I‘ll just come right out and say it. Iceland is cold in February. There’s just no getting around it. But it’s not as chilly as you might think. The warming waters of the Gulf Stream surround the island and create a small microclimate. So while temperatures do hover around the freezing point during the whole month, you won’t find a frozen wasteland of subzero temperatures or people being frozen in place as soon as they step outside. Unless of course, you’re thinking in Celsius. In that case, the mercury reading on the thermometer does sometimes dip below zero. February is actually a really lovely time of year and a great month to visit Iceland for a road trip. Frozen and semi-frozen waterfalls like Gullfoss and Godafoss create part of an enchanting winter landscape.
If you’re thinking about planning a trip to Iceland, February could be the perfect month to visit. Prices are low on everything from car rental to accommodation. You’ve got exciting winter activities like glacier hikes on Skaftafell or Northern Lights excursions. Snow blankets for ground, in effect making it look like a magical Winter Wonderland or a scene from a snow globe. It’s a really enchanting time of year and is ideal for a vacation.
February Temperatures in Iceland
All right, get out your mittens, warmest wool socks, and some thermal underwear. We’re about to talk temperatures in Iceland in February. Keep in mind that these are the averages in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. You’ll find variations depending on where you go on the island. Obviously, the North and places with a higher elevation will likely be cold. The South Coast, especially near Vík, is the warmest place in Iceland. The average high only gets up to around 37.4 ºF (3 ºC). Lows get down to about 28.4 ºF (-2 ºC). You will definitely need to bundle up and dress in warm layers.
- Average February High in Reykjavik: 37.4 ºF (3 ºC)
- Average February Low in Reykjavik: 28.4 ºF (-2 ºC)
Snowfall and Other Precipitation
You’ve got a pretty high chance of experiencing precipitation in Iceland in February. After October, it’s one of the country’s wettest months. And because temperatures fluctuate above and below 32 ºF (0 ºC), you’re going to get a mix of weather. Rain, hail, sleet, and snow are all possible during this time. And due to the unpredictability of the climate, you might even experience all of them in one afternoon. My best advice is to be prepared for anything and be sure to pack waterproof clothing in addition to your base layers and insulating layers. Rainfall for the month is around 1.5 inches (3.8 cm), and you can expect lots of light, freezing rain.
- Average February Rainfall in Reykjavik: 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) over 13 days.
Daylight Hours in Iceland in February
I would recommend consulting timeanddate.com for the specific sunrise and sunset times during the dates of your trip. Because we’ve moved past December’s winter solstice and are slowly creeping towards June’s summer solstice, the hours of daily sunshine can vary widely. Let me explain. At the beginning of the month, The sun rises relatively late, around 10 a.m. toward the end of the month we’ve gained enough minutes of daily sunshine that it’s now rising close to 8:30 a.m. In the evening, it’s not so drastic. Close to February 1st, the sun sets at around a quarter after five. Around the 28th of the month, it’s more like quarter to seven in the evening. All of this means that we start the month with around seven hours of daily sunlight and by the end, we’re getting around ten hours.
- February 1st: Sunrise at 10:09 a.m. | Sunset at 5:14 p.m.
- February 15th: Sunrise 9:24 a.m. | Sunset at 6 p.m.
- February 28th: Sunrise at 8:39 a.m. | Sunset at 6:42 p.m.
A Note About Civil Twilight
One of the things that prevents people from coming to Iceland for a winter vacation is that they think it will be dark all the time. This is not entirely accurate. If you look at the beginning of February, for example, you’d have around seven hours between sunrise and sunset. This doesn’t mean that it’s pitch black the rest of the time! Thanks to something called civil twilight, there actually starts to be some light starting just after 9 a.m. The sun will start making its way toward the horizon about an hour before sunrise. This means that it illuminates the sky during what is known as dawn. It hasn’t quite made its appearance yet, but you definitely have ever-increasing amounts of light.
Use this to your advantage in order to squeeze the most amount of hours out of your day. The same thing happens at dusk. Even though the sun sets at the beginning of February after 5 p.m., civil twilight lasts past 6 p.m. Towards the end of the month, civil twilight starts 7:51 a.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m. respectively. If you’re someone who doesn’t like driving in the dark, this may not be an issue in February if you time things right.
Winter Driving in Iceland
I know this is an article about February’s weather in Iceland, but I feel like I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t at least mention driving conditions during this time of year. Due to the weather, roads are slick and icy and can be quite dangerous. Depending on fog, snowfall, or even hail, your visibility can be quite low. You’ll need to take necessary, basic driving precautions such as giving yourself plenty of time to arrive, constantly checking the weather forecast at en.vedur.is for storms and other inclement conditions, and generally play it safe. Your rental vehicle should already be outfitted with snow tires, as car rental companies already know the risks that come during this season.
Iceland’s February Weather, Temperature and Daylight Hours
Planning your perfect vacation to Iceland in February is an exciting undertaking. The weather can have a tremendous impact on your trip. It’s important to know what to expect and how to best prepare. Be sure to check out our article on what to pack for Iceland in the winter as it will surely provide you with some tips and useful information. The amount of snow you encounter, how cold it gets and the number of daylight hours you have for activities, sightseeing, and exploring will change day to day. Be ready to go with the flow, be flexible, and enjoy your trip of a lifetime.