Where to go in June
Experience the midnight sun in Iceland, at Norway’s North Cape or on a small-ship voyage into the High Arctic. Feel energised and have plenty of time for exploring. June is a great time for hiking from Iceland’s rugged interior to Canada’s picture-perfect Rockies, or you might prefer to head Down Under to explore Australia in winter.
Iceland’s interior Highland tracks open
Plan a self drive in June (or September) and you’ll not only dodge the busy summer season, but the Highland routes that traverse Iceland’s spellbinding volcanic interior could well be open. Depending on snow and weather conditions, the gravel tracks are usually accessible from late June to mid-September. You will need to hire a 4WD vehicle or join a guided superjeep safari (the latter are available year-round). Iceland enjoys 24hr daylight from late May to mid-July. To witness the best of the midnight sun, head as far north as possible and time your visit to coincide with the summer solstice around 21 June. A self drive along the Arctic Coast Way in North Iceland offers spectacular viewpoints – some of the route is on gravel, but you only need a regular 2WD car.
Witness the midnight sun
Generally, the midnight sun can be seen from mid-June to early July at the Arctic Circle. Further north, in Svalbard and parts of Greenland, the sun doesn’t set from April to August, while the North Pole has six months of midnight sun from late March to the end of September. The summer solstice on 21 June is the peak of the midnight sun season. Some of our favourite destinations for witnessing the phenomenon include Svalbard (on a small-ship expedition cruise around Spitsbergen), the Arctic Coast Way touring route (that follows the northern shoreline of Iceland) and the iconic viewpoint from the North Cape of Norway. Keen hikers should set their sights on Senja Island or East Greenland.
Self drive in Sweden
The stunning countryside and sparkling coastline of West and Southern Sweden are at their most beautiful during June and summer. The southern province of Skane enjoys a mild climate and a laidback atmosphere – perfect for a self-drive touring holiday. Slightly further north, West Sweden is also ideal for a summer self-drive. The coastline stretches from Gothenburg to the Norwegian border and boasts a spectacular archipelago of around 8,000 islands, plus picture-postcard hamlets and golden dunes.
Bear watching in Finland
You can watch brown bears in the taiga forest of Eastern Finland from May to September, but June offers the optimum light conditions with up to 16 hours of daylight, plus four hours of twilight, for observing and photographing these magnificent creatures. The second half of June can be particularly rewarding following the bears’ brief mating season when they are hungry and more frequently seen. Settle down in a purpose-built hide (with a sleeping area and toilet for overnight vigils) and you might spot a 480kg male lumbering into a clearing just metres away. In addition to bears, you could also see wolverine, reindeer, elk, fox, flying squirrel and birds such as owls and woodpeckers. If you’re extremely lucky, you might glimpse an elusive lynx or grey wolf.
Wildlife wonders of a Svalbard summer
During high summer in the Arctic, from late June through July, the break-up of sea-ice allows small-ship polar voyages to navigate around Spitsbergen and other islands in Svalbard. You’ll not only experience 24-hour daylight (and the midnight sun when it’s clear), but this is also prime time for seeing wildlife. Top of everyone’s wish list is the polar bear (around 3,000 inhabit Svalbard and the Barents Sea), but other mammals frequently seen include arctic fox, Svalbard reindeer, walrus, bearded seal, humpback whale and beluga. Seabirds nest in their millions on huge sea cliffs in the Svalbard archipelago – Brunnich’s guillemots, black guillemots, northern fulmars, kittiwakes and little auks crowding the narrow ledges. During shore excursions, you’ll be able to tiptoe through the tundra, observing the profusion of delicate Arctic flowers that need to bloom and set seed during the brief Arctic summer.
Humpbacks, grizzlies and icebergs in Canada
Summer brings long days and the best weather for independent exploration on a Canadian self-drive. Humpback whales are busy feeding off the Newfoundland and Labrador coasts where you can also witness the spectacle of huge blue icebergs (calved in Greenland) drifting close offshore. The Inside Passage of British Columbia is a prime spot for encounters with orcas, humpbacks, grizzly bears, bald eagles and other coastal wildlife – either on an excursion from a wilderness lodge, a small-ship expedition through the myriad islands of the Great Bear Rainforest or on your own independent self drive along the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island.
Winter Down Under
Sunny days and warm temperatures mark the dry season in northern Australia – an ideal time to visit the Top End, Kimberley, Uluru and Queensland. Compared to summer, the Outback has more bearable temperatures – even south, in areas like the Flinders Ranges. It’s an indication of Australia’s vast size and range of climate zones that, during the winter months, you could spend one week snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef and another skiing in one of Victoria’s alpine resorts. This is also a good time for whale watching (humpbacks migrate along the east coast May-November). Although coolish, Sydney has several festivals during winter, and it’s a lovely time for hiking. The Blue Mountains are drier and sunnier during the winter months.
Summer hiking season
As snow continues to melt in the mountains, June is the perfect time for planning a hiking trip in South Greenland or the Canadian Rockies – or heading for some of Europe’s wild walking hotspots. Our top picks include the East Fjords of Iceland for a combination of deserted bays and rugged mountains; the challenging 54km Laugavegur Trail through the Icelandic Highlands, and the stunning Norwegian island of Senja, where day hikes can lead to mountaintops with unrivalled views of the midnight sun during June.