Iceland in February – All you need to know

|January 13, 2019
Passionate nature lover, traveler, adventurer. Viktoria has traveled halfway around the globe with a single backpack and a tent. Finally, she landed in Iceland and decided to make a new home for herself in Reykjavik.

Just about any time of the year is a good time to visit Iceland, but February is especially magical.


The weather is milder than you think, it’s a prime time to see the Northern Lights and much of the country is caked in beautiful snow.

Thanks to the warm gulf stream, which flows in close proximity to Iceland, the weather is much milder than is usual for such a northerly latitude. Normally, most of the country is covered with snow in February. However, the capital and the south of the country will sometimes get warmer temperatures, so from time to time, the snow will melt.

February is an absolutely ideal month for those who are eager to join a Norther Lights tour, explore Iceland’s ice caves, try out some winter activities or enjoy Iceland’s natural hot springs and geothermal pools.

Iceland hours of daylight in February

Reykjavik Night Sunshine

The difference in the length of daylight between the first and the last day of February is quite noticeable. We gain more than 6 minutes of daylight every single day of the month.

In Reykjavík, on February 1st, sunrise is at 10:08, with sunset happening at 17:15, which means 7 hours of daylight. On the last day of the month the sun rises around at 8:39 sets at 6:43, providing 10 hours of daylight in total.In Akureyri, thanks to its northerly location, the first day of February has just 6 hours and 40 minutes of daylight. However, at the end of the month, there are almost ten hours of daylight, placing Akureyri almost on a par with Reykjavík. Akureyri gains more than seven minutes of glorious sunlight every day throughout February.

Is February a good time to visit Iceland?

Reykjavik Church in Winter

In short, yes. While the weather is much more hospitable than in the depths of winter, it’s still got the magical, snow-sprinkled atmosphere.  Also, February is one of the best times of the year to see the Northern Lights (more on that below) and the country is alive with events, activities and the promise of spring.

It’s also a less busy month in terms of tourism, so you’ll get a more space to yourself at the tourist sites, bars and restaurants.

Can you see the Northern Lights in Iceland in February?

People admiring Northern Lights in Iceland

This is probably the best time to see the Northern Lights. They tend to be especially visible in February, plus the weather is more hospitable than in winter months.Our Northern Lights tours will bring you right to the heart of it, where you can witness the cosmic ballet of Icelandic skies first-hand.

Weather in February in Iceland: How cold does it get?

Temperatures in Iceland in February

Winter in Iceland is very unpredictable. Frankly, it would be easier to tell you what not to expect then what you should when visiting Iceland in winter. The chance of precipitation in February is quite high and it can come in any form, so be prepared for snow, rain, sleet, and, of course, sunshine!

Reykjavik frozen lake

You can also expect strong winds, storms and sometimes blizzards with extremes of temperature – even experiencing all of these in a single day. The average temperatures are usually between -3 and +3°C (26-34° Fahrenheit) in February – mild by Icelandic standards!

Snow in Iceland in February

If you’re looking for snow, you’ll have best luck up north.

The weather is colder, darker and icier with more snow in the north than in the south of the country. Keep this in mind if you are planning a Ring Road trip. Also, check out the Iceland weather forecast for the whole year.

Good to know before visiting Iceland in February

Jokulsarlon Lagoon Icebergs
  • February is the perfect month for Ice Cave Tours, make sure to book in advance though it is very popular.
  • Bathing in a hot spring or a geothermal swimming pool might not sound like a great winter activity but the contrast of hot water and cold weather is just perfect!
  • During the last couple of years, Iceland has a lot of snow in February, creating a real winter wonderland, be prepared when packing!
  • We only recommend rental cars in February to those who are used to driving in snow and ice.
  • Places like Þingvellir National Park that are visited a lot can still be quite icy. Bring with you some ice/ snow grips or spikes for under your shoes or buy them at any local gas station or activity shop, they are usually cheap and well worth it.

Is the Blue Lagoon open in February?

Blue Lagoon Spa in Iceland

Yes, and it’s a popular time to visit this wonderful, natural spa. The geothermically heated water is rich with silica and minerals, providing a comforting, soothing treatment for the body and mind. It’s also located in a fascinating part of the world, with scored lands and distinct vistas as far as the eye can see.

