The midnight sun in Iceland - Your Guide

A land illuminated in sunlight for 24 hours a day – find out why you should visit Iceland during the season of the midnight sun.

March 2, 2023

The midnight sun in Iceland - Your Guide

A land illuminated in sunlight for 24 hours a day – find out why you should visit Iceland during the season of the midnight sun.

March 2, 2023

As the temperature creeps up and flowers bloom across the landscape, the hours of daylight increase exponentially in Iceland. In May, June and July, the sun barely dips below the horizon, so visitors to Iceland can enjoy almost 24 hours of light at this time of year.

There’s something magical about midnight sun tours in Iceland – chasing waterfalls into the wee hours, hiking glaciers in the long hours of daylight and making it back to Reykjavik without missing a moment of scenery. If you are swithering about whether to visit in summer, here’s everything you need to know about the season of the midnight sun in Iceland.

The season of the midnight sun

The Earth turns on a tilted axis and the North pole faces away from the sun, so for several weeks of the year the sun does not set over the Arctic Circle resulting in 24 hours of daylight. In Iceland, only the tip of northern Grimsey island lies within the Arctic Circle, but the rest of the country is so far north that you can still experience the midnight sun here.

In Iceland, you can witness light 24 hours a day from mid-June (around the 15th of June) until the end of the month (usually around the 30th of June). This is known as the season of the midnight sun when the sun doesn’t set until after 12am.

There’s something magical about walking around Reykjavik at 1am as the sky is still a hazy blue overhead and there is no need for street lights. From May until July, you can also see 24 hours of daylight. Although there is technically a sunset, the sun barely dips below the horizon during these months so the few hours of “night” remain as light as the early hours of twilight. In the northernmost regions of Iceland, the sun doesn't set at all.

One of the best places to experience Iceland’s midnight sun is the Snæfellsnes national park. As the sun streams over this landscape, the ethereal hills and babbling rivers are illuminated. Embarking on a midnight sun tour of Snæfellsnes national park gives you ample time to explore this beautiful region and get back to Reykjavik when it is still light out.

Summer Solstice

The summer solstice in Iceland is the longest day of the year. It takes place between the 20th and 22nd of June, usually occurring on the 21st of June. On this day, the sun doesn’t set until just after midnight in Reykjavik and it rises again just before 3am. Even while the sun is “set”, it just hovers below the horizon so it never fully gets dark.

On the day of the summer solstice, Icelandic people celebrate Jónsmessa. You might have heard of a similar celebration across the Scandinavian countries, especially Sweden, known as Midsomer.

Jónsmessa is thought to be one of the most magical nights of the year, when herbs and stones gain magical powers, cows can talk and seals turn into humans. In Icelandic folklore, it is also said that if you stop at a crossroad where all roads lead to four different churches on Jónsmessa, elves will appear and attempt to seduce you with gifts or food.


What to pack for your Iceland trip?

woman in flower field

Leave the hand warmer and take the sunscreen? What to pack for a visit to Iceland depends on the season. Winter and summer are two very different environments, and it can be difficult to know what to pack and what to leave behind. While the sun may shine overhead, the weather is still unpredictable in June, July and August so we’ve covered everything you might need for your trip to this north Atlantic island.


These days, a more modern solstice festival takes place alongside the old-world traditions. A four-day, family-friendly music festival – the Secret Solstice festival – takes place beneath the midnight sun on the outskirts of Reykjavik and has seen the likes of Stormzy, Black Eyed Peas and Bonnie Tyler headlining.

Breakout: Leave the waterproof socks and take the sunscreen? What to pack for a visit to Iceland depends on the season.

Winter and summer in Iceland are two very different environments, and it can be difficult to know what to pack and what to leave behind. While the sun may shine overhead, the weather is still unpredictable in June, July and August so we’ve covered everything you might need for your trip to this north Atlantic island.

Summer on the South Shore

Stretching for miles and miles along the Atlantic, taking in all of Iceland’s south shore from Reykjavik is a feat that rewards with tumbling waterfalls where rainbows glint in the mist, sweeps of black-sanded beach that glitter in the sunshine and glaciers hidden in the folds of rugged, volcanic valleys.

