Winter in the Arctic Circle may have the northern lights, but summer has the magical midnight sun. As each day gets longer in the lead up to the weeks which see a full 24-hours of sunlight, peaking on the 25th of June, midsummer celebrations will be marking the occasion across the Nordic states.
Explore magnificent fjords, lakes and forests, plus the enchanting Nordic cities that don’t seem to get a wink of sleep during the summer. Why not make the most of the extra hours of daylight with a road trip around Scandinavia and its great outdoors?
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Always Daylight In Denmark
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The capital of Copenhagen makes a good starting point, with plenty of palaces and museums to admire. Climb the unique spiral ramp to the top of the Round Tower for panoramic views of the city. Head over to Nyhavn for lunch next to the picturesque port and its rainbow of colourful buildings. Make the most of the summer weather with a visit to the Lyngby Open-Air Museum, with its traditional farmhouses, mills and horse-drawn carriages.
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Odense is where fairy tales come to life. It is home to the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, showcasing original artwork and artefacts from the legendary storyteller. Just half an hour down the road sits Egeskov Castle, which looks like it could have been taken right out of the pages of one of Andersen’s story books. The gorgeous Renaissance architecture is teamed with lush gardens and a lake-side setting. Explore the grounds with a fun tree-top walk or visit the vintage car exhibitions.
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If you want to venture off the beaten track, travel towards the Farøe Islands. The wild, natural beauty varies across the 18 islands, from green fields to jagged peaks and deep fjords. Get a good dose of fresh air with a hike or bike ride. Or hop on a boat trip to the Vestmanna bird cliffs to see hundreds of bird species, like puffins, in their natural environment.
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Back on Denmark’s mainland, technically the island of Zealand, is one of Scandinavia’s top engineering accomplishments. The iconic Oresund Bridge casts a dramatic outline against the sky as it connects Denmark to neighbouring Sweden. You might recognise it from the critically-acclaimed TV drama, The Bridge. Drive over the eight-kilometre structure to cosmopolitan Malmö, to continue your road trip into Sweden.
Forever Sunshine in Sweden
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There’s a lot to do and see around this waterside capital city, as well as a wonderful selection of restaurants, bars and cafes. Get up close with the grand 17th century ship at the Vasa Museum, which spent 300 years at the bottom of the ocean. Or for something a little more contemporary, try the Modern Museet. Then take a boat trip around a handful of the 30,000 tiny islands that make up the archipelago of Stockholm.
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Picturesque Drottningholm Palace is just 11 kilometres away from Stockholm, on the island of Lovö. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the official residence of the Swedish royal family, surrounded by exquisite gardens which feature an 18th century Chinese Pavilion. And as well as a theatre museum showcasing traditional costumes, there’s also the Palace Theatre with performances throughout the summer.
Liseberg Amusement Park
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If you’re heading to Gothenburg on the West coast, be sure to spend an afternoon at Liseberg theme park. As well as rides for all the family, it also hosts free summer concerts and other performances. Take a spin on the big wheel for a glorious bird’s eye view of Gothenburg. Or enjoy an al fresco lunch amid the flowers and greenery in the sculpture garden.
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The Arctic region of Lapland enjoys a generous helping of midnight sun, from the end of May to mid-July. Visit Kiruna, Sweden’s northernmost town, where you’ll find the world’s first ice hotel. Aside from activities, including zip-lining and white-water rafting, you can also opt for a long hike in stunning Abisko National Park. Open around the clock during summer, you can take your time and soak up the scenery without having to worry about nightfall creeping up on you.
Sunlit Nights in Norway
Troll’s Tongue Hike
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The Troll’s Tongue, or Trolltunga, at Skjeggedal has become one of Norway’s most iconic natural attractions. The smooth rock juts out from the dramatic cliffs. Suspended over Lake Ringedalsvatnet at over 700 metres high, you’ll be treated to breath-taking views of the majestic fjord. Only accessible during the summer months, it’s a bit of a hike to get there, with the trail taking around 10-12 hours, but the rewards are well-worth it.
Storsteinen Cable Car
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Glide up to the top of Mount Fløya on a night-time cable car to see Tromsø and its local fjords from Storsteinen, AKA Big Rock. The Arctic city is dotted with historic wooden buildings giving the town an authentic Nordic feel. The cable car runs until 1am from May until August, so you can fully appreciate the scenery as it’s illuminated by the soft glow of the midnight sun.
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Start in the capital, Svolvær, before exploring the different Lofoten Islands which are dotted with traditional fishing villages and cabins on stilts. Discover authentic Norwegian restaurants where you can tuck into local seafood specialities. The world’s largest cold-water coral reef attracts lots of sea life to the area, which you can explore with scuba diving and snorkelling tours. Paddle along the coast in a kayak, hike up the hills or go for a bike ride to take in the captivating vistas.
The Arctic Tundra
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Finnmark in Norway’s far north features a striking landscape of lakes, pine forests and cliffs. Check out the spectacular glaciers at Seiland National Park or go reindeer-sledding in Tromms. Catch a late-night concert at the futuristic-looking Arctic Cathedral, where the sounds of choirs and orchestras fill the room. Or join a night-time whale-watching safari in Stø as you take advantage of the 76 days of midnight sun in Norway’s Arctic Circle.