Iceland in February | All you need to know
Visiting Iceland in February
February is one of the coldest months in Iceland, but it is still warmer than many visitors expect it to be. 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 milder temperatures, so from time to time, the snow will melt. February is an absolutely ideal month for those who are eager to see the Northern Lights, explore ice caves, try out some winter activities or enjoy the geothermal pools.
Weather in February in Iceland
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!
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. 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.
Daylight in February in Iceland
The difference in the length of daylight between the first and the last day of February is quite impressive. We gain more than 6 minutes of daylight every single day. 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.
Good to know before visiting Iceland in February
- February is the perfect Ice Cave month, make sure to book in advance though it is very popular.
- Bathing in a hot spring ora 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.
- Icelandic horses grow a surprising amount of hair during wintertime and in February they are looking like real furballs. Don’t be fooled it is still the same horse just cuter!
- 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.
What to wear in February in Iceland
February, like most months in Iceland, are is the month to dress in layers. You might hear this for every month but for February it is especially true. 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
Best things to see in February in Iceland
The Northern Lights
February is the perfect time to see the Northern Lights, the lights are known to be strong at this time and we are offering all of our Northern Light Tours, so the options are endless.
Harpa Musical Hall light up in the night time
Harpa Musical Hall, downtown Reykjavík is an architectural bucket list item and the amazing light show at the front of the building is a fantastic wintertime show. Just make sure you walk past it after dinner. You will be amazed!
If you travel to Iceland in winter you are likely to catch the island at its Winter Wonderland mode, this means frozen waterfalls, snowy mountains, and cold colored 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. Tour taking you to see frozen waterfalls. They are well worth it!
Icelandic Horses during their Full Fur Mode
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 and changed in accordance with the island. In winter they grow their fur to the max, making them look like complete fur balls, just about the cutest thing out there. This your are going to have to see!
The best things to do in February in Iceland
February is the ultimate winter month. The nights are still longer than the days which gives you a very high chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
Winter stroll in Downtown Reykjavík
Winter cold in Downtown Reykjavík is no problem with its endless cafés and bars to jump in for some Gluehwein or hot cocoa. There are plenty of shops and interesting places to visit and if the weather is bad even a few very interesting museums close to each other to wait the storm out. For example:
- The Penis Museum
- Safna húsið e. The Culture House
- Reykjavík Art Museum Hafnarhús
The capital of the North is an adventure on its own. The colorful 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 enjoy life.
Go to a swimming pool and relax in a hot tub
Not only a super nice and relaxing activity but also cheap!
The local swimming pools are all around and you pay max 900 ISK / 8$.
Tours to do in Iceland in February
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.
Naturally, winter activities like snowmobiling and glacier hiking are the best things to do in February, but you can also go for the sightseeing tours and organized multi-day tours around the country.
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.
Snorkeling or diving between the continents is also possible in winter because the water in Silfra fissure never freezes. The tour operators provide thick drysuits 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
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-long 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.
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 colors, these delightful confections are usually light in texture, and filled with both jam and whipped cream.
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 they’re all similarity ends! There are no ghostly themes, pumpkin lanterns, or pagan undertones, and ghoulish Öskudagur costumes are very rarely seen.
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 the 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 I 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 here.
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