A man in Iceland wearing a raincoat and a backpack

3 minute read

Packing list for Iceland

Whatever part of the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ you discover, be it black sand beaches, icy glaciers or vibrant cities, you’ll want to dress right. Find out what to put on your Iceland packing list to get the best out of every season.

How to pack for Iceland

Our biggest tip for figuring out what to pack for Iceland is to expect the unexpected. The weather across the island can change quickly from sunshine, to wind and rain, and back again. In the colder months, sunny hours can even give way to flurries of snow.

As the old saying goes, ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.’ This is the best philosophy for packing for Iceland! As long as you’ve got plenty of layers and a few handy accessories, you’ll be able to make the most of every day.

Plus, you’ll want to be able to explore all the hidden corners you stumble across, like thermal lagoons or black sand beaches. The best way to do this is to come prepared with plenty of comfy basics.

On top of your main luggage, it’s also a good idea to bring a small backpack or day bag with you, to keep your daily essentials in.

All-year packing list for Iceland

Whatever time of year you’re visiting Iceland in, there are a few basics you’ll need. Below we’ve put together the essential packing list for every season. You’ll then only need a few extra items for visiting in summer or winter.

  • Long sleeved shirts
  • Lightweight fleece or wool sweaters
  • Thermal base layers
  • Waterproof pants and rain jackets
  • Warm socks
  • Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip balm and moisturizer
  • A power bank to keep your phone charged
  • Swimsuit and a quick-dry towel (for visiting thermal spas like the Blue Lagoon)
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Reusable shopping bags for your souvenirs

Woman sitting in the sauna with a sea view at Sky Lagoon.

Iceland summer packing list

Summer in Iceland might be milder than you expect. This is thanks to the Gulf Stream, a warm air current that blows over the Atlantic Ocean. Daylight hours in May, June, July and August are also amazingly long, giving you extra time to explore in the sunshine.

That said, don’t expect high temperatures. And when the sun does go down, you’ll want some extra layers to keep you cozy. When packing for Iceland in summer, you might want to bring these few extra items:

Iceland winter packing list

Weather in Iceland in winter can definitely be cold, but with the right gear, you’ll easily stay comfortable. Just like in summer, the Gulf Stream helps keep winter weather conditions mild. You can expect a mix of sunshine, windy days, blustery storms and snowfall.

Closer to the winter solstice, the nights get longer. This makes Iceland an amazing place to witness the Northern Lights. They’re a natural phenomenon, so it’s not guaranteed you’ll see them, but if you bring a few extra items you’ll be ready to look for them:

  • Thermal underlayers
  • Gloves
  • A scarf and neckwarmer
  • Wool hat or beanie

Packing for city breaks

If you’ll be spending time exploring the capital city, Reykjavík, or towns like Akureyri, you might want to pack some smart-casual outfits as well as your outdoor gear. That way you can enjoy a nice meal out at one of the many charming restaurants.

Forgot something?

If you travel to Iceland and realize you forgot something, don’t panic! There are plenty of stores in the capital where you can pick up your essentials. This includes clothing, shoes and boots, swimsuits, accessories and more.

In central Reykjavík, you’ll find familiar chain stores such as H&M and Zara, where you can purchase extra clothing. Flying Tiger is a budget store selling useful accessories like sunglasses, ear plugs, stationery, and more.

One Icelandic apparel store that locals get a lot of outerwear from is 66° North. You’ll find a few in the capital, with friendly store assistants who can advise on the best items to stay warm and dry.

A staple of most Icelanders’ winter wardrobe is the lopapeysa, a traditional sweater. They’re knitted from the wool of Icelandic sheep that have evolved over centuries to stay warm in the subarctic winter. You’ll find them in stores all over the country.

A woman wearing a lopapeysa and woolen hat in front of Fjallsárlón lagoon in winter

Doing laundry

Self-service laundromats aren’t common in Iceland, but most hotels offer laundry or dry-cleaning services for a small fee. You can call your hotels in advance to check if they offer this.

When in Reykjavík, you’ll find self-service laundry facilities open to the public at KEX Hostel on Skúlugata 28. In Akureyri, you’ll find something similar at Grand Laundry on Freyjunes 4.

Now you’ve got your packing list, it’s time to secure your perfect trip. Browse our Iceland vacation packages to find your next adventure in the north.