Iceland, the beautiful European island country, knows this saying all too well, “If you don’t like the weather in Iceland, wait five minutes.” Indeed, the weather in Iceland is always so ever-changing and unpredictable. The weather there can go from warm and sunny to rainy, cloudy, and very windy the next (and snowy in the winter). If you’re planning on visiting the country for the first time, you may be wondering, “What do I wear in Iceland?”
Well, what you wear to Iceland will be very important because of its sometimes harsh climates. If you do not wear the right outfits, you may be in for some uncomfortable times. So you can easily prevent that from happening when you pack right! My friends who decided to join me at the last minute on my Iceland trip were wondering what kind of clothes to bring there so I informed them with these exact tips.
Also, this is not necessary, but I do recommend packing light as possible! I noticed going to the airport of Keflavik Airport, Iceland that a lottt of people bought only one luggage with them, most being carry-on sized luggages. Packing light for a carry-on with these items is ideal and you really do not need to bring a lot if you’re planning on a 5-7 day trip to Iceland! You can easily use the same sweaters and jackets, but I do recommend bringing lots of socks.
First, check the temperatures and weather report for that week you’re traveling.
This is the first thing you should do when you’re packing for any trip. You want to check out if the weather will have a probability of rain, sun, snow, and/or wind. When I first booked my trip, I didn’t see it would rain at first but it then changed, as it can. I would look out for it as soon as you are getting closer to your trip. This will help you determine what you should definitely be packing for your trip. I saw there were definitely rain showers so I bought a poncho even though I never used it.
Since the weather is so unpredictable in Iceland, whether it’s in winter or summer, jackets are no doubt a must. In fact, I didn’t have a very good thick winter jacket until before this trip. My friend and I did a mall trip hours before our flight at Jersey Shore Premium Outlets and stopped by a Columbia store.
I bought an Interchange Jacket from Columbia and absolutely LOVE it. It kept me warmer and dry than any jacket I’ve ever owned and it can be used with both jackets layered up or you can separate the jacket to use its down one or shell one depending how hot you feel already. It is waterproof and many love to use this for skiing and other winter activities. Another jacket I bought was a Michael Kors down jacket, which is good for blocking wind on not too cold days.
I would definitely bring a thick winter jacket, a down jacket, and light raincoats. Also, if you have the opportunity to stop by some stores in Iceland, you will definitely see a lot of options to buy quality winter and rain jackets A LOT.
There is always a chance for wind and the wind can be cold! I would definitely consider bringing a few windbreakers. They can be used to layer on top of sweaters. The best windbreakers are the ones that are wind and water-resistant too. On lucky warm days, you may not need to opt for a jacket at all and just wear these.
3. Beanie hats
The best type of hats to bring to Iceland (and you may even find them a lot in souvenir shops if you want to bring a souvenir home!) are beanies. They provide so much warmth for your head and are adorable to rock. I found myself wearing them most of the time throughout my trip. You can get ones with a pom-pom or ones without, but consider bringing a multitude of colors and designs for photos.
4. Sweaters and fleece
A must!!! There are so many different types of sweaters and I’ll be honest, all of them will work. The sweaters can be cotton, wool, hoodies… Fleece sweaters are the best for more harsher cold weather. I also like to layer them with a thinner turtle neck or a light base layer under.
If you find that you need more sweaters or would like a souvenir to bring back from Iceland, you will find the traditional Icelandic sweaters everywhere. These are great because all of them are hand knitted by the people and are made of wool. You can also find Nordic Knit sweaters too if you want a twist of class to your outfits. I recommend checking out Icewear stores for these.
Although I didn’t pack any when I traveled there, I recommend these for days that are not that cold and you still want to keep your core body warm. These are great to pair with a base layer sweater or thicker sweaters, even with wool ones!
6. Base leggings and sweatshirts
These are probably the most helpful pieces of clothing you could bring. These are what you will wear underneath all the jackets, sweaters, and even some pants. Bring on the cozy leggings, the ones that are made for yoga and running are the best ones as they can retain heat better than cotton ones. Although, I did bring two cotton leggings that were good for the warm summer days. The best ones to bring overall are fleece-lined and waterproof!
