Layers, layers, layers! Come prepared for all types of weather.
Iceland’s weather is as varied as its incredible landscape. Pack smart and stay warm and dry with the quick tips below.
Here’s a sample packing list of items you should bring with you regardless of the time of year you’re travelling:
- Fleece jacket/lightweight wool sweater
- Rainproof/windproof jacket
- Rain pants
- Sturdy walking shoes with a good tread/grip
- Hat (toque/beanie)
- Thermal underwear (specifically for highland travel/activities)
- Waterproof hiking boots (specifically for highland travel/activities)
- Warm socks (specifically for winter and highland travel/activities)
- Quick-dry towel (for visiting pools and hot springs; towels are availablefor rent at swimming facilities)
Some visitors find it difficult to sleep with the light of the midnight sun, so eye shades may be helpful. It is also recommended to bring sunglasses and sunscreen. There are few insects in Iceland, but small midges do thrive in the summertime, especially by lakes and streams.
Those spending time in the Lake Mývatn area during summertime may also wish to bring insect repellent or fly masks/nets (especially useful for horse riding).
Temperatures do not often drop below freezing, but an insulated jacket is recommended due to the cool northerly winds (see our “Weather” section for average temperatures). And as sidewalks can get icy and slippery, you may want to bring ice cleats/ice grips/anti-slip soles to give your shoes better traction. These can also be purchased in Iceland at various shops, like outdoor clothing stores.
HITTING THE TOWN
Though dress codes are rarely enforced, Reykjavík is a cosmopolitan city like any other European capital. We’d recommend you pack a nice outfit and shoes to wear if you plan on going out in Reykjavík either to grab a bite or to explore the city’s famous nightlife.
Several apparel stores and second-hand thrift shops can be found in downtown Reykjavík along with Tiger, a budget variety store with inexpensive accessories like sunglasses, gloves, ear plugs, batteries and more.
Another good option for toiletries, clothing and other general items is Hagkaup, a large grocery and department store located at Kringlan shopping mall (open 10:00 – 19:00 Mon - Wed; 10:00 - 21:00 Thu, 10:00 - 20 Fri; 12:00 – 19:00 Sun) and in the Skeifan neighbourhood of Reykjavík (open 24 hours every day).
STAY WARM & DRY
Icelandic apparel store 66° North sells a wide selection of outerwear for any weather condition Iceland may throw at you. If you want to be dressed like an Icelander check out 66North.com.
If you’re feeling cold or wet after arriving in the North Atlantic, we’d recommend paying a visit to their shops on Bankastræti in Reykjavík or at the Kringlan or Smáralind shopping malls.
Keep your receipts for items purchased in Iceland to receive tax back on departure!
FOR LIGHTER LOADS
We recommend bringing a rucksack or small backpack for your daily essentials (e.g. camera, wallet, medications, extra clothing layers, bottle of water, etc.) since you may not have easy access to your suitcase during the day as you travel between accommodations. It can also come in handy for hiking excursions or picnics.
A SPECIAL NOTE FOR HORSE RIDERS
All gear, including the loan of boots, helmets and overalls, is provided for horse riding tours in Iceland. To protect Icelandic horses from serious diseases, it is strictly forbidden to bring any used horse riding gear or clothing from other countries to Iceland.