Welcome to your Iceland Packing List!

Jokulsarlon Glacier, Iceland

My Trip Details

Travel Dates: October to November 2016

Length of Stay: Four Weeks

Weather: Average temperature was in the 40’s Fahrenheit.  If dressed properly, I rarely felt cold ~ though, it was almost always windy in Iceland!  Very windy!  In early October, the sun rose by 8AM & set by 6:30PM.  By early November, the sun rose by 9AM & set by 5PM.

. Iceland Packing List!

Iceland is a phenomenal country, filled with natural beauty.  I absolutely LOVED my time there.  From watching the Northern Lights outside of Grindavik, to relaxing at the otherworldly Blue Lagoon, to discovering my favorite waterfall in all of Iceland during a spellbinding sunset ~ Iceland truly is a magical country!  

But, to fully enjoy your trip to Iceland: you must be properly dressed.  If not, traveling there could be a cold, far less than enjoyable experience.  So I’ve compiled a list of items that you will need to have if you’re visiting Iceland….let’s get packing with our Iceland packing list!

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

One item you absolutely need in Iceland? Your bathing suit, so you can enjoy the Blue Lagoon and other natural pools.

What to Pack!  

Sorel womens boots, iceland packing list

The “Essentials” 

  1. Heavy Coat with Fur Collar ~ This will likely be your biggest investment, but it’s the one thing you need most.  Since high temperatures in Iceland are around 52 degrees, I’d advise packing a heavy coat year-round.  But in winter ~ it’s an absolute must.  I wore my heavy, fur-lined, hooded jacket nearly every day of my trip. Absolutely essential!
  2. Waterproof Jacket ~ I encountered rain nearly every day of my trip.  Most days it rained sideways, like my first morning at The Blue Lagoon. Why sideways?  Because of the crazy wind!  That said, a warm, waterproof jacket is essential in Iceland, preferably with a hood.  
  3. Swimsuit ~ Why bring a swimsuit to Iceland?  Because you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t!  Aside from the world-famous Blue Lagoon (a 25-minute drive from Keflavik International Airport), there are countless (cheaper) natural baths sprinkled all over Iceland that you’ll want to take advantage of ~ especially after you’ve been out exploring in the wet & cold.  You will need a bathing suit to enter.  I suggest packing two swim suits.  
  4. Winter Boots ~ My Sorel winter boots (with fur at the top) were my hands-down, favorite item of the trip….I wore the heck out of them, & they never let me down!  These kind of boots are made for Iceland: they are thick & waterproof, so they keep your feet & legs warm (even with spandex) while you’re traipsing through puddles, and their soles are slip-resistant ~ which is important, because many of the paths near Iceland’s waterfalls can be very slippery.  And, last but not least, these boots are extremely photogenic ~ I took countless photos of them near the edges of waterfalls, & they added texture & perspective to the shot.  Always a plus, particularly if you are a photographer or travel blogger.

    Scarves, Knits & Jeans!

  5. Warm, Colorful Scarf ~  Because of that crazy wind, a warm scarf wrapped around your neck will make you feel 100% warmer (that is not a scientific fact, but how I felt!).  I used a wool scarf wrapped 3X around my neck & felt invincible with it on. Without it?  Naked.  And why a colorful scarf?  With most people’s winter clothing being black or gray, I think a bright-colored scarf adds a good “pop” to your pictures.  It provides contrast to the often dark, volcanic landscape of Iceland.  I brought 3 scarves & wore all of them ~ but I used my warmest one the most.
  6. Black Leggings/Black Fleece Liners ~ I brought two pairs of black spandex leggings: a thicker pair to be worn alone, and a thinner pair to be worn as a layering piece underneath my jeans.  These were my go-to pants, because they tucked nicely into my Sorel boots, which I wore nearly every day.  Black spandex always works well for travel since it never wrinkles and doesn’t show stains.  For ladies, these will be your go-to pants, that can also be worn back at the lodge by the fireside.   
  7. Plaid or Flannel Shirt ~ This is a no-brainer.  You need to layer in Iceland, which means you need to bring along a few of your favorite flannels to wear under jackets.  Once you’re inside, sipping a French Coffee by the fire, it will also keep you nice and cozy. Iceland is not a place to bring tank tops, so depending on the length of your stay, bring 2-5 of your favorite long-sleeve shirts, for layering and stand-alone use.  You will wear them every day.  
  8. Dark, Comfortable Jeans ~ I would not recommend bringing your skinniest pair of jeans to Iceland.  Why not?  First, other than Reykjavik, there really aren’t that many places you need to look “fashionable.”  Second, if you’re driving to several major sites, you’ll be in the car quite a bit ~ which means your skinniest jeans are going to feel pretty uncomfortable after awhile.  Opt instead for your favorite pair of dark jeans that are more relaxed.  Pick a pair that you can imagine yourself comfortably hiking and sitting in.  

