Iceland is notoriously unreliable when it comes to weather. Expect it to be windy, wet and cold, no matter what time of year you visit. You need to account for snow in the winter, and days where the sun barely sets in the summer.
Iceland is usually an active trip with a lot of time spent outside. People generally visit for hiking, scenery, waterfalls, and outdoor activities. It’s not a fashion destination, so ditch the heels and dress shoes for comfort. You will have some great meals and enjoy the bars but the fashion is Scandanavian minimalist, so it’s pretty casual.
Temperatures can vary greatly so it’s a good idea to look at the particular month you are planning to travel. These averages will give you an indication of average temperature per season.
Summer averages: 12.5 °C (53 °F)
Fall averages: 4.8° C (41° F)
Spring averages: 6.5°C (43.7°F)
Winter averages: 0 °C (32 °F)
Items for every season
- Quality camera with back up batteries
- Waterproof sleeve for phone/camera for waterfall viewings & boat trips
- Windbreaker / Rain jacket – it’s the second windiest country on earth and rains a lot
- Waterproof hiking shoes
- External battery pack
- Sunglasses – sun or snow, it will be bright out!
- Hiking pants
- Gloves, scarf, hat: even in summer!
- Swimsuit / flip flops / travel towel for geothermal spas
- Reusable water bottle / thermos
- Sun protection and moisturizers. It’s very dry!
- European electrical adaptor
- Layered clothing: thermals/long and short sleeve tees
- It’s expensive to buy food: bring energy bars, your own tea & coffee
- Alcohol prices are outrageous: buy some alcohol in duty-free on arrival!
- Day pack for your daily adventures
- Credit cards: they accept them everywhere!
Special items for summer
- Sleeping mask for long summer nights
- Brimmed hat to protect from 20-hours of UV rays
- I will repeat windbreaker again: it is the windiest place I’ve ever been!
Special items for winter
- Thick/long winter coat. I love down jackets as they’re so warm & packable!
- Thermal underwear
- Wool, down, or fleece sweaters
- Waterproof winter pants – preferably lined
- Long wool socks
- Waterproof winter boots for walking in the snow
- Ice spikes for winter hikes
- Flashlight – daylight is minimal in winter
I hope this list helps you prepare for your visit to Iceland. I usually pack a carry-on suitcase everywhere I go but Iceland was one of the rare places that I actually checked a larger bag. I wanted to ensure I had all the warm clothing and layers that I needed! Plus we brought some cereal, oats, tea, coffee and energy bars, as Iceland is notoriously expensive for purchasing food. You can also acquire food at the Bonus grocery stores around the country. Their prices are reasonable! The weather is wild, but it’s completely worth it. Iceland is an incredible country, a beauty that’s second to none!