What to Pack When Traveling to Iceland in the Summer

Updated on January 10, 2020
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Jon lives in Iceland with his wife and children and has seen the tourist industry explode in the last few years.

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Preparing for Your Summer Trip to Iceland

Iceland is an incredible country filled with wonderful sights and experiences. Its nature is beautiful and there's just so much of it.

But Iceland is also a cold and hard country, even during the summer. Every year, tourists get in trouble due to a lack of understanding of Iceland's nature and weather. Failing to prepare properly for your trip can turn a dream vacation into a poor experience.

So I am here to offer you several tips on what to take with you on your summer trip to Iceland. Of course, the nature of your trip affects what you should pack, but it's always better to take a few too many items with you than be lacking.

Rainproof and Windproof Clothing

This is probably the most important thing you pack when you travel to Iceland. The weather here can range from fair to abysmal, with windy and rainy days being common. There is nothing more frustrating than spending half the holiday cold and wet. You could, of course, hit a stretch of great weather during the summer months (May–August), but don't bet on it.

So having a jacket and pants which are both windproof and rainproof is essential, as the winds here can literally blow you off your feet. If you don't believe me, maybe this video will convince you.

Good Waterproof Shoes

I'm assuming that you intend to do some walking in Iceland's nature. Bringing good walking shoes that are waterproof is essential for that. Again, Iceland is a very wet country, and while there are days, even weeks, dry during the summer, there is no guarantee.

The ground around waterfalls is always wet.
The ground around waterfalls is always wet. | Source

A Light Sweater or Fleece Jacket

Even during the summer, there are days when it's chilly outside, so you should always have a light sweater or a fleece jacket to use either by itself or under your rainproof coat. A good sweater can also double as a pillow if needed.

You should also think about bringing clothes that you can easily put on and take off depending on how the weather changes. And it does change really quickly.

This is, of course, a spoof video, but it does have a grain of truth. Always be aware that even if the day starts out beautiful, it can end with a rainstorm.

Your Swimsuit

One of the more interesting experiences in Iceland is going to the public swimming pools. These are geothermally heated pools that are under the open sky. You can, of course, buy a swimsuit in Iceland, buy it will cost you a lot of money (like everything here) so remember to pack yours.

You might also find it interesting to hear that there is a beach in Reykjavik. It's small, and usually rather chilly, but locals often go there on the few great summer days we get. Going to a beach in Iceland is a somewhat unique experience you should try if you're lucky enough to be here on those days.

The beach in Reykjavik is called Nautholsvik.
The beach in Reykjavik is called Nautholsvik. | Source

A Good Towel

A good towel is one of the most useful things a traveler can have, which is so often overlooked. You can use a good towel as a blanket, you can try to ward off insects with it, shield yourself from the sun, wave it as a distress signal in case of an accident and use it as a makeshift sling for that injury. You can even dry yourself with it.

So be sure to bring a decent-sized, but thin and quick-drying towel with you.

Sunscreen

You might not think that it's needed, but I would highly recommend using sunscreen if you are going to be outside for a long time on a sunny day, such as hiking, fishing, whale-watching, etc. While the temperature is usually well below 20°C, the sun can still burn your skin if given enough time.

This is even more essential if you are hiking on a glacier. The reflective surface of the glacier doubles the amount of sunlight hitting your skin and the chance of sunburn is even higher than on a tropical beach.

A Good Pair of Sunglasses

The summer sun in Iceland is somewhat low in the sky, and it's there almost all the time. During the month of June, the sky never gets dark and the sun in Reykjavik goes below the horizon for maybe an hour or so. This makes sunglasses an essential part of your traveling kit for Iceland.

A Simple Fly Net

There are no mosquitoes in Iceland which is great. But in a few places, particularly near lakes or wetlands, there are these tiny bugs that fly all around you and are really annoying. Having a small fly net when hiking in these areas is a real lifesaver. And since they take practically no space, you should take one with you whenever you go outside a residential area.

Now, these are just the basics I feel are necessary for you to enjoy your trip thoroughly. You will, of course, need to pack a variety of other things you feel are necessary for your own well being.

Finally, I hope that you found reading through this list both helpful and insightful and that you'll have a wonderful trip to Iceland.

© 2020 Jon Sigurdsson

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    • KC3Lady profile image

      Kelly Ann Christensen 

      5 months ago from Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas

      That looks fabulous. I once contemplated moving to Iceland. I read the history that said it was named Iceland when it is plush and green, and Greenland is icy, in order to keep Iceland as a well kept secret. I may still move to Iceland, God willing, rather than die in America, naked and starving in the streets, waiting on the cops to do their jobs. I have to locate my targeted child and grandchildren first. Thank you for the enjoyable article.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      6 months ago from UK

      These are really useful tips for anyone planning a trip to Iceland in the summer.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      6 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'd like to visit Iceland. I appreciate your tips about dealing with the weather. The videos were very interesting!

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