If you are heading as far along the coast as Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon (one of Iceland’s most beautiful sights), it is a 380 kilometre (around 236 miles) drive from Reykjavik. Stopping at waterfalls and beaches along the way, it can take a full day to get there, so having longer hours of daylight gives you a lot more flexibility.
Icelandic landcape during a sunset
Hitting the sights of the south coast during the months of the midnight sun allows you to take your time exploring every natural wonder and other-worldly scene while still making it to your accommodation, or back to Reykjavik, before it gets dark.

That’s not to mention how the light changes the landscape. The sparkle of Reynisfjara black-sand beach is particularly alluring in the sunlight and the frozen landscape of glaciers is almost blindingly awesome when the sun is high overhead. A summer adventure tour to the south shore of Iceland lets you take your time and experience this amazing landscape illuminated at all hours of the day.

When the Golden Circle becomes golden

There’s no denying that the sights of Iceland’s Golden Circle are the most popular on the island and are often crowded in peak season (June, July and August). One way to avoid the crowds in the summer months is to visit the Golden Circle after the midday crowds have dispersed and the sun is still high in the sky.

There’s something magical about seeing the thundering cascade of Gullfoss waterfall splashed with the orange light of near sunset at midnight and watching Stokkur at Geysir area of geothermal activity spurt into the still-blue sky well past 12am. During the season of the midnight sun, you can take a later Golden Circle tour giving you a nice long lie-in and still return to Reykjavik in the light so you don’t miss a single second of Icelandic scenery.


What is the best month to visit Iceland?

Northern lights

Northern lights dancing against the night sky or a landscape illuminated by sunlight – the best time to visit Iceland depends on what you want to see and do.

Iceland is a natural playground of glacier hikes, ice cave exploration, hunting the Northern Lights and chasing waterfalls. Some of the best activities are seasonal, so it is best to seek advice on the best month or season for your best month or season for your Iceland trip before you book.


Midnight sun activities

There are a host of things to see and do during the midnight sun months in Iceland, and some you won’t find any other time of year. For example, the Midnight Run takes place once a year on the summer solstice when Reykjavik’s Laugardalur valley is in full bloom. Runners can choose between 5km, 10km or a half marathon trail, raising money for charity.

Or perhaps enjoy watching the Arctic Open Golf Tournament. Held in the north of Iceland by Akureyri Golf Club, it sees international golfers putting and swinging around the clock as the wild landscape is illuminated by the midnight sun. The wildlife in the Atlantic Ocean around Iceland is just as active as the Icelandic population in the days of the Midnight Sun.

Icelandic horse

You can embark on a whale watching cruise from Reykjavik’s old harbour, heading out to Faxaflói Bay to spot whales breaching the water and saluting the sun late into the evening.There’s just as much to see on land. Those that want to interact with some of the island’s wild inhabitants can try horse riding in Iceland, with trails bursting with wildflowers during the summer months.

The summer months are when you can spot Iceland’s “wild” horses as they are released into the hills to graze and gallop free before being rounded up and enclosed for the winter months. If you prefer to experience the landscape on foot, there are hiking trails and glacier walks to explore in summer.

Perhaps head up the holy mountain Helgafell from Reykjavik. From the top, take in the view of Breiðafjörður bay, glowing golden in the late-night sunlight. Tackling a hike during the Midnight Sun means you can head off after dinner.

One of the most relaxing ways to experience the midnight sun is from the bath-warm water of a geothermal pool in Reykjavik. The Sky Lagoon stretches out over the Atlantic ocean with an infinity edge that seems to blend into the sea itself. With the midnight sun shining overhead, you can admire the dramatic coastline of Iceland from the warmth of this naturally-heated pool deep into the night.

Sleeping under the midnight sun

Arriving in Iceland and finding the sun still burning bright at 1am can be disconcerting and can confuse your sleep pattern, especially if you are overcoming jet lag at the same time. Of course, the most obvious way to counteract the effects of the midnight sun on your ability to sleep is to block it out.

