When does the midnight sun in Iceland take place? How long does a sunset or a sunrise last? How long is the period you can experience the midnight sun in Iceland? How do you sleep during the midnight sun?

How do you sleep during the midnight sun?

The days are long during the summertime in Iceland. As early as May and as late as August, Iceland’s nights are bright. Some people find this incomprehensible and have various questions about it.

Amusingly, the most common one is: “How do you sleep?” My answer to that is simply that many people around the world can sleep with lights on, or like a little siesta in the middle of the day – and if you have to sleep in total darkness, do not despair, this clever invention called “curtains” is used in Iceland.

Midnight sun by Mount Kirkjufell

“Isn’t it weird for it to be bright all night long?” Yes, after a dark winter it can be a bit weird having endless days (and vice versa) but in fact, the long days become a part of your daily life and people get more energy with 24/7 daylight. And it’s great for sightseeing – you never need to ‘get somewhere before it gets dark’ – because it doesn’t get dark!

Indeed, some tours take advantage of these late nights and you can go on midnight sun tours, like the Golden Circle, whale watching or hiking a mountain during the midnight sun.

Let me explain how it all works.

Summer and winter solstices in Iceland

The midnight sun in iceland can be seen during summertime

The further north or south you go on the planet, the more effect there is by the summer and winter solstices. Iceland’s longest day of the year, the summer solstice, is around the 21st of June. On that day the sun sets just after midnight and rises again just before 3am, in Reykjavík.

The further north you go in the country, such as to Akureyri or Ísafjörður – the day will be even longer.

The shortest day of the year, winter solstice, is around the 21st of December. In Reykjavík, that means the sunrise is around 11:30am and sunset is around 3:30pm. Again, the further north you go in the country, this day will be even shorter.

Winter sun in Iceland

In between the shortest and the longest day of the year, the days are either getting longer or shorter, from just a few seconds up to several minutes per day. Equinox occurs twice a year, around the 21st of March and September, when there’s roughly an equal amount of daylight and darkness.

What about the time in between sunset and sunrise?

Technically speaking, the midnight sun only occurs in Reykjavík between the 16th and the 29th of June, since these are the only days of the year when the sun sets after midnight. When you take into consideration that the sunrise will only be a couple of hours later, then you’ll realize that even though the sun isn’t up, it is still bright. The bright nights last for around 3 months (1,5 month before and after the 21st of June).

The midnight sun in Reykavík can be very nice

The slow sunsets and sunrises make for incredibly picturesque displays of colourful skies that last for hours. In the beginning of August, a couple of hours per night can get quite dark, not more than dusk though.

Towards the end of August or beginning of September there will be a couple of hours of pitch black night. So if you’re looking for a place to go this summer where you get more hours out of the day (without affecting the crazy nightlife), Iceland is the place to go!

Examples of things to do in the summertime: Go on one of our midnight sun tours, a Golden circle tour or see the best attractions by Route 1 in Iceland.