The Ultimate Iceland Packing List: Every Season Covered

Although Iceland is a small island in Northern Europe, the country has attracted more than 2 million tourists in 2023. According to experts, this number will continue to increase and could reach 2.6 million visitors by 2025.

Indeed, with its diverse topography, Iceland attracts visitors worldwide to its stunning waterfalls, natural hot springs and breathtaking Northern lights.

If you don't want to miss this travel trend, it’s time to take a look at what you need to bring to the land of fire and ice besides the obvious essentials. In this article, we will provide the ultimate Iceland packing list so you can fully prepare and make the most of your time in Iceland. Let's get started!

Essentials For Every Season

No matter where you go, you always need to ensure you've got all the necessary documents for a smooth trip.

1. Your Passport Is The Initial Requirement

iceland packing list

The passport is your gateway to international travel. IG: @robinnuber

Like any holiday, your passport is the most important document in the Iceland packing list. Ensure it is valid for at least six months after your expected return date.

If you have recently changed your hairstyle significantly, updating your passport photo to reflect your current appearance might be a good idea. This precaution helps to prevent discrepancies during identity checks at borders.

2. Remember To Bring A Visa (If Required)

For many visitors, entering Iceland is simple, with no visa required for stays of up to 90 days. However, you should check if your nationality entitles you to that privilege. If you discover that you need a visa, applying ahead of time is essential. Both UK and US travellers need no passport to visit the country with an ‘expiry date’ last at least 3 months after the day you leave.

3. Travel Insurance Is Important

Travel insurance is an integral part of every trip. It helps cover many possible problems, such as needing to see a doctor, which can be very expensive for travellers in Iceland. The best recommendation is to always carry a copy of your insurance and emergency phone numbers from your insurance company.

4. Credit/Debit Cards and Currencies

Although shopping in Iceland rarely requires cash, you should still use a combination of credit/debit cards and a small amount of local currency (Icelandic Króna) for small purchases or large locations.

You should also inform your bank about your travel plans to avoid having your card blocked for suspicious foreign transactions.

If you travel on a budget, a day in Iceland can cost just $100 for food and transportation. Based on this estimate, you should prepare an amount of money corresponding to the time you travel.

4. Driver’s license

Can foreigners drive in Iceland? Yes, you’ll need a European, Canadian or American driver's license that has been held for at least one year. An International Driver's Permit (IDP) is not mandatory in Iceland, but it's highly recommended, especially if your driver's license is not in Latin letters.

2. Clothing: Layering Is Key

iceland packing list

Layering is your best strategy for comfort and adaptability. Photo credit: Paulina Goldschneider / @paulinagoldschneider

The weather in Iceland is notoriously unpredictable and can change quickly from warm sunshine to thick fog or rain in just a day. 

During summer (June to August), the temperature can range from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F), while winter (December to February) has temperatures ranging from - 5°C to 5°C (23°F to 41°F). 

Therefore, it is expected to be quite cold, and you should dress warmly to maximise your time playing outdoors.

1. Pack Warm Clothes Strategically

Any packing for Iceland requires lots of waterproof layers. Instead of choosing a big, thick shirt, you should divide it into several thinner, more comfortable layers to keep your body warm more effectively. Even if you feel hot, you can take off some inner layers and still make sure you don't get cold.

Layers, layers, layers

Typically, you need 3 to 4 layers of clothing to retain heat. The innermost layer is a thin T-shirt, which will keep you warm without adding bulk. To stay dry and comfortable, you should choose shirts with moisture-wicking materials, such as merino wool or synthetic fabrics.

The middle layer can be a sweater or fleece. Ladies, you can also wear a warm velvet dress. 

For the outermost layer, you should wear a quilted life jacket or a thick windproof jacket for insulation. Iceland is famous for sudden showers and strong winds, so a durable, weatherproof jacket will protect you from the elements. You could also find a Lopapeysa and wear it like the locals. Plus, it makes for the perfect souvenir to wear at home.

Rain Jacket

Rain is not an unusual occurrence. Iceland can be quite windy, and a good rain jacket will often have windproof qualities as well. This will help you stay warm and protected from the elements. It is also great when you want to stay dry amidst the mist and spray of Skógafoss or Seljalandsfoss waterfalls.

Warm Bottoms

Don't forget to bring waterproof pants, especially if you plan to explore Iceland's stunning waterfalls or take glacier tours. If you want to bring leggings, opt for fleece-lined leggings; they will make your time in this nation better. Thermal underwear is another essential. Just like with socks, bring enough to cover your daily needs. 

