One of the most iconic activities you can enjoy while visiting Finnish Lapland is taking a husky ride through the snow above the Arctic Circle!
It’s a classic winter in Finland itinerary staple and a must-do while visiting Rovaniemi in winter.
There are lots of options for dog sledding in Rovaniemi, some better than others.
I’m here to share my honest feedback as someone who loves dog sledding and has done it four times (in Abisko, Rovaniemi, Tromso, and Alta).
While I enjoyed my dog sledding tour, there were a few things that surprised me compared to other husky sled rides I have done elsewhere, so I’m writing this guide to let you know what to expect on your tour.
|Don’t have time for a long read? Here are my quick picks for those looking to book something fast.
⭐ Tour I Took & Recommend: Apukka Husky Self-Drive Adventure
– Best Budget Tour: 10 Minute Husky Ride at Santa Claus Village
– Best Musher-Led Tour: 15 Kilometer Husky Sleigh Ride
– Best Full-Day Tour: 30-40 Kilometer Husky Self-Drive Tour
– Best Northern Lights Tour: Apukka Aurora Husky Adventure
My Experience Dog Sledding in Rovaniemi
I went dog sledding with the top-rated husky tour in Rovaniemi, the Apukka Husky Adventure.
They offer the tour three times daily, one at 10 AM, one at noon, and one at 2 PM.
It’s two hours long, excluding transit to and from Apukka (about half an hour from the city center or 10 minutes from Santa Claus Village), so it’s easy to fit into almost any Lapland itinerary.
This tour is aimed at total beginners so you don’t need any previous dog sledding or husky experience. Just be a dog lover and a good listener!
I took the noon tour and we met at 11:45 AM at Santa Claus Village, where I boarded the included shuttle bus to Apukka Resort just outside the city center.
Apukka Resort is one of those epic glass igloo resort you’ve probably seen before, where you can spend the night in a glass igloo and (hopefully!) see the Northern lights from your cabin.
(In reality, it’s a little hard to do so, but on an especially clear night, it is theoretically possible)
It can be really expensive to stay at Apukka Resort in the peak season — I often see the glass igloos listed around $800 USD per night — so it’s fun to do one of the outdoor activities at Apukka to be able to see the property without having to shell out the full cost of an overnight accommodation.
Once we arrived at Apukka Resort off the shuttle, we had time to borrow gear from their rental area (it was cold while I was visiting, so I borrowed a thermal oversuit, boots, and gloves).
We then were directed to a lavvu (Sámi-style tent area) where we waited for the rest of our small group to meet up and then go with the guide to the husky farm area, which was across the street from the main Apukka Resort, located in a lovely Arctic forest area near a frozen lake.
Here, we met our two mushers and the group split in two smaller groups after a short debrief on how the sledge works, hand signals, how to brake, and protocols in order to keep the huskies (and yourself!) safe.
We paired up into groups of two (I was traveling solo and I got paired with an another person who didn’t have a partner — so don’t be worried if you arrive alone!), met our dog team, and got ready for the ride of our lives!
We were told we would do a 7 to 10-kilometer circuit, and we must have done the shorter one, as we did about 30 minutes of actual dog sledding, which was about 15 minutes per person (you switch between being the driver and the passenger halfway through).
It was incredibly beautiful and the dog sledding was lots of fun, though I was surprised that the dog sledding portion of the tour only ended up lasting about 30 minutes.
After finishing our dog sledding, we ended up back at the kennel, where we got to meet the huskies, pose for photos with them, and cuddle them.
Afterwards, we got to meet a lovely Samoyed who belongs to the hotel and also a few-month-old husky puppy who we all got to take turns meeting and cuddling.
There was also some hot drinks available in the lavvu where we could warm up after the tour, but we ended up not having time to enjoy the drinks because we spent too much time with the husky puppy afterward.
While overall, I would say that I had a great time with my tour, there are a few things I would clarify before you book so that you have the right expectations.
There were two things I was a little surprised by with this tour, given its price:
- 1) The tour does not include hotel pick-up and drop-off, but only a transfer at two pick-up points: one in the city center or another at Santa Claus Village (where the pickup point was a little tricky to find, but I’ve photographed it for you below for ease of finding!).
I was staying at an Airbnb that was a little far from either, but for most people staying in these two main parts of Rovaniemi, this won’t be a huge inconvenience.
- 2) The tour was marketed as 2 hours, and I expected to dog sled for about one hour and then tour the facility, cuddle the huskies, etc. for the other hour. In reality, we had about half an hour of active dog sledding and the rest of the time was either waiting, being instructed, hanging out with huskies and puppies afterwards, etc.
On all my other tours, we got to do mushing and dog sledding for one hour, half an hour per partner on the team. This felt a little short to me, but it’s partly because I’m comparing it to other experiences.
