A strange and peaceful lull has come over Iceland in February. While winter still embraces the island with its picturesque wonderland, the festive season crowds have mostly departed, resulting in fewer extreme factors like traffic and prices. However, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy in Iceland during February.
This is why traveling to Iceland in February holds many benefits for those who want to explore the country on a budget. Here’s what you can look forward to when visiting Iceland in February.
Is February a Good Time to Go to Iceland?
Even though we think February is one of the best times to visit Iceland, everything has its pros and cons - even February in Iceland. So, if you’re still sitting on the fence regarding a visit to the island during February, this handy pros and cons overview might help you make your decision:
The weather might be harsher than during the summer months in Iceland, but it’s the weather conditions that allow for certain activities such as exploring the ice caves, and skiing.
It’s not just the weather conditions that are conducive to some big attractions here on the island. Whilst the dwindling daylight hours can be a challenge when it comes to creating a trip itinerary, it means that the chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland in February are very good.
As we already mentioned, most of the festive crowd has left the island, and you’ll definitely feel the difference when walking down Laugavegur Street, trying to book accommodation, or visiting one of the local attractions where you no longer need to crane your neck to get a glimpse of it.
With no more festive season crowds to charge sky-high rates for, you’ll find that prices have dramatically dropped all over the country.
February in Iceland is a little bit like getting winter on its best behavior. You still get the magical winter wonderland, but without having to struggle through a mere 4 hours of daylight each day like during December and January in Iceland.
A winter wonderland and winter activities can only be created by pretty harsh winter weather, so you’ll need to be prepared for it. It is not the time to plan a trip if you’re someone who brings a blanket along to combat the aircon at the cinema.
Whilst you might be able to see the Northern Lights in Iceland in February, you will not be able to experience another of Iceland’s famous phenomenons; the Midnight Sun. February in Iceland doesn’t have nearly enough daylight hours to make this possible.
A road trip during this time can be challenging for a variety of reasons. The weather can turn the most well-maintained paved road into a bit of a nightmare to navigate. That’s not even to mention the sudden road closures that can derail a trip itinerary if you’re not careful.
And if you’ve got your heart set on exploring certain parts of the island such as the Westfjords or the Highlands, you may be left thoroughly disappointed as many roads in these regions are actually closed during the colder months every year.
If part of your motivation to come and visit Iceland is our wildlife, such as the Puffins or certain migratory species of whale, going to Iceland in February is definitely not a good idea. The Iceland Puffins only call the island home during their breeding season (May to August), and whale season is only between April and September.
The Weather in Iceland in February
As we already touched on, winter weather in Iceland is not to be trifled with, but if you come prepared you’ll be able to enjoy all the things those very conditions make possible. Here’s what you can expect from the various weather elements during your February trip to Iceland:
How Cold is Iceland in February?
Although you’ll still be dealing with cold, winter temperatures, you’ll be glad to know that you won’t have to deal with those below 0 averages all throughout the day anymore. The temperature in Iceland in February ranges between -2 and 3 degrees Celsius, and the average temperature in Iceland in February tends to hover around the 0-degree mark.
Daylight Hours in Iceland in February
Daylight hours are already a far cry from the mere 4 hours one needs to deal with during mid-winter, and you’ll now have at least 7 hours of daylight each day to play around with when planning your trip itinerary.
Does it Snow in Iceland in February?
Absolutely. You are guaranteed to experience snowfall during your trip in February, and you’ll be met with a blanket of snow all across the landscape upon arrival on the island. Whether you’ll need to deal with a blizzard during your time on the island is something that we won’t be able to tell you, though, and you’ll have to keep an eye on the weather forecast.
Rainfall in Iceland During February
February is considered to be one of the wettest months in Iceland, so you’ll need to prep yourself for lots of rain. The average rainfall throughout the month is roughly 83 millimeters, which they’ve worked out equates to about 16 days of rain.
How Windy is it in Iceland in February?
The Iceland winds are pretty legendary when it comes to their strength. They’ve been known to rip car doors straight off their hinges mid-winter. Although February in Iceland is no longer mid-winter, you’ll still need to contend with some pretty hectic winds during this time. The average wind speed in the month of February is 25 kilometers per hour.
