It can be difficult to figure out what to wear in Iceland and figuring out the perfect Iceland packing list can be an especially daunting task. Iceland has extreme weather conditions and even though it might be bright and sunny one minute, the next minute could bring an apocalyptic snowstorm with winds strong enough to transport you to Oz. It is very common to experience every season within the span of a few hours so what you would need to pack for your Icelandic adventure probably won’t vary much month to month.
Iceland actually has a fairly temperate climate due to the Gulf Stream current and there is only about a ten-degree Celsius difference between the coldest month of the year (January at an average high of 3°C) and the warmest (July at an average high of 13°C). Long story short, it gets chilly in Iceland and you need to pack accordingly. Luckily, I’m here to help.
All-Season Iceland Packing List
These are the essentials that you’re going to need whatever the season. Probably the best rule of thumb to stick by for any Iceland packing list is that practicality trumps fashion. It’s better to be prepared for the extreme weather that this island nation can throw at you than to look super cute in incredibly impractical clothing. This is what I brought on our one week trip through Southern Iceland, but it could just as easily last you for a longer time period.
- 3-4 long-sleeved t-shirts
- I would strongly suggest at least a couple of these shirts be thermal base layers to keep you nice and toasty
- 2-3 pairs of pants
- Jeans or warm hiking pants will do
- 3-4 pairs of leggings/thermal pants
- You will want to wear these under your jeans, believe me. If you can get fleece-lined leggings they would keep you extra warm!
- 1-2 flannel shirts
- A nice, warm outer layer to wear over a long-sleeved t-shirt shirt. Add bonus is that it’s easy to strip it off if you get too warm.
- 1 warm sweater
- Preferably wool — it stays warm even when wet!
- 1 swimsuit
- Iceland has a lot of hot springs and geothermally heated pools so you’re going to want one!
- 5-10 pairs of underwear
- Really depends on your trip length and if/how much you want to do laundry.
- 2 bras
- For women, either two sports bras or 1 regular and one sports. Depends on how active you plan to be.
- 5-10 pairs of socks
- Get warm, thick (preferably wool) socks. You won’t regret it.
- 1 pair of PJ’s
- Bonus for cozy flannel!
Accessories and Outerwear:
- 1 fleece jacket
- A good outer layer
- 1 Ultra-Light Down jacket
- I swear by these jackets for travelling everywhere, they’re super light weight, pack down really small, and very warm.
- 1 waterproof/windproof jacket
- This might be the most important thing on this Iceland packing list. Something of good quality that is wind and water resistant will be your saviour and you’ll wear it every day. Trust me.
- 1 fleece-lined beanie
- This will keep you warm when the freezing Icelandic winds pick up!
- 1 pair of fleece-lined gloves
- If there is one thing I regret from my own Iceland packing list is that I didn’t bring a good pair of gloves. My hands were freezing a lot of the time and it was unpleasant. Learn from my mistakes.
- 1 pair of waterproof hiking boots
- These are really the only shoes you will absolutely need, especially considering most of the sites in Iceland require at least some walking through snow/mud.
- 1 pair of rubber flip flops
- Perfect for the showers at the pool and in hostels.
- Camera + extra battery
- You’re going to be taking a lot of photo’s in Iceland, and that’s going to suck up your camera battery pretty fast. Best to have an extra, fully charged battery so you don’t miss out on a great shot!
- If you’re travelling in the months of October – April, you’re probably going to want to spot the Northern Lights. Make sure you have a light so you can easily find your way.
- Lotion/hand cream
- The cold, windy climate in Iceland means that it gets really dry, and so will your hands! We learned this the hard way and spend £15 on petrol station hand cream. Learn from our mistake and bring some from home.
- Lip balm with SPF
- For the same reason you’re going to want hand cream, lip balm will also be essential for your Iceland packing list. Get one with SPF to protect your lips from the sun’s harmful glare!
- Power bank
- This is especially useful if you’re camping, but it’s really a great thing to take travelling anywhere to make sure that all your devices stay charged!
It can be tricky trying to figure out what to bring and what to wear in Iceland, but this list should be sufficient to keep you warm and toasty no matter the season! Just remember that it’s best to pack for all seasons because, among many other things, Iceland is famous for its constantly changing weather patterns!
Have you been to Iceland? Are you planning a trip? What was/is on your Iceland packing list? Let us know in the comments!