The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon found in latitudes north of the Arctic Circle (as well as south of the Antarctic Circle), where the sun is visible at the local midnight. With adequate weather conditions, the sun is visible for a full 24 hours a day. This is great for travelers planning long days outdoors, as there will be sufficient light for outdoor activities around the clock!
Best Location to Experience the Midnight Sun
The most popular Scandinavian location for travelers to experience the natural phenomenon of the Midnight Sun is in Norway at the North Cape (Nordkapp). Known as the northernmost point in Europe, at the North Cape there are 76 days (from May 14 - July 30) of proper midnight sun and an additional few days with partial sun before and after.
Locations and times of the Midnight Sun in Norway:
- Longyearbyen (Spitsbergen): Apr 20 – Aug 20
- North Cape (Nordkapp): May 14 - July 30
- Hammerfest: May 16 - July 27
- Tromsø/Tromso, Hausberg: May 20 - July 22
- Narvik, Hausberg: May 25 - July 18
- Lofoten & Vesterålen: Late May - Mid July
- Bodø/Bodo: July 4 - July 8
If You Can't Sleep
In Norway and Greenland, locals often adjust to these changes naturally and require less sleep. If you have problems sleeping due to the daylight during Midnight Sun, try to darken the room by covering the window. If this does not help, ask for assistance - you won't be the first. Scandinavians will understand and will do their best to help eliminate light from your room.
A Scientific Explanation of the Midnight Sun
The Earth orbits the Sun on a plane called the ecliptic. The Earth's Equator is inclined with the ecliptic by 23°26'. As a result, the North and South poles are in turn inclined toward the Sun for 6 months. Close to the summer solstice, on June 21, the Northern Hemisphere reaches its maximum inclination toward the Sun and the Sun illuminates all the polar area down to latitude +66°34'. As seen from the polar area, the Sun does not set, but only reaches its lowest altitude at midnight. Latitude +66°34' defines the Arctic Circle (southernmost latitude in the Northern Hemisphere where the midnight sun can be seen).
Polar Nights and Northern Lights
The opposite of the Midnight Sun (also called Polar Day) is the Polar Night. The Polar Night is the night lasting more than 24 hours, generally inside the polar circles.
While traveling in northern Scandinavia, you might get to witness another unusual Scandinavian phenomenon, the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis).