Norway: The land of the Midnight sun (Explained)

Norway has been granted the title of “the land of the midnight sun”. But how did it get it? And what is the midnight sun?

The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon that causes the sun to never set behind the horizon due to the tilted axis when orbiting the earth. Because the coastal regions of northern Norway are the most accessible place to experience it, Norway has been crowned the land of the midnight sun.

In this article, we will dig into what causes the phenomenon of the midnight sun to occur, and when. As well as provide you with the best places to experience it.

What is the midnight sun?

Quite self-explanatory, the midnight sun is a natural phenomenon that causes the sun to never set behind the horizon.

Of course, the midnight sun doesn’t just occur anywhere in the world. To experience it, you must travel north of the arctic circle (or south of the antarctic circle) during the respective summer months.

Since south of the antarctic circle is Antarctica, few people venture there. Therefore, when speaking about the midnight sun, people usually refer to the northern hemisphere.

But why does this phenomenon only occur in these regions during certain times of the year? It all boils down to the relationship between Earth and Sun. 

Earth orbits around the sun at a tilted axis around which the earth spins. One full orbit around the sun takes one calendar year, while it takes 1 day for the earth to rotate around its axis.

Due to the tilted axis, the North Pole is angled towards the sun during the summer months.

As a consequence, the northern hemisphere which is close to the earth’s rotational axis receives a greater sun exposure. This is also the reason why we experience different seasons during a year.

As one moves closer to the north pole, the earth’s axis is tilted to the point where the sun never sets below the horizon for several weeks during summer.

In Norway, the place where the midnight sun occurs for the longest amount of time is the Svalbard archipelago. Here the sun doesn’t set for over 4 months through April to August.

Why is Norway known as the land of the midnight sun?

Norway is not the only nation whose land area stretches above the arctic circle. Countries like the northern territories of Sweden, Finland, Russia, and Canada also experience the midnight sun 

However, the climate and infrastructure of areas make them far less accessible, compared to the coastal northern regions of Norway.

As a consequence, Norway has been the most common destination for travelers wanting to experience this soothing natural phenomenon.

No other place on earth can you get lost in the neverending days while enjoying some of the most spectacular arctic climates. 

For that reason, Norway has been granted the title of “the land of the midnight sun”.

However, the title has not only been granted by nature. Norwegian travel agencies put a lot of effort into making sure that people associate the midnight sun with Norway.

Their efforts seem to pay off as experiencing the midnight sun attracts thousands of visitors to Norway every year.

Svalbard alone hosts over 100 000 tourists every year. A huge number compared to only a little over 2500 inhabitants.

Best places to experience the midnight sun in Norway

If you’re planning a trip to see the midnight sun in Norway, there are several great locations you can choose from, located both on the mainland and offshore. 

Each of them offers spectacular arctic scenery creating ideal landscapes to experience the midnight sun.


The Lofoten peninsula is, without a doubt, one of the most magical places in Norway. White-sanded beaches, twinkling emerald-blue water, and mountains rising straight up from the sea. 

That’s a view that’s hard to describe, so you should definitely put it on your bucket list.

Few things in this world can compete with the experience of watching an hour-long sunset (that actually immediately transitions into the sunrise) sitting on the snow-white beach.

You can experience the midnight sun in Lofoten from the 25th of May until the 18th of July.


Trømso’s the largest city in northern Norway, also known as the Paris of the north. 

During the day, it’s best to enjoy the city itself with its spectacular arctic surroundings, especially mountains rising out of the sea just outside the city.

The Midnight sun appears in Trømso from the 18th of May until the 25th of July.


Hammerfest is Norway’s northernmost city whose desolated climate and surroundings create a perfect environment to experience the midnight sun.

On clear days, you can experience the midnight sun in Hammerfest from the 14th of May until the 29th of July.

The Svalbard archipelago

As mentioned, the Svalbard archipelago experiences the longest periods of the midnight sun in the whole of Norway.

In addition to the completely surreal arctic landscape, you might also be able to catch a glimpse of a polar bear. 

You can expect the midnight sun to last from the 20th of April all the way until the 22nd of August.

Hurtigruten cruise 

Another great way to experience the midnight sun is onboard the Hurtigruten coastal cruise.

Hurtigruten provides daily, year-round, and consistent traffic between Bergen and Kirkenes, stopping by 34 ports along its route.

Although you can board the ship from several ports, the most convenient one for tourists is its starting port in Bergen.

On your way north, you will have the opportunity to experience sailing into the majestic fjords of western Norway on your way to experience the midnight sun in places such as Bødo, Lofoten, Trømso, and Hammerfest. 

How to deal with the midnight sun

Although the midnight sun is a spectacular phenomenon, it comes with some inconveniences.

The most glaring one is the fact that constant daylight can make it difficult to fall asleep, especially for visitors who are not used to living above the arctic circle.

Your daily sleep/wake rhythm is in large part determined by daylight that your eyes are registering. Therefore constant sunlight might prevent you from getting sleepy at all

To ensure you have the best experience, make sure that your bedroom is equipped with some solid blinders to block out the light and let your brain know it’s time to sleep.


Midnight sun –

Photo of author


Erik is the creator and editor of Planet Norway. Born in Trondheim and currently living in Oslo, Erik knows the ins and outs of Norwegian History, society, and culture. His idea for starting planet Norway came about when helping his foreign fiance to settle in Norway.