In terms of base sweatshirts, I would consider thermal sweatshirts or Underarmour ones.
7. Thick socks
The only kind of socks you should consider bringing to Iceland if you’re going to constantly explore outside. I didn’t own much of these but I had to buy some and I found the Genuine Dickies Men Dritech Crew Socks at Walmart for just $9 were great to use throughout the whole trip. I would bring the whole pack because you’re going to need to use them almost every day!
At one point, while taking pictures of my friend at the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, ocean water “sneaker waves” came up to my socks and waterproof boots, but it soaked all the way inside! I was absolutely miserable when my feet were completely soaked but I had changed through these thick socks and I felt my feet dry again.
I do recommend thick socks that are known to use for exercise and wool ones. Also, they look completely cute over leggings and hiking boots!
8. Waterproof hiking boots
Tennis shoes, vans, and sandals (unless you’re by a hot spring) are just not going to cut it in Iceland. I wore my waterproof hiking boots throughout the whole trip, even just walking around the city and even bought these boots right before my trip (I needed a new pair of hiking shoes!). They are necessary when exploring outside though. The grounds of Iceland can be muddy, slippery, and wet, so you will thank yourself when you have been walking around in waterproof boots. They also keep your feet very dry and warm and block out the cold winds.
The ones I got are these beautiful Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boots and they felt comfortable and amazing to walk in everywhere with! I also saw the same pair and style from tourists.
9. Windproof and waterproof hiking pants
Bringing hiking pants that are resistant to the wind and water will keep you dry and comfortable as you explore or hike outside in Iceland. Don’t even think about bringing jeans because when jeans get wet, they will take forever to dry!!! There are also some convenient hiking pants that you can make into shorts if you want.
Kuhl sent me their Women Resistor Pants and they are amazing!! They are waterproof and windproof after hiking the peak of a volcano, so I know how much they blocked out the wind. These pants have reinforced panels at the knee for increased durability, snap closure pockets, a cell phone pocket, and this contours your body well.
10. Scarves and gloves
Along with your beanie hat accessory, you definitely should bring these too. A scarf is always great to block out the cold breeze around your neck and gloves will help the hands warm. I say, the warmer you feel, the less miserable you’ll feel! The best gloves are the ones you can also text with. I would also consider bringing more than one pair, in case you lose your gloves somewhere as they can have a chance to get lost or be blown away.
11. Swimsuits and a towel
Why would you wear a swimsuit to Iceland? Because there are hot springs to enjoy and some hotels have hot tubs and pools! If you aren’t planning to get too wet while visiting Iceland for a short amount of days, bringing one is fine. I would also bring a towel with you too because there won’t always be towels to find by hot springs. Also, towels are good in case you get too soaked from the pouring rain.
Other things to pack for Iceland
There we have it, the most important pieces of clothing to bring on your trip! Although this guide is mainly what kind of items you should bring for you to wear, I also wanted to emphasize other things you should consider packing as you keep in mind of what to wear:
- A poncho – Just in case it rains so much and you really want to keep you and your bags dry.
- European Plug Travel Adapter – Useful to charge your chargers and other devices through a plug that will go through the European outlets since they are different
- A sleeping mask – During the summer, sunlight will still be there throughout the night and past midnight on clear days. You may want to bring this in case you’re a light sleeper or there are no curtains to help.
- Reusable water bottle – I love my Hydro Flask Trail Series Bottle because it is so lightweight and perfect to bring on trails with me. I would bring one and also don’t feel skeptical about filling the bottle with the local tap water in Iceland (YES even the ones from the faucet in the bathroom) because it is very clean and great to drink.
- Your camera gear – Whether that’s a DSLR, a mirrorless, a GoPro, or a drone, you are most definitely going to need to bring these to document this “once”-in-a-lifetime trip. Of course, you can’t forget a tripod and your chargers. Another thing I recommend you buy is a waterproof cover for your camera. I got this Altura Photo Professional Camera Rain Cover so I can still shoot under the rain. I also recommend a waterproof phone pouch for your cell phone. You will need to bring these especially if you are planning on getting on boat rides too.