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

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

Although it will most definitely be cold, February is a great month to visit Denmark, Norway, or Sweden. At this time of year, winter sports in these Scandinavian countries 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 on expenses as well. Not only are hotel prices cheaper but the crowds are also thinner. If you enjoy winter sports but are on a tight budget, Scandinavia in February can be a very good deal and it's a great month for skiing, snowboarding, or sledding.

Among these fun winter activities, you can also take advantage of spending a rare night in one of Scandinavia's ice hotels, which are only in operation for about four months of the year. With subzero temperatures in the guest rooms, this could be a romantic idea for a Valentine's Day trip. After all, you won't need any excuse to snuggle up with your special someone in an expedition-tested sleeping bag.

Scandinavia Weather in February

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

  • Stockholm, Sweden: 33 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) /27 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 3 Celsius)
  • Oslo, Norway: 33 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius)/23 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 5 degrees Celsius)
  • Bergen, Norway: 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius)/32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius)
  • Copenhagen, Denmark: 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius)/30 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 1 degree Celsius)

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 in February; 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. Although it can seem quite gloomy, this is actually the perfect time to maximize your chances of viewing the northern lights and other amazing natural phenomena.

What to Pack

During one of the coldest months of the year in one of the coldest inhabited regions of the world, you will need all the warm wooly layers you can get your hands on. If you are headed to the Arctic Circle, bring sturdy boots for walking on snow and ice, a down-filled waterproof outfit, a hat, gloves, and a scarf in addition to a good set of long underwear. If you'll be hitting the slopes, you'll want to make sure you have a good ski jacket and snow pants that will keep you warm while allowing for mobility.

No matter which Scandinavian 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. In 2021, some events may be canceled or held virtually.

  • Sami National DayEvery year, February 6 is a celebration of an accord of the indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, and Finland. 
  • VinterjazzIn Denmark, you can check out this winter festival with jazz greats from around the world. In 2021, the festival is canceled.
  • Polarjazz: If you plan to visit the remote island of Svalbard in Norway, you can attend the unique Polar Jazz Festival billed as the northernmost jazz festival in the world with the tagline "Cool place, hot music." In 2021, this event has been canceled.
  • Rjukan Ice Climbing Festival: 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. Both the fair and festival have been canceled in 2021.
  • Stockholm Furniture Fair: Visitors to Sweden can make plans to visit this popular event where designers come together and showcase their latest creations before they hit the mass market. The event has been postponed to February 8 to 12, 2022.

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 caused by wildlife crossings are common.
  • The aurora borealis is best seen on the Arctic Circle on very clear and dark winter nights. The northern lights are sometimes spotted in southern Scandinavia, but you'll have a better chance at seeing them if you travel far from the city on a very dark and clear night.
  • In addition to being a great time for winter sports, February is also less busy and travel and accommodations will be more affordable. Regional airlines sometimes offer deep discounts at this time of year.
  • 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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