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What to Pack for Iceland in Summer (Clothing and Other Essentials)

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What to Pack for Iceland in Summer (Clothing and Other Essentials)

Are you traveling to Iceland soon and wondering what to pack for Iceland and what to wear in Iceland?

First, let me tell you that there is not one Iceland clothing list that fits all seasons. What to wear in Iceland depends on when you travel to Iceland.

In this article, you can find Iceland clothing advice for summer. By summer I mean the warmest months from mid-May to mid-September, and that’s already stretched.

Summer is a relative term in Iceland, with average July temperatures around just 10–13 °C (50–55 °F). If you are extremely lucky, you will have a day or two with temperatures above 20°C (68°F) and maybe even some sunshine. Most likely, you will have the two extremes within a week or will experience all four seasons in just a day.

TIP: If you are traveling to Iceland in winter months (October to April), here you can find more information on what to pack and what to wear in Iceland in winter.

This Iceland packing list will answer your questions about what to wear in Iceland in June, July, or August. You can also use it for Iceland clothing advice for May and September, but in those months I would definitely go for a warmer jacket and also a full set of thermal underwear as well as wool socks.

No matter when you travel to Iceland, remember that waterproof clothing and layers are a must. Below you can read all about what to pack and what to wear in Iceland in summer. Find out!

What to pack and what to wear in Iceland - Iceland clothing for summer
 

Iceland Summer Packing List – OVERVIEW

  • Waterproof hiking shoes
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Layers of short- and long-sleeved shirts and sweaters
  • Hiking pants and rain pants
  • Gloves, buff, winter hat
  • Sleep mask
  • Swimsuit, towel, and flip-flops
  • Reusable water bottle and a thermos
  • Day backpack and rain cover
  • Sun protection
  • Moisturizers
  • Mosquito head net
  • European electrical adapter
  • Camera gear
  • Power bank

What to Wear in Iceland in Summer

Below is a list of Iceland clothing essentials that you shouldn’t forget to pack for Iceland in summer. I didn’t include any obvious items, as I assume you don’t need anyone telling you to pack underwear and socks.

This list also doesn’t include any regular clothing, but of course, you should also pack some jeans or light pants to wear at dinner. I also recommend packing light shoes to wear in your hotel in the evening.

This Iceland packing list is meant to help you with packing for Iceland, beyond the usual clothing and packing essentials that you would take on any other trip. Find out!

Waterproof hiking shoes

If you pack just one pair of shoes to Iceland, take sturdy waterproof hiking shoes. If you are serious about exploring Iceland even a little bit, you will need good footwear. If you are planning to visit any of the natural wonders of Iceland, you should opt for waterproof slip-resistant shoes or, ideally, waterproof hiking boots.

You will need good sturdy hiking boots if you are planning to go on a glacier hike in Iceland as well.

I know some people also like to use waterproof socks and they told me it’s one of the most useful items they have packed for Iceland. So it’s worth looking into these, especially if you are planning to do any hiking.

Some others, who don’t feel like investing in new waterproof hiking boots, opted for waterproof shoe covers.  However, I would only recommend these if you are only visiting Iceland for a day or two and your time outdoors is really limited.

There are many affordable waterproof hiking boots and I think that having dry feet are extremely important if you want to enjoy Iceland. Below you can find some examples of waterproof hiking shoes that should be suitable for regular sightseeing trips in Iceland in summer.

Waterproof jacket

You have absolutely no use of an umbrella or a water-resistant jacket in Iceland. Your outer layer has to be wind- and waterproof! 

Even in summer, a thin K-way will probably not be sufficient, so you may want to get one of those 3-in-1 jackets or a waterproof jacket with more insulation. In July and August, you may be ok with a light rain jacket, but it really depends on the weather you get. In any case, make sure you always pack enough layers to wear underneath in case it gets really cold!

