Updated: Jan 16
Although technically still winter, most of the festive season crowds have gone back home. The daylight hours have already significantly increased since mid-winter, too. This means that you can experience longer daylight hours whilst exploring winter attractions. And all of this, at way more affordable prices during February in Iceland.
But before you make your final decision, read this thorough guide into what you can expect when visiting Iceland in February. This way, you'll to see if Feb is the right fit for you.
Why Spend February in Iceland?
There are a wide variety of reasons why many opt for a trip to Iceland in February. But like with most things in life, this too has its pros and cons. We created this nifty overview that might give you a better idea of whether going to Iceland in February should be something to consider:
The colder Iceland weather makes certain attractions and activities possible. The most typical ones are exploring the ice caves and going skiing.
Daylight hours have already drastically started increasing since mid-winter. Still, you’re practically guaranteed to experience the Northern Lights phenomenon in Iceland in February. Just ensure that you get away from the bright city lights.
You don’t have to deal with the summer peak season or festive crowds. This means that you no longer need to compete for a view of an attraction when renting a vehicle or just finding a place to sleep for the night.
With the peak season crowds in your rearview mirror, so are the peak season prices. This means that you’ll be able to get more bang for your buck according to your budget.
You almost get the best of both worlds when traveling to Iceland in February. You no longer need to deal with just 4 hours of daylight each day. Still, you will get to experience the winter wonderland that Iceland turns into during the colder months.
The winter weather can be challenging for most. Luckily, temperatures have already started to rise from mid-winter. Yet, it is still cold, and you need to deal with harsh winter elements such as snow, rain, and wind.
Daylight hours have already drastically started increasing since mid-winter. Sadly, it’s still not nearly enough for you to experience a Midnight Sun. If this is on your Icelandic bucket list, you might want to postpone your trip ‘till the summer.
If your heart is set on road-tripping around the island, this might not be the best time for you to visit. The weather causes sudden road closures, but certain regions and roads are generally closed during the colder months. Especially when it comes to the Highlands and the Westfjords.
If you'll visit Iceland for the legendary Iceland Puffins or spotting whales, you might also have to rethink a February trip. The Puffins only come to the island during the breeding season (May to August). Likewise, the whale season in Iceland is considered to be from April to September, when migratory whales also make Iceland their home.
The Weather in February
The Iceland weather in February is still the typical winter weather you get on the island. You will need to deal with some pretty harsh elements such as snow, rain, and those legendary Iceland winds. These gusts have been known to literally blow off doors from cars! The temperature ranges between -2 and 3 degrees Celsius, but unlike mid-winter, the average temperature is no longer below 0.
There has always been this misconception that for some strange reason Reykjavík is warmer than the rest of the island. But this is because the buildings of the capital city offer some form of shelter against the harsh winter elements raging beyond its borders, making it feel slightly warmer.
For all intents and purposes, Reykjavík in February is exactly the same weather and temperature as on the rest of the island. Daylight hours in Iceland in February have already dramatically increased from 4 hours mid-winter to 7 hours each day.
Packing List for February in Iceland
Because of the colder and harsher winter conditions that February in Iceland can bring your way, many tend to over pack. This is why we’ve created this handy packing list for you to use as a guide:
Long, waterproof coat
Waterproof hiking boots (irrespective of whether you’re going hiking or not)
Fleece/woolen jersey. Just take one or two as you definitely want to buy a few of those cute and comfortable authentically Icelandic woolen jerseys.
T-shirts & Long-sleeved shirts
Warm hat (beanies work really well)
Warm woolen socks
Bathing suits (for visits to the hot springs)
Quick-drying towel (carrying around wet things during the wintertime in Iceland is a big no-no)
Flip-flops (for the hot springs as well as public changing rooms)
Toiletries & medication (just remember to check flight restrictions so you don’t need to leave anything behind at the airport)
Electronic devices: chargers, cables, a power bank, an adaptor, etc.
Camping during February in Iceland
Just like most places in the world, camping isn’t considered the thing to do during the colder months in Iceland. For that reason, certain campsites are closed during this time. But the reason why camping is still a preferred method of accommodation during a winter trip is because of its affordability factor.
And there is more than one way of going camping than just pitching a tent and holding thumbs that you don’t get blown away sometime during the night. By renting a campervan, you will have sorted out both your transport and accommodation all in one go and be able to camp in comfort. If you want to save even more on accommodation costs, purchase the Camping Card for just €159.