The people of Iceland have been living with the midnight sun for centuries, so most hotels and guesthouses have thick blinds and curtains which block out the light completely (and have the added bonus of extra insulation in winter). Those travelling to Iceland in June should consider bringing an eye mask in case the blinds and curtains aren’t up to the job.

Hvítsterkur during sunset

Most Icelandic people take advantage of the long days in summer to get outside and exercise so that the body is tired enough to sleep sound at bedtime. Spending your summer visit to Iceland hiking, horse riding and embracing the country’s adventurous side can help you get a good night’s sleep, even with the sun shining.

Sticking to a night-time routine can also help you drift off – reading for an hour before bed, switching off phones and screens well before bed and sipping uncaffeinated herbal teas.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve still got questions about the midnight sun in Iceland, we’ve got the answers.

Does Iceland have midnight sun?

Iceland’s close proximity to the Arctic Circle (the tip of Grimsey island lies within the Arctic Circle) means it sees a couple of weeks of midnight sun every year. Between the 15th and 30th of June the sun doesn’t fully set, and twilight takes place after midnight, so these weeks are considered the time when Iceland experiences the midnight sun.

How long does the midnight sun last in Iceland?

The official midnight sun – when the sun is still visible in the sky at 12am – only lasts a couple of weeks in Iceland. However, between May and July it never fully gets dark. The sun does set, but hovers just below the horizon so there are a few hours of twilight every night, rather than real darkness. During this time, Iceland is said to experience 24 hours of daylight.

Where can I see the midnight sun in Iceland?

You can see the midnight sun across the entire island of Iceland in mid to late June. The further north you go, the longer the midnight sun lasts. So Akureyri on the north coast of Iceland will see a slightly longer period of midnight sun than Reykjavik on the southwest coast of the island.

The little island of Grimsey has a small section of land within the Arctic Circle so this part of Iceland will see the longest period of midnight sun.

There are plenty of places to experience the midnight sun in style across Iceland. Soaking in the naturally warmed water of Iceland’s outdoor baths like the Blue Lagoon or Secret Lagoon is probably the most relaxing way. But you can also take a hike into the hills around Reykjavik, hit the sights of the Golden Circle and south coast, or drive out to the beautiful Snæfellsnes national park and witness the landscape illuminated by sunlight well into the night.

Is Iceland dark for 6 months?

Unlike some parts of the Arctic and Scandinavia, Iceland doesn’t suffer from 24 hours of darkness, even on its shortest day in winter. But there is a significant difference in the hours of daylight between Iceland’s summers and winters. In December, the days can be very short indeed with the sun rising after 11am and setting around 3.30pm. On the shortest day (around 22nd December) you can expect just over four hours of daylight.

From early November, the days get noticeably shorter and stay short well into January. For this reason, some people say that Iceland has three months of darkness, rather than six, but you will still see daylight for at least four hours every day.

Where can I watch the midnight sun in Reykjavik?

Reykjavik is a wonderful place to explore during the midnight sun. Whale watching tours leave from the old harbour where you can watch these beautiful creatures frolic in Faxaflói Bay as the sun stays high in the sky at night.

Or, you can work off dinner with a walk along the seafront where the Sun Voyager statue glows golden in the midnight sun. But, possibly the best place to watch the midnight sun is at Reykjavik’s Sky Lagoon – a geothermally heated pool looking out over the wild Atlantic ocean and rugged coastline.

So there you have it – everything you need to know about the season of the midnight sun in Iceland. Long hours of daylight in May, June and July allow you a flexible schedule to travel along the south shore or Snæfellsnes peninsula and linger longer at the beautiful waterfalls, glaciers and black-sanded beaches.

Hitting the sights of the Golden Circle later in the day gives you the opportunity to avoid the crowds of peak season and soaking in the natural warmth of a geothermal hot spring as the midnight sun shines overhead feels like a bucket-list experience. Midnight sun tours in Iceland allow you to see the island in a completely different light (excuse the pun).

REYKJAVIK EXCURSIONS BLOG

Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.

