The Land of Fire and Ice (a.k.a. Iceland) didn’t get it’s cool nickname for being mild. If you are headed here, congratulations! You are going to have some of the best experiences of your lifetime! BUT, it’s important to be prepared so that you can thoroughly enjoy your time there.

The weather in Iceland is variable and rapidly changes. Furthermore, there are often micro-climates. In a 3 hour drive sightseeing along the coast, you might experience all four seasons in one day. Speaking from experience, we started one day out with sun and passing clouds, me in a flannel and vest feeling pretty comfortable hanging out outside and a few hours later I was bracing myself against gale force wind with hail pelting me in the face and my fingers turning purple from the cold. Don’t let that get you down. It was actually kind of fun considering the rest of the day was pretty nice!

So, the terrain, weather and exposure to wind make for a unique clothing needs. There is a saying in Iceland, “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing choices.” So, here are my best tips for what to wear in Iceland so that you pack well and enjoy it all!

Clothing to pack for Iceland

Warm windproof and waterproof coat

Even in the summer months, Iceland can be chilly, so look ahead to what the temperatures will be and ensure your outerwear can protect you from the wind and the rain. Alternatively, you can ensure your outer coat is wind-proof and bring a sturdy rain poncho, but I prefer the waterproof (or water resistant) coat. A good option is a ski coat because it is designed for mobility, wind-resistance and getting wet in the snow.

Sturdy, warm boots

I highly suggest getting a pair of hiking boots for this trip. At minimum, you’ll need a pair of shoes that have good ankle support, treads for traction and can keep your feet warm and dry. I purchased a new pair of hiking boots on sale at REI for $65 and there are even less expensive options out there. Do some research and you’ll find you can get a good pair without breaking the bank.

Tops: Thermal layers

Because the weather changes so much in Iceland, it’s nice to layer your clothing so you can shed or add as needed. I also suggest looking for materials that are breathable but also meant to handle sweat and dry quickly. Stay away from cotton. Once it gets wet or you sweat, it is very slow drying. Your best bet is merino wool (which also is good for odor control), but that can get pricey so you can also look for athletic fabrics that are designed for running, sports, etc. In October in Iceland, I wore a performance wear tank top (meant for sports) plus a long sleeve thermal top plus a flannel plus a lightweight down vest and my coat and it was perfect. Sometimes I was without my coat and sometimes with, but always comfortable.

Bottoms: Moveable fabrics

The key with your bottoms is to be warm and have great mobility. For women, I highly recommend fleece leggings. You can get them on Amazon at a steal! I wore these every day and they were great. For men, you can get performance wear pants or hiking pants. I recommend staying away from jeans because they are stiffer typically and also slow drying. You can also put thermal pants under hiking pants which work great as well (like, long underwear).

Water resistant pants

This is a key item you’ll want to have. Get a pair of waterproof or water resistant pants that will fit over the other pants you wear. That way, when you go to a waterfall (the larger ones have a lot of spray and you get wet) or if it’s raining out, you can throw these pants on over your others, stay dry, then take them off when you’re back in the car. This will avoid any uncomfortable, wet rides between sightseeing. These pants were a lifesaver. It’s a great bonus if they are also windproof. It will cut any cold windy weather down considerably for you.

Wool socks

I highly recommend getting a pair of wool socks for each day you plan to be sightseeing in the country. They will keep your feet warm and dry and this will set the precedent for your whole body. If your feet are miserable, so are you. These don’t have to be super costly. I got great ones at Mountain Warehouse and they totally did the trick. Try them on beforehand with your boots to make sure they fit well underneath. You can get ones that are really thin or thicker ones, depending on your boots.

Hat, gloves, scarf

Be ready to keep your head, neck and hands warm. These are no-brainers. I recommend getting gloves that either can flip to expose your fingertips or have the threads that allow them to work with electronics because trust me, you will be snapping pictures left and right. It’s nice if your gloves allow you to still work cameras and phones.

Swimsuit

If you plan to visit the thermal baths, hot springs or Blue Lagoon, you’ll need a swimsuit! I’d also bring flip flops. If you can fit it in your suitcase, you can bring a robe also to keep warm outside. For more info on how to prep for Blue Lagoon, read on here!

City outfit(s)

If you plan to go out in Reykjavik for a night or two, pack some normal outfits you’d wear out in the city so you’re not stuck wearing hiking boots and waterproof pants to a nice dinner. This obviously depends on what you plan to do. You can still be casual, in my opinion. I went out in leggings and a cute sweater and tall leather boots.

Other helpful packing items

Reusable water bottle

You may have heard, Iceland is expensive. If you haven’t heard that yet, you’re hearing it now. It’s true. So, finding ways to cut down on costs helps a lot. Iceland’s water is really pure and clean. So, if you bring a reusable water bottle, you can fill up when you stop at gas stations or points of interest so you don’t wind up spending $40 on water over the course of the week.

Waterproof phone case

If it’s raining, you’re by a powerful waterfall, or you’re taking a dip in a thermal bath, a waterproof phone sleeve is helpful to have. They sell them on Amazon and are designed to fit your phone and even take photos through the plastic.

Waterproof bag

For all the same reasons it’s convenient to have a waterproof phone case, it’s also nice to have a waterproof bag you can throw over your shoulder when you go out sightseeing.

Outlet converters

Make sure you have the converter you need to accommodate a Euro outlet.

Portable battery charger

If you plan to be out all day sightseeing and you want to take lots of photos (which, trust me, you will) then I recommend getting a portable battery pack that you can charge overnight and take with you on the road.

One-stop shopping links to products mentioned

Note: I participate in Amazon’s affiliate program which means that I will receive commission from any purchases made from links on my site. This is at no cost to you and it’s simply a way for me to benefit from sharing the actual products I use. Amazon is a major go-to place for me when I shop for my travels.

Click to shop:
Fleece Leggings
Lightweight raincoat w/hood
Lightweight down vest
Water-resistant hiking pants
Thermal top
Flannel top
Merino wool socks
Waterproof phone case
Waterproof “dry bag”
Worldwide outlet converter
Portable battery charger
Collapsable reusable water bottle

And, there you have it! With these items, you’re sure to be comfortable and prepared so you can focus on enjoying the extreme beauty this country has to offer! For more info on how to make the most of your trip, read Top Tips for Visiting Iceland.

Avatar
Author

Marissa is a travel consultant and digital marketing professional from Chicago, USA. Her business, Sips & Sojourn, specializes in helping busy people with full-time jobs travel more and travel better. Travel is Marissa's absolute passion but she believes you can hold down a successful career AND travel the globe. Marissa enjoys unique destinations, design hotels, sampling a culture's food and drink and meeting local guides focused on small, immersive experiences.

Write A Comment

Join the tribe :: Get travel tips and exclusive giveaways sent right to your inbox! 
x