Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, and to figuring out the best time to go and what to pack for Iceland can be difficult. One thing you can be sure of for most trips to Iceland is that it’s going to be chilly and wet. During our last trip to Iceland, it lightly rained the whole time. Our list below covers all the basics from required items like a waterproof jacket to the nice to have things like rain pants.
If you are looking for a specific summer Iceland packing list or winter Iceland packing list, look no further. This list is designed to be comprehensive, and we even detailed the weather patterns based on temperature and hours of sunlight so you can make the most informed packing decisions.
Weather In Iceland
Let’s briefly review the weather. The average is around freezing (32 Fahrenheit, 0 Celcius), with the highs in summer approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit(27 Celcius) and lows in winter at 28 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celcius). What you need to be more worried about is the number of hours of daylight. We created an infographic that has a good summary of the weather below.
Winters are surprisingly mellow with the normal January temperature in Reykjavik (- 0.5°C/31°F) like New York City or Hamburg. It isn’t surprising to see snow in October or April, yet it rarely remains on the ground for more than a couple of days.
The average July temperature in the southern part of the island is 50–56 °F. Some summer days can go up to 68–77 °F. Summers in Iceland can be delightfully warm in addition to the unique Midnight Sun which gives 24 hours of light and the fervor of midnight golf, or early morning club escapades.
Pack light! Having a checked bag lost can ruin a trip to Iceland as most trips are short and buying stuff on an island is expensive! Try to fit all your stuff in a carry on if possible – it will make your life easier and prevent any lost luggage events eating into your vacation time! If you are having packing space issues here are five tips to help!
Think water resistant! If there were a theme that could be applied to anything you pack this would be it! From boots to jackets – water resistance is key for a pleasant, warm, and comfortable trip to Iceland!
Let’s take a deeper look into why we deemed some of these key items as required. Technically all of these items may not be “required,” but they are if the plan is to see the best of what Iceland has to offer: Hot springs, amazing outdoor landscapes, and ice caves.
Hiking the amazing landscapes and ice caves in Iceland are must-do activities. Pick up some waterproof hiking boots to do it all with dry feet. Almost any brand of boot made of Gore-Tex works well, as it is more breathable than a rubber boot but also waterproof.
We recommend layering up with a thick rain jacket or getting a waterproof winter coat. While it can be snowy, having enough layer can prevent needing a full-blown arctic hiking coat – unless you plan to hike in Vatnajokull. We previously detailed the best rain jackets for men, if you are a guy looking to grab one for an Icelandic trip. All in all, after talking with our fellow avid outdoorswoman and outdoorsmen we found that Marmot coats we’re consistently mentioned as a highwater proof coat.
Universal Outlet Adapter
Iceland uses to Europlug, so any adapter that has a European outlet adapter should work. A universal adapter can be picked up online for less than twenty dollars. The outlet in Iceland is two round plugs and typically slightly indented into the wall.
Iceland is famous for hot springs, which means you need to bring a bathing suit. There are tons of hot springs. If you want the most comprehensive list of hot springs, hot pot Iceland has the only exhaustive list of locations with GPS coordinates. Aside from natural hot springs, the public baths is a more local off the beaten path option. The public baths are also much cheaper than the blue lagoon.
Water Resistant Backpack
Grabbing a water-resistant backpack or a waterproof backpack cover is a great idea. Transportation in Iceland is costly so carrying your daily essentials to reduce trips is ideal. On our last trip there it rained the entire time. Having a waterproof backpack will make any Iceland trip much more comfortable.
Let’s review why some of these key suggested items can be so helpful, even though they may not be vital for an Iceland trip.
Depending on when you go – it could be snowing. If you plan to go up north into the highlands, you will undoubtedly encounter snow. Grabbing a pair of light gloves is ideal, and if the plan is to hike in the highlands or go ice caving, then snow gloves are recommended. Pick up a pair of touchscreen gloves so the touchscreen on the phone will still work.
External Battery Charger
Stay on the go and don’t worry about having to find a plug by bringing an external charger. Having an external charger in Iceland is important because most trips are short and transportation is expensive. Bringing an external charger will prevent trips home to charge and derailments of plans due to dead phones.
A winter hat is another useful clothing item for an Iceland trip. Think of it as another layer that is easier to take on and off. With all the outdoor activities and different weather depending on location (highlands vs the black sand beach), It is nice to have a piece of clothing to warm up that is easy to store and put on.
A good pair of socks will come in handy. The padding in the socks protects from blisters when hiking and keeps your feet warm. Smartwool socks or any other merino wool socks make the best winter socks hands down.
Nice to Have Items
Taking melatonin can keep sleep cycles intact. Most trips to iceland from the USA are redeyes, but even from other places a time change is likely. melatonin is a natural sleep aid that can be used to help sleep on the pain or at night if jet lag is keeping you from falling asleep.
A good scarf is great for any adventure through Iceland. The Arctic wind is the last thing anyone wants blowing up their neck. Having a good scarf is also fashionable, and quite popular in Europe.
To review, here’s the full list or Required and Recommended items:
- Waterproof boots
- Universal Travel Adapter (Europlug)
- Thermal clothing
- Waterproof/winter jacket
- Waterproof backpack
- Rain pants
- Trash Bags
- External charger
- Winter hat
If you want to go to an Iceland adventure with us, check out our Iceland Trips!