February in Scandinavia: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Photographer on the rocks, Senja, Norway
Getty Images/Roberto Moiola/Sysaworld

If you are planning a trip to Denmark, Norway, or Sweden in February, you are in luck. This is a great time of year to visit these Scandinavian countries because winter sports are in full swing and you still have a chance to see the spectacular aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights.

February is still considered the off-season for tourism, so travelers can save quite a bit. Not only are the prices cheaper but the crowds are thinner. If you enjoy winter sports but are on a tight budget, Scandinavian in February can be a good deal. February is a great time of year for skiing, snowboarding, or sledding.

If you are traveling with a special someone, visiting Scandinavia on Valentine's Day around February 14 is the perfect opportunity to spend a romantic night in an ice hotel, which are only in operation for about four months of the year. With subzero temperatures in the guest rooms, you will not need an excuse to snuggle up in one of the expedition-tested sleeping bags provided to guests.

Scandinavia Weather in February

Depending on how far north you are in the Nordic and Scandinavian countries, a February day averages from 18 degrees to 34 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 degrees to 1 degree Celsius). Constant freezing is also not unusual in the northern parts of the countries. February has some of the lowest temperatures and can be windy.

  • Stockholm: 33 F (1 C)/27 F (-3 C)
  • Oslo: 33 F (1 C)/23 F (-5 C)
  • Bergen: 39 F (4 C)/32 F (0 C)
  • Copenhagen: 37 F (3 C)/30 F (-1 C)

In February, daylight hours slowly increase as Scandinavia emerges from its long, dark winter. Southern parts of the region, such as Denmark, can get seven to eight hours of daylight; meanwhile northern parts of Sweden may only get four to six hours. In certain areas of the Arctic Circle, there is no sun at all in the winter, which is a phenomenon called polar nights. This is the perfect time to view the northern lights and other amazing natural phenomena.

What to Pack

Be prepared for one of the coldest months of the year. If you are you headed to the Arctic Circle, bring sturdy boots for walking on snow and ice, a down-filled waterproof outfit, hat, gloves, and a scarf. If you will be visiting the cities, bring a down jacket and maybe a wool overcoat. For winter sports activities, bring insulated skiing gear.

No matter the country you plan on visiting as your final destination, an insulated coat, gloves, hat, and scarf are the bare minimum for travelers in February. It is a good idea to pack long underwear, which can be worn under clothing every day. It is better to have a heavy suitcase full of warm clothes than to freeze during your vacation or business trip. 

February Events in Scandinavia

Winter sports fans are in for a treat, especially in the region's famous ski resorts. In addition to skiing, there's ice fishing, bobsledding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. 

  • Sami National Day: Every year, February 6 is a celebration of an accord of the indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, and Finland. 
  • VinterjazzIn Denmark from February 6 to 29, 2020, you can check out this winter festival with jazz greats from around the world.
  • Polarjazz: If you plan to visit the remote island of Svalbard in Norway, you can attend the unique the Polar Jazz Festival from January 30 to February 2, 2020 billed as the northernmost jazz festival in the world with the tagline "Cool place, hot music."
  • Rjukan Ice Climbing Festival: From February 7 to 9, 2020, watch competitors scale frozen waterfalls and learn more about this intense sport, and then head over to the Røros Winter Fair, a Norwegian market that dates back to 1854 and features festivities, numerous stalls, hot coffee around a bonfire, folk music, and storytelling. The fair takes place every year in January and February.
  • Stockholm Furniture Fair: Visitors to Sweden can make plans to visit this popular event from February 4 to 8, 2020, where designers come together and showcase their latest creations about to hit the mass market.

February Travel Tips

  • Scandinavia is generally very safe and poses few risks to travelers, health-related or otherwise. In winter, exercise caution, as slippery pavement and traffic accidents from elk crossing the roads common.
  • The aurora borealis is best seen on the Arctic Circle on very clear and dark winter nights. The northern lights have been seen in southern Scandinavia sometimes, but it is very important that you are in a dark and clear night, away from the city.
  • In addition to being a great time for winter sports, February is also less busy and travel and accommodations will be more affordable. Some airlines, like Icelandair and SAS, offer discounts of 40 percent or more off of fares.
  • Scandinavia has no shortage of great ski locations, but you should also consider other unique activities during your trip, like dog sledding, ice racing, and ice fishing.
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