February in Iceland: What You Need to Know - Hotel Rangá


Green northern lights shining over a pond beside Hotel Rangá in south Iceland.

February in Iceland: What You Need to Know

The new year has greeted us with exceptionally beautiful (but cold) weather and some wonderful northern light displays. When packing for your stay, think in freezing temperatures: building snowmen, hiking up frozen hills to view waterfalls and feeling the cold nibble at your cheeks as you take in the night sky. Also, think like an Icelander and eat plenty of good food.

February in Iceland is filled with cold temperatures, northern lights and sometimes snow. The days are slowly getting longer but we are still fully in a winter mood. It is a great month to explore during the day and relax and indulge at night.

Green northern lights dance above Hotel Rangá luxury hotel in south Iceland.
Green northern lights dance above Hotel Rangá. Photo by Herman Desmet.

Is February a good time to visit Iceland?

Yes! February is a great time to visit Iceland. In February, the days are quickly getting longer, but there is still enough darkness to go stargazing and look for the northern lights. February is also a time when Icelanders celebrate two unique gustatory Icelandic traditions: Þorrablót and Bolludagur. Celebrate the Icelandic way by indulging in fermented meats or light and airy cream-filled sweet buns. Keep reading to learn which tradition is which!

Woman lounges in a Hotel Rangá geothermal hot tub as the sun shines on her.
Relax in Hotel Rangá’s geothermal hot tubs. Photo by Dylan Shu.

What is the best place to stay in Iceland in February?

Hotel Rangá, of course! Our stunning property is located right on the south coast near amazing sights such as Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss and Reynisfjara. What’s more, we offer luxury accommodation, gourmet dining and fantastic hospitality. Go on epic adventures during the day and then return to Rangá to relax, indulge and enjoy. 

What time is sunrise and sunset in February?

On February 1st, sunrise is at 10:09 and sunset is at 17:13. By February 28th (or 29th), sunrise is at 8:37 and sunset is at 18:44. As you can see, we really begin to see a big difference in daylight during the month of February.

A woman peers through a telescope and a man stares into the starry night sky in the Rangá Observatory in south Iceland.
Housing two amazing telescopes, the Rangá Observatory is one of a kind and a perfect place to stargaze. Photo by Milan & Seila.

Can you go stargazing in Iceland in February?

February is a great time to go stargazing in Iceland. What’s more, Hotel Rangá is home to the only public observatory in Iceland – the Rangá Observatory. Look through our high-tech telescopes and see incredible detail on far-off celestial objects.

In order to see the stars, we need complete darkness as well as clear skies. Because Icelandic weather can be unpredictable, we recommend that you stay at Hotel Rangá for 2-3 days. This will give you plenty of opportunities for clear skies. Check out our current offers here – we usually offer special winter deals for guests hoping to see the stars and northern lights.

Green northern lights in a sky with gold and pinkish clouds in south Iceland.
To see the northern lights we need clear skies and solar activity. Photo by Tom Stahl.

Can you see the northern lights in Iceland in February?

Yes – the northern lights are visible in Iceland in February. In order to see the northern lights, we need clear, dark skies and solar activity. You can check current and upcoming cloud coverage and solar activity levels at vedur.is and auroraforecast.is.

Look at the kp-index which is on the right side of the web page. Numbers range from 0-9: the higher the number, the more solar activity. However, a high number doesn’t necessarily indicate that we will see the aurora. At the end of the day, there is a large amount of unpredictability – this is what makes the aurora so special.

Woman rides a snowmobile on the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in south Iceland.
A snowmobiling adventure on the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir.

What is the weather like in Iceland in February?

Though the days are getting longer, February in Iceland still feels like winter. On average, temperatures range from -3 and +3°C (26-34° Fahrenheit). Icelandic weather is unpredictable – in February we might experience rain, snow, ice and sun in just one day. It is likely that you will experience some form of precipitation, so be prepared to get a little wet!

People hiking across a glacier in south Iceland on a sunny day.
Take a glacier hike under instruction from an expert guide.

What should I wear in Iceland in February?

As we mentioned, February in Iceland can get a bit wet. It is important that you bring a waterproof or water resistant coat and pair of pants. You should also pack sturdy, water resistant shoes. Remember, Icelandic weather can change rapidly – so even if you experience a little rain or snow, conditions can quickly change to sunny skies.

Be sure to also bring warm layers. Thermal underclothes and a warm sweater are always a good idea. We also recommend that you pack gloves, a warm hat and thick socks. Proper outdoor gear will ensure that you have comfortable adventures during your time in Iceland.

What are the road conditions in Iceland in February?

In Iceland, road conditions in February will be varied. There is always a chance of snow, ice, wind and rain. If you do find yourself driving on a stormy day, we recommend that you pay attention and drive slowly. Be sure to turn on your headlights – in Iceland, you are required to use your headlights year round.

If a storm is particularly bad, there could be road closures. The Icelandic Road Authority will only close roads if they are unsafe for drivers. Before you go on a self-drive tour, check in with the Hotel Rangá reception. Our receptionists will make sure that there are no road closures and help you to have a great adventure.

A super jeep crossing a river in the Icelandic highlands.
Super jeeps can make epic river crossings. Photo by Rachel Bowler.

Should I rent a car in February in Iceland?

No matter the time of year, we always recommend that our guests rent a car in Iceland. Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace.