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The midnight sun in Iceland - Your Guide

A land illuminated in sunlight for 24 hours a day – find out why you should visit Iceland during the season of the midnight sun.

March 2, 2023

The midnight sun in Iceland - Your Guide

A land illuminated in sunlight for 24 hours a day – find out why you should visit Iceland during the season of the midnight sun.

March 2, 2023

As the temperature creeps up and flowers bloom across the landscape, the hours of daylight increase exponentially in Iceland. In May, June and July, the sun barely dips below the horizon, so visitors to Iceland can enjoy almost 24 hours of light at this time of year.

There’s something magical about midnight sun tours in Iceland – chasing waterfalls into the wee hours, hiking glaciers in the long hours of daylight and making it back to Reykjavik without missing a moment of scenery. If you are swithering about whether to visit in summer, here’s everything you need to know about the season of the midnight sun in Iceland.

The season of the midnight sun

The Earth turns on a tilted axis and the North pole faces away from the sun, so for several weeks of the year the sun does not set over the Arctic Circle resulting in 24 hours of daylight. In Iceland, only the tip of northern Grimsey island lies within the Arctic Circle, but the rest of the country is so far north that you can still experience the midnight sun here.

In Iceland, you can witness light 24 hours a day from mid-June (around the 15th of June) until the end of the month (usually around the 30th of June). This is known as the season of the midnight sun when the sun doesn’t set until after 12am.

There’s something magical about walking around Reykjavik at 1am as the sky is still a hazy blue overhead and there is no need for street lights. From May until July, you can also see 24 hours of daylight. Although there is technically a sunset, the sun barely dips below the horizon during these months so the few hours of “night” remain as light as the early hours of twilight. In the northernmost regions of Iceland, the sun doesn't set at all.

One of the best places to experience Iceland’s midnight sun is the Snæfellsnes national park. As the sun streams over this landscape, the ethereal hills and babbling rivers are illuminated. Embarking on a midnight sun tour of Snæfellsnes national park gives you ample time to explore this beautiful region and get back to Reykjavik when it is still light out.

Summer Solstice

The summer solstice in Iceland is the longest day of the year. It takes place between the 20th and 22nd of June, usually occurring on the 21st of June. On this day, the sun doesn’t set until just after midnight in Reykjavik and it rises again just before 3am. Even while the sun is “set”, it just hovers below the horizon so it never fully gets dark.

On the day of the summer solstice, Icelandic people celebrate Jónsmessa. You might have heard of a similar celebration across the Scandinavian countries, especially Sweden, known as Midsomer.

Jónsmessa is thought to be one of the most magical nights of the year, when herbs and stones gain magical powers, cows can talk and seals turn into humans. In Icelandic folklore, it is also said that if you stop at a crossroad where all roads lead to four different churches on Jónsmessa, elves will appear and attempt to seduce you with gifts or food.


What to pack for your Iceland trip?

woman in flower field

Leave the hand warmer and take the sunscreen? What to pack for a visit to Iceland depends on the season. Winter and summer are two very different environments, and it can be difficult to know what to pack and what to leave behind. While the sun may shine overhead, the weather is still unpredictable in June, July and August so we’ve covered everything you might need for your trip to this north Atlantic island.


These days, a more modern solstice festival takes place alongside the old-world traditions. A four-day, family-friendly music festival – the Secret Solstice festival – takes place beneath the midnight sun on the outskirts of Reykjavik and has seen the likes of Stormzy, Black Eyed Peas and Bonnie Tyler headlining.

Breakout: Leave the waterproof socks and take the sunscreen? What to pack for a visit to Iceland depends on the season.

Winter and summer in Iceland are two very different environments, and it can be difficult to know what to pack and what to leave behind. While the sun may shine overhead, the weather is still unpredictable in June, July and August so we’ve covered everything you might need for your trip to this north Atlantic island.

Summer on the South Shore

Stretching for miles and miles along the Atlantic, taking in all of Iceland’s south shore from Reykjavik is a feat that rewards with tumbling waterfalls where rainbows glint in the mist, sweeps of black-sanded beach that glitter in the sunshine and glaciers hidden in the folds of rugged, volcanic valleys.

