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Midnight Sun in Iceland

One of Iceland's most fascinating natural phenomena is the midnight sun!

Seeing the midnight sun is a magical experience. For those of us who did not grow up with the midnight sun, it is fascinating (and sometimes even quite jarring!) to see the sun throughout the entire day.

I'm sure you will feel very energized, even after midnight!

This guide will help you enjoy this phenomenon even more!

Egill Fannar
Egill Fannar
Last updated: August 07, 2020

skógafoss waterfall under the midnight sun in iceland

WHY IS THERE A MIDNIGHT SUN IN ICELAND?

As the Earth's axis is tilted, one of the poles faces the sun for six months and the other is in darkness (or Polar Night). That means that both the North and the South Pole have a midnight sun during half the year. When the North Pole faces the sun, then it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and there is a midnight sun in Iceland.

The closer a country is to one of the poles, the more dramatic the difference between seasons and daylight. While the poles get a solid six months of daylight and a solid six months of darkness, Iceland is not quite far up north for the phenomenon to be so dramatic.

However, it is north enough. Let's not forget that Reykjavik is the northernmost capital in the world!​

As a result, Iceland gets the midnight sun from mid-May to mid-August, with the summer solstice taking place between June 20 and June 22.​

Don't worry, though! Spring and fall have similar daylight as southerner countries, and the winter is not completely dark. So, if you travel to Iceland within those times, you will still have the chance to see many things!​

Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Photo taken at midnight.

HOW DO YOU SLEEP WITH THE MIDNIGHT SUN IN ICELAND?

Most people who have not experienced the midnight sun find it incomprehensible that it is bright all day. Many ask if it's weird. My answer? Yes, of course! It is very weird, and even if you have been here in the summer before, the bright nights still take you by surprise.

Another common question is how Icelandic people can sleep during the midnight sun. Well, many don't mind the brightness, but some do. And for them, there are blackout curtains! Most Icelandic houses have blackout curtains, or even a combination of curtains and blinds.

My tip? If you are really sensitive to light and a curtain just won't cut it, then invest in some good, comfortable sleeping masks. Many locals and tourists swear by them, and they help them sleep like babies.​

DOES IT EVER GET DARK IN ICELAND IN THE SUMMER?

Technically, there is no day with 24 hours of daylight in Iceland. However, even when the sun sets, the sky is still bright during most of the summer. It's just a really, really long sunset!

By the end of summer, though, the days begin to get shorter. If you visit Iceland in August, you may notice that the sky gets completely dark, even just for a few hours.​ So, unfortunately for sun lovers like myself, the midnight sun doesn't last for too long.

WHAT CAN YOU DO DURING THE MIDNIGHT SUN IN ICELAND?

So, what can you do during the midnight sun in Iceland? Explore, of course!

The Icelandic summer with the midnight sun is the perfect opportunity to do some sightseeing. If you rent a car, then you can travel around the country even at night, and the endless daylight will allow you to fully enjoy the local attractions. ​

1. VISIT THE HOT SPRINGS​

The midnight sun offers you the best opportunity to visit the hot springs in Iceland. While the larger and more known ones, such as the Blue Lagoon and the Secret Lagoon are closed at night, every other hot spring that is open to the public and free of charge is accessible.

As it will be night, most tourists will be resting for the next day's tours. Therefore, you will have the whole place to yourself!​

Click here to see our guide of Iceland's best natural hot springs.

2. VISIT ICELAND'S WATERFALLS

Another great activity you can enjoy during the midnight sun in Iceland is exploring the country's amazing waterfalls.

From Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss in the south to Dynjandi in the Westfjords, there are hundreds of waterfalls in Iceland to discover, enjoy and photograph!

You can access even the most famous ones at night as well, when most tourists don't go there!​

You won't even have to photoshop any people out of your photographs!

Click here to see our list of Iceland's best waterfalls & where to find them!

3. EXPLORE REYKJAVIK

In my opinion, Reykjavik is never more beautiful than it is under a midnight sun! Exploring Reykjavik in the summer is one of my favorite activities, as the city glistens under the sun, and the streets are not as busy (apart from the weekends).

You can enjoy an almost empty Reykjavik during the night in the summer, without all the tourists and all the locals who rush everywhere.

Going partying downtown is also quite nice in the summer! While the clubs and bars usually have blackout curtains, there are some places that embrace the light that comes with the midnight sun. It is also incredibly surreal -and kind of fun! -to exit a dark bar and go into the sunlight at three in the morning!​

Click here to see our most recommended things to do in Reykjavik!

SOME TIPS FROM A LOCAL

​So, now that we have gone through everything you need to enjoy the midnight sun in Iceland, I have some tips for you to make your trip even better!

  • Remember to eat and rest. With the constant, unchangeable daylight, your body will not adjust immediately, and you might have to remind yourself to eat or sleep.
  • Wear sunscreen. This should go without saying, but make sure you wear sunscreen at night, too. The midnight sun is very strong and can easily give you a sunburn!
  • Don't underestimate the cold. Just because the sun is shining, it doesn't mean that it's not cold out, so bundle up!
  • Be careful when traveling at night. While you don't have to fear other people (locals are lovely!), you should fear nature. Be cautious around cliffs, waterfalls, and other dangerous areas, as there won't be anyone around to help you if you are injured.

SOME FINAL WORDS

Did you enjoy this blog on how do enjoy the midnight sun in Iceland? I hope it will help you have a great time on your trip.​

Do you have any other great ideas for a trip under the midnight sun? Let me know in the comments!​

And, as always, don't forget to share!​