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Iceland in February - Advice needed including best spot for Northern Lights

Iceland in February - Advice needed including best spot for Northern Lights

Nov 30th, 2017, 05:02 PM
  #21  
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 290
Gavagirl, the Secret Lagoon looks amazing! I will definitely put that on our must do list.
Melinq8, thank you for the insight on the roads. I look forward to reading your trip report!
British Caicos - I'm VERY interested in the ice caves. Which ones did you go to? Did you do a tour or go to the caves and hire a guide?
MarthaT, yikes!! I'm so worried about going in Feb!!
Thank you all for weighing in, all such valuable input!
JES28 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2017, 08:44 AM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1,255
Jes28

Don't be worried about the weather until the minute you land. Current conditions on any given day will :

1. Probably not be above 10oC
2. Probably not be below -10oC at sea level
3. In terms of fog, wind, rain, snow, ice, hail or anything else the planet can throw at you - expect anything.

When we visited in Feb this year is was damp, calm and cloudy for a walk week. I didn't need a coat.

Essentially you can't plan anything with certainty.

Ice caves : there are recognised trips which target established caves. The caves we visited had appeared for a couple of weeks on one of the major glaciers. The guide had previously checked them. I would not ever had considered attempting this without a guide. Ive done a lot of winter trekking but this was off the scale and needed local knowledge.

If you do get the chance go on a glacier walk.
BritishCaicos is online now  
Dec 1st, 2017, 01:38 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 641
Just chiming in to the "don't drive in February" chorus. Like Melnq8, I very distinctly remember how scary some of the shoulder-less roads were, and we were there in snow-less September.

The Golden Circle is rather underwhelming, except for Gullfoss (if it's your first major waterfall in Iceland) and that interesting section of Thingvellir. However, if you're not driving you'd have to rely on tours that can also get you to more interesting places. With 5 days, you can definitely make it to Jökulsárlón, which is incredibly gorgeous. That would mean your couldn't just stay in Reykjavik, though.
PegS is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2017, 05:04 AM
  #24  
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British Caicos, are you saying that you can't plan ahead with the caves because they are located in different places all the time (because they're formed by nature)? So then we would just need to find out where the best ones are when we get there I'm assuming..?

PegS, I just googled Jökulsárlón and it looks amazing! I can see the direction my trip is forming..land in the city and head Southeast.

Does Vic sound like a good place to stay while we are there? Or maybe split time between the city & vic?
JES28 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2017, 06:47 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 262
Hi just to offer an alternative view on the don't drive in February debate.

We hired a 4WD car at end of Feb a few years ago and had the most amazing time. We thought the roads were fairly wide and clear and I have no recollection whatsoever of concern re the lack of hard shoulders or anything else. The ring road is totally 100% easy to drive along. All traffic proceeded sedately and you could readily park at all the sites and waterfalls. On the couple of occasions when it snowed the main roads were safe to traverse and were in any case cleared quickly.

There is a really excellent web site where you can get weather forecasts and webcam pictures or the roads and live updates on any road closures due to inclement weather. We checked this as we went along to make sure were not heading towards any problems.

http://www.road.is/

I guess that, as well as the prevailing weather conditions in the week you are there, it might depend on where you are used to driving. Certainly to a London UK driver it was a doddle !
loncall is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2017, 07:53 AM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
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Jes

The comment about planning was general in terms of the trip. If the weather is severe you may be bunkered down in town for maybe two days. If it is forecast to be calm then you'll be fine.

There are ice caves which are substantial and remain for months, they are tour in themselves. The caves we entered were tiny and very much an adventure, they last a week or so and appear as melt water runs its course through the glacier. They appeared very dangerous, were spectacular and there is absolutely no way we would have ventured in without a guide. I really can't recommend the glacier tours more strongly.
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Dec 3rd, 2017, 12:03 PM
  #27  
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BritishCaicos,
Where were the tiny ice caves you visited? Was it at Vatnajökull?

Ioncall, thanks for your input on driving. Can I asked where you based yourself while you were there? Thanks for the weather website, I'll surely use it!
JES28 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2017, 12:45 PM
  #28  
 
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I can't remember the name of the flow but it was the tongue that pushes south, on the ring road just past Skogafoss.
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Dec 4th, 2017, 02:19 AM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
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We were in Iceland for 6 nights JES28 and toured around.

We picked up the car at the airport and the first night we stayed in Reykyavik which is only a short drive away. We stayed at the Hotel Marina which is comfortable and well located, right on the harbour and within walking distance of all the main areas.

Whilst Reykyavik was good first night stop we had not gone to Iceland to stay in a city and drove off the next day to tour the golden triangle area taking in Thingvellir, Gulfoss waterfall, Geysir,Kerid crater and surrounding countryside. We then made our way to Hella where we stayed for two nights at the Hotel Ranga. Whilst expensive we enjoyed this hotel and the food was good in the main restaurant.

On our second full day we drove from Hotel Ranga down to Vik and back taking in various waterfalls inlcuding Skogafoss, Dyrholaey and the black sand beach.