Jeans, on the other hand, may not be the greatest idea. They are viable for summer, casual dinner nights or walking in the city. But taking a step outside, they are not ideal for exploring uneven terrain.

3. Choose Waterproof Footwear

iceland packing list

Choose comfortable and sturdy footwear. Photo by -

Because the weather is quite cold and humid,  a pair of waterproof boots is indispensable to explore Iceland. The boots help keep your feet warm, and the rubber sole helps keep your balance when walking on slippery surfaces. 

Rain boots are also delicately designed, so they look no different from a pair of fashionable boots. Water shoes and sandals are good, but limit them to thermal pools as you’ll likely trek on lava fields and rugged terrain most of the time.

“Do I really need that extra pair of socks?” Absolutely! You'll be hiking through lava fields, climbing glaciers, and traipsing through waterfalls. Trust us, your feet will thank you for that extra pair of cosy socks. Another thing to note is that you should choose high-neck socks made of cotton or cashmere to warm your feet.

4. Accessories For Functionality

Warm accessories are also indispensable items in the Iceland packing list. You can wear gloves, a scarf, or a fur hat to keep warm and serve as an accessory to highlight the overall outfit.

In particular, this fur hat can keep the head, neck, and ears warm simultaneously and can even be used as a mask to keep the mouth and nose warm. To easily coordinate with many different types of clothes, you should choose a hat with dark tones and no patterns.

5. Electronics To Bring   

Iceland uses the standard European plug (type C/F - those with two round pins). Ensure your universal travel adapter can handle the voltage if your devices are incompatible with 220-240 volts.

The temperature will quickly sap the batteries of your phone and laptop so you will bring power chargers alongside your adapter and cords.

A good headlamp is also a must for any Iceland packing list. It provides hands-free freedom and some light sources when you want to have a good Northern Light picture.

Iceland’s stunning landscapes and natural phenomena are too good to be captured on a phone’s camera. Therefore, consider bringing a camera and photography gear (we’ll talk more about this later).

3. Luggage And Bags

iceland packing list

Your time in this land will be better with a good daysack. Photo credit: Paulina Goldschneider / @paulinagoldschneider

A durable, waterproof backpack is crucial for day trips. It should be spacious enough to carry your essentials, including extra layers, snacks, and water, but compact enough to be comfortable for long periods.

If you are seeking a veritable option to hold all of your stuff in the Iceland packing list, you should give CabinZero Cabin Bags a try! It is designed with high-quality, water-resistant materials to withstand the unpredictable weather conditions of Iceland, from sudden rain showers to mist and drizzle. This ensures that your belongings stay dry and protected during the whole trip.

Plus, understanding that travellers might be on the move for hours, the CabinZero backpack features padded shoulder straps and a ventilated back panel. This design not only makes it comfortable to carry on long hikes across lava fields or through national parks but also helps prevent overheating and discomfort during longer treks.

When you want to ensure everything to be protected further, opt for our backpack rain cover. They provide a snug fit for every CabinZero backpacks, preventing the cover from slipping off or allowing water to seep in. Our rain cover also comes with its own pouch or can be stuffed into a built-in pocket for convenience.

4. Toiletries and Personal Items 

You can start to put on your Iceland packing list with skincare essentials, with a strong moisturiser and lip balm to combat the dry, cold air, especially if you're visiting in the winter. 

Sunscreen is also a must, regardless of the season, due to the country's high latitude and the intensity of UV rays, particularly in summer when days are longer. 

For hair care, you should consider a hydrating shampoo and conditioner, as the wind and weather can be harsh. Also, you need to bring a deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, and any personal hygiene items you require daily.

Don't forget to pack any prescription medications you need, along with a small first aid kit that includes pain relievers, plasters, and any over-the-counter medicines you might use. A good First Aid Kit is never a bad thing.

Another advice is to consider the activities you plan to engage in. If you're heading to the hot springs, bring a trendy swimsuit and an extra towel. For those planning extensive hiking or outdoor exploration, moisture-wicking undergarments and layers can help keep you comfortable.

5. Gear and Equipment

iceland packing list

Iceland's landscapes are a photographer's dream. Photo by meneari -

When packing for a trip to Iceland, especially if you plan on participating in various activities, it's important to consider the diverse weather conditions and the nature of your activities.

Northern Lights Viewing

You should bring a compact travel camera to capture the most beautiful moments of your trip. You can use a separate bag to hold the camera, lenses, extra batteries (which drain faster in cold conditions) and additional memory cards.

Plus, a tripod is useful for long exposures, especially for capturing the Northern Lights or the midnight sun. Don't forget a portable charger and universal plug adapter to charge the battery (Iceland uses European standard plugs).

