Viktoria is a restless adventurer with personal experience in all of the outdoor activities that Iceland has to offer. She has backpacked all over Iceland and she loves to inspire others to make a deep connection with the country during their travels...
The Midnight sun - one thing all travelers find enchanting about June in Iceland. The days get so long that no dark, starry night is observed. The light evenings help people unwind from the long Icelandic days and it’s one of the best times to visit the land of fire and ice! Icelanders embrace this time of the year with endless outdoor activities, while nature’s majesty brings back to life the vivid colors of the mountains and the exquisite skyscape of the Midnight Sun. We have some helpful tips for you to travel during the beautiful season.
The Best Places to Visit During the Midnight Sun Season
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Southern Iceland is the first attraction on our list of the top four places to visit during the Midnight Sun. Accessible via a 1-hour and 45-minute drive from Reykjavik, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is a popular spot where visitors can watch the 60-meter waterfall plunge into a beautiful pond.
To add to the excitement, you can walk behind the waterfall into a cave to see the fall from a unique angleand watch the vibrant sunlight radiate through the cascade. Many tours will take you to the spectacular South Coast of Iceland, and most will likely stop at this waterfall on the way!
Glymur Waterfall in Hvalfjörður is not far from Reykjavik and is another awesome spot to experience the Midnight Sun. It is set among the backdrop of an insanely beautiful fjord, where a largeocean inlet shapes the dramaticlandscape. The waterfall is located at the top of a beautiful mountain where it drops 198 meters straight down to the bottom of the gorge. The higher the viewpoint you have from the top of the mountain, the better the view!
From the peak, you can see Glymur waterfall tumbling down against the twilight of the Midnight Sun. To reach the highest point, you will take a moderate hike for about an hour and a half.As you climb up the steep, hilly area, you’ll pass a picturesque cave and stream.It’s worth the effort because you’ll be rewarded with an awesome view of the canyon and mountain below. Hiking to Glymur waterfallis a fantastic activity to add to your summer trip itinerary in Iceland!
Whale watching during the Midnight Sun season is one of the best experiences you can have in Iceland.You’llhave the opportunity to get really close to the beautiful marine mammals!
If you are in Akureyri, you are half an hour away from Dalvik, the whale watching capital in the north.The chances of spotting a whale from there in the summer are as high as 99.5%!
If you are traveling to West Iceland, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula has several fabulous spots for you to go whale watching! Olafsvik is on your way from Kirkjufell to Snaefellsjokull glacier and whale watching here can be a worthy detour in the middle of your trip. Whale watching from Grundarfjordur is another option. When you are in the Westfjords region make sure to visitHolmavik as it’s the most famous town for whale watching in the Northwest.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is absolutely stunning during the Midnight Sun. The bright night sky mirrored in the glacier meltwater creates an even more heavenly scene. As the deepest natural lake in IcelandJokulsarlon is a must-visit destination in the summer since there will be even more icebergs floating on the lake due to its seasonal calving fluctuation from theBreiðamerkurjökull glacier tongue.
If you are based in Reykjavik, it’s best to take a full-day trip to Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and its vicinity. It’s at least a 5-hour journey and there are so many attractions in between that you’d otherwise miss! A full-day trip can accommodate the perfect itinerary.Visit Jokulsarlon in the late afternoon or evening to truly appreciate the Midnight Sun.
Iceland’s Events During the Midnight Sun Period
Music is a key component of life in Iceland. Over the years, the island nation has cultivated many big stars like Bjork and rising talents like Of Monsters and Men. Not surprisingly, Iceland also hosts several world-renowned musical festivals each year.
The Secret Solstice Music Festival, for example, takes place starting June 21.It is known as a “bucket-list event held during 96 hours of straight sunlight.” It’s the best opportunity to immerse yourselfin live music.People from around the world flock to Iceland each year to enjoy all the live music, drinks, food, and party scene. Every year, the fantastic line-up includes a set list of both established and emerging musicians.
In the summertime, the nightlife in Iceland is equally asentertaining. In previous summers, the success of the national Icelandic football team in the Euro Cup and the World Cup has captivated the country.Every bar in Reykjavik celebrates creating a fun andlively experience!
