Endless adventure, crisp fresh air, and stunning landscapes await in Iceland, where plunging waterfalls, ice-covered volcanoes, towering glaciers, and soothing hot springs are all a part of the journey.
In the past few years, record numbers of tourists have flocked to Iceland, hoping to explore the island’s many natural wonders (such as the Northern Lights or the plunging Gullfoss waterfalls) and the burgeoning food and cultural scene in the capital of Reykjavik.
While you may think it’s freezing cold in Iceland year-round, the weather can actually be quite mild due to the Gulf Stream current that brings warm winds all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to several parts of the country.
Even so, Iceland’s temperatures are known for fluctuating quickly, easily going from warm and sunny to frigid, within the same day—or even within the same hour.
If the fickle weather has you wondering what to pack for Iceland, don’t worry, we’re here to help. As local Icelanders like to say: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” So take it from them and choose wisely before your next trip.
Here is a list of what to bring to Iceland during the summer months.
Even during the summer, Iceland can get quite chilly, so when thinking about what to pack for Iceland, choosing a light but warm fleece jacket is a smart call. Unlike a coat, a fleece jacket won’t take up too much space in your suitcase. It’s also practical if you’ll be going on outdoor adventures like hiking or climbing so you don’t have to carry around heavy outerwear.
Down or fleece vest
Another easy layering piece that will keep you warm and comfortable during a trip to Iceland is a down or fleece vest. Zip it up and wear it under your jacket as an extra layer during colder days, pr pair it with a long-sleeved tee and wear it as your sole piece of outerwear on sunnier days when a coat or jacket is overkill.
Iceland is known for being windy and wet, as you’ll find rainfall and cool breezes throughout the year. Therefore, a sturdy rain jacket or waterproof windbreaker is key for any trip to the country, especially when exploring Iceland’s natural wonders. Choose one that can easily be rolled or folded up, allowing you to easily stash it in a day bag if needed.
If you want to stay dry during a trip to Iceland, then a pair of waterproof rain pants are a must. A good pair of rain pants will keep you comfortable while you’re busy exploring the great outdoors of Iceland.
Performance pants that zip off at the knee may not be your first choice for fashion, but they’re quite practical for a trip to Iceland, where the weather can change throughout the day and vary depending on your activity.
Walking shoes or hiking boots
Whether you plan on staying in Reykjavik to explore the many restaurants, shops, and museums in the downtown area, or you’re more focused on discovering the beautiful waterfalls and lagoons in the highlands, you’ll want to make sure to pack a good pair of walking shoes.
Since Iceland sees its fair share of rain and snow, a pair of waterproof shoes or boots is also a smart call. Even if you’re only walking around the city, you’ll want to avoid getting your feet soaked in case you accidentally step in a puddle of water.
Warm wool socks
Much like waterproof shoes, a few warm pairs of socks are essential items to pack in your Iceland suitcase. Choose thick wicking socks that will keep your feet dry and cozy, especially during hiking trips around Iceland’s waterfalls and glacial lagoons.
The best way to deal with Iceland’s unpredictable weather is by bringing easy layering pieces, such as long and short-sleeved T-shirts, preferably in a breathable cotton fabric. Depending on the temperature of the day, you can adjust and wear a warmer or cooler t-shirt underneath your outer layers.
Make sure to bring a thermal top and leggings to wear underneath your clothes. Choose thermal pieces in breathable wicking fabrics that will keep you dry and warm, such as merino wool, or try out a synthetic option if you find wool itchy.
On a trip to Iceland during the summer, pack lightweight sweaters in fabrics like cashmere or merino wool that won’t take up too much space and won’t have you sweating during those warmer days when the temperature can climb up to 60 or 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Don’t forget to keep your hands warm with a pair of gloves. As you’ll likely be taking a lot of photos and videos of Iceland’s gorgeous scenery, bring touchscreen gloves that will make it easy for you to operate your camera and phone and will avoid you from having to constantly take your gloves off and put them back on.
If you’re heading there in the summer, bring a pair of light and water-resistant gloves that will keep your hands dry, especially if you’re planning on engaging in more adventurous outings, like glacier hiking or whale watching expeditions, during your time in Iceland.
