The best place to start your tour of Lapland is Rovaniemi, where the Ounas and Kemi rivers meet almost on the Arctic Circle. Often called the Gateway to Lapland, Rovaniemi is also the administrative hub and communications center of the province.
If you're expecting an Arctic shantytown, you're in for a surprise. After Rovaniemi was all but razed by the retreating German army in 1944, Alvar Aalto directed the rebuilding and devised an unusual street layout: from the air, the layout mimics the shape of reindeer antlers! During rebuilding, the population rose from 8,000 to its present-day size of around 36,000—so be prepared for a contemporary city, university town, and cultural center on the edge of the wilderness.