I would definitely opt for a thicker jacket when traveling to Iceland in any season, as memories of the snowstorm we had in Iceland in June are still very vivid…

Akureyri snow storm in June
Akureyri snow storm in June ’06
 

Layers of short- and long-sleeved shirts and sweaters

One of the first things any Icelander will tell you when you ask what to wear in Iceland is that you need to wear many layers.

The weather changes often and so it’s best to wear plenty of layers that you can put on or take off when necessary.

Ideally, you have 3-4 layers at hand. In summer, I would go for a T-shirt or a long-sleeved thermal shirt, a sweater or a light fleece, a zip-up sweatshirt or zip-up fleece jacket, and a waterproof jacket. A warm vest might be nice to have if you are planning activities like hiking.

Hiking pants and rain pants

I usually wear jeans when we travel (I wore jeans in Iceland when we visited Iceland for the first time in June 2006), but I can tell you that Iceland is not an ideal destination for jeans.

Jeans have one huge disadvantage – they take forever to dry. I would still pack a pair of jeans to wear when you go out for dinner or in your hotel in Reykjavik, but for sightseeing, during the day, I would recommend wearing hiking pants.

I suggest to also pack a pair of waterproof rain pants as well, especially if you are planning on spending lots of time outdoors. When it rains in Iceland, it pours. Rain ponchos are useless in Iceland because of the wind. So it’s best to have light rain pants in your backpack at all times so that you can quickly put them on when it starts to rain.

Gloves, buff, winter hat

When packing for Iceland, you really should take gloves, buff, and warm hat. Yes, even in the summer!

You will definitely gloves and a warm hat for whale watching excursions, glacier hiking, and definitely, if you are camping in Iceland.

Do you need shorts and T-shirts in Iceland in summer?

If you are extremely lucky, you might have a day or two with summer temperatures in Iceland in July or August, but don’t count on it. I would definitely pack T-shirts to wear as the under-layer. As for the shorts, you might find the zip-off travel pants more practical.

Do you need smart clothing or summer dresses in Iceland?

If you plan to get acquainted with the (supposedly) vibrant nightlife of Reykjavik, you might want to pack a set of smart clothes and shoes for Iceland. Otherwise, leave them at home. Summer dresses are of no use for sightseeing at all.

Iceland clothing for tourists should be mostly focussed on waterproof outdoor clothing. If you really want to enjoy Iceland, you need to dress comfortably and stay dry.

What to Pack for Iceland in Summer

Sleep mask

If there is one thing you don’t want to forget when traveling to Iceland in summer, it’s a good sleeping mask. You know, one of those eye masks that are designed to keep all the light away from your eyes and help you fall asleep. 

It stays light 24 hours a day in the Nordics in summer. And so it hardly gets dark in Iceland in the months of May, June, and July. While it’s fun to experience the midnight sun, it’s definitely not fun if you are trying to get some sleep. And you cannot count on finding blackout curtains in the hotels outside Reykjavik.

We didn’t think of this the first time we went to Iceland (in June) and I remember we used buffs to cover our eyes to be able to fall asleep. Not very comfortable, as you can imagine, but it gave us a nice picture and lots of sleepless memories.

Pack sleeping masks for Iceland in summer
This is what happens when you don’t pack sleeping masks in summer
 

Swimsuit, towel, and flip-flops

Iceland is famous for its hot water springs and geothermal pools and there is nothing better than a relaxing hot tub after a long day outdoors. So when packing for Iceland, make sure to pack a swimsuit, a towel, and also flip-flops with you.

A quick-drying microfibre towel is also nice to have when traveling around Iceland. Some swimming pools rent towels, but they are quite expensive. And if you go swimming in natural hot springs, then you definitely want to have your own towel with you.

PRO TIP: You can visit local pools in Iceland without much advance preparation. However, if you are planning to go for a soak in the famous Blue Lagoon, it’s essential to book in advance!

Reusable water bottle and a thermos

Tap water is absolutely pristine in Iceland and it’s very convenient if you have a reusable water bottle that you can refill during the day.

