Thanks to its high latitude, from late June to end of July, Iceland and particularly in the north of the island enjoy full 24-hour daylight.
The midnight sun is observed almost all summer in Iceland, but on June 21, the summer solstice, comes the longest day of the year in Iceland. This day is literally endless, and the sky remains a blanket white, this is what we call a polar day.
The phenomenon is simple to understand: the Earth rotates on its own axis, and around the axis of the Sun, but the northern part of the globe's axis is tilted towards the Sun in summer. Depending on the time of year, Iceland is illuminated very differently by the sun due to the tilt and rotation of the earth.
Thus, during the peak of summer, the sun is present almost 24 hours in the sky, from horizon to horizon and back and night never comes. Obviously, the opposite phenomenon occurs in winter and Iceland experiences long weeks in almost total darkness.
If you watch the sun set without every setting on the horizon (and without giving off much warmth, it feels like...), it almost seems to “bounce” on the horizon without ever finally sinking behind it. And while the light it gives off is simply magical, it tends to mess with the body's circadian rhythm, which is sometimes a bit disturbing at bedtime.
In a nutshell, this means that the colours you see at sunset in your home latitude, those blazing pinks and violets and oranges in every shade, here you see them for hours on end.
Learn more about the daylight hours in Iceland on our page about the weather in Iceland.
For about a week in June, you can enjoy the peak of the midnight sun. The summer solstice on June 21 is common to Iceland and all the countries of the Northern Hemisphere, and on December 22 for those in the Southern Hemisphere.
That is just the peak, with the polar days, but that doesn't mean you can only observe the midnight sun during the week around June 21. The midnight sun is a feature of the sky from early June to mid-July, and more generally the days are very long from mid-May to August with those extended sunset colors. Although once again the ideal viewing point is the north, west and northwest coast of Iceland, you can enjoy the phenomena from anywhere on the island with a horizon.
The closer a country is to the North Pole, the greater the number of polar days.
This means particularly long days in summer, which means twice as much time to do excursions and hikes and really pack your summer day schedule. There's nothing like parking near a tourist hotspot at 11 pm with the sky awash in bright, photogenic light and barely anyone there to spoil your photo.
Numerous guided tours towards Húsavik or off Grímsey in the north of the country will take you to observe this phenomenon unknown to most of the world. Photo lovers are thrilled at this time of year, the light is absolutely exceptional, and you likely have never seen anything like it.
Of course, the eternal day can be a bit confusing and cost you a bit of sleep, but being able to take a photo of a sunset, and an hour later a sunrise is worth a few stolen hours of sleep.
While it can be observed almost everywhere in Iceland, provided the horizon is not obscured by a mountain, there are some picture-perfect places.
For ideal results, it is important to follow a few tips: