The midnight sun in Norway

9 Places On Earth Where The Sun Never Sets

There is nothing like the capricious nature of day and night cycles to remind us that we are riding atop a spinning rock through space, at the mercy of a possessive fireball. In some places, night takes 76 days to appear thanks to the tilt of the Earth's axis relative to the plane of orbit around the sun. In latitudes above 66.56°, the sun does not set between mid-April and late August. Biological clocks are torn apart with constant beams of light leaking in, undermining the ability to sleep for many. On the other hand, people behave more sociably, popping in for late-hour visits and never-ending barbecues when there is no reason to 'call it a night.' Day larks rejoice: Here are nine sunlit summer havens where darkness is on vacation.


Norway midnight sun
People watching the midnight sun at North Cape, Norway.

An old country full of Viking pride and Norse legends of epic proportions, Norway is a coastal nation that sits northeast of the United Kingdom. Awe-inspiring fiords cut deep into the mainland, creating a dramatic landscape that tourists love to see combined with the Aurora borealis. Nearly five and a half million people call Norway home, and that loyalty is seen in the fierce defense of social welfare systems which blends well with its strong economy. The long days give travelers more opportunities to explore Norway's magnificent countryside and experience joys like midnight golfing. Thirteen thousand years ago, people first settled here for the abundant land and fish, and today, the grandeur is more than enough to draw new faces.

Alaska, USA

Alaska midnight sun
Anchorage in Alaska at night.

America's last great frontier, Alaska, sports an astounding 663 thousand square miles and is populated by 730 thousand frost-resistant civilians. The Aurora borealis, AKA Earth's supernatural fireworks show, is a common occurrence this far north. This wild place hosts one of the few coasts where wild orcas prey upon moose scavenging greens between islands. Some rural communities are known to keep folks sleeping in shifts to keep wood-fueled heaters running hot. The beginning of endless sunlight is appreciated in Alaska because it means the fierce chill of winter is over. Activities typically reserved for the day become 24/7, with hikers coming and going at all hours of the "night." Gaining an hour of daylight every week can be disorienting, but considering the jaw-dropping beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, the chances are high that visitors are already stunned.

Norilsk, Russia

Norilsk, Russia
Norilsk in Russia.

Winter clothing is a second skin here in the mining town of Norilsk, which is placed strategically on top of nickel and coal deposits. With 180 thousand residents, it is the most northern city in the world with such a high population. Despite the difficulty of survival here, humankind has been mining and smelting in this region since the Bronze Age. Today, however, unless you are a Russian citizen, access is forbidden without special permission. Tragically, a massive diesel fuel spill occurred in 2020 that harmed local ecosystems in a vast radius. Aesthetically, the city has been built with the philosophy of Brutalist architecture, a minimalistic style that prioritizes function. Norilsk might not end up on a "Top 10 Summer Vacation" list, but that does not mean it deserves to be celebrated any less.


A beautiful evening by a lake in Finland.

This far north, the fuel from the endless forest has been a welcome sight to shivering pilgrims for potentially 120 thousand years. However, due to the wobble effect of the Earth's axis, the intensity of seasonal months varies on a 13-thousand-year cycle, which explains why Finland was more permanently settled in 8,500 BC. Today, five and a half million Finnish folk enjoy the privacy of their tucked-away region, which is especially apparent in their cultural obsession with saunas. Moreover, with so much daylight to work on creative projects, the cinema and arts scene has flourished in Finland throughout the past few centuries. Possibly due to 76 days of perpetual morning light, Finnish cuisine revolves around breakfast staple ingredients such as berries, dairy, and wholemeal products. Quirky and sublime, Finland is a jewel in the northern rough.


Kayaking in the midnight in Sweden
A woman kayaking in a lake in northern Sweden at midnight.