If you are heading as far along the coast as Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon (one of Iceland’s most beautiful sights), it is a 380 kilometre (around 236 miles) drive from Reykjavik. Stopping at waterfalls and beaches along the way, it can take a full day to get there, so having longer hours of daylight gives you a lot more flexibility.
Icelandic landcape during a sunset
Hitting the sights of the south coast during the months of the midnight sun allows you to take your time exploring every natural wonder and other-worldly scene while still making it to your accommodation, or back to Reykjavik, before it gets dark.

That’s not to mention how the light changes the landscape. The sparkle of Reynisfjara black-sand beach is particularly alluring in the sunlight and the frozen landscape of glaciers is almost blindingly awesome when the sun is high overhead. A summer adventure tour to the south shore of Iceland lets you take your time and experience this amazing landscape illuminated at all hours of the day.

When the Golden Circle becomes golden

There’s no denying that the sights of Iceland’s Golden Circle are the most popular on the island and are often crowded in peak season (June, July and August). One way to avoid the crowds in the summer months is to visit the Golden Circle after the midday crowds have dispersed and the sun is still high in the sky.

There’s something magical about seeing the thundering cascade of Gullfoss waterfall splashed with the orange light of near sunset at midnight and watching Stokkur at Geysir area of geothermal activity spurt into the still-blue sky well past 12am. During the season of the midnight sun, you can take a later Golden Circle tour giving you a nice long lie-in and still return to Reykjavik in the light so you don’t miss a single second of Icelandic scenery.


What is the best month to visit Iceland?

Northern lights

Northern lights dancing against the night sky or a landscape illuminated by sunlight – the best time to visit Iceland depends on what you want to see and do.

Iceland is a natural playground of glacier hikes, ice cave exploration, hunting the Northern Lights and chasing waterfalls. Some of the best activities are seasonal, so it is best to seek advice on the best month or season for your best month or season for your Iceland trip before you book.


Midnight sun activities

There are a host of things to see and do during the midnight sun months in Iceland, and some you won’t find any other time of year. For example, the Midnight Run takes place once a year on the summer solstice when Reykjavik’s Laugardalur valley is in full bloom. Runners can choose between 5km, 10km or a half marathon trail, raising money for charity.

Or perhaps enjoy watching the Arctic Open Golf Tournament. Held in the north of Iceland by Akureyri Golf Club, it sees international golfers putting and swinging around the clock as the wild landscape is illuminated by the midnight sun. The wildlife in the Atlantic Ocean around Iceland is just as active as the Icelandic population in the days of the Midnight Sun.

Icelandic horse

You can embark on a whale watching cruise from Reykjavik’s old harbour, heading out to Faxaflói Bay to spot whales breaching the water and saluting the sun late into the evening.There’s just as much to see on land. Those that want to interact with some of the island’s wild inhabitants can try horse riding in Iceland, with trails bursting with wildflowers during the summer months.

The summer months are when you can spot Iceland’s “wild” horses as they are released into the hills to graze and gallop free before being rounded up and enclosed for the winter months. If you prefer to experience the landscape on foot, there are hiking trails and glacier walks to explore in summer.

Perhaps head up the holy mountain Helgafell from Reykjavik. From the top, take in the view of Breiðafjörður bay, glowing golden in the late-night sunlight. Tackling a hike during the Midnight Sun means you can head off after dinner.

One of the most relaxing ways to experience the midnight sun is from the bath-warm water of a geothermal pool in Reykjavik. The Sky Lagoon stretches out over the Atlantic ocean with an infinity edge that seems to blend into the sea itself. With the midnight sun shining overhead, you can admire the dramatic coastline of Iceland from the warmth of this naturally-heated pool deep into the night.

Sleeping under the midnight sun

Arriving in Iceland and finding the sun still burning bright at 1am can be disconcerting and can confuse your sleep pattern, especially if you are overcoming jet lag at the same time. Of course, the most obvious way to counteract the effects of the midnight sun on your ability to sleep is to block it out.