Despite those two drawbacks, I’d still say this is one of the better husky tour options in Rovaniemi.
Book this husky tour here, or read on for more options!
Rovaniemi is definitely more geared towards family-friendly tours (which tend to be shorter to accommodate kids’ shorter attention spans) as opposed to adventure tours and older independent travelers.
When I looked into other tours to see if there were any longer tours more akin to what I did in Tromso, Abisko, Alta, etc. — there weren’t any sled tours that were both self-driving and longer than the same 6 or 7 to 10 kilometers that the Apukka one was advertised as, except for one full-day, 40-km adventure tour (I’ll share that below)!
I can imagine that all other tours are similarly only about 30 to 40 minutes of actual dog sledding (for reference, the hourlong tour I did in Alta covered 15 kilometers).
It seems like despite a few reservations I have about the tour I took, this is still currently the best option in Rovaniemi — so just be aware that the ‘two hour’ tour is actually really only 30 minutes of active dog sledding!
That said, I’ll go into a few other options — from family-friendly tours to Northern lights evening tours to combo tours — in case this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea.
Other Dog Sledding Tours in Rovaniemi
Budget Dog Sled Tour: 2.5km Husky Ride
Located at Santa’s Village, this brief husky sleigh ride is a great option for those on a budget who don’t have time (or money) for a longer excursion.
This tour gives you a 30-minute time slot for a husky experience so it’s a quick one, but that may be good depending on your time and is 2.5 kilometers, which in my experience should take about 10 minutes.
This tour also doesn’t give you the chance to drive your own sled, but you’ll be driven by a musher and a team of huskies while sitting in a comfortable sleigh of your own.
It’s a good experience for the whole family as all can participate regardless of age (infants must sit on their parent’s laps).
That said, I wouldn’t recommend it for adult travelers without kids who want the full ‘dog sled’ experience, unless budget is a huge constraint, since it’s so fast.
Longer Dog Sleigh Tour: Coffee Tour with 15km Sled Ride
For those who want to be out in a dog sled and enjoy the nature, this is a great tour for you, and it also includes coffee in addition to a sled ride.
The nice thing about this tour is that it is longer in length (15 kilometers, which should take about an hour) than other tours.
However, this tour does not allow you to drive your own dog sled, which is a big con for me personally.
But it might be great for those traveling with a family who want the ease and safety of a musher-led tour as opposed to the more active adventure of manning your own dogsled.
Full Day Self Drive Tour: 30 to 40 km Dog Sled Adventure
For a day trip totally devoted to huskies, this is the best option possible, though of course since it is a much longer experience it is more expensive.
However, given that you get to spend at least 4 times the amount of time actually dog sledding than any other self-drive tour, it’s definitely worth the price and offers a good value.
This tour is only offered a few times per month it appears, so book it in advance if this is the tour you want to select.
Northern Lights Dog Sled Tour: Apukka Aurora Husky Tour
If you want the chance to spot the Northern lights while you’re traversing through a winter wonderland with your team of huskies, this aurora hunting husky tour is a good option.
It’s also a good choice if your days are filled with activities but you want something to do during the long nights of the Arctic winter!
Keep in mind that these tours only offer a chance to see the Northern lights. While your huskies will run for about 7-10 km, if it’s cloudy in the immediate area, this won’t give you a very far radius to find a break in the clouds to see the aurora.
If you want a more sure bet of seeing the Northern lights (though no natural phenomenon comes with a guarantee) you should opt for a dedicated Northern lights tour in Rovaniemi.
This is also run by Apukka Resort, the tour I went with, but just a nighttime offering that also includes Lappish BBQ in a warm hut halfway through the tour to warm up and try to spot the aurora borealis!
Combination with Reindeer Sleigh Ride: 2.5 Hour Reindeer and Husky Safari
Can’t choose between a reindeer sleigh ride and a husky safari? As the meme goes… why not both?
This tour brings you to several Finnish favorites — a reindeer farm and a husky farm — for sleigh rides and 1:1 time with these lovely Lapland creatures.
This 2.5-hour tour is perfect for families with young kids who want a quick experience that doesn’t skimp on any of the favorites yet doesn’t take too long for little ones with short attention spans.
The tour includes a 500-meter reindeer sleigh ride as well as a 2-km husky ride so you’ll get the experience to sled with both (each sled ride should take about 10-15 minutes).
Rovaniemi Dog Sledding FAQs
Is it ethical to go dog sledding in Rovaniemi?
I’m a huge animal lover and the ethics of any animal activity is really important to me.
I’ve gone dog sledding four times and I’ve always made sure to keep an open mind and be ready to re-evaluate my opinion if any new information is available to me.
Having done two dog sledding activities recently, this one in Rovaniemi in January 2024 and another in Alta in February 2024, I feel confident saying that I personally find dog sledding in Lapland perfectly ethical.