There are plenty of recommended venueswhere you can take full advantage of the summer nights.Bíó Paradís is an independent cinema where you canwatchIcelandic documentaries and short films. If you fancy a casual meal or a drink, the best place for a burger or an ice-cold beer is Lebowski Bar.
The Midnight Sun: Top Things to Do in Iceland
Going For A Run
If you want to experience Iceland in a unique way and mingle with locals, going for a run can be an awesomeactivity. There are several running events held in June.
Mýrdalshlaupið– The MýrdalsRace: the event is based in Vík, a photogenic town in Southern Iceland, where runners can enjoy beautiful views from the entire trail.
Reykjavik Color Run:this race is as fun and entertaining as it sounds.The unique 5-km race involves a lot of rainbow-colored powder paint! First introduced to Iceland in 2015, the Color Run is one of the most popular activities both Icelanders and internationaltravelers aspire to take part in.
SUZUKI Midnight Sun Run: is a tradition which began in 1993, starting in Laugardalur in Reykjavik on the Summer Solstice.Runners can choose from half marathon (21.1 km), 10 km and 5 km races.
Going For a Soak
Iceland has unlimited geothermal powerthanks toits unique volcanicactivityand you will find many locations with natural hot springs and geothermal swimming pools.The summertimeisthe perfect season to go for a soak in one of these geothermal hot spring spas.
Blue Lagoon:The iconic spot is one of the wonders of the world.Visitors come here to soak in the therapeutic milky blue hot spring and enjoy the beautiful landscape. Its summer opening hours are very accommodating.From May 31 to June 27it remains open until 11:00 p.m. and from June 28 to August 18it closes at midnight. It’s one of the best places to experience the Midnight Sun in Iceland!
Other geothermal hot spring spas and swimming pools include the Secret Lagoon near the famous Golden Circle, Krauma Geothermal Spa near the fabulous Silver Circle of Iceland and Reykjadalur Valley Natural Hot Spring. The one and only Bjorbodin Bear Spa is found near Akureyri and there are many, many more. Check out the tours that includenatural hot springs here.
Top Midnight Sun Season Tours in Iceland
Golden Circle & Snorkeling: this is a day tour which takes you to along the famous Golden Circle in the evening– the perfect time of the day to enjoy the Midnight-Sun.
Laugavegur & Fimmvorduhals Multi-Day Trek – 6-Day Expedition: for a more intense and extensive experience, this challenging but fun summer hiking expedition takes you to a famous volcano in Iceland among many other attractions. Choose your accommodation between huts and tents to enjoy the spectacular phenomenon of the Midnight Sun for six nights in a row!
Many tourists travel to Iceland in the summertime and are amazed by the fact that there is daylight all through the night. As a result of the 24-hour daylight, the production of melatonin, (a hormone released to make you tired), is delayed, and your body doesn’t get thesame“time for bed”signal it wouldgetif it was dark. We have a few tipson how you cancope withthe Midnight Sun in Iceland.
Wear a sleeping mask that covers your eyes while you sleep.It’s the most obvious solution but possibly the most effective.
At least two hours before bedtime, create a dark, sleep-friendly environment by closing your curtains and dimming the lights in your room as much as possible. Icelanders often use blackout curtains to help them deal with the outside light.
Try to have a pillow propped up alongside your head to block out some light.
While you are outdoors in Iceland during the summerbe sure to wear sunglasses, even though you might feel the sun is not really shining.
We can’t officially condone or deny this, but it’s been rumored that a sip of beer or brandy before going to bed is a big help! A tiny amount of alcohol reduces the initial amount of time needed to fall asleep. (Note that this is not a long-termsolution, especially if you suffer from insomnia!).
We hope you find these tips useful – the better you sleep, the happier you’ll be!
Iceland’s Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice
Summer Solstice in Iceland
The Summer Solstice in Iceland is also called Jónsmessa and it originated from the birth of John the Baptist. It’s also known as Midsummer's Night. In Iceland, the official day for Iceland to celebrate the Summer Solstice falls on June 24.Although according to history it used to fall on June 21.
Icelandic folklore givesa vivid depiction of this day, describing how cows gain the ability to talk, seals transform into humans and the idea that rolling naked on the dewy grass during the Midnight Sun is good for your health! It’s also said that if you sit all night at a road intersection, with all four roads leading to churches, elves will attempt to seduce you with food and gifts!