The Blue Lagoon is among the most popular sites in the country, so we’d recommend booking in advance.  And yes, we provide a range of Blue Lagoon Tours.

Driving in February in Iceland

Since the weather is very unpredictable, it is extremely important to monitor the weather forecast and road conditions closely, heeding safety warnings and not taking chances is always important.

The road between the capital and Keflavik airport is the best-maintained road in Iceland, but sometimes even this road becomes impassable for a brief period of time.

The Ring Road is usually well maintained, the farther you travel from the capital the icier the road becomes, with heavier snowfalls.

If you plan to drive around Iceland at this time of year it is a good idea to rent a 4X4 car with full insurance cover. If you don’t have much experience of driving in snowy, windy and icy conditions, for your own safety, we strongly recommend you choose a guided tour instead. As well as being the safest option, it will be far more relaxing for you. Read more about driving in Iceland.

Packing for Iceland in February

 Suitcase with warm clothes

February, like most months in Iceland, is the month to dress in layers. While it’s nowhere near as cold as say, December, you can still expect ice and snow. Essentials on your packing list are:

  • Hat, scarf, and gloves
  • Wool or thermal underwear
  • Good sturdy boots (hiking boots are best)
  • Warm sweater and pants
  • Waterproof and windproof shell layer
  • Swimming wear
  • Warm socks
  • Lipsticks / lip balms
  • Sunglasses

Best things to see in February in Iceland

There’s no shortage of beautiful things to see in February, from man-made attractions to natural wonders…

Harpa Musical Hall lighting up at night

Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik

Harpa Musical Hall, in downtown Reykjavík, is an architectural delight. And its light show at the front of the building is spellbinding. It’s a perfect view to take in on a post-dinner stroll through the capital.

Frozen Waterfalls

Iceland's Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

If you travel to Iceland in cool months you are likely to catch the island at its Winter Wonderland mode, this means frozen waterfalls, snowy mountains, and white landscapes. The latter two you can see from Reykjavík but making your way out of the city to see the frozen waterfalls is also a must. You won’t regret it. Here are a few options:

Icelandic Horses in Full Fur Mode

Icelandic Horse in Winter

Icelandic horses are a true totem of the country. There is only one “type” of horse found in Iceland and it has been kept in complete insulation here, mixed with no other breed.

The Icelandic horse has been in Iceland for over 1000 years and let’s just say that they have adapted to life on the island. In winter they grow their fur to the max, turning them into impossible adorable furballs.

We have numerous horse-riding tours, whether you’re looking to do it as one activity, or combine it with others.

Best things to do in February in Iceland

There’s plenty to do in February, as the days get longer and Icelanders and visitors alike venture further into the glorious outdoors.

Here are some of the best things to do in Iceland on this month…

Winter stroll in Downtown Reykjavík

Reykjavik city in Winter

Winter cold in Downtown Reykjavík is no problem with its endless cafés and bars to jump in for some Gluehwein or hot cocoa.

Foodies might enjoy our famous Reykjavik Food Tour.

Also, there are plenty of shops and interesting places to visit and if the weather is bad. There are even a few very interesting museums close to each other to wait the storm out. For example:

Visit Akureyri

Akureyri in Winter

The Capital of the North is an adventure on its own. The colourful houses, lively culture and the atmosphere melt into the pot of enjoyment. Have a coffee on the middle of Hafnarstræti, Akureyri’s main street and unwind.

Take a dip in a swimming pool or hot tub

This is not only a super nice and relaxing activity but also a very affordable one!The local swimming pools are all around and you pay max 900 ISK / $8. Here’s a guide to Iceland’s wonderful hot springs and pools.

Things to do in Iceland in February

February is when many roads and tours, previously closed in winter, open up and welcome visitors.

As well as the sightseeing tours and organized multi-day tours around the country, here are some especially fun things to do in Iceland on this month…

Visit the Ice Caves

Man sitting in Solheimajokull Blue Ice Cave

Natural ice caves can only be visited in winter, so make the most of the opportunity to see these crystalline beauties for yourself – before they disappear in the spring.

