Land of the Midnight Sun
Norway is famous for its natural beauty, and it’s also known around the world as the “land of the midnight sun”. The northernmost regions of the country experience a remarkable natural phenomenon in which the sun stays up for several months during the summer. In this article, we’ll tell you all about this interesting phenomenon and tell you how you can experience the midnight sun for yourself!
What is the midnight sun?
The midnight sun is a phenomenon seen during the summer months when you go north of bearing 66º33′N and into the Arctic Circle. Once you cross this latitude, while the sun may dip in the sky, it never completely sets.
The northern parts of Norway are perfectly located for those who want to experience the midnight sun. The aptly named town of Longyearbyen on the island of Svalbard is one of the most northerly inhabited places in the world, and the people living there see permanent sunny skies between mid-April and late August! The same applies for Nordkapp, which is set far above the Arctic Circle, and where the sun doesn’t set for 75 days.
PS: All the photos in this article have been taken at night!
Why is Norway called the “Land of the Midnight Sun”?
Norway is known as the land of the midnight sun because a sizable portion of the country is located beyond the Polar Circle. This unseen line cuts across the country separating the northern regions from the rest of the country and, as a result, has had a strong effect on the nation’s culture.
Many of Norway’s most famous artists and writers, including Nobel winner Knut Hamsun, have been inspired by the majestic views this natural phenomenon produces. As a result, while there are parts of other countries in the Arctic Circle (such as in Greenland and Russia), none have been so defined by the phenomenon or have integrated the effect so holistically into their culture. Internationally, Norway is considered the optimal place for experiencing the midnight sun.
Where can I see the midnight sun?
There are many options within Norway where you can see this fascinating natural occurrence, so it all depends on what kind of experience you are looking for!
Tromsø is the main point of arrival for anyone wishing to explore Northern Norway. Boat or plane is the most common means of transport since it’s located so far north that you’ll be driving for days! Tromsø airport is well connected and offers many domestic flights along with several international options. The main domestic ferry line is called Hurtigruten and it operates daily transits between Bergen in the south to Kirkenes in the north, but there are several other special midnight sun cruises available starting in Bergen and going up the coast.
Once you arrive in Tromsø, there are a variety of options of how to explore the smaller towns and islands. You can hire a car and explore the wild beauty of the Norwegian coastline or you can catch a flight from Tromsø airport to most of the popular destinations in this area. Despite their remote locations, several of these have well-functioning airports that make travel easier than you might expect.
In the historic city of Tromsø, many a tale of Arctic exploration has begun – and there are some fantastic midnight sun boat tours available for new explorers. Further north, in Lofoten, you can go on a midnight sun kayak tour or a midnight fjord safari with RIB-boat.
If adventure is what you’re after, try heading even further north to the Svalbard archipelago. These unique and captivating islands remain as one of humanity’s last true wildernesses, and there’s plenty to explore in the long summer days and nights. Here, you can enjoy husky sleigh rides, rugged walks in the wild terrain, and even glacier hikes on the spectacular mountains – just make sure to stay safe because polar bears outnumber people in Svalbard!
When is a good time to see the midnight sun?
Timing is crucial when it comes to experiencing the midnight sun. Since this spectacular natural phenomenon only occurs during certain times of the year, it’s important to plan well. In fact, while these areas experience full sun 24/7 for some time during the summer, they also experience total darkness during the winter. You have to be careful to avoid going at the wrong time if you don’t want to experience a permanent night instead of the midnight sun!
As a rule, the midnight sun season lasts longer the further north you go. Some towns may only have a day or two in mid-June, whereas in Tromsø and Kirkenes, the season runs from mid-May to the end of July. Svalbard sees the midnight sun for several months, so many travelers hoping to experience this fascinating natural occurrence set their sights on this rugged, remote archipelago for their midnight sun expedition.