Warm-weather lovers, rejoice! Today is the official first day of summer and also the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.North of Arctic Circle, the summer solstice brings the “midnight sun.” This one-of-a-kind opportunity to see the sun for a full 24 hours is dependent on good weather, and the number of days of optimal viewing increases the farther north you go.
While experiencing the true midnight sun requires a trek much further north than our tours visit, a tour of Scandinavia in the summer means extra daylight hours and sunsets that occur almost at midnight. These “white nights” provide ample opportunity for taking a deeper dive into local culture, or at least snagging a few great photos!
Here, some of our favorite ways to enjoy lengthy days above the Arctic Circle. (Just don’t forget to bring an eye mask in case your hotel’s curtains don’t block enough light.)
You have to venture to the heart of Svalbard archipelago to get the complete midnight sun effect, but that doesn’t mean Norway’s mainland cities to the south are without their summer fun. Stay out late and stroll alongside Bergen’s waterfront or move to higher ground for the views; The Fløibanen funicular to Mount Fløyen runs until 11pm, offering a spectacular view of the city below late into the bright night.
At the height of summer in Stockholm, the sun sets at 11:30pm and rises as early as 3:30am, giving you plenty of time to explore the city. Use your extra hours to spend more time at the world’s oldest open-air museum, Skansen, which is open until 8pm during the lengthy summer days and hosts a number of traditional events. Or, pack some snacks for a twilight picnic in Royal Djurgården.
Summer in Iceland means dusky pink and periwinkle skies all through the night, so there’s no need to traipse back to your hotel early. Enjoy views of the water from the Solfar Sun Ship sculpture in downtown Reykjavik, or raise a glass with the locals in one of the city’s many bars—the majority of which stay open until at least 1am.
There’s no need to venture outside of North America for a glimpse at the midnight sun. From March through September, Alaska gets more hours of daily sun than anywhere else in the U.S. You can celebrate with the locals at the annual summer solstice festival in Anchorage or play a round of 18 holes at one of Alaska’s several golf courses, which feature tee times as late as 10pm during the summer.
Have you experienced extra-long summer nights while traveling? Share your story in the comments below!