You are looking for a packing list for your upcoming Iceland trip? We got you covered with our quick packing-guide that saves you time and space in your luggage.
For the Winter (November – March)
You are not going on an arctic exploration for three months, right? Some visitors have this misconception about Iceland being covered in ice and snow all year long. Although the winter is is hard, dark, and cold, thanks to the gulf stream, the temperatures rarely go below -10 Celsius (-23 Fahrenheit) in the capital area.
That means, according to your planned activity, pack many layers, but don’t overpack.
Update from January 2021: It is required to wear a mask in places where the 2-meter rule cannot be respected. So bring a few reusable masks if you plan to travel in Iceland.
What you would normally wear in winter with layering options
- Winter coat (great if it’s waterproof and wind-resistant)
- Winter Boots – waterproof or water-resistant
- Warm wool socks (3 pairs)
- Leggins/ Warm underpants (2-3)
- Sweater (1)/ Wools Sweater if you have (1)
- Longsleeves (3)
- Fleece Jacket (1)
- Jeans/ Trousers (1)
- Fancy going-out outfit (1)
- Scarf (1)
- Hat & Gloves
- Swimsuit/ Swim trunks
- Reusable Bag to carry groceries & other items
- Refillable water bottle
- Reusable coffee mug, thermos bottle
- Phone Charger/ Adapter*
- Sunglasses (while driving, the sun can blind you when only above the horizon in the wintertime)
- Rich moisturizer cream
- Power bank
- Flip Flops
- Sun hat
* Electrical standards in Iceland are European (50Hz, 220 volts) with a two-pole round Europlug socket. You might need an adapter.
Save space in your suitcase by wearing heavy and bulky stuff like boots and winter jackets.
Layers are key! Bring several layers that you can exchange during your trips. Check if your Hotel/ Hostel/ Guesthouse has an option to wash clothes. Then you can save space in your bag.
Use common sense: You are not planning on going hiking? Then you don´t need professional outdoor gear. There is no need of buying expensive thermal underwear.
We want Iceland visitors to be resourceful with their choices. You will find clothes that you can layer, it doesn’t have to be the all fancy outdoor brand.
Nonetheless, if you would like a recommendation from your honest guides, go with Patagonia. A sustainable brand that recycles, repairs, and cares for the planet.
For the Summer (May – August)
What is summer really in Iceland? On good days, temperatures can go up to 17 degrees Celsius (62 Fahrenheit), and it feels pretty hot outside. You might burn quickly, so don’t forget that sunscreen. On bad days it can go down to around 9 degrees celsius (48 Fahrenheit).
However, the wind is the tricky companion in Iceland. It can feel freezing cold, even in the summer. So take your favorite beanie all year round.
- Raincoat/ Windbreaker (1)
- Leggings or workout pants (if you prefer) (2)
- Rainproof pants (1)
- Comfy Jeans/ Trousers (1)
- Longsleeves (2)
- T-Shirt (2)
- Sweater (2)
- Shorts/ summery dress, because you never know 🙂
- Light beanie, headband
- Fancy going-out outfit (1)
- Swimsuit/ swim trunks
- Sleeping Mask (24h daylight in June/July)
- Insect bite treatment*
You might have heard that there are no mosquitos in Iceland. That is not completely true. In the last couple of years, sand flies (biting midges) found their way into the country. The bites cause itchy wounds and are no fun while traveling.
Transition Month (September, October, April)
I call this transition months since the weather can be very mixed. The best thing you can do is to take a bit of everything. If you don’t take a winter coat, pack more layers. If you take a winter coat, take fewer layers. In these months, it is pretty likely to be rainy and stormy.
If you visit closer to the winter month, take more of the warm stuff. If you visit closer to the summer month, you get it. The weather in these months can be mixed from stormy, rainy, snowing, and sunny, almost warm.
Although I mentioned that May is one of the summer months, we had snow on the 1st of May in one year. It is impossible to predict, but I promise you, the more layers you pack, the safer. It is essential to have the option to dress down and dress warmer depending on the situation without having a heavy winter coat.
Let us know if you have any questions about what to pack for Iceland!