The Best Things to Do in Iceland in February
As we already mentioned, you will find plenty of things to do in Iceland in February. In fact, some activities and attractions can only be seen and experienced during the colder winter months. Here are a few things we suggest you add to your trip itinerary:
Visit Our Waterfalls
Iceland has over 10,000 waterfalls, so the odds of you stopping by each and every one is next to nothing. But there are definitely a few that can’t be missed. Visiting the waterfalls during the winter months is quite the experience.
Some still gush over cliffs, but now sport long, glistening tentacles of ice crawling over the cliff edge. Others look like they’ve completely been frozen in time. If you would like to check out the winter waterfall situation here on the island, the following should be on your trip itinerary:
Take a Dip in a Hot Spring
Hot springs can be found all across the island. This is due to all the volcanic activity heating up the underground water supply.
Whilst some of these hot springs can still be found in their original and natural states, others have been used to create geothermal pools. Obviously, you will find way more amenities at the geothermal pool sites than out there in the wild with the natural hot springs, so, therefore, you’ll be charged an entrance fee.
Even though it might sound counterintuitive, taking a dip in a hot spring is a much-loved activity here on the island during the winter months because of the contrast between the hot water and the intense cold outside. If soaking your stress away in one of these sounds like something you’d like to do, the following hot springs come highly recommended:
Go Horseback Riding
When the roads are icy and get tricky to navigate, probably one of the best ways to explore the island is on horseback. You’ll find horse farms and horseback riding tours all across Iceland, and this is because we actually boast our own breed of horse. They are called Icelandic Horses (very imaginative, we know), and they have become quite famous for their unique looks and abilities.
They are pony-like in stature (even when full-grown) and when you go horseback riding during the wintertime, you’ll see that they’ve got a thick, fluffy coat to protect them against the harsher weather conditions. They are also known for their friendly nature and can perform an extra gait called the tölt.
Explore the Ice Caves
This is one of the activities here on the island that is actually made possible by the colder weather. In fact, most ice caves are closed throughout the rest of the year due to safety concerns (ice melts when it gets warm, remember?)
Exploring an ice cave in Iceland feels almost otherworldly. Walking through glossy, bright blue, yet transparent walls streaked with the black ash of volcanic eruptions of centuries ago is an experience one struggles to describe to people.
Hike a Glacier
Hiking a glacier in Iceland is an activity that can be done all year round, but it definitely has a bit of a different feel during the winter months. It’s definitely one of those activities that make you marvel at the incredible power of nature. Crunching your way across the snow, fully knowing that this is not land, but a gigantic, moving body of ice is a humbling experience. Even more so when hiking Vatnajökull (the largest glacier in all of Europe).
Snorkel or Dive the Silfra Fissure
This is yet another activity here on the island that may seem counterintuitive to do during the winter season, but diving or snorkeling the Silfra Fissure is actually open all year round since you’ll be wearing a dry suit irrespective of the season.
This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, since you’ll have the opportunity to literally lie suspended between two continents. The Silfra Fissure is a tear (fissure) in the earth where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates push apart.
This tear has since filled up with crystal clear glacial water that allows for visibility up to 120 meters! Lying, suspended between the two continents in the water is one of the most peaceful and surreal experiences you’ll ever have.
Just keep in mind that to dive the Silfra, you’ll need to have a valid diving license with you and have sufficient experience underneath your belt. Snorkeling the Silfra is open to all though.
Visit Our Museums
Iceland has some of the most interesting museums you’ll ever find. And whilst it’s always a nice option on the days the weather isn’t treating you very kindly, we have so many amazing museums on the island that we highly recommend you set aside at least a few days to visit some of the most popular ones like:
Turn Yourself Into a Viking
We don’t want you to method-act your way into Icelandic jail by plundering and raiding shops, but the island is probably the best place to live out your Viking dreams.
You can dress up in traditional garb and accessories (including Viking “weapons”), and have your portrait taken at Mink Studios by one of the most renowned photographers in the country that used to work on the set of Game of Thrones. Or you can go sailing on an authentic Viking ship. Another option is to visit the Viking village, walk the streets with your fellow Vikings and enjoy a real Viking feast.