This card will give 2 adults and up to 4 children access to various campsites across the country for 28 nights. If you’re wondering whether this will be worth your while, simply work out how much you will need to spend. Just check on the number of people in your family/group and the average cost of a campsite at $10-$20 per person per night.
As we’ve already mentioned, certain campsites are closed during the winter months. That includes some of the campsites the Camping Card will give you access to. So just double-check before you plan an entire itinerary around accommodation that’s not even available during that time. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to campsites in Iceland, these are some of the ones that come highly recommended:
Driving in February in Iceland
We will always recommend a road trip to those who really want to explore the island properly and experience everything it has to offer. Road-tripping can become tricky during the winter months, though. That's due to sudden road closures and difficult driving conditions, we still believe it’s worth giving it a shot.
To road trip successfully during the colder months, you’ll need to have a chat with your rental agent. Do ask about any extras, gadgets, and accessories you may need. Also, about which vehicle to use on your planned routes (certain roads are only accessible via 4x4).
You will also need to have a flexible itinerary and give yourself sufficient time for those sudden road closures. Even though some of these must be slightly adjusted due to certain regions and roads being closed during this time, the following still remain the most popular road trip routes on the island:
Other Things to do When Spending February in Iceland
February weather might still be cold, but when it comes to all the things happening and that you can see and do on the island – Iceland is hot, hot, hot! The following are some of the things you might want to consider adding to your Iceland in February itinerary:
Visit one of the 10 000 waterfalls in Iceland
Soak in one of the Iceland hot springs
Feast on local cuisine whilst exploring the capital city on the Reykjavik Food Walk
Become a Viking (even if it is just temporarily) at MINK
Go on a Northern Lights Tour
Go horseback riding on an authentic Icelandic horse
Take a walk on one of Iceland’s black sand beaches
Go skiing & snowboarding
Visit volcanoes (whether active or dormant)
Visit the National Parks of Iceland, including Thingvellir National Park
Test your photography skills and take a photo of an erupting geyser
Snorkel or dive the infamous Silfra Fissure
Attend festivals or events such as The Winter Lights Festival
Explore the Iceland ice caves
Visit interesting museums such as the Icelandic Phallological Museum
Hike an Iceland glacier
Helpful Tips for Spending February in Iceland
Is this your first trip to the island or the first time you’ll be spending February in Iceland? Then the following tips and advice will help you have the best trip ever!
Put Your Safety and Well-being First
You don’t have to go stand in the pouring rain at Geysir just because your itinerary says so. Nor do you want to put yourself in harm’s way by attempting to drive in 40+ km/h winds or risk getting stuck in the snow. There are ways to avoid these types of situations altogether. Always keep a close eye on the Iceland weather forecasts as well as the Iceland road conditions.
Dress in Layers
Yes, it is cold outside, but inside your car it can be quite toasty. And, yes, it may be raining outside, but inside the shops, it’s pretty dry and cozy. And then there’s also the matter of the local saying being that “you can experience all four seasons in one day in Iceland”.
The best way to deal with these differences and combat the “four seasons in one day” is by always dressing in layers. That way, you’ll always be able to take something off or put something on if and when necessary.
Keep Your Waterproof Gear Close
A raincoat, waterproof jacket, waterproof pants, and hiker boots don’t just come in handy when it’s raining. They are absolute lifesavers when it comes to visiting waterfalls with mist and spray blowing everywhere! And, of course, when walking in snowy sludge in the cities.
Pass the Baton to the Pros
There are many ways to DIY your own Northern Lights hunt. But you need to remember that this phenomenon only occurs under specific conditions. It is easy for the locals and experienced guides to know exactly when and where this magical display of lights will appear.
For you to figure it out is a different story. That’s why we always recommend leaving this to the experts and booking a spot on a Northern Lights tour. It's better than wasting precious trip time searching for a needle in a haystack that you don’t understand.
February in Iceland: the Perfect Combo
Between the winter wonderland vibe and the increased daylight hours, you have the perfect combo for the most beautiful and adventure-filled trip ever.
From the things to do to the unique places to visit in Iceland in February and the once-in-a-lifetime phenomena. All these experiences are awaiting you on the island! You will find plenty to create a jam-packed itinerary. So plan that trip, book that flight, rent that campervan in Iceland and start cruising around the island!