Guide to the Midnight Sun in Iceland: What it is and When to See it

Midnight sun in Iceland

blog authorBy Samuel Hogarth shield verificationVerified Expert

    Iceland is a country filled with extremes and variety. The island contains both active volcanoes and glaciers, hot pools and cold oceans, farmland and lava fields. There are times when the sun barely rises, and times when it barely sets. This article will examine the phenomena of the midnight sun in Iceland.

    During those hours of long daylight, you’re going to want to make the most of the extra visibility by exploring. Hire your rental vehicle to get you around on your adventure!

    What is the Midnight Sun in Iceland?

    The midnight sun is the term used to describe the presence of sunlight long into the night time. For several weeks, certain latitudes experience almost 24 hours of daylight. It’s a phenomenon that occurs in many countries in the northern hemisphere. Does Iceland ever have 24 hours of daylight? Essentially, yes. Click here to see a video of the midnight sun.

    What Causes the Midnight Sun and When is it?

    The midnight sun in Iceland is due to the country’s northern latitude; that is, its high position on the globe. It’s also due to the fact that the earth rotates on a tilted axis. This means that, for a period of time, the sun spends a lot of time above the horizon. Even when it “sets” the country continues to be bathed in a faint light.

    When is the midnight sun in Iceland? 

    The phenomenon occurs for much of Iceland’s summer, from the beginning of June to the end of July. 

    How Long Does the Midnight Sun Last in Iceland?

    The clearest example is during the month of June, when you won’t really experience darkness at all for several weeks. At this time, the sun will dip just below the horizon for around three hours, between midnight and 3am.

    How to Sleep Through the Midnight Sun

    If you visit Iceland in August, for example, you will find that your body gets confused as to when it should sleep. This applies to the whole summer period: you may not feel tired at the time that you normally do, so you may need to make some adjustments. If you want to stay up late every night and make the most of the extra daylight, go for it. You are on holiday, after all.

    If you want to sleep well during your time in the midnight sun in Iceland, here are some tips. First, keep a consistent sleep pattern, going to bed and waking up at the same time during your stay. Second, ensure that your accommodation, whether it’s a vehicle, hotel or hostel, has thick curtains. Close them at least 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed.

    One of your best accessories during your summer stay in Iceland is going to be your sleep mask. Purchase one that fits comfortably and fully blocks out the light before you arrive. Wear it overnight to keep yourself asleep even when the sun rises before you want to.

    Midnight sun in Iceland

    Things to do During the Midnight Sun

    1. Go hiking

    There’s something exciting about hiking late at night, and it’s more fun if you can see where you’re going. You don’t have to worry about that in Iceland’s summer months, so hike as late as you want! The trails will be less busy, but the temperature will be lower, so dress warmly.

    1. Take a drive.

     As with hiking, night-driving somehow feels more special than day-driving. The roads will be quieter later on, and unless it’s foggy, you won’t have to worry about visibility.

    1. Go to a hot spring

    There are many wild, unregulated hot springs throughout Iceland, and they can get busy. If you want to avoid the crowds and watch the midnight sun from somewhere comfortable, visit a hot spring. Note that the temperature in these springs can and does change, so test it with your hand before getting in.

    1. Take part in the Midnight Sun Run.

     This race takes place around the end of June every year and journeys through east Reykjavík. Participants can choose between running 5km, 10km or a half marathon (21.1km). The race doesn’t actually start at midnight; it starts earlier in the evening and leads up to it.

    1. Attend the Secret Solstice music festival.

     This three-day festival takes place around the time of the summer solstice in June. Both local and international artists perform across several stages which are spread across Reykjavík.

    Click here for other activity ideas for Iceland’s summer. Note that you cannot see the northern lights during summer; they are only visible between the month of September and April.

    Midnight sun Iceland Guide

    Interesting Facts About the Midnight Sun

    • How much daylight does Iceland have in each month?

     Iceland’s daylight hours vary massively between the seasons. In May and June, the total amount of sunshine can be over 150 hours in a month. By contrast, in total daylight of Iceland in December can be as low as 30 hours. Check out this website for graphs describing Iceland’s climate.

    • What is the longest day in Iceland?

     The longest day in Iceland is the summer solstice, normally falling on the 21st of June.

    • What is the shortest day in Iceland?

     The shortest day in Iceland is the winter solstice, which generally occurs on the 21st December.

    • Which country has longest day in the world?

     If we only count inhabited areas, the answer is probably Norway. The island chain known as Svalbard is well inside the Arctic Circle. In some areas of the archipelago, the midnight sun lasts from April to August. The locals there experience 23 hours of daylight for several weeks.

    Midnight sun watching

    Enjoy days that never end!

    Now you know all about the midnight sun in Iceland, come and experience this spectacle of Iceland in summer yourself. Watching the sun set at a time when you’re used to it being completely dark gives a certain magical feeling. Nothing says romance like a midnight hike with your partner when the sun is still shining. Grab your rental vehicle and find a nice spot to watch the late sunset.                                                                                                    

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