“The Land of the Midnight Sun” is a nickname for several territories along the Arctic Circle, including the northernmost reaches of Iceland. Cruises in this region run from May to September to make the most of warmer weather and long stretches of daylight.
Springs are chilly but comfortable. Afternoon temperatures hover around 50 degrees, and the sun rises around 6 a.m. and sets by 9 p.m. Spring vacation itineraries are ideal for bird-watchers, as more than 200 species set up nests for the season; that includes an estimated 6 million Atlantic puffins, which invade Iceland in search of a warm, rocky shore to raise their offspring. Anglers also appreciate April and May, when melting snow feeds lakes and streams and reawakens underwater life after a long, harsh winter.
Summers, meanwhile, are dazzlingly bright, usually offering just one to three hours of darkness each evening. Tourists looking for greater access to Iceland’s interior choose to cruise from June to August, when temperatures hit the upper ’60s and river kayaking, mountain biking and glacier skiing are possible. Whale-watching is popular, too, as migrating pods encircle the country. If you’d like to experience the true “midnight sun,” a summer excursion to Grimsey Island -- about 25 miles north of the mainland, the only part of Iceland inside the Arctic Circle -- will introduce you this unique phenomenon.
In autumn, as the Icelandic cruising season nears its end, daylight also wanes. Photographers will love cruising this region in September, when the leaves begin to turn and brilliant sunsets occur as early as 6 or 7 p.m. Iceland’s famed horses, a sturdy, furry breed that can withstand extreme climates, also return from their mountaintop feeding grounds to pose for photos.