Warm-weather lovers, rejoice! Today is the official first day of summer and the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. North of Arctic Circle, the summer solstice brings the “midnight sun,” a one-of-a-kind opportunity to see the sun for a full 24 hours.
While experiencing the true midnight sun requires a trek much farther north than our tours visit, a tour of Scandinavia in the summer means extra daylight hours and sunsets around midnight, providing ample opportunity to dive deeper into local culture. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy lengthy days above the Arctic Circle. (Just don’t forget to bring an eye mask in case your hotel’s curtains don’t block enough light.)
You have to venture to the heart of Svalbard archipelago to get the complete midnight sun effect, but that doesn’t mean Norway’s mainland cities to the south are without their summer fun. Stay out late and stroll alongside Bergen’s waterfront or move to higher ground for the views; The Fløibanen funicular to Mount Fløyen runs until 11pm, offering a spectacular view of the city below late into the bright night.
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At the height of summer in Stockholm, the sun sets at 11:30pm and rises as early as 3:30am, giving you plenty of time to explore the city. Use your extra hours to spend more time at the world’s oldest open-air museum, Skansen, which is open until 8pm during the lengthy summer days and hosts a number of traditional events. Or, pack some snacks for a twilight picnic in Royal Djurgården.
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A trip to Iceland in the summer means dusky pink and periwinkle skies all through the night, so there’s no need to traipse back to your hotel early. Enjoy views of the water from the Solfar Sun Ship sculpture in downtown Reykjavik, or raise a glass with the locals in one of the city’s many bars—the majority of which stay open until at least 1am.
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While there’s no shortage of reasons to visit Scandinavia, there’s no need to venture outside of North America for a glimpse at the midnight sun. From March through September, Alaska gets more hours of daily sun than anywhere else in the U.S. You can celebrate with the locals at the annual summer solstice festival in Anchorage or play a round of 18 holes at one of Alaska’s several golf courses, which feature tee times as late as 10pm during the summer.
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