Ice caves collapse and form again each year, so you can come back annually to Iceland and you will never see the same ice cave twice.

Snowmobiling

Man Snowmobiling on Langjokull Glacier

Naturally, winter activities like snowmobiling tours are an absolute blast in February. You get to marvel at the humbling nature, while experiencing the excitement of a high-speed snow vehicle.

These tours take place on the spectacular Langjökull glacier and can range from one-day jaunts to multi-day trips.

Speaking of glaciers…

Glacier Hiking

Glacier Hike Climb in Skaftafell

Unsurprisingly, glacier hiking is among the best things to do in February, bring you to these incredible frozen rivers and the awe-inspiring landscapes that they live on. Our glacier tours run the gamut, from beginner’s trips to those fit for glacier veterans!

Lava Caving

Lava Caving in Iceland

Lava caving is also a popular activity this time of the year since the temperatures in the caves are somewhat milder than the temperatures above the ground.

Secret Lagoon

Secret Lagoon Hot Spring in Iceland

If you plan to visit the Golden Circle, you might want to stop at the Secret Lagoon, which is a natural hot spring with 39°C (102°F) water.

Snorkeling at the Silfra Fissure

 Silfra Snorkeling in Iceland

Snorkeling and diving between the continents is also possible in winter because the water in Silfra fissure never freezes. The tour operators provide thick dry suits so you will stay dry and comfortable whilst exploring in between the tectonic plates – a sensational and out of this world experience.

Events in February in Iceland

As mentioned, there’s a lot happening in Iceland in the month between winter and spring. For instance…

Sónar Music Festival is one of the biggest music events in Iceland, showcasing world-renowned artists and new talents. This three-night-long electronic music festival certainly shakes up the capital!

The Winter Lights Festival is a four-day festival in Reykjavik, usually held around the first weekend of the month. It is in celebration of all forms of light and the return of longer and much brighter days. Numerous exciting events take place in the city, such as the Museum Night, the Swimming Pool Night and the Northern Lights Run.

Flag Gay Pride Rainbow

Reykjavík Rainbow Pride – This winter edition is a smaller and more intimate gay pride than the one in August. The event is held over four days to celebrate diversity and equality.

Valentine´s Day is not overly celebrated in Iceland, but many foreign visitors come at that time to enjoy a romantic holiday under the Northern Lights. Geothermal pools, private tours, and food tasting tours are excellent ways to enjoy an idyllic vacation and unforgettable moments with someone very special.

Bolludagur is the ‘bun day’, six weeks before Easter. On this day everyone is supposed to eat meatballs, fish balls, and cream-filled buns, with an emphasis on the latter one, of course! The cafés, restaurants, and bakeries are filled with cream buns in all sizes, tastes, and colours. These delightful confections are usually light in texture, and filled with both jam and whipped cream.

Meatballs

Sprengidagur, or “Eat- Until-You-Burst-Day”, is the day after Bolludagur. Originally, it is was the Icelandic equivalent of Mardi Gras, a day of celebration and a great feast before the fasting season of Lent. This day is about eating rich, fatty, salty foods, traditionally, lentil soup with vegetables and salted meat, specifically mutton: “saltkjöt og baunir”.

Öskudagur, or Ash Wednesday, is the day after Sprengidagur, 40 days before Easter. Children dress in costumes and walk from store to store where they sing songs in return for candy, costume-wise absolutely anything goes, the more inventive the better! Many tourists and people who have come to live in Iceland from overseas pick up on the singing for candy bit and say this is Iceland´s answer to Halloween or All Hallows Eve.  Icelandic children love Öskudagur as much as children in other lands love Halloween, but that’s where similarity ends: There are no ghostly themes, pumpkin lanterns, or pagan undertones, and ghoulish Öskudagur costumes are very rarely seen.

See you in February!

Happy man selfie with an Icelandic church in the background

February, as you can see, is an enchanting, exciting time to visit Iceland. We hope to see you here soon…

Start planning your winter itinerary in Iceland!

Anything else you would like to know?

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