Thomas Hobbes said of life that it was “nasty, brutish, and short.” He may as well have been talking about February in Iceland, however; February is dark and it is cold and it is relatively short, but it is also a good time to view the northern lights and to avoid large crowds – which is a thing not to be discounted.
In the words of another profound philosopher: “Nobody goes there anymore, there are too many people there.” (Yogi Berra)
All humorous digressions aside, if you’re visiting Iceland in February, What’s On has a handful of recommendations.
Combine the Golden Circle with a Visit to a Lagoon or a Spa
The Golden Circle, some have claimed, is an indispensable part of any trip to Iceland. Essentially a scenic loop that combines the Geysir hot spring area, the Gullfoss waterfall, and the parliamentary plains of Þingvellir, the Golden Circle is the most popular day tour in Iceland. Those who want to make a day of it (ca. 10 hours), can integrate yet another element to the tour by visiting a lagoon or a spa.
Popular lagoons and spas include the Secret Lagoon: a natural hot spring near Flúðir, within the Golden Circle area (proprietor’s claim that it is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland); Laugavatn Fontana, geothermal baths where patrons can soak in a natural pool, listen to the bubbling hot spring in the steam rooms, or take a dip in the refreshing lake; and, of course, the Blue Lagoon: Iceland’s most famous “luxury spa.”
We recommend travelling with a small group (on a minibus). Some tours include lunch at farms, i.e. Friðheimar and Farmers Bistro etc.
See the Northern lights in February in Iceland
Mankind generally, and the Icelanders specifically, exercise no dominion over the Northern Lights. They are still a wholly “natural phenomena” that are impossible to guarantee – no matter your standing in society or the extent of your credit. To see the lights, three things must occur simultaneously: a solar storm, darkness, and a clear sky. This is not at all like waiting for Beyoncé, Michelle, and Kelly to reunite (#Destiny’sChild); it happens with some regularity.
If you‘re interested in seeing the northern lights, or the Aurora Borealis (a term coined by Galileo in 1619, from the Roman goddess of the dawn and the Greek name for the north wind), there are plenty of private tours available. We recommend travelling in small groups (on jeeps or a minibus).
- Most all minibus/jeep tours include hot chocolate and pastries.
- Tours are up to 4-5 hours long.
- Some of them include photos of you with the northern lights in the background.
- The tours don’t run unless it’s worth going for a hunt!
- Hunting down northern lights is just like going fishing; sometimes you’re lucky, sometimes you aren’t.
Visit Lava Caves
There are lava lamps. Man-made devices that generate light. And then there are lava caves. Naturally occurring phenomena that are notoriously poorly lit. While lava lamps are no longer fashionable (as far as we know), lava caves remain popular among visitors to Iceland. Lava caves can be found in many places around Iceland, both big and small, and are a fun activity for the entire family. Some lava caves are situated at only a 30-minutes drive from Reykjavík.
The Raufarhólshellir lava cave is always a popular choice. The tour is a total of three hours, with approximately one hour spent inside the cave.
Penetrate an Ice Cave
If lava caves aren’t your thing, ice caves may be just right.
We’ve probably perused dozens of ice-cave tour descriptions, most of which employ adjectives like “unforgettable,” “fantastic,” “miraculous,” while often adding something about “incredible photo opportunities,” as well.
While we think all of that is fine, and true, in some sense, we prefer dispensing with the hyperbolic descriptions and allowing you, the traveller, to frame your experiences in your own words.
As far as ice caves are concerned, visiting the crystal blue ice cave near Jökulsárlón is a popular choice among travellers. Personally, we recommend booking a room close to the location, as driving from Reykjavík to Jökulsárlón takes approximately six hours, which means that returning to Reykjavík the same day would be a total 12-hour drive. We highly recommend not to do such a thing.
There is also an ice cave close to Vík, which allows for the possibility of a day-tour from Reykjavík. The drive is three hours from Reykjavík to the meeting point. The tour is also available with transfer from Reykjavík, including stops on the south coast.
Take a Hike on a Glacier
Just like 10% of all Icelanders will publish a book in their lifetime, glaciers account for approximately 10% of Iceland’s total area (actually, closer to 11%). Given how quickly Iceland’s glaciers are receding, it is, perhaps, wise to take a hike on a glacier while you still have a chance.
A hike on the Sólheimajökull glacier is popular, which takes about three hours (you must transport yourself to the parking lot near the glacier, ca. two-hour drive from Reykjavík). During the tour, you’ll learn about these massive natural phenomena from your guide and you will be provided with all the necessary equipment to get some exercise in full comfort and safety.
(Side Note: Icelandic Waterfalls are also quite beautiful during wintertime.)
What to Do on a Stormy Day
The weather in February is often quite stormy. Sometimes, when roads are closed and the weather is inauspicious to countryside travelling, it can be a good idea to keep within the Greater Reykjavík Area and explore the city.
We suggest visiting the Wonders of Iceland tour in the iconic Perlan in Reykjavík. The tour offers an unforgettable experience of Iceland’s natural wonders. See, hear, and feel the power of volcanoes, earthquakes, and geothermal energy. Step inside the only planetarium in Iceland and enter a real indoor ice cave. Visitors can also enjoy the observation deck with an amazing 360° view of Reykjavik.
Also, Flyover Iceland, located in the Grandi Harbour District, is a good idea on a stormy day. Open year-round, Flyover Iceland is an immersive flight experience that takes you on a journey across Iceland. The ride utilises state-of-the-art technology to give guests the feeling of flight. “Guests will hang suspended, feet dangling, before a 20-metre spherical screen while our film whisks you away on an exhilarating journey across Iceland. Special effects, including wind, mist and scents, combine with the ride’s motion to create an unforgettable experience during your flyover.”
Both of the tours include a shuttle-ride from Bus Stop 5 (by the Harpa Concert Hall).
Purchase the Ever Practical City Card
The Reykjavík City Card is a great way to experience Reykjavík for less. It includes free entry to all of the public museums, public swimming pools, the city bus, and the ferry to Viðey island. It also offers discounts on private museums, select restaurants, tours, and stores.
The Reykjavík City Card is available in 24, 48 and 72-hour increments, depending on how long you need it. It is available for children as well as adults.
“The easiest, most affordable, and most eco-friendly way to enjoy Reykjavík”.