It is no secret, Iceland is one of the best places to visit any time of the year
. Even after having traveled to Iceland
, you will find yourself tempted to return. Most people imagine Iceland in February to be unpleasant because of the winter conditions. This is far from the truth; Iceland is not Siberia.
Visiting Iceland in winter can turn out to be the most wonderful experience, though most people do not get to experience this. It is usually assumed that the temperatures here are sub-zero coupled with endlessly dark days. You can experience so much in winter ranging from the Northern lights display, snowy landscapes to many other things that a regular season does not offer.
Iceland in February has shorter days, but the little light you get is beautiful. The sun does not reach a very high positions in the sky, so the whole day is like a beautiful twilight zone with a warm friendly glow covering the whole country. The soft light makes the environment perfect for photography. It will be dark until late morning, but life goes on as usual before the sun rises, there is always something going on.
In winter, the weather gets more unpredictable, a few clicks from the unpredictable weather all year round. A snowstorm can turn to sunshine within minutes. You will be in place to witness all the emotions of Iceland in one visit. Because of this, it is advisable to prepare and carry the right clothing to suit the sudden changes in the weather.
Iceland is a great place to visit, even in February. It is not as insanely cold as it is commonly though of. Even though the landscape will be covered with snow in winter, it is just as cold as winter in other parts of the world. Since it is positioned in line with the Gulf Stream, Iceland is relatively temperate; you will find New York colder!
A typical view of Iceland in February. Photo by Damian
- Warm clothes: The most important thing to remember as you pack for the trip is water/wind proof layers, warmth and comfort. Due to the sudden changes in the Iceland winter weather, you can experience all the four seasons in a single day, so carry a few clothes for the other warmer climates apart from the bulky sub-zero winter clothing. If the warm clothes are knee length, you will keep much of your body covered for a better experience. Pack in some scarfs, hat, gloves, and all the warm clothes you need.
- Layers: wear your normal thermals under everything. Bring some fleece leggings, wool sweater, wool socks, long sleeved layering, and don’t forget to pack some jeans.
- Shoes: bring some waterproof walking boots with great traction and comfort. You also need warm, waterproof snow boots for freedom when you want to explore the deep snow.
- Swimsuit: You probably think this is a misplaced item. There are hundreds of volcanic hot springs in Iceland for a hot swim even in winter. The only time you will be freezing is the few second when changing into the swimwear.
- Sunglasses: even the few hours of sun in February requires sunglasses. It can shine right into your eyes when it does so arm yourself with quality shades.
- Day bag: since you will be moving around, you will need a comfortable and functional bag to carry your camera, water and other small items you need for trips or tours.
- Car charger: You will need this for when your phone or camera goes off. The cold is known to drain the charger faster than you are used to.
- Camera: This is one thing you should never travel without.
gives a more detailed look into what to pack.
A view of Iceland in February. Photo by Marc
Your trip to Iceland will not be without plenty of memorable activities
for the thrill seeker and families. Here are some of the places to visit and things to do to make your tour complete:
- See the Orcas: Around February, you will get the opportunity to watch an orca feeding frenzy. There are whale watching boat trips that will take you in search of orca. Around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, where the overwintering herring gather, there is a high chance of witnessing the feeding. This attracts killer whales, seabirds, and dolphins. The expert guides will help you distinguish the large sea animals in a frenzy.
- Super jeep tour: Break from the norm of touring Iceland in a bus the way other tourists do. Rent a super jeep that will allow you to visit places that other vehicles cannot. Iceland has some extreme beauty hidden in difficult-to-reach places hence the need for this jeep.
- Visit caves: There is so much to see below the earth’s surface. Iceland has several stunning caves worth exploring. Take a guided tour to the underground world and create memories.
- Reykjavik Winter lights festivals: From 1-4 February, prepare for the annual event that usually stimulates the city in the mid of winter.After long periods of darkness, get to celebrate growing light during this festival. It is a mixture of industry, art, sports, history, environment, and culture. The event is open to all free of charge.
- Glacier hiking: With your hiking shoes on and ice crampons in place, you are ready to go glacier hiking. Experience walking on glaciers created thousands of years ago with a remarkable view. Your trip to Iceland is not complete without walking on the glaciers.
- Snowmobiling on glaciers: Iceland has one of the largest glaciers in Europe, providing adequate ground for snowmobiling. It is extremely fun riding these machines on the untouched glaciers. There is some very magnificent scenery to take in as you fly by.
- Ice caving:Enjoy the mesmerizing ice caves with different colors both in the snow and ice. There is so much nature has to offer to your tour of Iceland. You can even combine ice caving with the hunt for the northern lights for more fun.
- Enjoy an exotic bath: There are countless hot springs and geothermal pools in Iceland, including the famous Blue Lagoon
. There are many popular hot springs within easy access for a quick dive in. However, if you want a more secluded hot spring, the ones in the highlands are worth visiting for a warm bath in the cold winter. Be sure to book your hotel in advance
- Sail on glacier lagoon: When you take a sailing tour on a glacial lagoon, you will experience sailing among icebergs. It is very thrilling, and the scenery is breathtaking. Something you do not want to miss out on.
- Dive or snorkel: It is fun diving or going snorkeling between two continents. Under the water, you will see the separation between the two tectonic plates. There is no experience like this anywhere in the whole world.
- Northern lights: Get the chance to view the mesmerizing yet unpredictable Northern Lights
while in Iceland. The experience is indescribably awesome, and if you are lucky, you will see the lights dancing across the sky on a clear day in colors ranging from white to green to pink and purple. If you spend at least a week in Iceland, your chances of watching the lights increases.
Since most tours will only push you till Reykjavik, you will still be able to see the amazing Northern Lights from this city. However, if your tour does not fill your eyes with the wonderful dancing lights across the sky, don’t fret, there is more to your tour, the lights are just but an icing on your tour cake. You can drive to the nearby Perlan (The Perl). You can also drive for 5-10 minutes to the secluded Grotta Lighthouse, which darker for a better view.
The beach at Stokksnes at the end of winter in Iceland. Photo by Kris
Consider booking a tour
and your accommodation
early in your stay to get the best chance to see the aurora borealis. They can let you stay another night if at first, you do not see the amazing lights. Before booking, it is advisable to check the forecast, do some of your research for the nights with better chances of seeing the lights. Also, consider checking about the nights with cloud free skies. Bonus: Take a Game of Thrones tour in Iceland
If you are looking forward to seeing wildlife, then Iceland in February is not the best time. You will not even see the popular puffins since they fly out to warmer places. You may see some whales, though it is not common in this season. Besides, you will not be comfortable on a boat for long hours in winter. Let this not discourage you; there are so many activities to keep your visit interesting in February.
The village-like capital Reykjavik may just be the cutest you’ve ever visited. Its center is festively decorated around the holidays. It is full of around two or three story buildings with snowy walls and roofs making them look beautiful. Outside, the city you will see sparse populations spread out in villages. This allows for the perfect winter view without the obstruction of tall modern buildings. The horses of Iceland curdle together for warmth, a sight to behold. Take pictures of the snow covered churches that stand in isolation around the populated areas.
Iceland in February may be darker and colder than the rest of the year, but you will not be disappointed for having visited this amazing country. The one thing you should not forget to carry is a very large memory card. Carry more if you can and shoot at everything you can see, it is fun, and there are so many things to carry back home in photos.
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