© Knut Hansvold

How to see the Midnight Sun in Tromsø

For more than two months, Tromsø enjoys the Midnight Sun. At least in good weather. What do you do to maximize that experience? Here are some tips.

Tromsø enjoys the Midnight Sun from about the 18th of May to the 25th of July, meaning the city is bathed in sunlight for more than two months. The coastal climate of the city ensures entertaining weather, though, but often the clouds lift in the evening, and the Midnight Sun fights its way through the clouds somewhere above the mountain tops of the Island of Ringvassøya.

Downtown, the Midnight Sun fights with the shadows

Storgata, the main drag of Tromsø, is actually in the shadows at Midnight. A steep hillside blocks the sun from shining on most of the city centre. At about 2am, though, the sun shines directly into the main street. Bar hoppers are thus blinded for a moment when they leave their watering holes.

The Midnight Sun is five minutes away

However, you don’t need to go far. The jetty Nordjetéen juts into the Tromsø Sound, and allows you free views towards the north. You can also go to the area around the Scandic Ishavshotel, directly on the Sound. Nothing is easier than going onto the Tromsø Bridge. Once there, the Arctic Cathedral on the Mainland side is bathed in Midnight sunshine. It really is minutes away from the Main Street.

Nothing beats the Midnight Sun from the Cable Car

Mount Storsteinen, at 421 metres/1382ft altitude, overlooks the city, the island of Tromsø, the iconic Tromsø bridge with the Arctic Cathedral at the end. In summer, the cable car runs all the way to 1am, allowing you to experience it. The view is well-known

Do an easy Midnight Sun hike

To savour this literally gold moment, you could go for a hike. The following trails are relatively easy to do.

  • The Cable Car mountain, Fløya, is easy to reach by new paved path Sherpatrappa (The Sherpa steps, since they were made by the Sherpa people from Nepal). Walkable from town.
  • Ørnfløya near the fishing village of Sommarøy offers fabulous views to the cliff island of Håja. You need a car, unless you spend the night in Sommarøy.
  • Mount Movikhammaren is found in the northern end of town, and offers lovely views over Tromsø and the waterways around. Take a city bus to the starting point, and split a taxi to town if returning past midnight (which is …frankly… the point)
  • Kjølen is a big mountain on Kvaløya Island, some 700 metres high. From here you see both the city afar and the Atlantic on the other side, as well as the towering Kvaløya peaks. Public transport and taxi is possible with some planning, otherwise a bike is a good idea.

Hire a bike and go exploring

Several places in Tromsø offer bike and e-bike rentals . Use it for a short trip from town to Tromsø’s beach on the southern tip of the island. Or explore the sunny, western side of the Tromsø Island. You can cross the bridge to nearby Kvaløya Island and ride all the way to Hella. Alternatively, explore the area north of the Tromsø bridge on the mainland side. Bikes also come in handy of you’re doing a little hike, especially the ones listed above.

Explore at midnight with your own car

If you have your own car, you can venture further afield. The easiest and most scenic route is along the southern coast of Kvaløya island. Here, you can visit the rock carvings at Skavberg, observe the ocean currents beneath the old houses at Hella and admire the peak of Bentsjordtinden across the sound. Eventually, you will arrive in the fishing village of Sommarøy, with its lovely beaches and great views to the cliff island of Håja. This is the perfect midnight sun vantage point. Remember to keep noise levels down at night, the locals need their sleep. Equally enchanting are the deserted beaches of Sandvika and Otervika, where you can light a fire and have a nighttime picnic.

Be guided into the midnight sun

There is also the option to leave it all to the experts. Visit Tromsø, the local visitor’s centre, can suggest a variety organised tours. Boat tour offer diverse experiences; some are accompanied by the thud-thud sound of a veteran, historical wooden boat. Sailboats sail quietly into the midnight sun, and more modern vessels sport a touch of luxury. Additionally, there are easy and medium hiking trips at midnight, as well as sightseeings conducted by electric cars.

Practical about the Midnight Sun in Tromsø

The sun is above the horizon at Midnight from the 18th of May to the 25th of July

No, if a mountain, a hill or a tall building blocks your way, you cannot see the Midnight Sun. Make sure you have a free view to the north.

The midnight moment is when the sun reaches its lowest point. Keep daylight saving time in mind and remember that time zones are a man-made thing. Tromsø is in the eastern part of the Central European time zone, meaning that midnight is somewhat earlier than at 1am. According to www.timeandate.no, Midnight in Tromsø is at 00:40am on the 18th of May, and at the 25th of July, the lowest point is at 00:50. Just for the record; you cannot visually see that the sun has reached its lowest point. You just have to know.

Tromsø is found 350 km/200 miles north of the Arctic circle, and is thus has aircondition on full steam all summer (..ehem..). Early in the Midnight Sun period, temperatures can drop nearly to freezing point at night, Make sure you have woollen long johns, mittens and a woollen hat. Towards the end of the Midnight Sun period, we sometimes enjoy a heatwave from Russia. Then we can wear shorts and t-shirts all evening. To sum it up; be ready for anything.

The Tromsø climate comes with no guarantee. Rain and cloudy weather are part of the northern summer, but we do have daylight all the time. Maybe you see the Midnight Sun the next night, or somewhere else in the north on your onward travel. You might also want to consider going to the inner parts of the Lyngenfjord area if the weather is consistently bad.

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