On Third day we left Hotel Ranga and headed North along the ring road and then turned off inland up the most stunningly beautiful valley through Reykholt to Hraunfossar. Retracing our steps we returned to the ringroad and drove to Grundarfjordur on the Snaefellsnes peninsular where we stayed at the Hotel Framnes. This hotel was cheaper than the previous ones mentioned but still most comfortable and hospitable with decent food.

On Fourth day we took a boat trip in the morning with hope of seeing whales but were unlucky. We then did a small tour by car along the coast to Stykkisholmur.

Fifth day we left Hotel Framnes and drove west along and around the tip of the Snaefellsnes peninsular [viewing the volcano wihtin which Jules Verne set journey to the centre of the earth] and the looping back towards our finals night stay near Arkranes at the Hotel Glymur. This was the only hotel we stayed at that I would not fully recommend. The rooms smelt very sulfurous due to the water supply and the food was rather bland. However the setting was good and as we had a late flight back we were able to drive right around the inlet that it is set upon before returning to the airport.

This sounds like quite a lot but in fact we are usually rather slow travelers and yet never felt rushed ! The roads had very little traffic on them and were well signposted and driving was, for us, no hassle at all. We did not really go off fairly wide made up roads, except for a few little side tours from the main road, and yet felt we had still seen some hauntingly beautiful places. It was great to be able to stop where we wanted and as long as we wanted and in peace and quiet.

There are lots more places we want to visit in Iceland and another holiday is being planned ! Hope you enjoy it as much however you choose to go.
loncall is offline  
Dec 4th, 2017, 08:05 AM
  #30  
 
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JES, I did love the area around Vik, but it's so small that a lot of the hotels aren't in the village. We stayed at the Volcano Hotel, and it ended up being our favorite of all the hotels we stayed at.

We drove all the way around Iceland, and stayed in Reykjavik first at Hotel Holt (which was great, though rather old-school) then when we returned at Hlemmur Apartments. In between, we stayed at Hótel Lækur after touring the Golden Circle and surroundings (which would have been great for seeing the Northern Lights if the weather had cooperated) then the Volcano Hotel in Vik, then Hali Country Hotel just past Jokulsarlon, then we ventured up to Egilsstadir before continuing around the rest of the island. The South and the East Fjords area were incredibly gorgeous.
PegS is online now  
Jan 4th, 2018, 02:43 PM
  #31  
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Thank you so much for the replies and sorry I have not responded sooner. I was overwhelmed getting ready for the holidays! Now that I'm stuck indoors for the snowstorm I can finally get cracking on this again.

Ioncall, thank you so much for your rundown! I feel the same way about not there to see the city. We land very early in the morning so I was thinking of renting a car and getting straight on the road and then spending the last day at Blue Lagoon and the city before heading to the airport.

PegS, thank you too! Is Volcano Hotel in the village? Sorry I'm a little confused..you would recommend not staying in or near Vik because it's so small?

It's hard to know far everything is and what's doable in a day. I'd love to get some advice on how to arrange our time considering the following:

Day 1: Land very early Reyk, rent car. Head to Vik and check into hotel, have lunch, see waterfall and cliffs,hot springs, dinner, northern lights at night
Day2: Head to Skaftafell/Jokulsarlon for ice caves/Glacier Lagoon. Stay overnight there or back drive back and stay in Vik again?
Day3 Drive golden Circle (self tour). Stay at or near hotel Raja
Day 4: Not sure? Hraunfossar or Snæfellsnes peninsula
Day 5: Blue Lagoon and then Reyk for lunch before heading to airport

OR:
Day 1: Rent car, go to Blue Lagoon early, head to Snæfellsnes peninsula, explore, find hot springs, overnihgt
Day 2: Drive Golden Circle, overnight at or near hotel Raja
Day 3: Head to Skaftafell/Jokulsarlon for ice caves/Glacier Lagoon. Stay overnight there
Day 4: More activities at above area head back and overnight in Vik or Reyk
Day 5: Explore Reyk, lunch, airport

Please lmk thoughts and open to any and all recommendations or changes.
JES28 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2018, 06:25 AM
  #32  
 
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JES

There's fair degree of irony in your post. Your snow bound at home, it could be 3 times worse in Iceland with huge winds and large distances to cover. The weather was very mild last February but it could be anything anytime.

I really would base myself in Reykjavik and then take day trips out. That way if it does snow heavily you'll have plenty to keep your self interested and safe.

If it doesn't snow then even Vik isn't that far in a day.

Have you booked accommodation yet? it can get very busy.
BritishCaicos is online now  
Jul 11th, 2019, 08:04 PM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 38
loncall -- we are planning a 6-night trip to Iceland also and I was interested in your experience. Our plan is to spend one night in Reykavik then rent a car and drive around. We are debating traveling the South coast to Jokusarlon ... or head over to the Snaefellsnes peninsula but didn't think we could do both in a week given the likelihood of bad weather plus only 4-6 hours of daylight per day. You seem to have done a lot of driving ... maybe you were lucky with the weather (from what I read, it's the black ice and wind that's dangerous more than the snow) but were you driving in the dark?? (i.e. before 11am or after 4pm).
ExplorerNY is offline  
Jul 14th, 2019, 08:18 AM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 38
JES - I'm planning a similar trip for this december, curious to hear how yours turned out?
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