Figuring out what to pack for a holiday in Iceland can be pretty daunting whatever time of year. In winter especially, however, changes in the weather can be brutal for unprepared travellers. If you’re planning to visit the country in its colder months, follow my packing list to stay warm, comfortable and ready for all that it has to throw at you.
1. Winter jacket
Weather conditions in Iceland can change rapidly; you may be exposed to rain, snow, sun and extreme cold in one day. Subsequently, wearing a really good winter jacket is the key to comfort. You want a jacket that is wind and water resistant, and has some kind of insulation – like this grey Braddock Women’s Ski Jacket from Mountain Warehouse.
2. Wooly accessories
Don’t leave for Iceland without a hat, scarf and pair of gloves. All three are small enough to pop in your backpack if you don’t need them but vital if the weather takes a turn for the worse, which it will do.
3. Walking boots
You don’t necessarily need to invest in a super expensive pair of hiking boots, but it is good to have at least light trekking shoes with you if you plan to go out of the city, especially if you have ankle problems or you’re not used to snowy conditions. I took one pair of hiking boots for daytime tours, one pair of ankle boots for going out in the evening and a pair of converse to wear in and around my hotel.
This is a seemingly counterintuitive item that you’ll be grateful for on bright days, trust me. The sun still shines in Iceland in winter and can be especially bright on the snow.
5. Versatile bag
You want a bag that doesn’t get in your way on tours of any kind, is fairly inconspicuous when you’re out and about in town, and is able to hold any extra layers, camera equipment, lunch and so on. This Wildwood Pack from Poler Stuff ticks all of those boxes for just £60.
6. Drinking bottle
Bringing your own water bottle and/or thermos with you to Iceland is not only a money saver but also an easy way to stay hydrated and/or keep yourself warm throughout the day. *The tap water might smell eggy but it’s perfectly safe to drink.
Iceland’s landscape is rich with volcanoes, monolithic glaciers, icy mountains and deep fjords, among so much more. Honestly, it’s like something straight out of a storybook. Safe to say you’ll want to take a lot of photographs, so don’t forget your camera!
Again, it might seem a bit counterintuitive to bring a bikini with you to Iceland but the country is home to a number of thermal baths, including the infamous Blue Lagoon. If you’re planning a relaxing trip to any one of them, you’ll need to bring a bathing suit.
Whether you’re going to enjoy a late night walk along Reykjavik’s pier or follow the Northern Lights into the middle of nowhere, it’s a good idea to have your own source of light with you. That said, if you don’t have a torch on your phone, pick up one of these OxyLED Pocket Flashlights from Amazon.
Plenty of other packing lists recommend bringing waterproof trousers with you to Iceland. However, whether or not you follow their advice really depends on what you’re planning to do. If you’re going whale watching, for example, you’ll probably want to listen. Otherwise, you should be fine in jeans and/or wooly leggings.
Don’t worry too much about buying thermal layers if you haven’t got any already; you’ll be fine making the most of the layers you already have. I usually wear two or three layers under my jacket – a camisole and a long sleeved top and/or jumper – and I haven’t caught a cold yet!
Icelandic jumpers are sold everywhere in Iceland, including at the airport. However, they are quite expensive. Also, they can be incredibly itchy and hot as hell(!), so I suggest wearing something light underneath them.
Feel free to get in touch for any more information about travelling to Iceland!