Sunrise and Sunset in Reykjavik

Sunrise & Sunset in Reykjavík

Are you a fan of sunrise or sunset? Perhaps you love both – it's easy to see why the soft light of early morning or the dazzling colours that light up the sky at dusk hold such an attraction. On vacation, we have more time to appreciate these times of day, so let's take a look at sunrise and sunset in Reykjavik.

Timing it right to catch the sunrise

Sunrise in Reykjavik varies drastically according to the time of year. You can make that work to your advantage. For instance, say you're not an early bird and can't function without sufficient sleep. Come to Reykjavik in winter, and you won't miss out on sunrise – during the first week of December, you'd need to have your hat and coat on by about 11 am. Now compare that to mid-June, when you'd be dragging yourself out of bed at a rather unsociable 3 am. Unless you're that lucky person who can go back to sleep, appreciating a beautiful Reykjavik sunrise might be easier during the colder months.

Sunrise's soft light is magical

Sun Voyager sculpture in Reykjavik

An early morning sólarupprás is a magical time to explore a city like Reykjavik on foot. Before the shops and offices open, the city streets are much quieter, which gives you the chance to wander at an unhurried pace. Plus, the rising sun stealthily brightens the sky, bathing everything in a soft, pretty pink light. In spring, you might watch the sunrise from the Sun Voyager sculpture on the waterfront; when the days are shorter, and sunrise is at a more civilised hour, head up to the top of Hallgrímskirkja or Perlan's observation deck to get a broader view over Reykjavik.

Summer sunrises have consequences

It's a rare creature who relishes an early wake-up call once they've clocked off and set them out of office. After all, vacations are supposed to be about rest and relaxation, even if in this case it's a city break in a destination as enticing as Reykjavik. So how do you manage to sleep in when it's daylight outside and the clock on your nightstand says it's not time to get up? Prior to a summer trip, you may want to check out whether your hotel or apartment has blackout blinds. Failing that, pack a good-quality eye mask and make sure the Do Not Disturb sign is hung up somewhere obvious before you go to bed.

Sunset in the city

Sunset in Reykjavik

Sunset times – sólsetur – in Reykjavik vary just as much as sunrise, so again, it's wise to plan accordingly. In winter, Reykjavik's location below the Arctic Circle means you won't experience a clear day where the sun doesn't appear over the horizon – though the clouds might have other ideas! Nevertheless, days are short in midwinter, and four or five hours of daylight is the norm, with sunset before 4 pm throughout the whole of December. Things change quickly at this latitude, however, and by early March, sunset is already back to 7 pm.

The Land of the Midnight Sun

If you're keen to experience the Midnight Sun, then start planning a midsummer trip. Sunset is around midnight, and sunrise is about 3 am. However, if you're expecting it to be pitch black in between – city lights excepted – you'll be out of luck. Astronomical twilight just doesn't exist in Reykjavik at this time of year. What you'll experience instead is something called civil twilight, where the sky is relatively light, though the sun has slipped below the horizon. This natural phenomenon occurs because the Earth's axis tilts towards the sun in summer.

Visit Perlan between sunrise and sunset

Perlan Museum Reykjavik

If you're keen to learn more about nature and how it shapes Iceland, then between sunrise and sunset in Reykjavik, why not visit Perlan? Its outdoor terrace overlooking the city is the ideal place to watch the sun slip beneath the horizon but get there in plenty of time so that you can immerse yourself in the indoor exhibits. From a recreation of an ice cave to an absorbing film that immerses guests in the wonder of the Northern Lights, there's much to draw your attention, so we'd suggest you set a reminder on your phone so you don't miss the action outside.

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