When you travel to the far north, you reach the land of the midnight sun. North of the Arctic Circle, there is a period every summer when the sun never sets, and you have a radiant light in the sky all night long. Norway is one of the best places to experience this wonderful phenomenon. To have the best possible experience, this is what you need to know.
What is the midnight sun?
As the earth orbits the sun, it’s tilted axis shifts in relation to the sun. For part of the year, the South Pole is closer to the sun (winter in the northern hemisphere). The other part of the year, the North Pole is closer to the sun (summer in the northern hemisphere). This tilt of the pole towards the sun means that at the North Pole, the sun does not seem to set in the summertime.
Anywhere north of the Arctic Circle, you can see the midnight sun. It’s like a magical sunset that lasts all night long, casting a soft reddish glow in the sky.
In general, and July are the best times to admire the midnight sun. This might change according to your destination. Thus, a quick research will help you better plan your travel.
Photo Credit: Chris Zielecki via Flickr CC
Midnight Sun in Norway
In Norway, there are many places where you can take advantage of these 24-hour days. The coastal towns are welcoming, full of great lodgings and local fares. Most natives speak English and will make you feel right at home. Plus these scenic coastal towns are perfect bases to launch wildlife spotting expeditions.
When visiting Norway at the right time of years, here are the best places to witness the midnight sun.
This seaside community is a city of about 50,000 people, so it has many facilities for visitors. The midnight sun appears here between early June and early July. The phenomenon is so intense here that tourists may find it hard to sleep during the event. But chances are you will be too thrilled to need much sleep.
One of the best places to see in Bodo is the Norwegian Aviation Museum, which is roughly 20 minutes away from the city center.
Photo Credit: Cliff Hellis via Flickr CC
This region has a unique, wild, and spectacular landscape. It has a rugged coastline, and on clear days, the panoramic view of the horizon can deliver a perfect setting for the midnight sun. You should allow a few days to travel inland to explore the untamed nature of this great northern region. There’s an incredible visitor center you can’t miss out on in North Cape. It features spectacular panoramic views, a restaurant, a souvenir shop and a video cinema.
Photo Credit: Charles Pieters via Flickr CC
The Lofoten Islands
These picturesque small fishing islands are perfect for island hopping. You can get to Lofoten by bus or car, and then travel between the islands by ferry or using the bridges. You could hike up a nearby mountain at midnight, or play golf at night under the midnight sun. In Lofoten Islands, the most adequate time to spot the midnight sun is from the end of May to mid-July.
This is a tiny fishing village, and a perfect place for discovering ocean life during the midnight sun. There are boat safaris organized here during the endless twilight. It is a unique chance to go out at sea during nighttime to see seals, whales, and sea birds in their undisturbed habitat.
Photo Credit: Jon Olav Elkenes via Flickr CC
The Svalbard Islands
For the most dramatic viewing, try the isolated Svalbard Islands, in the Arctic Sea. This is far enough north for the midnight sun to last from late April to late August. It’s a wild place, where polar bears and other wildlife roam. You can hike in the mountains, walk across glaciers, or go dog-sledding – all by the light of the midnight sun.
Photo Credit: Allan Hopkins via Flickr CC
Norway is a spectacular travel destination. The unspoiled nature, surreal phenomena, and cozy towns make for a magical European escapade. Gaze at the midnight sun in the most scenic vantage points on Earth.
Edward Francis is a regular travel blogger who writes here on behalf of BalticTravelCompany.com.