On the day of the Summer Solstice in Iceland, the sun sets at 12:03 a.m. and rises at 2:56 a.m. – only a couple of hours later. The sky won’t get dark but does produce a few enchanting hours of mesmerizing twilight on the longest day of the year.
Winter Solstice in Iceland
Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year in Iceland, as the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere is positionedthe furthest from the sun. In Reykjavik on December 21, the sun rises at 11:22 a.m. and sets at 3:29 p.m, with only a few hours of dim daylight in between. In the northernmost point of Iceland, Grimsey, the daylight is even shorter, as the sunrises at 12:04 p.m. and sets at 2:16 p.m., with a little bit more than two hours of dim daylight.
Although the daysare short, the color of the sky is entirely enchanting, and visiting Iceland in winter is fantastic because you get to hunt for Northern Lights!
The Best Tours to See the Midnight Sun in Iceland
Because June is one of the best months to visit Iceland, we have compiled a list of tours for you to make the most of your stay in this amazing country.
What is the Midnight Sun?
The term “Midnight Sun” refers to a natural phenomenon that occurs north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle every summer. During the summer (and peaking in June), these areas experience a consecutive 24-hour span of sunlight. The sun is still visible from the Arctic Circle, as it hangs right above the horizon – even at its lowest point of the day.
If there’s fair weather during the Summer Solstice (approximately June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere andDecember 22 in the Southern Hemisphere), the sun is visible for the entire day – not one minute less. In each region, the number of Midnight Sun days per year depends on the proximity to either the North or South Pole. The closer to the pole, the more days of the Midnight Sun you will get.
Since there is no permanent human settlement on the Antarctic continent (besides science and research stations) thepopulatedregions thatactually experiencetheMidnightSunarelimited to the territory crossed by the Arctic Circle. The list includes Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Greenland, Russia, Canada’s Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories, and Alaska of the United States.
Why Does the Midnight Sun Occur?
It might be too simple to just say it’s because we are living on the amazing planet Earth! It takes 365 days or one year for the Earth to orbit the sun, while simultaneously the Earth rotates on its own axis to create what we know as a day. The two trajectories from the Earth’s rotation (the Celestial Equator) and its orbiting (the Ecliptic) form a 23.5° angle, giving us the four seasons, the Polar Nights, and the Midnight Sun.
From the human point of view, the more north you live, the longer the sun will stay above the horizonin the days leading up to Summer Solstice. The North Pole and the South Pole demonstrate how this works, as both locations alternate between six months of the Midnight Sun and six months of the Polar Night.
For example,from late March to late Septemberon the North Polethesun is constantly visible above the horizon. Meanwhile, if you are in between theequator and the Tropic of Cancer, you will have thesun directly overhead onJune Solstice.
Why does Iceland get the Midnight Sun?
Geographically speaking, Iceland is not located entirely inside the Arctic Circle. The mainland of Iceland is only a few degrees south of the Arctic Circle, with just its northernmost point straddling the Arctic Circle line. The line crosses the country's northernmost territory calledGrímsey, a small but inhabited island that lies 40 kilometers (25 miles) off the north coast of Iceland.
Generally speaking, if you are within the Arctic Circle during Iceland’s summer or from March to September, the sun is always above the horizon. You can see the sun spend the days rolling in circles up above you, gradually spiraling higher and higher until it reaches the highest point in the sky on June 21, the day of the Summer Solstice.
The sun is not a fixed point, so because of the atmospheric refractions of the sunlight, the Midnight Sun can be experienced at latitudes slightly south of the Arctic Circle or north of the Antarctic Circle. The Arctic Polar Circle may be along the latitude of 66.56083° N but in practice, the Midnight Sun can actually be seen in regions as far as 90 kilometers (55 miles) from the Polar Circle, which includes the northern part of Iceland. The southernmost point of Iceland is Vestmannaeyjar, or the Westman Islands, located at 63.4377° N, which is about 346 kilometers away from the Arctic Circle. It’s still affected by the Midnight Sun, just to a lesser extent.
This is the science behind the incredible Midnight Sun, which we are lucky enough to experience each and every summer in Iceland. Considering how the majority of the island falls outside of the circle, it’s pretty spectacular!