So you’ve booked a dream holiday to Iceland and the time to pack is approaching, but you’re still not quite sure what to take with you. Whether you’re planning to stay solely in Reykjavik, would like to travel the whole ring road or you want to hike remote areas in the Highlands, and whether you plan to travel in summer, winter, spring or fall; this guide will cover all you need to know about packing for Iceland.
So the day has nearly arrived: you’re going to Iceland, but you have no idea what to pack. Naturally, the name Ice-land has given you some indication as to the clothing that might be required. Only a basic level of research will tell you to expect all kinds of weather in Iceland, no matter the season. From these fundamental assumptions, you can begin compiling a list of everything you'll need for your trip.
What you pack for a trip to Iceland is entirely dependent on certain factors; what you will be doing while you're here? In which season will you be arriving? How long will be you staying in Iceland and are you planning on sleeping in a hotel or camping out? Will you be purchasing your outdoor gear when you arrive or are you bringing it from home?
Thankfully, you don't have to answer these questions alone! Below, we have included a seasonal check-list of what to wear in Iceland and how to pack for your trip. So what are we waiting for? It's time to discover what to pack for travel in Iceland!
When you plan a trip to Iceland, it’s likely that your mind is focused solely on all the fun and adventure that awaits.
Regardless of whether you plan to stick to sights of the Golden Circle, or you decide to explore more remote areas such as the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjords or Þórsmörk Valley in South Iceland; it can be hard to know what to wear in Iceland. Whatever you pack will be unique to your individual plans.
However, there are some things that are essential to pack, no matter what season you choose to arrive or what you plan to do when you get here:
Only a basic level of research will tell you to expect all kinds of weather in Iceland, no matter the season. This does, however, make packing difficult.
Whatever else you do, don’t forget the basics! Passports, tickets, credit cards, your driving license and tour vouchers are easy to forget amidst the chaos of packing for an exciting trip.
If you are planning to rent a car or take a self-drive tour, you will, of course, need your driving license with you. Specific tours, such as ATV & buggy tours or snowmobiling also require you to see your driving license before they’ll let you take charge of the vehicle.
You’ll also want to make sure you bring all the electricals you need, plus adapters for Iceland’s Europlug sockets (typical European sockets).
As for clothing; whatever time of year you plan to arrive in Iceland, you’ll want to pack plenty of layers of clothing, a wind/waterproof coat and some sturdy hiking boots.
Come rain or shine, you’ll find locals enjoying the swimming pools and geothermal baths. A swimming costume should be brought with you wherever you travel to Iceland; after all, you never know when a hot pool might turn up.
You’ll also not want to miss out on a visit to Iceland’s stunning Blue Lagoon on your visit, or even the Myvatn nature baths travelling round in the north. Relaxing in these geothermal hot spots can be the perfect way to start, break up or end your trip, so don’t forget your swimming costume.
This is only a summary of some key items to pack for travel in Iceland. Read on to find out more specific recommendations for each season and activity, tailored to when you plan to travel to Iceland and what you intend to do when you arrive.
The Icelandic summer provides a welcome respite from the dark winters that only start to brighten after the winter solstice (December 21st). The changes in the weather provide some stark seasonal contrasts.
The Midnight Sun is one of the summer's most significant natural attractions you could witness. This spectacle begins after the summer solstice around June 21st. As you can imagine this makes travelling to Iceland in July extremely popular.
If you’re travelling at this time, you’ll want to make sure you book your airport transfer well in advance to provide a great start to your trip to Iceland.
During the beautiful summer months, visitors can expect 24 hours of sunlight because although the sun does set for an hour or so, the daylight lingers.
Though the weather doesn’t always feel traditionally like summer in Iceland, summertime is considered to be June, July and August.
Summer packing is not easy given that Icelanders are used to experiencing all four seasons in a day. You have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst when visiting our shores.
There are some obvious items you’ll want to take with you: trousers, t-shirts, socks, underwear, shoes (you’ll want boots if you’re leaving Reykjavik), jumpers/sweaters and your best party outfit for the Reykjavík Nightlife.
