You’ve decided you are going to go to Iceland and maybe you’ve even booked your flight and accommodations. Congratulations! You’ve made it to the next phase of trip planning. If you’re still hashing out your travel plans, no worries! I highly recommend exploring Iceland by campervan because it is a wonderful way to see the country at your own pace. If you’re interested in learning more, I’ve also created an itinerary complete with Google Map locations. This packing guide will help you prepare for what to wear in Iceland and will also fit nicely in a carry on sized suitcase. Being able to fit your belongings into a carry on will come in handy if you happen to be flying on a budget airline (many of them charge exorbitant fees for each piece).
Seasons and temperature
Despite having the name “Iceland”, this country isn’t as cold as you might think! During the winter, the southerly lowland temperature hovers around 32 °F, and at 14 °F in the highlands. During the summer, temperatures can average 50–55 °F in the southern part of the island. Most people visit Iceland between May – September as the weather is most favorable during these months, many festivals take place, interior mountain roads are open, and the hours of daylight are long. There is a small exception though, in northern Iceland near Akureyri. According to Lonely Planet, the best time to visit that region is between June and September and then December through March. If you are considering visiting during the low season, it is important to consider the closure of certain mountain roads (due to inclement weather) and limited hours of daylight.
**For more on Icelandic climate information, read this article.
Who is this packing list for?
This is a packing list for the type of traveler who will be traipsing through Iceland to check out waterfalls, fjords, glaciers, plans on doing a bit of hiking, and also wants to spend some time in the main city of Reykjavik. Keep in mind the items on this list should be able to fit into a carry on sized suitcase as long as you wear some of the bulky items (boots, jackets, and scarves) on the plane.
Pro tip: For photos that will really pop, wear bright colors (red and yellow works great) to stand out against the dark landscape (black sand beaches, lava rocks, etc.).
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- Airline tickets and printed itinerary in a folder
- Travel insurance
- Local currency and bank cards
- Travel passport holder and wallet
- Carry-on spinner luggage
- Travel adapter with USB ports
- Chargers and cables
- Kindle E-reader
- Smartphone (I use an iPhone) – Airplane mode on to avoid roaming charges with WiFi on
- See my list on Travel App Must-Haves
- Bose Headphones // Bose wireless earbuds (optional)
- Power bank with extra USB ports (optional)
- Skyroam mobile hotspot (pay as you go) (optional)
- GoPro adventure camera and accessories (optional)
- Car charger dual USB port (optional; in case you get a campervan)
You should pack lightweight layers clothing that you can put on and off depending on the situation. Always keep your rain jacket handy because you never know when it might sprinkle.
- 1 mid-weight fleece or softshell jacket (men’s and women’s)
- 2 lightweight rain jackets (men’s and women’s)
- 1 down jacket (men’s and women’s)
- 1 dressy jacket (for nights out in Reykjavik)
- 1 dressy top to wear (for a night out in Reykjavik)
- 2 long sleeve shirts
- 1 tank top (base layer)
- 1 t-shirt
- 2 sweaters
- 2 casual pants
- 1 athletic thermal legging (men’s and women’s)
- 1 fleece legging (you can double up your fleece leggings underneath your pants)
- 1 set of sleeping clothes
- Daily underwear
- Swimsuit for hot springs or pools
- 1 scarf
- 1 beanie hat
- 1 pair of outdoor gloves
- 1 tall boot for women or casual shoes for men
- 1 waterproof snow/rain boot with good tread for hiking (men’s and women’s)
- Daily skin moisturizer
- Face cleanser
- Medicine (general assortment)
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss
- Shampoo & Conditioner or pack your own in these reusable bottles
- Contact solution and lens case
- Deodorant (women’s // men’s)
- Optional: face wipes, q-tips, hair ties, bobby pins, stain remover pen, antibacterial gel
- Notebook and pen
- Granola bars
- Tea bags (decaf and caffeinated)
- Neck pillow, eye mask, ear plugs
- Sunglasses and case
- Airplane socks
Printable packing list (print PDF)