So you‘ve booked your tour of Iceland and are excited beyond words to finally visit this incredible country. Then panic starts to set in; you have no idea what people wear in Iceland, let alone what one brings to view a volcano or a glacier. Check out our list of what to pack for your Iceland Tour.
But there’s no need to worry, as always we‘ve got your back. This handy list will make sure that you are prepared for whatever the Icelandic weather decides to throw at you and fit right in with the locals.
Essentials for any season:
Comfortable clothes: Since you‘ll be spending time on a bus inbetween sightseeing and small hikes, it is essential that you wear clothes that are comfortable both for sitting down and moving around in. It also helps if they are easy to wash and quick to dry since few, if any, rural hotels offer laundry service. Layers are always a good idea, that way you can take items off or put them on depending on the weather.
Comfortable shoes: Iceland is still relatively rugged, even around popular tourist sites, so even if you‘re doing a shorter tour like the Jokulsarlon and Ice Caving Tour, make sure you bring shoes that are good for walking on uneven and rough ground. This is not the time to break in your new hiking boots or try your new stilettos, save that for the evening.
Outerwear: Always bring a wind- and waterproof jacket, and maybe even trousers. Out in the country you‘re exposed to the elements but you don‘t want a little wind or rain to get in the way of you seeing that gorgeous waterfall.
Evening wear: Casual or casual smart clothing is suitable but not compulsory for the evening. If you feel like getting out of your hiking clothes, however, feel free to dress up. Although black tie might be a tad too much. We recommend choosing items that can do double-duty like polo shirts that can go seamlessly from sightseeing to dinner at a restaurant.
Swimwear: Icelanders love swimming so always bring your swimsuit, even if you don‘t plan on getting in any water. You don‘t want to be left standing on the banks of a beautiful hot spring while everyone else enjoys the warm water, do you?
Camera: This one kind of goes without saying. If you want to bring home souvenirs of all the natural beauty and stunning landscapes of Iceland, your camera is a must.
Other essential items: Your passport, of course, and any visas (if you need those). Chargers for your phone, camera, etc. We recommend getting a multi-purpose charger so you don‘t have to take up too much room in your luggage with adapters and cables. Sunglasses are a must year-round. It can get bright on top of a glacier, even in winter. Hotels will provide shampoo and shower gel, and usually a hair dryer but remember to bring any additional personal hygiene items that you use.
If you‘re travelling in winter:
In addition to the aforementioned essentials, if you are travelling to Iceland in wintertime we‘d also recommend bringing:
Hats, scarves, gloves: It‘s no surprise to anyone that winter in Iceland can be cold, but luckily the dry climate means that it is relatively easy to “dress off the cold“ as we say in Iceland. So bringing a woolly hat and gloves and scarves should keep you safe from the sneaky winter winds. Need ideas?
Waterproof shoes: There is no worse feeling in the world than having wet feet. When in Iceland during the winter you should be prepared for snow and rain so bring shoes that can handle cold and wetness. Wellies are usually not great because they will get really cold, really fast. Woolly socks will keep your feet warm and snug and bringing an extra pair of socks in case you do get wet is not a bad idea. Check out these.
Consider crampons: Either you master the penguin walk or take the easy way and purchase a pair of crampons to safely walk on ice. Need a pair?
If you’re travelling in summer:
Sleepmask: We’ve already mentioned that sunglasses are essential, but Iceland in summer might be the only place on Earth where it’s cool to wear your sunglasses at night. The Midnight sun means that it is daylight 24/7 and since sleeping in your sunglasses is not very comfortable, bringing a sleepmask is a good idea.
Shorts and a t-shirt: The Icelandic summer can be a fickle thing but once the sun decides to show its face Icelanders flock outside to soak up the rays. If you want to feel like a local, bring your shorts and t-shirt. Just make sure to bring a light jacket too, if the sun is playing coy.
Sunscreen: No honestly! The sun in Iceland can be very strong due to its closeness to the Arctic Circle. And reflection from water or snowy glaciers can sneak up on you. So it’s always better to be safe than sorry and put on some sunscreen.
And if you need a visual:
What happens if I arrive in Iceland and realize I forgot my hat, gloves, sweater and/or raincoat?
No worries, these things happen! Check out our Your Perfect Day in Iceland online store or shop in-person at the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura, Marina, or Hilton Nordica. Have your items delivered to your hotel in Iceland or shipped home (free international shipping for orders over 20,000 ISK!).