It’s also worth noting that summer is really the only season in Iceland that it’s worth bringing over any formal ‘going out’ shoes with you. If you bring this type of footwear in other seasons you may be prone to a couple of slips in both the city and countryside due to the frequently icy ground. In all other seasons, footwear should solely be focused on practical sturdy shoes with excellent grip to help avoid any unnecessary accidents.
Fall, or Autumn, in Iceland is short but sweet. By the end of August, the trees start to turn orange and brown, and by the end of September, the country will be braced for the winter ahead.
The temperature will likely be cool (below 9°C or 50°F) and the winds usually pick up, making it feel colder than you might expect. This season, in particular, can be tricky when deciding on what to bring to Iceland.
Packing for Iceland in Autumn is tricky because the country tends to get a lot of what is known locally as “window weather”. This means that it can look like a pleasant day from the inside when it’s actually much cooler outside often due to wind-chill.
If you’re planning a visit to Iceland in Autumn, this is a list of the items we highly recommend you bring with you when visiting our shores:
Icelandic winters usually are around 0°C, though temperatures will vary between -10°C up to +10°C.
The winds in Iceland can be cutting and cruel. Whether it is a gentle breeze or a full-blown storm, gusts are in no short supply here. They can make it feel a lot chillier than the temperature would at first suggest.
Winter tends to last from October through to March. Though the midnight sun is long gone, the Icelandic sky is still alight with the splendour of the Northern Lights. This makes travelling to Iceland in December particularly popular.
Golden Circle Tours, in particular, are in high demand in these months so it’s worthwhile to book ahead to ensure you get to see the best spots in the country.
There are so many things to do when visiting Iceland in winter that you won't want to miss out because of inadequate clothing. From Adventure Tours to Ice Cave Trips; you will want to make sure you're well prepared for your Iceland vacation.
It’s much more important to focus on bringing layers of clothing with you than an expensive parka jacket. Using layers helps to keep you fully insulated and also allows you to remove or add layers when needed, based on the winter conditions you encounter.
Spring in Iceland is almost as short as fall. It starts in April and continues through May and into June. The North Atlantic puffins begin to make their way to the island and start nesting in cliffs by the shore.
The temperature is a cool 0 to 10°C and you can expect some rain and wind, and even sometimes some snow showers. But the country is beautiful at this time of year.
In May, it’s common to start seeing the famous purple lupin plant appear. This will blossom throughout the summer months of June and July and can make for some stunning colours as you travel around the country.
Spring is the perfect time to take a self-drive tour around Iceland’s golden circle and Snæfellsnes Peninsula or venture out on the water with a boat tour. With these boat excursions, you can explore glaciers, sea animals (such as whales and seals), and experience some more hard-to-reach areas of Iceland.
Also, while the weather is still cool, you can enjoy glacier hiking on some of Iceland’s staggering ice caps. However, if you are planning on taking advantage of activities such as these you’ll need to prepare the right packing list for Iceland.
Hiking is an incredibly popular activity during the summer, given it is the only time of the year that the spectacular Central Highlands are accessible to visitors.
Of course, there are numerous places to go hiking in Iceland. Quite frankly, there are far too many to name.
The colourful landscape of Landmannalaugar draws ramblers from around the world, providing a cheap and natural experience that is authentically Icelandic. But prospective ramblers could choose to explore the spectacular Reykjanes Peninsula or trek the remote trails of East Iceland.
If you’re going hiking with ambitions to spend some time overnight, then you will need to bring camping equipment with you.
Remember, along most of the hiking trails in Iceland, there are no shops, nor are there any permanent homes or gas stations. Frankly, this means that everything you might need will have to be brought along with you in your waterproof hiking pack.
So, you're feeling pretty prepared, but there's no shaking that overlying feeling that you've forgotten something important.
Well, fear not, because we've yet to run through some of the essential items for your trip. We recommend that the below details are kept as safe and secure at all times so that no hiccups should occur during your trip:
Did we forget something? What did you find were the most useful items that you packed for your trip to Iceland? Is there anything that you wish you had brought that you forgot? Please, make sure to leave your thoughts and queries in the Comment's box below!