10 cool things to do under the midnight sun
Evening trips to white sandy beaches …
… paddling on picturesque fjords …
… island hopping with bikes …
… or fishing all night long.
It is summer in Northern Norway.
There is no time to sleep. And how can you anyway, when the sky is on fire all night long?
The midnight sun is not just a natural phenomenon – it’s like a state of mind for the Norwegians who live above the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway. If you visit this region in summer, you’ll feel it too: A strange new energy that appears towards the end of the day makes it difficult to go to sleep at your regular bedtime. The everlasting glow from the low sun gives you only one alternative – you have to be outside!
The locals often grab a cup of coffee or go fishing together, even past midnight. But how do you want to spend all these extra hours you suddenly have on your hand? Here are our best tips for things to do under the midnight sun.
1. Enjoy the beach
Summer and sun are often synonymous with the beach, and that applies here as well. Swimming too. But brace yourself – the water temperature is … slightly colder than the Mediterranean. Okay, it’s a lot colder. But very refreshing.
When the sun paints the landscape in a golden hue, nothing can compare to a relaxing evening at a white sandy beach. Many of them face west or north and have a perfect view of the sun. Excellent camping sites mean that you can spend the night in nature. Buy local food, like cheese, fish, and cured meats, and enjoy a picnic. And perhaps you want to try a liquid treat from a local brewery as well?
2. Midnight sun cruise
The best place to be is probably on the ocean. Go on a cruise along the beautiful coastline with Hurtigruten or Havila and get a front row seat to the never-setting sun. In addition, you can join guided tours and activities.
Other tour operators offer different kinds of midnight sun cruises, for instance on the beautiful Trollfjord between Lofoten and Vesterålen, and around Tromsø.
3. Midnight hike
On a beautiful and bright night, why not go for a midnight hike? Many of the scenic paths in Northern Norway get even more picturesque under the midnight sun. If you prefer an easier way to the mountain tops, you can catch a ride with a gondola in both Tromsø and Narvik. These are some of the best midnight sun hikes.
4. Fishing trips and whale safaris
The ocean is open 24/7, and the fish bites day and night. If you’re lucky, you get to float around on calm seas and just feel that life is good. You can rent boats and equipment almost anywhere or join guided boat trips across the region. Ask the locals for advice.
Or perhaps you just want to admire some of the giant creatures that live below the surface? Head to Vesterålen and join a whale safari from Andenes or Stø. This is an unforgettable experience any time of day – but it is pretty exceptional to watch these majestic animals as they go about their lives in the magical night light.
On other types of wildlife safaris, you get to see puffins, white-tailed eagles, seals, and other Arctic animals.
5. Go kayaking in the archipelago
Imagine paddling late at night and set up camp at a secluded beach: just you, the seagulls, the ocean, and the sunny night sky. And maybe someone you love. Many destinations in this part of the country are blessed with beautiful archipelagos or long fjords, and you can usually rent both kayaks, SUPs, and rowing boats.
Just remember that the water is cold, and that the sea can be rough even in summer. A dry suit is a good idea, and we recommend that you join a guided tour. The local guides know where the conditions are good and how to stay safe on the water.
Check out these options for kayaking under the midnight sun or find more paddling offers in Northern Norway.
6. Cycling into the sunset
Bring your bike and go island hopping, for instance on the beautiful Helgeland coast. There are several pre-packed tours on offer, so all you have to do is show up and head out. And since the sun is up anyway, why not bike in the evening and at night sometimes, to avoid the traffic?
You can rent bicycles several places. An electric bike might be a good idea if you’re not a fan of headwind.
Mountain bikers will have a great time too! Nature here is vulnerable, and you have to treat it with respect when you’re cycling – but there are fantastic areas for mountain biking in Narvik and Lyngenfjord. In Finnmark, you can bike across the Finnmarksvidda mountain plateau and sleep in mountain lodges along the way.
7. Unique accommodation
When you travel in Northern Norway, it’s practically mandatory to spend a night (or several) in a cosy fisherman’s cabin, a lighthouse or a camping spot by the sea. Nothing compares to the view you’ll have of the ocean and the midnight sun from there.
Check out these spectacular places to stay or get an overview of accommodation options in Northern Norway.
8. Do as the locals
The extra hours of daylight that the midnight sun provides make the festival season extra special. Check out the international indigenous festival Riddu Riđđu in Manndalen, the Arctic Sea Kayak Race in Vesterålen or the Arctic Arts Festival in Harstad. On the Træna island in Helgeland, you can also attend a concert inside a massive cave during the Træna festival.
The bright summer nights also make it fun to just head out for a meal or a beer – and enjoy it outside. And if you’re in Tromsø, you should see a midnight sun concert in the Arctic Cathedral.
9. Other things to do
It’s challenging to mention everything you can do in Northern Norway – there’s so much! But some of them are things you won’t experience many other places in the world.
Go on a king crab safari outside of Kirkenes or birdwatching in Varanger. Play golf or go horseback riding under the midnight sun. Pet husky puppies. Hike across Norway from Narvik to the Swedish border. (The latter is easier than it sounds, but you can also catch a ride with the Ofoten Line.)
The Varanger Peninsula is fantastic for Arctic birdwatching, while Saltstraumen outside of Bodø is the world’s strongest tidal current and an excellent place for fishing. You can also join a guided diving tour here, as it is one of Norway’s most popular diving locations.
10. Popular places to see the midnight sun
The ultimate place to watch the midnight sun is probably the North Cape, one of the northernmost points on the Norwegian mainland. The islands Sommarøy and Kvaløya outside of Tromsø are also great, and the same goes for Lofoten, Vesterålen, and Senja. In Salten and along the Helgeland coast, you can drive into the sunset on the coastal route Kystriksveien, one of the world’s most scenic routes.
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