Husky dogs aren’t like your typical house pet — these are working dogs who have been domesticated for thousands of years to be able to not only endure but enjoy winter conditions.
Dog sledding tours use Siberian or Alaskan huskies (the tour I did in Rovaniemi used Siberian huskies) and these does are comfortable at temperatures as low as -40 Celsius.
They love the cold so much that often you’ll see them sleeping outside at -20 Celsius, even when they have a warm bed filled with straw as an option to sleep in!
You can visibly see the excitement of the dogs before and after a sled ride, and you can see the knowledge the mushers have about all the dogs.
For example, on my dog sled tour at Apukka, they knew that one dog preferred to only be on the harness when it was time to run, and didn’t like to be left on the harness with the other dogs waiting for the group to start running.
They made sure to accommodate him and took him off the ‘line’ of dogs whenever we weren’t actively running or preparing to run.
Any good dog sledding company should demonstrate their awareness of the different dogs’ personalities and preferences, and Apukka definitely did this which I was glad to see.
I also asked them about their dog running schedule and how they rotate out and keep track of the dogs and I was really happy with their answers, so I know they really love and care for their sled dogs there!
What’s the difference between dog sledding and a husky safari?
Nothing! Going dog sledding is the same thing as a husky safari — they just make it sound more exotic and fancy when they call it a ‘safari’.
Whether you book something marketed as dog sledding, husky tour, or a husky safari tour, it’s all the same thing.
The only thing that’s different are ‘husky farm visits’ which often just include meeting the dogs and don’t include the chance to go on a sled ride.
Be sure to read the inclusions to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want on your husky experience.
What is self-drive dog sledding?
Self-drive is just how it sounds — you’re the musher and you help out the team of huskies and make sure you’re staying in position, not overlapping with other husky teams, etc.
Mostly, you’re in charge of watching the team ahead of you and following their hand signals.
Typically, when you do one of these tours, you are in a team of two and you take turns halfway through, switching between driving the sled and being the passenger.
Is dog sledding physically demanding?
In my opinion, not at all! The huskies are strong and pull the sled very well without any assistance from you (except braking when necessary — they’re powerful dogs!).
On the dog sledding tour I did, we stayed on a flat track so that we didn’t need to go up or down any hills.
When you go uphill, you may need to get off your sled and run to help the huskies; however, this wasn’t necessary on the tour I took with Apukka, as the track was flat the entire time.
Really, for most people, dog sledding is no more demanding than standing for the duration of the tour (and tolerating the cold!).
But that said, you can also sit in the sled as long as the other partner is willing to drive for the duration of the tour.
What should I wear and bring on a Rovaniemi husky safari?
First, check to see if your tour includes outdoor cold weather gear. With the exception of the 30-minute husky experience, I believe all these tours do include complimentary gear rental.
That said, you’ll still want to be comfortable on your tour. Comfortable, warm thermal layers (preferably wool) underneath a jacket and waterproof pants will make you the most comfortable.
Also, tours don’t necessarily include hats or scarves (though usually will include gloves) so you’ll likely want to bring these as well.
And of course, you’ll want to bring a camera — though keep in mind you can only take pictures when you’re a passenger and not when you’re driving the sled, as supervising the huskies is a full-time job!
How old do you have to be to go dog sledding?
Every tour’s age requirements vary depending on the length of the tour and whether or not you’ll be driving the sled or just be a passenger.
For short tours like the 30-minute dog sled tour, even infants can go on the dog sleigh, as you will be led by an experienced musher!
But for longer tours like the full-day tour, participants need to be at least 15 years old.
Can you see the Northern lights while dog sledding?
If you take one of the aurora watching dog sled tours it’s definitely a possibility, albeit a small one.
Keep in mind that the Northern lights are only visible when 1) there is enough darkness 2) there is no cloud cover and 3) there is sufficient solar wind conditions.
Taking a dog sledding tour at night takes care of issue number 1, but not issues 2 or 3.
If there’s cloud cover or poor solar conditions, you might not see the Northern lights.
Also, keep in mind that the Northern lights are lot more faint than photos make them out to be, as the intensity of color is only captured through long exposure.
The more I travel through the Nordic region, the more I realize that not everyone knows this, so I always try to remind people of this so they can set their expectations accordingly!
Allison Green is a former teacher who has been travel blogging since 2016. She has a Masters in Teaching and a B.A. in English and Creative Writing. Her blog posts merge her background as an educator with her experience traveling to 70+ countries to encourage ethical, meaningful travel. She has been a speaker at the World Travel Writers Conference and her writing, photography, and podcasting work has appeared in National Geographic, CNN Arabic, CBC Canada, and Forbes, amongst others. Now a full-time traveler, she has lived in Prague, Sofia, New York City, and the San Francisco Bay Area.