The midnight sun is a unique phenomenon that takes place above the Arctic Circle in the summer months. With the jagged mountains and wild landscapes, there are few places as spectacular to view it as the Lofoten Islands.
Summer is a period where the sense of time disappears the difference between 12am and 12pm is minimal; it’s a time where locals can be spotted mowing the lawn at midnight or surfers enjoying an 1am surf session.
But what is the midnight sun and what are the best places to see it in the Lofoten Islands? Let’s find out.
What is the Midnight Sun?
The midnight sun is a phenomenon that takes places above the Arctic Circle (or south of the Antarctic Circle) during the summer months. In this period, the sun doesn’t set below the horizon.
Exactly how long the midnight sun period lasts depend on how close to the poles you are. In the Northern Hemisphere, that means the closer to the North Pole, the longer it lasts.
Even though the sun goes down towards the horizon in the late-night hours, it stops descending just above and slowly moves horizontally along it before returning back up. This results in a magical light that lasts into the early morning hours. Those who manage to stay awake through the night are in for a treat!
When can you see the Midnight sun?
It’s a common misconception that the midnight sun can be seen all across Norway but that’s not the case. Only about half of Norway lays north of the Arctic Circle, meaning only half the country has a period of midnight sun.
The Arctic Circle crosses mainland Norway at 66 degrees north while the Lofoten Islands lays at 68 degrees north (the northernmost point of mainland Norway is 71 degrees north)
This means that the midnight sun in Lofoten begins approximately the 27th of May and lasts until the 17th of July. During this period, the sun doesn’t set below the horizon, resulting in 24 hours of sunlight.
The exact date varies with one or two days depending on where you’re situated in the Lofoten Islands.
Keep in mind that the sun will be at its lowest point around 01.00, so a mid-day nap is a good idea when planning to enjoy the midnight sun for more than a few days in a row!
Where are the Best Places to View the Midnight Sun in Lofoten?
The midnight sun light can be experienced all over the Lofoten Islands and you can enjoy the bright nights from the comfort of your accommodation but for the best experience you need to find a place that has an open view towards the northern horizon.
It’s with this view that you’ll be able to watch the sun slowly slide along the horizon before rising back up. There are many stunning locations to view the midnight sun in the Lofoten Islands but below we’ve put together a list with some of the best.
The Village of Unstad
The small and scenic village of Unstad, located on Vestvågøy, is one of the most impressive places to watch the midnight sun in Lofoten. The sand beach has become a popular destination for surfers and adventurers from all over the world and it’s hard to find a cozier beach to experience this nightly phenomenon.
Unstad Beach is easily accessible and it’s even possible to enjoy the midnight sun from the comfort of your car when parking on the left side. Note that this is a popular camping spot in summer but you’re likely to find a spot for yourself if walking down the gravel road.
If you’re a little more adventurous make sure to grab your camera and walk up towards the ridge of Aksla (follow the hiking trail towards Mount Nonstind). This is a steep trail but you don’t need to go far up the ridge before getting an incredible view of the beach and village.
Viewing the midnight sun from the Askla hillside is an unforgettable experience so make sure to bring your camera up too. This is a perfect spot to enjoy the silence of the night.
The Beaches of Gimsøy
There’s not one specific place to stop when driving to Gimsøy for the midnight sun. This entire region has an open view to the north and there are numerous of small beaches along the road. The scenic beaches consist of a nice white sand and, on a still day, the crystal-clear water makes it look like you’re at a tropical destination.
The Gimsøy beaches are rarely crowded so you’re likely to have them for yourself at night, making it quite the romantic experience.
Note that there isn’t a designated parking for most of these small beaches. Make sure that you’re not blocking any road when leaving the car.
Another popular destination for the midnight sun is the Eggum Beach. There are several small sandy beaches in the area where you can bring a blanket to sit and enjoy the night but I strongly recommend to take a stroll along the dirt road and find yourself a spot amongst the rocky shoreline to sit down.
This allows you to get a little away from the other visitors and to have the moment for yourself.
While it’s beautiful (and relaxing) to view the midnight sun from the comfort of a parking lot or a sandy beach, experiencing it from the top of a mountain can be even more impressive. Mount Mannen, located between the popular Haukland- and Uttakleiv Beaches, is a relatively easy peak to see it from.
The hike is only about 1.5 kilometers but has an altitude gain of 400m. It feels like a never-ending hill and reaching the peak takes about 1 to 1.5 hours but the view you’re rewarded with is stunning.
Here you have a 360 degrees view, seeing both the midnight sun above the ocean in the northern horizon and all the lit-up mountains behind you. There are few panoramic views as impressive and accessible as the summit of Mannen.
Those who aren’t interested in a midnight summit hike but like the northern view Mannen has to offer, can enjoy the scenery from Uttakleiv.
This is a popular camping area with a large sandy beach and a picturesque mountain as a backdrop. Here you’ll find all the elements that makes Lofoten to the unique destination it is.
The midnight sun is a phenomenon that takes place during summer north of the Arctic Circle. During this period of time, 27th of May to 17th of July in Lofoten, the sun doesn’t set below the horizon.
It is best viewed from a beach or mountain with a clear open view toward the northern horizon. The locations mentioned above are some of the most scenic spots to enjoy the midnight sun but any beach or mountain on the northside of the islands are good alternatives.
Make sure to bring a camera and pack some snacks, and get ready to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience!