What to Pack For Iceland in Summer | Panorama Glass Lodge (2024)

Introduction

If you’re planning a trip to Iceland this summer, you’re in for an unforgettable adventure. From stunning landscapes and majestic waterfalls to charming villages and geothermal hot springs, Iceland offers a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

But before you embark on your journey, it’s crucial to pack wisely. The Icelandic weather can be quite unpredictable, and being prepared will ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable trip.

In this article, I’ll share with you everything you need to know about what to pack for Iceland in summer. Let’s dive in!

What is the Weather Like in Iceland in Summer?

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Summer in Iceland (yes, we’re aware those combination of words sounds sarcastic), which spans from late May to early September, is a time of endless daylight, with the famous Midnight Sun providing nearly 24 hours of light.

Temperatures are generally mild, ranging from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F), but can occasionally reach up to 20°C (68°F). However, Iceland’s weather is notoriously unpredictable, with sudden changes that can bring rain, wind, and even the occasional cold snap. This means that even in summer, you need to be prepared for a variety of weather conditions.

The weather can vary significantly across different regions of Iceland. The south coast tends to be milder and wetter, while the north can be slightly cooler and drier.

The Highlands, with their higher elevation, can experience significantly colder temperatures and even snow, even in the middle of summer. Understanding these regional differences can help you pack more effectively for your trip.

General Packing Tips When Visiting Iceland in Summer

You’ll Need Layers of Clothing

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Layering is the key to staying comfortable in Iceland’s ever-changing weather. By dressing in layers, you can easily add or remove clothing to adjust to the temperature and conditions.

Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add an insulating mid-layer, and top it off with a windproof and waterproof outer layer. This way, you’ll be ready for anything Iceland throws at you.

The base layer should be made of moisture-wicking material to keep sweat away from your skin. This helps regulate your body temperature and keeps you dry.

The mid-layer provides insulation and traps heat, which is crucial for staying warm. The outer layer protects you from wind and rain, which can chill you to the bone if you’re not properly protected.

Make Your Clothes Interchangeable

When packing for Iceland, it’s a good idea to bring clothes that can be mixed and matched – and we don’t mean anything like the catwalk scene in Zoolander.

This not only saves space in your suitcase but also ensures that you have versatile options for different activities and weather conditions. Choose neutral colors and basic pieces that can be layered and combined in various ways.

For example, a simple pair of black leggings can be worn under a dress for a day in Reykjavik, or under waterproof trousers for a hike. A fleece jacket can be worn alone on a cool day or layered under a waterproof jacket when it’s raining.

By choosing pieces that work well together, you can maximize your wardrobe without overpacking. Pack smarter, not more.

Be Prepared For Changing Weather Conditions

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As mentioned earlier, Iceland’s weather is highly unpredictable. It’s not uncommon to experience sunshine, rain, wind, and even a bit of snow all in one day.

Be prepared for these sudden changes by packing clothing and gear that can handle a variety of conditions. This includes waterproof and windproof jackets, warm layers, and sturdy footwear.

Check the weather forecast and road conditions regularly and be prepared to change your plans if necessary. Flexibility is key when traveling in Iceland. Always have a backup plan in case the weather makes your original plan impossible.

What to Pack

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into the specifics. Here’s a comprehensive list of what to pack for your summer trip to Iceland.

Windbreaker/Waterproof Jacket

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A good-quality windbreaker or waterproof jacket is essential for staying dry and comfortable in Iceland’s unpredictable weather.

Look for a jacket that is lightweight, breathable, and can easily fit over your other layers. A hood is a must-have feature to protect you from rain and wind.

Consider a jacket with ventilation zippers to help regulate your body temperature during physical activities. Pockets with zippers are also handy for keeping small items like your phone and wallet safe and dry.

Light Jackets

In addition to your waterproof jacket, bring a couple of light jackets for layering. Fleece jackets, softshell jackets, or lightweight down jackets are all great options.

These can be worn alone on warmer days or layered under your waterproof jacket when it’s cooler.

A light down jacket is particularly useful because it provides excellent warmth without being bulky. It can be compressed into a small size, making it easy to pack and carry.

Base Layers

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Moisture-wicking base layers are a must for staying comfortable in Iceland.

These help regulate your body temperature by drawing sweat away from your skin. Pack a few long-sleeve and short-sleeve base layer tops, as well as thermal leggings or long underwear for cooler days.

Look for base layers made of merino wool or synthetic materials. Merino wool is particularly good because it is naturally odor-resistant, which means you can wear it multiple times before it needs to be washed.

Mid-Layers – Fleece and Jumpers

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Mid-layers provide insulation and help trap heat. Fleece jackets, wool sweaters, and insulated vests are all excellent choices. These can be worn over your base layer and under your outer layer for added warmth.

A mid-layer with a zippered front is convenient because it allows you to easily adjust your temperature by zipping or unzipping it as needed. Wool sweaters are also great because they retain heat even when wet.

Down Jacket

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A lightweight down jacket is a versatile piece that can be worn as a mid-layer or outer layer, depending on the weather. Down jackets are incredibly warm and packable, making them ideal for travel.

Look for a down jacket with a high fill power, which indicates the quality of the down.

A higher fill power means better insulation with less weight. Many down jackets also come with a water-resistant coating, which is an added bonus.

Jeans, Long Trousers, Waterproof Trousers

Pack a mix of jeans, long trousers, and waterproof trousers for your trip. Jeans and long trousers are great for everyday wear and exploring cities, while waterproof trousers are essential for outdoor activities and hiking in wet conditions.

Waterproof trousers should be lightweight and breathable, with adjustable cuffs to keep water out.

They can be worn over your regular trousers or leggings for extra protection against the elements.

Socks

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Don’t forget to pack plenty of socks! Wool or synthetic socks are best for keeping your feet warm and dry. Bring both thin and thick pairs to accommodate different temperatures and activities.

Invest in good quality hiking socks that provide cushioning and support. After all, there’s nothing like a good hug for your feet during a cold misty hike.

Avoid cotton socks as they retain moisture and can cause blisters.

Gloves

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Even in summer, it can get quite chilly in Iceland, especially in the evenings and at higher elevations. Pack a pair of lightweight, waterproof gloves to keep your hands warm and dry.

Consider gloves that are touchscreen compatible so you can use your phone or camera without taking them off. Layering thin liner gloves under waterproof gloves can also provide extra warmth.

Waterproof Shoes

A good pair of waterproof shoes is essential for exploring Iceland’s diverse landscapes. Look for shoes with good traction and support that can handle wet and rugged terrain.

Waterproof hiking shoes or trail runners are a great option for day hikes and general exploration. Make sure they are comfortable and well-fitted to avoid blisters and discomfort.

Hiking Boots

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If you plan on doing any hiking, a sturdy pair of hiking boots is a must. Make sure they are waterproof and broken in before your trip to avoid blisters and discomfort.

Look for boots with ankle support, good traction, and a comfortable fit. Hiking boots with a Gore-Tex lining provide excellent waterproofing and breathability.

Comfortable and Supportive Walking Shoes

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In addition to hiking boots, bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes for exploring cities and towns.

Look for shoes with good arch support and cushioning to keep your feet happy during long days of sightseeing.

Sneakers or lightweight walking shoes are ideal for urban exploration. Make sure they are comfortable enough for all-day wear.

A Warm Hat

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A warm hat is essential for protecting your head and ears from the cold and wind. Choose a hat made from wool or a synthetic material that will keep you warm without making you overheat.

A beanie or knit cap is a great option for keeping warm. Look for hats with ear flaps or a brim to provide extra protection from the wind.

A Swimming Costume

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Iceland is famous for its geothermal hot springs and pools, so don’t forget to pack a swimming costume!

Whether you’re visiting the Blue Lagoon or one of the many local swimming pools, you’ll want to take a dip in these soothing waters.

Bring a quick-drying towel and a waterproof bag for your wet swimsuit. Many hot springs also have changing facilities, so having a bag to carry your wet items is handy.

Not to mention, cheap geothermal heating will help you toast up your wet items while you rest in the evenings.

Leggings

Leggings are a versatile and comfortable option for layering or wearing on their own. Pack a couple of pairs for hiking, lounging, or wearing under dresses and skirts.

Look for leggings made of moisture-wicking material that can be worn alone or under trousers. Fleece-lined leggings are also great for extra warmth on colder days.

Dresses, Skirts, and Tights (if enjoying the city)

If you plan on spending time in Reykjavik or other cities, pack a few dresses, skirts, and tights for a stylish and comfortable option. These can be layered with leggings and sweaters for added warmth.

Choose dresses and skirts made of comfortable, breathable materials. Pair them with tights or leggings for extra warmth and versatility.

Trekking Poles (if needed)

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If you plan on doing any serious hiking or trekking, consider bringing a pair of trekking poles. These can provide extra stability and support on uneven terrain.

Trekking poles are especially useful for steep or rocky trails. Look for poles that are lightweight, adjustable, and have comfortable grips.

Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is important, especially when you’re out exploring all day. Bring a reusable water bottle that you can refill throughout your trip.

Iceland’s tap water is some of the purest in the world, so you’ll have no trouble finding a place to fill up.

Choose a durable, leak-proof water bottle with a wide mouth for easy filling and cleaning. Insulated bottles are great for keeping water cold or hot beverages warm.

A Sleeping Mask

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With nearly 24 hours of daylight during the summer, a sleeping mask can be a lifesaver for getting a good night’s sleep. Choose a comfortable, adjustable mask that will block out the light and help you rest.

Look for a mask that fits snugly without putting pressure on your eyes.

Contoured masks are designed to block out light without touching your eyelids, and believe me, if you’re susceptible to light sneaking in way too early in the morning like I am, you’ll need one.

Personal Toiletries

Pack your usual toiletries, including toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and any other essentials. Don’t forget sunscreen and lip balm with SPF to protect your skin from the sun and wind.

Travel-sized toiletries are convenient and save space in your luggage. Consider bringing a small first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, pain relievers, and any personal medications.

European Plug Adapter (if from outside Europe/UK)

If you’re traveling from outside Europe or the UK, you’ll need a European plug adapter to charge your devices.

Iceland uses Type C and Type F plugs, so make sure your adapter is compatible.

Consider a universal adapter that can be used in multiple countries. It’s also a good idea to bring a power strip or multiple USB charger to charge several devices at once.

DSLR Camera and Equipment

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Iceland’s stunning landscapes are a photographer’s dream, so be sure to bring your DSLR camera and any necessary equipment.

This includes lenses, a tripod, extra batteries, and memory cards. You’ll want to capture every moment of your adventure!

A wide-angle lens is great for capturing expansive landscapes, while a telephoto lens is useful for wildlife photography. A sturdy tripod is essential for long-exposure shots and low-light conditions.

Credit Card/Debit Card

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While cash is accepted in some places, credit and debit cards are widely used and preferred in Iceland.

Make sure to bring a card with no foreign transaction fees to save on extra charges. It’s also a good idea to notify your bank of your travel plans to avoid any issues with your card.

Contactless payments are common in Iceland, so having a card with contactless capability is convenient.

In fact, cash will often confuse the locals who haven’t seen that trusted fish embroidered on the bank of their currency in years!

Keep a backup card in a separate location in case of loss or theft.

What Not to Pack

While it’s important to be prepared, there are a few items you can leave at home to save space in your luggage.

Flip Flops

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Flip flops are not practical for Iceland’s rugged terrain and unpredictable weather. Instead, opt for waterproof shoes and hiking boots for exploring, and pack a pair of comfortable sandals for the hot springs.

Cash

While it’s always a good idea to have a small amount of cash on hand, credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Iceland. You won’t need much cash, and it’s often easier and safer to use cards for transactions.

ATMs are readily available in cities and towns, so you can withdraw cash if needed. Just be aware of any foreign transaction fees your bank may charge.

Non-Waterproof Shoes

Iceland’s weather can be wet and unpredictable, so non-waterproof shoes are not a good idea. Stick to waterproof shoes and hiking boots to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

An Umbrella

Iceland’s strong winds can make using an umbrella difficult, if not impossible. Instead, rely on your waterproof jacket and hood to keep you dry in the rain.

How Unpredictable is the Weather During Summer in Iceland?

As mentioned earlier, Iceland’s weather is notoriously unpredictable, even in summer. It’s not uncommon to experience sunshine, rain, wind, and even a bit of snow all in one day.

This is why it’s so important to be prepared with layers and waterproof gear. The weather can change rapidly, and being able to adapt will ensure you stay comfortable and enjoy your trip.

Despite the unpredictability, summer is still one of the best times to visit Iceland. The long daylight hours allow for extended exploration, and the landscapes are lush and green.

Just be sure to check the weather forecast regularly and pack accordingly.

What Are the Driving Conditions Like During Summer in Iceland?

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Driving in Iceland during the summer is generally safe and enjoyable, but there are a few things to keep in mind. The main roads are well-maintained and easy to navigate, but some of the more remote areas may have gravel roads that require extra caution.

Always drive carefully and be aware of changing weather conditions that can affect road conditions.

One of the biggest challenges when driving in Iceland is the one-lane bridges that are common in rural areas. Be sure to yield to oncoming traffic and follow the posted signs.

Additionally, keep an eye out for sheep that may wander onto the road, especially in more remote areas.

If you plan on driving in the Highlands, a 4×4 vehicle is recommended as the roads can be rough and challenging. Always check road conditions and closures before heading out, and be prepared for sudden changes in weather.

Conclusion

Packing for a trip to Iceland in summer can be a bit of a challenge, but with the right preparation, you’ll be ready for anything this beautiful country has to offer.

By following these packing tips and bringing the essential items listed above, you’ll be well-equipped to handle Iceland’s unpredictable weather and make the most of your adventure.

From exploring stunning waterfalls and geothermal hot springs to hiking rugged landscapes and experiencing the Midnight Sun, your summer trip to Iceland is sure to be an unforgettable experience. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime. Safe travels!

What to Pack For Iceland in Summer | Panorama Glass Lodge (2024)
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