If you’re planning your first trip to Iceland, you’re likely scratching your head as to all of the odds and ends you need to pack.
Packing warm clothes should be no-brainer — as for the rest, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you won’t be able to live without when heading to Iceland!
Iceland Packing Guide
Multiple pairs of long underwear or leggings and a handful of simple tank tops, t-shirts or long sleeves (depending on the season) are a necessity for any trip to the Nordic north. All of Iceland’s natural wonders begging to be explored will require many consecutive hours outdoors, so you’ll want to ensure you have enough layers to be comfortable.
Bring lots of these layers, not just one or two! If you only bring a couple, you’ll find yourself wearing dirty t-shirts under your clothes for the duration of your trip. Expect to wear one base layer every day, and pack accordingly.
Essentials: boots, a hooded jacket, and pants that can endure all types of wet weather — snow, ice and rain. Are your favorite shoes or clothing not waterproof? Spraying two layers of Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield on your outerwear can create a water-resistant shield.
Iceland is known for frequent rain, but many don’t prepare for the extreme winds! In addition to your waterproof gear, pack a knit beanie, insulated gloves, and thick scarf — your head and hands will thank you for it.
Dark Sleep Mask
First time traveling to Iceland? In summer months the sun rises at 3am and sets at midnight, and even when it does set, sunlight still lingers and keeps the sky bright. With all that sun, that’s only a few hours of semi-darkness per night. If you plan on getting any sleep at all, you will absolutely need a dark, face-forming eye mask.
On the other hand, there’s only a handful of hours of sunlight in winter months; if you’re willing to brave the long nights of December and January, you may want a headlamp instead!
Water Protection for Electronics
Waterproof everything you value, because it is bound it get wet at some point on your trip. Pack a rain cover to protect clothes and electronics in your backpack, a rain sleeve for cameras, and a poncho in case you get caught in adverse weather or if you plan on getting close to any large waterfalls.
Protecting your phone is important, and getting a “lifeproof” phone case like Otterbox would certainly do the trick. However, if you don’t like the bulkiness of these cases, you can bring a phone drybag — it’s a convenient and easy alternative.
Travel Camera & Equipment
Few opportunities present themselves to capture so much natural beauty in one place, and Iceland gives you just that! Even the most novice photographers won’t miss out on some high-quality photos to remember your trip by.
Along with a compact travel camera, be sure to bring a travel tripod, batteries, and additional memory cards. Don’t forget a portable charger and a universal plug adapter for charging batteries!
Swimsuit & Towel
Regardless of what season you find yourself traveling in — EVEN IN WINTER — you will require a quick-drying towel and a swimsuit (or two)! There are just too many opportunities to explore the hot geothermal pools the country is known for and if you’re traveling by campervan, you’ll need a towel for showering. Plus, you won’t want to head back home before visiting the Blue Lagoon just a 40 minute drive south of Reykjavik.
Small First-Aid Kit
Since most adventures in Iceland entail scenic hikes and outdoor activities, I’d highly recommend keeping a small first-aid kit with all the bare necessities in your travel/hiking backpack. Don’t get one so big that it takes up a ton of valuable space in your bag, but if you’re somewhere remote and end up needing it you’ll be SO thankful you brought it along!
Additional Iceland Packing Tips
Look at the Tag!
Check out your closet; if you don’t already own some, consider buying clothing made of ultra-warm and insulating materials.
Fleece-lined leggings will be your best friend, as will wool socks and a down vest. If you’ll be camping or sleeping in a camper van on your travels, splurge a little on a quality thermal sleeping bag.
Reykjavik is Cool (No, REALLY)
If you plan on spending any significant period of time in Iceland’s capital, you should know beforehand that it’s teeming with chic people dressed in super trendy clothes.
Of course comfort and warmth always comes before style, and you’ll probably have a suitcase filled to the brim with bulky outdoor apparel. But if you’re looking for an excuse to break out a cute pair of heeled boots — or a fashion-forward dress in the mild summer months — Reykjavik is the place to do it.
Get Local Currency at the Airport
There’s really no need to bring the local currency, Icelandic króna, with you beforehand. You will likely be able to use your credit/debit card for almost everything, though you can obtain króna at the airport for a little cash on hand. Keep in mind that some gas stations require you have a debit card with PIN, but otherwise just using a credit card will be sufficient for everyday spending.