The Earth's axis in relation to its orbit around the sun is the reason for this unusual phenomenon. At the actual Poles, the sun only sets and rises one day every year. The midnight sun is also known as the polar day. It can be compared to a twilight or sunset. The brightness is reddish-yellow with a brilliant soft, low radiance in the sky. The season for experiencing the midnight sun varies depending upon how close to the Arctic Circle you are. June and July are the peak periods, but if you voyage further north you can experience the midnight sun from May to August.
The North Cape
The midnight sun is spectacular here. Whilst the view from the coast can sometimes be foggy in summer, the view of the horizon is panoramic and sets the perfect stage for a lightshow on a clear day. North of the Arctic Circle means the sun can be seen around the clock during the summer months. To get the most out of a visit here, plan on staying a few days and explore the untamed nature. Travel inward, away from the coast, and there is less chance of fog in the summer. The wild and unique landscape of the North Cape might just mesmerize you.
The Svalbard Islands
On this archipelago the sun does not set between late April and late August. Despite its isolated position in the Arctic Sea, Svalbard is getting more and more popular with tourists due to its dramatic nature. A hike in the Svalbard mountains can also include encounters with local polar bears, so make sure you are accompanied by a tour guide. Glacier walks and dog sledging are also bookable modes of travel under the midnight sun. There are few roads, and most are clustered around the airport. Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen is the most popular place to start, since the Svalbard airport is here.
Bodø is a seaside city of about 50 000 inhabitants, where you can experience the night light around midsummer; typically between 2 June and 10 July. Warning: tourists searching for an early night, may find it hard to get to sleep. Since your body is used to being awake when the sun is up, the continuous light is definitely sufficient to make it very interesting for your senses. Fortunately, most tourists experience that they need less sleep and get an extra energy boost from the light in Bodø.
A compact city of 60 000 people that offers urban attractions, from restaurants, hotels, spa, university, a brewery and lots of charming architecture. You will not miss Polaria if you head towards the waterfront, it is just five minutes from the town center and the building resembles huge white ice blocks that have collided into the shoreline. They house an arctic aquarium and large screen cinema where you can watch movies about the Northern Lights. You can book guided midnight sun tours from downtown Tromsø. Don't expect it to get dark enough to see any stars.
The Lofoten Islands
This picturesque group of islands off the coast offers an amazing taste of the Norwegian fjords. Island hopping is an ideal way to experience the dramatic surroundings. You can visit Lofoten by car or bus and there are bridges and ferries connecting the small, traditional fishing islands with each other. Why not play a round of golf at Lofoten Golf Links at midnight without artificial lighting? Or night hike up a local mountain and enjoy the clean spring water to be found at the peak? The midnight sun is visible at Lofoten between the end of May and the middle of July.
If you make it this far north, congratulations! The journey was worth it and the midnight sun shines throughout the summer months. Actually the sun almost never sets during this time. It is because of the sun's flat trajectory across the horizon that we get 20+ hours of sunlight during a 24-hour period. With a car or bus you can travel locally and experience the arctic nature. It is quite different from the southern parts of Scandinavia and complements the midnight sun experience. The contrast between reindeer wandering in the wilds of Finnmark and the nearby city of Hammerfest make this a worthwhile destination.
Passengers traveling with Norway's most famous coastal cruise through the dramatic Norwegian fjords are almost guaranteed a midnight sun experience. You can take the entire cruise or hop on and off like the locals between coastal stops on your journey further north. Aim for the more northern ports to make sure you see the northerly sun lighting up the fjords, mountains and coastal cities. Leave the Hurtigruten ship for a few hours and visit Kirkenes.
The town of Andenes on Andøya Island, the most northerly of the Vesterålen islands, offers a convenient vantage point for experiencing the light at night. The cape of Vesterålen has sandy beaches where you can take a dip in the ocean, providing you can handle bracing temperatures that will get your blood racing. Andenes is the home for Norway's rocket launching community at their Space Centre.
Whale and seal safaris embark from this tiny old fishing village where you can take a night boat to experience the midnight sun while seeing these majestic sea creatures play. Because of the deep, cold water currents of the Bleik Canyon, large plankton blooms float to the surface and this supports a wide variety of marine life, including: seals, whales and birds. This region is the home of many thousands of birds and you can take a guided bird-watching trip, also of course, at night. The closest city is Sortland.
Polar nights and northern lights
Just a final word about polar night. Just as summer brings long days, so the winter months in the north of Norway bring a beautiful blue and grey arctic twilight, where each night has its own shade, making for a magical experience which will linger in the memory. In Svalbard, between late February and early April, the sun remains the entire period close to the horizon, bathing the archipelago in a special, soft light during this time of the year. Polar nights are also the ideal time to experience the northern lights.