    Accessories, Socks & Shoes!

  9. Waterproof Camera ~ Whether you’re at the Blue Lagoon, snorkeling the continental fissure at Silfra, or relaxing in of one of the many nature baths in the countryside ~ you’ll need a waterproof camera.  The weather on a normal hike ~ due to wind, rain, snow, and highly variable conditions, may in itself ruin your phone.  Personally, I used my GoPro’s waterproof case at the Blue Lagoon & all nature baths, as well as most hikes.  I would not, under any circumstances, bring my IPhone into the Blue Lagoon without a waterproof case ~ it would have been ruined.  Had I snorkeled at Silfra, I would’ve brought a Canon D Powershot, or other camera meant specifically for underwater use, as they would give you the best quality underwater shots.  
  10. Water Bottle Iceland boasts some of the best tap water in the world, & since bottled water will run you about $5 a pop in Iceland, I’d highly suggest you bring your own water bottle!  If you like drinking water, it will save you a ton of money.  In a month of travel, I’d estimate that carrying my own water bottle saved me, minimum $50-75.  Some of the tap water smells faintly of sulfur.  It tastes a bit strange at first, but you get used to it ~ & it’s free! 
  11. Thick Wool Socks ~ If your feet are warm: your whole body will feel warm.  If your feet are wet and cold: the rest of your body will likely feel wet and cold.  And since you’re guaranteed to be tromping around in rain puddles in Iceland, make sure to bring along at least 2-3 pairs of thick, wool socks to wear underneath your boots, or while you’re hanging out by the fireplace in your Airbnb.  I brought a few pairs of thinner socks and pretty much never ended up wearing them – I always opted for my thicker socks.
  12. Trail-Running Shoes ~ You can’t wear your Sorel winter boots all the time (your ankles would get quite stiff), which is why if you plan to do a lot of hiking near Iceland’s waterfalls, trail running shoes are going to be more ideal than traditional running shoes.  Why?  Because of the traction on the bottom.  Typical running shoes are not going to serve you well on the often slippery trails in Iceland.  You will feel more confident and be far less likely to slip in a pair of trail runners.  

    Books & Music…

  13. Good BooksWith only 300,000 people in the entire country, Iceland isn’t exactly the nightlife capital of the world, though Reykjavik does have an excellent restaurant & nightlife scene.  That said, Iceland is the perfect place to get cozy, put on your favorite pajamas, & curl up with a good book.  After a long day of adventuring, feeling a little windburn & very tired ~ coming home to a good book makes for a wonderful feeling.  Since everything (including books) is very expensive in Iceland, I’d suggest bringing your own, unless you want to spend $25-40 per book!  
  14. Iceland Guide Book ~ I don’t usually bring guide books to each country I visit (I rely on blogs & the web mainly), but I’d bring a guide book to Iceland for two reasons: 1) You’re already likely to bring a bigger bag (not a carry-on), since it’s very hard to squeeze thick winter jackets & boots into a carry-on ~ so throwing a small guide book in won’t make much difference with regards to bag weight.  2) You’ll be in the car a lot, so if lose wi-fi on your phone, it helps to have a guide book to look at maps, & get hotel & restaurant recommendations.  It also helps to give you an understanding of the history & culture of Iceland.
  15. Good Tunes ~ You’ll be in the car a lot, so good tunes are a requirement.  Check out my Perfect Iceland Playlist here if you like artists such as Miguel, The Weeknd, & Sia.  Iceland is the perfect place to listen to a more mellow, sexier playlist.  Country doesn’t really sound right here, nor does pop or hard rock.  Iceland is more of a moody, introspective kind of place ~ & you need a soundtrack to match that kind of feel. Classical music also sounds wonderful in this country, if that’s your kind of thing. 

Enjoy Iceland!

That completes your essential Iceland packing list ~ gloves, hats, mittens are all things that can be added in at your discretion.  Just think “warm” ~ & you’ll not only survive in Iceland, you will THRIVE!  Isn’t that what great travel is all about?

Have you been to Iceland?  What were your favorite sights in the country?  And what were your essential Iceland packing list items ~ what did I miss?  Let me know in the comments below!

Read Next: A Day at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland!

Noelle Bertram is a restaurant owner, former fitness coach, Huffington Post writer, & all-around entrepreneur who travels full-time now & writes all about it. Catch up with her on Instagram or @ her website about being the ultimate, fearless travel girl: GirlWhoTravelstheWorld.com!
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