Are you headed to Iceland this winter on a family vacation or honeymoon? If so, lucky you! With an otherworldly landscape, relatively high probability of seeing the Northern Lights, and charming winter festivals, you’re certainly in for a treat! Reykjavík sits at the termination of the Atlantic Current, making the City’s climate much more temperate and misty than expected. Beyond the City’s limits, however, weather can be quite unpredictable and downright frigid, with sudden snow squalls and fierce storms known to limit passage, you’ll want to check out our packing tips to ensure you’re warm and safely prepared:
- Swimsuit. I bet you didn’t expect this one, did you? Iceland’s ample geothermal features make winter swimming a very easy and popular activity. The famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is a perfect diversion to/from Keflavik Airport, but Reykjavík and other cities also offer plenty of public spas, heated pools, and other features that make the Viking tradition of a warm winter soak one of the Country’s defining experiences!
- Layers. With the volatility of Iceland’s weather, layering is key. A strong base of thermal underwear is highly recommended, then layer-up on top (t-shirt + long sleeve shirt + hoodie + vest, etc.). As the temperature rises or you warm up with activity, it’s always easier (and safer) to remove layers …and just as easy to add those layers back on when the temperature inevitably falls again!
- Wool Socks. Thick socks help you avoid hypothermia in your vulnerable toes and will help keep your feet blister-free if you plan to do any hiking (which we highly recommend)!
- Waterproof Shoes. These are a must. Standard sneakers are no match for Iceland’s wet, icy, and freezing conditions. Head to your local outdoor supply store and nab a pair of specialty boots –you won’t regret it!
- Waterproof Jacket. This item also comes highly recommended. Though a little more expensive, waterproof jackets will keep you warm & dry in the cold & damp weather. Alternately, you can top-off your layers with a warm coat and reliable poncho.
- Waterproof Pants. Jeans are great for city dwelling, but if you’re planning to venture into the wilderness, you’ll want a pair of waterproof pants to keep you bottom-half as warm and dry as your top-half!
- Wool Sweater(s). Sweaters are an excellent layering addition, and can dramatically change your comfort level. In fact, they are somewhat of a cultural touch-point in Iceland so if you’d like to splurge on a very Icelandic souvenir, grab a traditional sweater (known locally as lopapeysa) that will keep you warm and stylish through this trip and for many years to come!
- Hats & Gloves. As with any cold weather destination, keep a winter hat and gloves on you at all times for easy access to adorn for comfort when the winter wind picks-up.
- Sunscreen & Lip Balm. Much like with skiing, not only may you be dealing with crystal-clear blue skies, but you’ll also be battling the reflection off of the surrounding snow and ice. These products will keep you protected from the rays while also moisturizing your skin from windburn.
- Sunglasses. For the same reason as needing sunscreen and lip balm, you’ll be dealing with direct sunlight as well as its reflection on the snow-capped surroundings. If you’ve got them, polarizing lenses will preserve the vividness of the scenery while also protecting your eyes!
- Versatile Dressy Items. Though Icelandic culture is known for its casualness, Reykjavík is a rather cosmopolitan city and a few trendy and fashionable items can not only be layer-able, but will keep you in vogue with the local scene!
Needless to say, Iceland’s weather can make packing tricky, but with a little pre-planning and vigilant monitoring of the local weather report, you can save time, money, and painfully cold appendages!
Wondering when is the best time to travel to Iceland? Check out our blog exactly about that with expert tips from an Iceland vacation travel agency.
And if you need some money saving tips for your Iceland trip – we have a blog post about that as well!
If vacation planning overwhelms you, we are here to help with custom trip planning!