I would definitely pack a travel thermos as well. I took one with me on the last two trips to Iceland and filled it with warm tea at the hotel every morning. It’s so nice to be able to enjoy a warm drink after a walk in the cold and the rain!

Picnic for lunch is one of the easiest ways to save time and money in Iceland
We always pack a thermos to Iceland
 

Day backpack and rain cover

Even if you don’t plan on doing longer hikes, you will be walking a lot in Iceland. It’s convenient to have a small day backpack, where you can stash all your clothing layers and travel gear. 

Waterproof backpacks are expensive, but a backpack rain cover is the best cheap travel item that you’ll be glad you packed for Iceland. It’s an absolute must!

I usually pack this 30-liter backpack for our outdoor adventures. It comes with an integrated rain cover included.

Sun protection

As everywhere else, you need sun protection in Iceland in the summer as well. Sun cap, sunglasses, and sunscreen should always be in your backpack.

Moisturizers

Face lotion or face cream and a lip balm are must-haves when packing for Iceland. The sun and the wind are particularly harsh for your skin in Iceland, so don’t forget these simple travel essentials.

Mosquito head net

Some areas of Iceland, especially around Myvatn Lake (Mosquito Lake), are full of black flies in summer. If you happen to be there when the flies arrive, you really want to have a mosquito head net.

There are two periods in the summer when there are massive swarms of flies in the Myvatn area. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict in advance when exactly the flies will be there.

Mosquitoes should not be a big concern in Iceland. There are very few mosquitoes, so normally, you don’t really need a mosquito spray.

European electrical plug adapter

Electrical sockets in Iceland are standard European electrical socket types C and E. If you have European appliances, you can just use them in Iceland as you would at home. If you are traveling from outside of Europe, make sure to bring a European travel adapter.

Camera gear

When packing camera gear for Iceland, make sure that you have plenty of batteries and memory cards with you. Rural Iceland is really rural, so you might not be able to find these items for sale.

I recommend to pack a good travel tripod for Iceland. It’s a must if you want to take silky waterfall pictures.

If you are planning to go whale-watching or want to see puffins in Iceland, I also recommend packing a good zoom lens (e.g. 70-200mm or 70-300mm) for your camera. If you are not sure what camera gear to pack, please check our guide to camera gear for wildlife photography.

Portable charger

I really recommend taking a good power bank with you when packing for Iceland. The days are long in the summer and the chances are high that your phone will be empty long before you had finished sightseeing for the day.

 

So, this is our packing list for Iceland for summer. I recommend that you download our printable Iceland packing list as well – you can do so via the form below. It’s a great checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything when packing for Iceland.

 

If you have any additional questions about Iceland clothing or packing for Iceland for the summer months, don’t hesitate to leave a reply below. Alternatively, join our Iceland and Scandinavia travel group on Facebook. It’s a great place to ask any questions about your upcoming trip to Iceland.

What to Pack for Iceland – FAQ

What clothes should you always bring to Iceland?

No matter in which season you visit Iceland, you should pack a waterproof outer layer, waterproof shoes, a couple of sweaters, gloves, a fleece hat, and a buff or a scarf. In summer, rain pants and a rain jacket will do, whereas in winter, you also need warm base layers, a wool sweater, an insulated waterproof jacket, and winter pants.

What kind of shoes should I wear in Iceland?

If you are visiting Iceland in summer and are not planning any adventurous outdoor activities, you could just wear sneakers or trainers. However, if you are planning to visit many outdoor destinations, we recommend wearing waterproof hiking shoes. In winter, waterproof winter boots with a good grip are a must.

Do I need waterproof jacket for Iceland?

A good waterproof jacket is truly essential when packing for Iceland in any season. Water-resistant or soft shell jackets aren’t ideal for Icelandic weather because when it rains (it WILL rain), you’ll get soaking wet in a matter of minutes.

Do I need waterproof pants for Iceland?

