A Complete Guide to the Midnight Sun in Iceland

blog authorBy Johanna G. shield verificationVerified Expert

Iceland is known for many things, from its mammoth glaciers to its cascading waterfalls to the dazzling Northern Lights. And if you have the pleasure of visiting Iceland during the warm summer months, you will also get to experience another one of our natural wonders. The seemingly never-ending light of the Midnight Sun in Iceland will give your trip a surreal feel. Imagine looking at your watch at 11 p.m. and the sun is still shining as bright as in the daytime.

What is it exactly?

Let me give a quick explanation for those wondering what is the Midnight Sun in Iceland. Iceland sits very far north close to the North Pole. In fact, the Arctic Circle actually passes through a part of the country just off of Iceland's North Coast. Because we are nearly north of the Arctic, we experience the same dramatic summer solstices and winter solstices as the Antarctic Circle.
Both in the Southern Hemisphere south of the Antarctic and here in the Arctic North, this translates to polar nights. Inside the polar circles, nighttime lasts for more than 24 hours. Polar Sun, which is the opposite phenomenon, happens in the summer when there are around 24 hours of daylight. The sun stays above the horizon due to atmospheric refractions and the result is the Midnight Sun in Iceland.

When is the Midnight Sun in Iceland?

The days get longer and longer throughout the spring as we approach the summer. You'll have the most hours of daylight and sun in Iceland around the 21st or 22nd of June. This is the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, also known as midsummer. It’s the longest day of the year as the Earth makes its annual journey around the Sun.
So when is the Midnight Sun in Iceland? While it changes every year, the next one is scheduled for June 20th. If you plan on renting an Iceland campervan during this time, be sure to bring your sleeping mask. You don't want to miss out on getting a good night's sleep if your blackout curtains aren't dark enough.

The best place to see the Midnight Sun in Iceland

To be perfectly honest, the best place to see the Midnight Sun in Iceland, is...well, Iceland! You'll be surrounded by sunlight for the majority of your trip regardless of where you go. With the sun setting around midnight and rising again at 3 a.m., you definitely won't experience too much darkness during your trip around Iceland's Ring Road.
Obviously, the further north you go, the better. Due to proximity to the North Pole, you'll find longer days in North Iceland than in South Iceland. I would recommend Grí­msey Island as the best place to see Midnight Sun in Iceland. It's the northernmost part of the country and part of it rests within the Arctic Circle.
Grmsey Island is perfect for the Midnight Sun in Iceland

The Midnight Sun in Reykjavik Iceland

You can also experience the Midnight Sun in Reykjavik Iceland. In fact, I think this is a great place to spend the summer solstice. Iceland has dozens of music festivals and one of its most special ones is the Secret Solstice Festival. Come experience the Midnight Sun while rocking out at Secret Solstice to your favorite bands. This past year's lineup included the Black Eyed Peas, Jonas Blue, Robert Plant, Pusha T, Pussy Riot, and Patti Smith.
There's no better way to do the Midnight Sun in Reykjavik Iceland than the Secret Solstice Festival. This is the best weather you'll find in Iceland all year and everyone is in the mood to have fun and celebrate. Think of it a bit like an Arctic Coachella, so start planning your trip and go buy your tickets for next year's edition. What are you waiting for?

Calling all joggers: The Midnight Sun Run Iceland

Of course, not everyone who comes to Iceland is a concert-goer or looking to party. For those who prefer more athletic pursuits, why not take part in the Midnight Sun Run in Iceland? The Jónsmessuhlaup Midnight Sun Run starts at midnight on the eve of Jónsmessa. This is an Icelandic holiday in honor of John the Baptist.
As with many formerly pagan countries, a bit of local folklore and Viking mythology have made their way into this Christian holiday. According to legend, Jónsmessa is a magical night of the year. Elves come out to walk around freely, cows are able to talk, and seals turn into humans. So chat up as many friendly Icelanders as you can because you never know their true identity.
Maybe some of your fellow racing enthusiasts in the Midnight Sun Run will be magical creatures as well, who knows? I've also heard that you can make wishes and take advantage of Mother Nature's healing powers. Try rolling around naked in the morning time dew of grass as it supposedly does wonders for your health.
If you prefer to keep your clothes on, at least sign up for the Iceland Midnight Sun Run 2020 edition. It's held every year, so lace up those running shoes and get moving.
The Midnight Sun Run in Iceland joggers

The Midnight Sun in Iceland: A complete guide

One of the most amazing things about Iceland is not just the gorgeous scenery. It is also a land of extreme contrasts. From the fire and ice of our mammoth glaciers and explosive volcanoes to polar days and nights, it's a truly unique place. The Midnight Sun is something people tend to associate with Lofoten, Norway or the Arctic Circle. But you can just as easily experience it here in Iceland. I hope you decide to come it and enjoy the trip of a lifetime.
Just be sure to pay attention to the clock. Many drivers who come here during this period end up suffering from dangerous fatigue because weren't aware of how late it was. Practice driving safety to fully enjoy your trip.


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