If you do not want to rent a car, it is possible to book a taxi service to and from Hotel Rangá. What’s more, many local tour operators can add a pick up and drop off option for an extra cost. Contact the Hotel Rangá reception if you are interested in booking a taxi service to Hotel Rangá – we can assist you.

Long wooden table covered with a Viking feast and lit tables inside the Caves of Hella.
A candlelit dinner inside the Caves of Hella. Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir.

Are there any special February traditions in Iceland?

February in Iceland is a time to try the most traditional Icelandic food: Þorramatur. Yes, that is an actual word describing an ensemble of dishes such as hangikjöt (smoked leg of lamb), lifrapylsa (liver sausage, hrútspungar (ram’s testicles), svið (boiled sheepshead) and hákarl (fermented shark) – all served with plenty of sweet rye bread.

Don’t fret if this list doesn’t sound appetizing – you can still join in the Þorri festivities by having a shot of Brennivín at the Hótel Rangá bar. Brennivín is a clear unsweetened schnapps with flavors of cumin. It is also Iceland’s signature alcoholic beverage. Icelanders prefer to serve Brennivín frozen so that it’s cold going down but warms the heart.

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Photo of snow covered mountains on the road to Landmannalaugar.
Photo of snow covered mountains on the road to Landmannalaugar. Photo by Paige Deasley.

What are the best outdoor adventures in Iceland in February?

When exploring the Icelandic outdoors, we recommend two Icelandic sayings. The first: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes. The second: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” These two sentiments are excellent to keep in mind when traveling in Iceland. Weather can change rapidly – from good to bad and from bad to good. As long as you dress properly, you will be sure to have an enjoyable Icelandic adventure.

Hotel Rangá is located near some incredibly beautiful natural sights. Visit the Skógafoss waterfall and climb the massive staircase on its side. At the top, you will see a beautiful view over the falls all the way towards the coast. We also recommend a self-drive tour around the famous Golden Circle. Visit Þingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall.

Hotel Rangá has close knit relationships with several trusted local tour operators. Our guests can book epic super jeep tours up into the Icelandic highlands to visit locations like Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk. Or if you enjoy a bit of adrenaline, try a snowmobiling tour or buggy adventure. Contact the Hotel Rangá reception today to book an adventure tour during your stay at Hotel Rangá.

What are the best indoor adventures in Iceland in February?

If the weather is stormy, you can always enjoy an indoor adventure. Visit the Lava Centre, an interactive exhibit about volcanic activity in Iceland. Watch up-close videos about recent volcanic eruptions and try out unique technology that simulates the experience of an earthquake. What’s more, the Lava Centre is just a 5-minute drive from Hotel Rangá.

Stormy days are also a great opportunity to go shopping for a beautiful Icelandic souvenir. Bring home a handmade lopapeysa sweater or a locally-made wood carving to remember your time in Iceland. Check out our blog post on unique local shops to learn our top recommendations for shopping in the area.

Pastry buns filled with whipped cream and covered with chocolate and peanuts.

Delicious buns filled with cream and covered with chocolate are eaten across Iceland on Bolludagur.

February in Iceland: What is Bolludagur?

If Þorramatur and shots of Brennivín aren’t your style, don’t despair. One of Iceland’s tastiest holidays – Bolludagur – sometimes takes place in the month of February. On this day, Icelanders indulge in a delicious assortment of cream-filled buns. This unique holiday takes place approximately 7 weeks before Easter, marking a time of feasting prior to the start of Lent. Though not all Icelanders are religious, almost everyone takes part in Bolludagur.

Even though Bolludagur is just one day, cream-filled buns start to appear in bakeries and grocery stores about a week or two before the day itself. So there is a good chance you will be able to celebrate Bolludagur the Icelandic way if you plan a trip to Iceland in February. Bakeries across Iceland serve a variety of traditional buns as well as more exciting creations. Indulge in traditional flavors like chocolate and caramel or more modern takes such as passion fruit or mango.

There is one other unique aspect of Bolludagur. In order for Icelandic kids to get a bun, they need to make their own colorful wands. Then they sneakily wake up before their parents and wake them up by spanking them while screaming: “Bolla, Bolla, Bolla!” We aren’t entirely sure when this particular tradition began, but it is certainly a fun experience for Icelandic children – if not their parents!

What do Icelanders eat in Iceland in February?

Americans have beef jerky – Icelanders have harðfiskur!

Harðfiskur or “hard-fish” is dried fish, also known as stockfish in English. It usually consists of dried cod, haddock or catfish. In fact, dried fish used to be one of the main features of the Icelandic diet, especially during winter months. Today, Icelanders eat harðfiskur as a snack, often with butter. What’s more, a bit of harðfiskur is a very handy bite during a road trip or a hike. Harðfiskur doesn’t spoil for years (although we don’t recommend keeping it that long) and 100g of haddock contains 80 to 85% of protein.

Hotel Rangá’s famous wild mushroom soup.
Hotel Rangá’s famous wild mushroom soup. Photo by Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir.

We love our head chef’s famous cream of mushroom soup. It is an extremely popular dish on the Hotel Rangá menu. In fact, our regulars demand that we keep in on the menu! The soup is the perfect rich and creamy pick-me-up your body craves on a cold winter’s day and yet, it still feels light and warm in your tummy.

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