Wind- and waterproof pants are very useful in Iceland. They are definitely essential if visiting in winter, but also in summer, you should pack light rain pants for nature excursions. Iceland is known for its notorious winds and ‘horizontal’ rain, so if you want to enjoy the outdoors, you better make sure that you stay dry and warm!

 

More tips for your summer trip to Iceland:

Some of our favorite places in Iceland:

MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATION & TIPS: Iceland Travel Guide

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Iceland summer packing essentials - what to wear and pack for Iceland in June, July and August
Complete Iceland packing list for summer
What to pack for Iceland in summer
 
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Richard Edelen

Tuesday 13th of August 2019

would like packing list

Jurga

Wednesday 14th of August 2019

Hi Richard, if you mean that you want to download the printable version of the packing list, then you can get it by filling in the form in the article.

michael kellam

Wednesday 5th of June 2019

What's the best restaurant in the city?

Jurga

Saturday 8th of June 2019

Hi Michael, I don't even know which city you're referring to. :) Reykjavik, because your comment is on Iceland post? Anyway, why not try checking on Trip Advisor - there are so many amazing restaurants in every town and it would be really hard to pick just one...

Demi

Monday 3rd of June 2019

Do I really need gloves in Iceland in July? Is my windbreaker jacket sufficient? Thx

Jurga

Monday 3rd of June 2019

Hi Demi, yes, I advise taking gloves to Iceland in any season, also in summer. It's possible that you won't need them, but I know many people who ended up buying gloves and warm hats at the souvenir shops in Iceland in summer, because it can really get that cold. It's especially handy if you are planning to go on a boat (whale watching, for example) or glacier hiking. But also for regular activities, I'd pack them with you. As for the jacket, I really suggest packing a WATERPROOF and WINDPROOF rain jacket for Iceland. It doesn't have to be thick in summer, but make sure you have several layers you can wear under it if it gets really cold. Hope this helps.

Bill Delaney

Sunday 2nd of June 2019

JurgI am on a cruise starting in Reykjavik and going out and around West Coast to two northern towns, Isafjordur-hofn, and Akureyri in late june and then on to Norway.

I will NOT be taking any land tours but wanted to explore the towns on foot. I see the temps there are about 50-55 degrees but that doesn't account for the wind iff the water.

Since my exposure time will be limited (I can duck in stores to warm up, how much layering should I do? Can I live with thermal shirt, flannel shirt, rain/wind breaker and wind pants with sneakers on?

This is a summer vacation and I really don't want to layer too much and would stay onboard rather than fight a healthy wind. Since I am sleeping on the boat under a cozy comforter with heavy room draping I think the sleep mask is unnecessary what do ou think. Thanks for any advice.

Jurga

Monday 3rd of June 2019

Hi Bill, I would, in any case, make sure to pack a waterproof rain jacket. It doesn't have to be thick, but waterproof and windproof is a must for Iceland, but also for Norway. I would also pack a sweater if I were you. Even in Norway we sometimes wore two sweaters and a jacket in August, so you really never know. It doesn't have to be heavy, a light fleece will do. But I really think you might need more layers than an under t-shirt and a flannel shirt. Also, take light gloves with you. What's the point of going on a trip like that and stay onboard if the weather isn't optimal (it hardly ever is in Iceland)... Just my opinion, of course. As for the sleeping mask, if you have good curtains that keep the light out, then no, you don't need it. Enjoy your trip.

Austin

Wednesday 15th of May 2019

Hi, just wondering

If I do not use credit cards or any other kind of non-cash ways to pay, how much do I need to bring on a 14-day trip to ICELAND out of Reykjavík?

Jurga

Wednesday 15th of May 2019

Hi Austin, this question is impossible for me to answer. It depends on so many factors - how you travel (car, public transport, tours), what you have already prepaid or not, are you planning to dine in restaurants 3 times a day, etc. etc. Please read this article about how expensive is everything in Iceland - it should help you to better estimate how much money you'll need in Iceland. But I really wouldn't advise taking lots of cash - credit or even debit cards are so much easier.

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