Explore the Capital City
It’s always a good idea to spend some time in Reykjavik in February and explore everything the capital city has to offer. From shopping in our famous Laugavegur Street to marveling at our amazing architecture such as Hallgrimskirkja, and enjoying some local cuisine in one of the many restaurants around town – Reykjavik is a very enjoyable day out.
And if you would like to combine stuffing your face with delicious food and craft beer whilst exploring the city with a knowledgeable guide by your side, then consider going on the Reykjavik Food Walk – it comes highly recommended.
Skiing is a much-loved activity here on the island, and Iceland actually has quite a name for the sport internationally. We host quite a few international competitions and events that skiers all across the world come to attend, such as the Fossavatnsgangan. But don’t worry, you don’t need to be a pro to hit the slopes, our ski resorts cater to all ages and skill levels.
Take a Stroll on a Black Sand Beach
The black sand beaches in Iceland are also the result of all the volcanic activity here on the island. Taking a stroll on one of these beaches can be quite the experience since you have the ocean, interesting rock formations, huge black basalt cliffs, and much more to discover here.
Some of our most popular black sand beach destinations are Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach with kilometers of outstretched beach and Diamond Beach where hundreds of pieces of ice that wash ashore glisten in the sun like diamonds.
Visit Our National Parks
We have three national parks here in Iceland: Vatnajökull National Park, Thingvellir National Park, and Snæfellsjökull National Park. These parks are not just go-to places for incredible views and majestic Iceland landscapes, but each holds various attractions and activities of their own.
Driving in Iceland in February
As we already mentioned, driving in Iceland in February can be a bit tricky. The winter weather can really create havoc on the Iceland roads – especially if you’re not used to driving in those types of conditions. It’s also the same weather conditions that can be responsible for sudden road closures, which can really mess up your plans if you don’t have a flexible trip itinerary.
If you intend to take that road trip around the country, you’ll also need to keep in mind that certain roads/routes are closed during the colder months of the year, especially in the Westfjords and the Highlands. We also recommend that you opt for a 4x4 vehicle when driving in Iceland in February, even if you won’t be able to drive around the F-roads in Iceland.
You’ll also need to have a chat with your rental agent about seasonal accessories and gadgets such as snow tires to make driving life a bit easier during your trip. You might also want to look into the various insurance options since you’ll be dealing with additional risks during the winter season.
Icelandic Festivals and Events in February
Icelanders don’t need an excuse to celebrate, and we have plenty of festivities happening in the month of February. Here are a few events you might consider adding to your social calendar whilst on the island:
Winter Lights Festival
The Winter Lights Festival is held in the capital city of Reykjavik. The festival is celebrated at various venues all across the capital, where a variety of light installations lights up the festivities at the sites.
Reykjavik’s Food & Fun Festival
The Reykjavik Food & Fun Festival is fun for the whole family and is a must-attend event if you consider yourself a bit of a foodie. Here you will get the opportunity to get a taste of some of the best local cuisine made by the chefs of the most famous local restaurants.
What to Pack for Iceland in February
We understand that packing clothes for Iceland in February can be nerve-wracking for some. Especially in the wintertime, when it can be tempting to pack your entire wardrobe in an attempt to keep the winter cold at bay. But this won’t be necessary at all.
To help you with what to wear in Iceland in February, and pack sensibly (and within flight restrictions) for your trip, we created this handy packing list for Iceland that you can use as a guide. Just remember to pack the following items for your trip to the island in February:
Waterproof Hiking Boots
Long Winter Coat
Iceland in February; the Perfect Shoulder Month for a Visit to the Island
Now that you know what Iceland is like in February and what there is to do in Iceland in February, it’s time to start planning that trip. Our recommendation will always be to rent a car in Iceland and properly explore the island via road trip.
If you stick to a main route such as the Golden Circle, the road conditions will be some of the best you’ll find during the winter season, and you’ll get to experience some of the most popular attractions and activities on the island. But whichever direction you decide to take, February is the perfect time to have a budget-friendly trip through our winter wonderland.