Iceland's Midnight Sun: 5 Reasons to Hike in 24 Hour Daylight

26. June 2017 —
Man watching sunset from mountain
Man watching sunset from mountain hill

For a period of about 2 months, between May 15th and July 15th roughly, the sun in Iceland doesn’t set, and it never really gets dark. Sure, it gets a bit darker, but there is no direct sunlight. What you end up is this wonderful glow; that lights up the sky. It's the alluring midnight sun.

This week, we want to tell you why you should push through your instincts to sleep during the night, and perhaps even invert it! It’s too magical to miss, and take our word for it, your eyes and spirit will thank you. 

Here are our top 5 reason to hike in the midnight sun.

1. It’s Magnificent!

This time in Iceland is remarkable. There is a soft glow over everything, and your eyes constantly deceive you. This light brings out colours in the landscape that you didn't know were possible; subtle tones, reflection, nuances and details that you had never noticed before. Thorsmork is a particularly remarkable area for this reason.  

Person on a rock surrounded by moss
Man on rock surrounded by moss

2. You can take the best photos with light from the Midnight Sun!

Because there is nobody around, and the light is next to magnificent, you have the best opportunity to take photos that you could possible imagine. And because it lasts so long, you don’t need to rush around, you can simply enjoy yourself and take all the time you need!

Beautiful sunset in Iceland with lake and mountains
Breathtaking sunset

3. It lasts forever!

“What time is it? You never know. You always have to check. Then again, why even bother? Time really feels as though it is standing still. Although you will see the sun rise eventually, and the magenta tones will transform into orange as the morning progresses.  

Great green mountain next to big lake during sunset
Beautiful mountain and lake underneath the colorful sky

4. There is nobody around!

Did you ever visit a popular sight in iceland and feel like there were a few too many people there? Well, try going to that same spot at 2am in June, and you will be pleasantly suprised. It’s a joy to feel as though you are the only person in sight, and to see nobody. 

Big mountains in Iceland under the soft orange sky
Great mountains underneath a soft orange sky

5. It makes you feel different, in a very special way. 

A bizarre and unexpected aspect of doing a midnight sun hike is that people often feel differently during the night, experiencing different emotions than during the day time. 

A hike during the bright nights somehow gives emotional space to explore the landscape, and perhaps even yourself. With a beating heart as you ascend a given peak, experiencing the euphoria of reaching a peak and taking in the awesome view, you find yourself overtaken with the majesty of the landscape and the beauty before you. 

Then, as you descend gradually down, the tiredness may be setting in. By this point, it’s already 4 in the morning, perhaps later. You get back to base camp, perhaps eat something, throw on your eye mask (this is important) and sleep well into the afternoon. This is the life of the midnight light hiker. 

Pink and orange clouds reflecting on water with mountains in the distance
Amazing reflection of the clouds in lake with mountains in the distance

Try a midnight hike for yourself!

It’s difficult to imagine unless you have experienced it yourself. This is why we urge you, if you are in Iceland right now or if you are planning to come next summer, you should really try to hike the highlands during the summer. The Laugavegur trek from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork with the potential to go all the way through to Skogar is a perfect example. Once you have arrived in Thorsmork, make sure you stay longer and explore Thorsmork, how the light comes through the valley at different times of day, sunrise and sunset not far apart, you can easily see both. 

A sunrise and a sunset within the space of 4 hours. This is the stuff dreams are made of.

About the Author

Joseph content writer for Icelandic Mountain Guides

Joseph Mattos-Hall

Hailing from London and born into a British/Brazilian/Italian household, Joseph came to Iceland originally to complete a master’s degree in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of Iceland: the rest is history.

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