The people of Iceland have been living with the midnight sun for centuries, so most hotels and guesthouses have thick blinds and curtains which block out the light completely (and have the added bonus of extra insulation in winter). Those travelling to Iceland in June should consider bringing an eye mask in case the blinds and curtains aren’t up to the job.

Hvítsterkur during sunset

Most Icelandic people take advantage of the long days in summer to get outside and exercise so that the body is tired enough to sleep sound at bedtime. Spending your summer visit to Iceland hiking, horse riding and embracing the country’s adventurous side can help you get a good night’s sleep, even with the sun shining.

Sticking to a night-time routine can also help you drift off – reading for an hour before bed, switching off phones and screens well before bed and sipping uncaffeinated herbal teas.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve still got questions about the midnight sun in Iceland, we’ve got the answers.

Does Iceland have midnight sun?

Iceland’s close proximity to the Arctic Circle (the tip of Grimsey island lies within the Arctic Circle) means it sees a couple of weeks of midnight sun every year. Between the 15th and 30th of June the sun doesn’t fully set, and twilight takes place after midnight, so these weeks are considered the time when Iceland experiences the midnight sun.

How long does the midnight sun last in Iceland?

The official midnight sun – when the sun is still visible in the sky at 12am – only lasts a couple of weeks in Iceland. However, between May and July it never fully gets dark. The sun does set, but hovers just below the horizon so there are a few hours of twilight every night, rather than real darkness. During this time, Iceland is said to experience 24 hours of daylight.

Where can I see the midnight sun in Iceland?

You can see the midnight sun across the entire island of Iceland in mid to late June. The further north you go, the longer the midnight sun lasts. So Akureyri on the north coast of Iceland will see a slightly longer period of midnight sun than Reykjavik on the southwest coast of the island.

The little island of Grimsey has a small section of land within the Arctic Circle so this part of Iceland will see the longest period of midnight sun.

There are plenty of places to experience the midnight sun in style across Iceland. Soaking in the naturally warmed water of Iceland’s outdoor baths like the Blue Lagoon or Secret Lagoon is probably the most relaxing way. But you can also take a hike into the hills around Reykjavik, hit the sights of the Golden Circle and south coast, or drive out to the beautiful Snæfellsnes national park and witness the landscape illuminated by sunlight well into the night.

Is Iceland dark for 6 months?

Unlike some parts of the Arctic and Scandinavia, Iceland doesn’t suffer from 24 hours of darkness, even on its shortest day in winter. But there is a significant difference in the hours of daylight between Iceland’s summers and winters. In December, the days can be very short indeed with the sun rising after 11am and setting around 3.30pm. On the shortest day (around 22nd December) you can expect just over four hours of daylight.

From early November, the days get noticeably shorter and stay short well into January. For this reason, some people say that Iceland has three months of darkness, rather than six, but you will still see daylight for at least four hours every day.

Where can I watch the midnight sun in Reykjavik?

Reykjavik is a wonderful place to explore during the midnight sun. Whale watching tours leave from the old harbour where you can watch these beautiful creatures frolic in Faxaflói Bay as the sun stays high in the sky at night.

Or, you can work off dinner with a walk along the seafront where the Sun Voyager statue glows golden in the midnight sun. But, possibly the best place to watch the midnight sun is at Reykjavik’s Sky Lagoon – a geothermally heated pool looking out over the wild Atlantic ocean and rugged coastline.

So there you have it – everything you need to know about the season of the midnight sun in Iceland. Long hours of daylight in May, June and July allow you a flexible schedule to travel along the south shore or Snæfellsnes peninsula and linger longer at the beautiful waterfalls, glaciers and black-sanded beaches.

Hitting the sights of the Golden Circle later in the day gives you the opportunity to avoid the crowds of peak season and soaking in the natural warmth of a geothermal hot spring as the midnight sun shines overhead feels like a bucket-list experience. Midnight sun tours in Iceland allow you to see the island in a completely different light (excuse the pun).

REYKJAVIK EXCURSIONS BLOG

Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.