at least I couldn’t figure out a system if there was one. BUT, if you are looking for a faux or real fur coat you will find them at the second level of this store.

Address: Varastotie 8, 96100 Rovaniemi, Finnland

Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 10 – 18, Sat: 10 – 16, Sun: 12 – 15


  1. Tuhat-Tori avoin yhtio

The perfect store for bicycles but for everything else you really need to keep your eyes open. It is possible to find a Tommy Hilfiger jacket though.

Address: Harrikatu 2, 96200 Rovaniemi, Finnland

Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 10 – 17, Sat: 10 – 14


  1. Toivon Tori

It is a small second-hand shop which offers were not my cup of tea, but maybe you find something you like.

Address: Lapinkävijäntie 23, 96200 Rovaniemi, Finnland

Opening Hours: Tue – Fri: 10 – 17

Warm clothes

Warm winter clothes are a must for spending a semester in Rovaniemi. During winter it is not uncommon that they have temperatures of -20 degrease Celsius, or even less. So pack your scarf, gloves, beanie and warm underwear to keep yourself warm and cozy. If you don´t own proper outdoor winter clothes you can buy them in the second-hand shops I listed above.

Spent your money on memories, not things

Finland is not the cheapest country for doing a semester abroad, but it is full of activities that you will never forget. I really recommend to spend the money not on food or clothes, even if it’s really tempting with all the good restaurants and shops, but instead spend it on memorable activities like a husky sledge ride, driving a snowmobile or do a trip to St. Petersburg. Btw, if you have the chance and the money for participating in the trip to Levi, or somewhere else in Lapland, do it! It is the best chance to so all the winter activities at a discount price. I did the trip and it was one of the best weeks of my entire stay!


A car friend

This is not really a thing thank you can influence, but if you are lucky and meet someone with a car you get along with, it’s like a jackpot. Doing the grocery shopping by car and not by bike is such a nice feeling, especially in winter. You can buy so much more, don´t need to balance everything on your baggage porter and handlebar back home and it’s so much quicker. At this point, shout out to Jan, you made your life so much easier.

A Finnish friend

You should become friends with Finns. They are lovely people with a big heart and amazing hospitality. If you leave Finland without eating blueberry pie together with Finns you haven´t really been in Finland, have you? Besides that, you need someone you can sleep at when you come back to Lapland because you´ll fall in love with its beautiful nature, adventures activities and shy but friendly citizen.


I hope I could help you a little to make your semester abroad even better than it already is or going to be. Feel free to add anything that I forget or you think different about in the comment section down below.

Thank you for stopping by. I wish you all an amazing day.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    4. März 2018 at 7:53

    Really nice! Sounds like my story 😉

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