This 'Land of the Midnight Sun' keeps ten and a half million people happy and healthy over the 173 thousand square miles it contains. A country that was once famed for medieval warriors unlike any other, Sweden is now a remarkably peaceful place to live with a high quality of life rating. Dynamic politics with neighbors during the last few centuries did not prevent Sweden from joining NATO or the European Union. The sheer size of the land entails varying climates, and only 13% of the population lives in the frozen north. Other than hosting the natural beauty of some of the largest lakes in Europe, Sweden is renowned for maintaining brilliant displays of Renaissance architecture. A humble people with a lot to brag about, Swedes utilize this extra daylight to admire their noble country.


Iceland midnight sun
Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland photographed at 1 am. 

Infamously less icy than neighboring Greenland, Iceland is an isolated island country situated just under the arctic circle's grasp. First settled in the 9th century, the rulership of Iceland passed between Norway and Denmark until finally, Icelanders voted for independence in 1944. While the majority of the 376 thousand citizens live in the capital, Reykjavik, plenty of settlements hug the coast and enjoy the solitude that comes with that. Due to dynamic geologic activity, geysers dot the countryside around volcanos that have erupted as recently as 2021. The mesmerizing cliffs and peninsulas, like Dyrhólaey in the south, grant visitors an understanding of nature's powerful forces. During the summer solstice, there is a tradition involving rolling naked through fields to access healing magic. Losing sleep thanks to the midnight sun might explain some of these beliefs, but if it works, it works!


Nuuk, the capital of Greenland in summer with sunlight shining all day long.

An enormous country with a tiny population, Greenland is everything but green. Medieval settlers named it in an attempt to convince people to immigrate, but the current population of 56 thousand shows that most folks refuse to be fooled. Moreover, 80 percent of the island is covered by an ice sheet that forced most towns to form on coasts, away from the frigid central wasteland. Nevertheless, residents enjoy getting outside to go skiing, and the men's national handball team is famously highly ranked. Seal is on the menu, as the ocean is the primary source of ingredients considering the absence of agriculture. The midnight sun is celebrated by Greenlanders who savor the outdoors with the perceived extra energy it grants, and pilgrims often find the circling sun relaxing and inspiring.


View of a remote Inuit community of Pangnirtung, Nunavut, Canada.
View of a remote Inuit community of Pangnirtung in Nunavut, Canada.

The northern provinces of Canada, namely Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories, experience a similar summer schedule and geography to that of Alaska. Kooky and proud, Canadians relish an excuse to run races and play sports around a sunlit 11 p.m. While tourists might be in shock, this kind of extreme clock change is the norm for Inuit people, who have occupied these lands for 5 thousand years. These indigenous groups represent the hardest traits of humanity, never mind their history of surviving on a hunting diet due to a lack of agriculture. Whales are not immune to their strategies, which makes sense given the Inuit's resolve to live in houses made of packed snow before adopting European-style housing. An incredible country with some incredible people, Canada never fails to impress.


antarctica sun
The pristine landscape of Antarctica with the sun shining behind the mountains.

Antarctica is the definition of extreme in terms of temperature and conditions. An ice sheet coats the continent, favoring only a few populations of seals, penguins, and microscopic lifeforms. The South Pole is situated near the center, allowing the same excess summer sun to happen above people residing in research stations. Albeit, the time of year for this sun path is opposite of those of the northern hemisphere because the southern hemisphere experiences summer during the winter months of the north. Thirty countries govern the landmass, and despite strict regulation of human activity, the legendary ice shelves pictured 100 years ago are rapidly disappearing due to climate change. Ironically, endless daylight never affected the continent's temperature as severely as artificial warming. 

Breaking routine is hard but sometimes necessary when building healthier habits. These nine places are happy to do the heavy lifting by forcing daylight into the lives of residents. Luckily, these gritty folk take the bull by the horns and make the most of these extreme conditions. "Night" hikes, outdoor sporting, and even midnight potlucks create novel ways to socialize with friends and strangers. There is a lesson to be learned from these nine magical lands: "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go. "— T.S. Eliot.


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