A warm scarf can go a long way during a trip to Iceland. Always have one on hand in your day bag just in case the winds pick up and you need an extra layer of warmth around your neck and face.
Another way to keep your head and face warm from strong gusts of wind and chilly temperatures is by packing a cozy knit beanie or a warm fleece headband.
It rains a lot throughout the year in Iceland, so pack an easily storable umbrella that you can bring along in your day bag, especially when walking around downtown Reykjavik, where you won’t want to be caught empty-handed in a rainstorm.
Packing a few swimsuits are a must for any trip to Iceland. One of the most popular activities to do in Iceland is visiting one of the country’s thermal pools, specifically the famous Blue Lagoon. The lagoon is naturally warmed by lava-heated seawater, so you’ll be able to take a dip throughout the year.
Also, you might want to plan on packing a swimsuit that you won’t mind exposing to some of the Blue Lagoon’s earthier adventures, such as their mineral mud baths, which are said to have a variety of healing properties.
Before and after you jump into the geothermal pools, you’ll want to wear something that will keep you comfortable and warm. Women will want to pack a long-sleeved swimsuit cover-up, while men should bring a long-sleeved t-shirt to wear on top of their swimsuit.
During the summer months, Iceland can see up to 24 hours of daylight, a phenomenon known as the Midnight Sun. If you happen to be traveling in May or June, you might not ever see the sky turning dark, therefore a pair of sunglasses to deal with the sunlight at all hours is a must.
While you can always take photos and videos with your phone, landscapes like the Gullfoss Falls and Vatnajokull Ice Caves deserve to be captured with a high definition camera. Once you witness these beautiful natural wonders in person, you’ll be glad you brought along a camera to shoot them.
While the weather is warmer during the summer, it’s not unusual to see temperatures dip into the low 40s. Keep your hands toasty and pack portable heat packs that you can stash inside gloves during particularly cold days outside.
If you’re planning on doing any outdoor activities while in Iceland, make sure to pack a waterproof bag. These special cases are ideal for keeping your phone, wallet, and other valuables safe and dry while you’re busy taking a dip in thermal hot springs, hiking up glaciers, or exploring Iceland’s glacial caves and lakes.
Even though the weather might be chilly, it’s important to keep in mind that summers in Iceland have over 20 hours of sunlight. Pack a bottle of sunscreen and avoid getting a sunburn, especially if you’re spending time in thermal pools and hills, where the sunlight’s glare can be quite strong.
A backpack is the most convenient place for all of those travel essentials you’ll need as you explore Iceland. Choose a zip-up backpack that is large enough to accommodate your wallet, cell phone, travel documents, sweater or light jacket, scarf, cosmetics, camera, and anything else you think you’ll need to have at hand during your travels.
Make sure you don’t choose an oversized bag that could excessively weigh on your shoulders and back while you’re walking around.
There’s nothing worse than pulling out your phone to take a photo or video of a spectacular sight only to realize it has run out of battery. Avoid this unfortunate tech mishap during your vacation by packing a portable USB charger in your bag and rest easy knowing that you’ll always have enough battery to capture those important moments.
If you’re traveling from the United States or another region of the world to Europe, you should bring along an outlet adapter in order to properly use and charge your electrical items. An international adapter is the smartest choice since you’ll be able to use it wherever you travel, including Iceland.
Be eco-friendly and stay hydrated by bringing a refillable water bottle to your trip. Fill it up in one of Iceland’s many natural watering holes, which have some of the purest drinking water in the world.
Now that you know what to bring to Iceland, it’s time to start planning your next trip. Experience all of the natural beauty of Iceland with Celebrity Cruises on one of our unforgettable itineraries throughout Northern Europe, with stops in the ports of Reykjavik and Akureyri.
Visit Reykjavik’s steamy lagoons, healing hot springs, cascading waterfalls, and glacial lakes. In Akureyri, experience mud baths, ski resorts, and lava fields.
Don’t wait to discover this jewel of a country and book your next cruise to Iceland now. Browse cruise itineraries on our website and start planning your next luxury vacation.