Hiking And Snow Gear

Preparing for hiking or camping in Iceland requires thoughtful consideration due to its unique and varied landscapes and quickly changing weather conditions. The ten hiking essentials are a good start. Again, your day-hiking Iceland packing list should include waterproof and wind-proof gear. 

  • Hat, Gloves, and Scarf
  • 2 pair of gloves
  • 2-3 Wool or Synthetic Layers
  • 1-2 Waterproof Jacket
  • 2 Hiking Pants
  • Thermal Underwear
  • Wool or synthetic socks
  • Hiking boots
  • Crampons
  • Buff or bandana
  • Sunglasses
  • First-aid kit.

Dipping Into The Hotspring

Believe it or not, Iceland is home to some amazing hot springs and geothermal pools. Don't miss out on the chance to take a dip in these natural wonders. Pack your swimsuit and get ready to relax in the warm waters while surrounded by stunning Icelandic scenery.

  • Swimsuit: Pack a comfortable swimsuit you'll enjoy wearing. Consider quick-drying materials for easier changing, especially if you're visiting multiple hot springs in a day.
  • Towel: A quick-drying microfiber towel is the best option. It dries fast and packs down small, perfect for travel.
  • Flip flops or sandals: Easy to slip on and off when going to and from the hot springs and changing areas. Consider water-resistant options if you expect wet surfaces.
  • Toiletries bag: Pack your essentials like shampoo, conditioner, soap, and any other toiletries you need for showering and changing.

6. Miscellaneous

iceland packing list

Are you ready for your adventure? Photo by Cristian -

Got your Iceland packing list sorted out? Great, now there are many items you can consider tossing into the backpack or suitcase. They are mostly nice-to-have, if you have the space for it.

  • Itinerary and Guidebook: If you forget your pre-planned itinerary, you can use some apps like Iceland Travel by TripBucket to research destinations with insights during your trip. 
  • Reusable Water Bottle or Thermos Flask: good for keeping beverages hot during cold outdoor activities.
  • Drone (restrictions apply): Drones are increasingly popular for capturing aerial footage. However, Iceland has strict regulations on drone use. Be sure to research and obtain necessary permits before bringing one.
  • Snacks: some cereal bars and tea/coffee sachets are fun for the flight or the first few nights.
  • Neck gaiter: can be worn in multiple ways to protect your face and neck.
  • Crampons and/or trekking poles: they provide great grip and stability when hiking through snow or glaciers.
  • Dry pack: great for exploring the black sand beaches and storing dirty clothes. CabinZero ADV Dry Bags are durable, lightweight, and stylish option to check out.


1. Is Iceland Safe To Travel?

Certainly! Iceland has been considered the safest country in the world for several years. However, you should remember the emergency number in Iceland 112, in case of emergencies. It's efficient and can be dialled for any type of emergency, including medical, fire, or police assistance. There's also an app called 112 Iceland which can send your location to the emergency services if you're lost or in trouble.

2. How Do I Pack For A Week In Iceland?

You can absolutely prepare an Iceland packing list for a week light. In terms of clothes, you should bring thermal wear, fleece, and a waterproof jacket, and bring at least 3 sets of them.

Don't forget waterproof pants for those waterfall visits and sturdy, waterproof boots for exploring. You will also need to pack a swimsuit for hot springs, and a beanie, gloves, and scarf to stay cosy. 

A beanie, gloves, and scarf will keep you warm in the crisp Icelandic air and don't underestimate the need for sunglasses and sunscreen, even in cooler climates. And, of course, a good camera will help you capture the stunning vistas you'll encounter. 

3. How Much Money Should I Take For A Week In Iceland?

For a comfortable trip, including moderate accommodations, car rental, dining out for most meals, and a few paid attractions or tours, you might expect to spend around $600 to $1,000 per person. This estimate doesn't include flights. If you plan on more luxurious accommodations or high-end dining, your budget will need to be higher.

4. What Should I Pack For Spotting The Northern Lights In Iceland?

Warm, insulated clothing is essential for night-time Northern Light hunts. You can pack thermal layers, a heavy winter coat, insulated pants, and warm accessories. Moreover, a headlamp with a red light setting can also be helpful for navigating in the dark while preserving night vision.

Wrap Up

In wrapping up our Iceland packing list, it is clear that the key to enjoying this incredible destination lies in preparation and flexibility. By packing thoughtfully, you're setting yourself up for an unforgettable journey. 

We'd be thrilled to hear from you! Drop a comment below with your experiences, tips, or any magical moments you've encountered in the land of fire and ice. And if you know someone planning their own Icelandic adventure, don't hesitate to share this guide with them!

Ha Ngan

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