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Iceland is a country of extremes. Depending on which part of the country you are visiting, it can be cold, wet, sunny, or windy. If visiting Iceland in summer, many of the activities you will want to do are outdoors, so it’s important you know exactly what to pack for Iceland in summer. This Iceland packing list for summer not only covers what to wear during the months of May through August, but also includes a few important items you won’t want to forget when packing for Iceland.
This Iceland packing list for summer includes all the necessities for a summer trip to Iceland, plus a few extra items that will make your summer in Iceland more enjoyable.
Weather in Iceland in summer
Weather in Iceland can be interesting, Many people hear the word “ice” in the country name and automatically think it will be frigid. However, this is far from the truth. The weather in Iceland during the summer months can be described as quite pleasant. Highs typically reach near 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius) and lows hardly drop much from that. Why? Because the sun is up all day long. That means you won’t experience the big temperature fluctuations like you get elsewhere. Most days will only see a difference of 10 degrees Fahrenheit from the high to the low.
July is Iceland’s warmest month when highs average the lower 60s.
Still though, Iceland’s climate is tricky. The topography of the island can bring many cloudy days and areas of rain can randomly set up. Don’t be surprised if you go from sun to rain showers in a few minutes. However, due to the placement of Iceland, it is extremely rare for Iceland to experience thunderstorms. Most rain events are passing showers that do not last long.
The summer months are typically the driest months of the year for Iceland, though this stat can be deceiving as June, July, and August average about 15 days of measurable rainfall each month, and you’ll still need a rain jacket.
What to wear in Iceland in summer
Now that you know a little bit about the weather in Iceland in summer, you’re ready to start packing for your trip. When determining what to wear in Iceland in summer, one word pretty much sums it up: LAYERS! Long sleeves, vests, jackets, and beanies. You’ll want to be able to add or remove a layer as the weather changes from day to evening or from one location to another.
The climate in Iceland, regardless of season, can be somewhat variable and even unpredictable at times. So it’s important that your Iceland packing list for summer includes articles of clothing that can be layered and removed as the temperatures and weather change.
Iceland packing list – summer gear and apparel to bring
As you pack your suitcase, here are some of the most vital items that you need to pack for Iceland in summer.
Rain Boots or Waterproof hiking boots
Whether you plan to hike or simply want to check out some of the beautiful nature and waterfalls in Iceland, you will want a good pair of comfortable, waterproof boots. But determining the best boots for Iceland depends on what your activities will be while you’re there.
If you plan to hike, you’ll need hiking boots with a sturdy sole on your Iceland packing list for summer. But if you are not planning to do any hiking or glacier trekking, a quality rain boots would also suffice. We didn’t bring rain boots or hiking boots for our daughter and her tennis shoes were soaked on several occasions. In retrospect, a pair of waterproof shoes or boots for her would have been beneficial.
I’ve linked below to a few options of boots to wear in Iceland for the whole family. I wore my favorite Hunter rain boots and even did a short hike in them, and they were great. But if you prefer an actual waterproof hiking boot, there are plenty of brands that make great boots for Iceland.
If you plan to visit the famous Blue Lagoon or any of the geothermal pools in Iceland, you’ll obviously need a swimming suit. Although expensive, the Blue Lagoon is worth visiting and is easy to get to from the airport. Luckily, some of my favorite brands of swimming suits are available online and are great for sporty, active families.
Rain Jacket or Waterproof Outer Layer
Whether you visit Iceland in summer or in winter, the weather can be a mixed bag. The country’s capital, Reykjavik, averages approximately 217 days with at least a drizzle of precipitation. So a quality rain jacket or poncho will keep you dry and warm. Even if it doesn’t rain during your trip, a rain jacket will keep you dry when visiting some of Iceland’s best waterfalls, many of which you will get misted by when visiting. So, a rain jacket should be on every Iceland packing list – summer, winter, or any other season. A waterproof, thin outer layer may be sufficient, however, something with a removable inner layer for warmth is even better.
Waterproof or Quick-drying Pants
Perhaps just as important as a rain jacket, waterproof pants are a must on any Iceland clothing list. Some of the waterfalls in Iceland you might want to visit require walking through a shallow stream to get to them, so pants that will keep you dry, or at the very least will dry quickly, are important.
If you are visiting Iceland in summer, one of the coolest things about Iceland that you will experience on your trip is the midnight sun. The sun doesn’t set during the summer months in Iceland. And it’s awesome! But that makes sunglasses a necessity, even in the middle of the night.
Hat or Beanie
Protection for your scalp is also important when the sun doesn’t set for 24 hours. You may not experience sweltering heat in Iceland but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a sunburn. A hat will protect your scalp from the sun, keep your head warm when it is cooler out, and keep your hair from becoming a tangled mess when it gets windy.
Iceland summer packing list – other items you shouldn’t forget
Aside from what to wear in Iceland, you also need to consider what to bring to Iceland beyond clothing and apparel. Your Iceland summer packing list should include these necessary items, as well.
Reusable Water Bottle
Tap water in Iceland is not only safe to drink, it is some of the cleanest and purest water I’ve ever tasted. So bring a reusable water bottle or thermos with you and fill it up before you leave the hotel each day. It will not only save you money, but it is important to stay hydrated when hiking, and much of Iceland is very remote so stores and restaurants might be few and far between.
Just like the necessity of a reusable water bottle, it’s a good idea to pack a few snacks for your trip to Iceland. This isn’t as important if you plan to stay in Reykjavik only, but if you follow our Iceland itinerary, it will take you to some pretty desolate areas. And if you are driving in Iceland and get hungry, there isn’t always a place to grab food within a short driving distance.
Iceland is a beautiful place! You will find yourself wanting to take a million pictures of the scenery and landscape. So make sure you bring a quality camera with you to Iceland. With today’s technology, smartphones tend to have great cameras, but photography is a hobby of yours or you simply want something more higher end, a mirrorless or DSLR camera will ensure you get some phenomenal photos.
Just like you’ll want to wear a hat in Iceland to protect your scalp from the sun, you’ll also want to pack sunscreen for your trip. Again, you probably won’t feel like you are getting a sunburn, but with 24-hours of sun during summer in Iceland, your skin needs protection.
Chapstick or Lip Balm
Iceland is a windy country, so chapstick is a necessity, whether you are there in winter or in Iceland in summer. I like to use one that is natural, cruelty-free, vegan-friendly, free of GMOs, parabens, and sulfates.
Did you just read the previous paragraph where I said Iceland is windy? Wind burn is a real thing. And you’ll need a good moisturizer if you don’t want red, chapped, dry skin. Your face will thank you for adding a quality moisturizer to your Iceland summer packing list.
If you are a light sleeper, like me, then a sleep mask is a must for your summer packing list for Iceland. With the sun barely setting, if at all, it can be hard to catch some quality zzz’s without darkness. My favorite sleep mask is a 2-for-1 because it also contains lavender which has awesome relaxing, aromatherapy benefits.
If you plan to do any hiking, even short hikes like the one to Svartifoss waterfall on our Iceland itinerary, then you’ll want to bring a day pack to carry your water bottle, snacks, lip balm, camera, and any other necessities you might not want to leave behind. Something as simple as a backpack will work, but if you want something more durable, REI makes a quality daypack for travel that is comparable to many of the higher priced brands, like Osprey.
Wild-life watching is one of the most popular summer activities in Iceland. Whether you’re planning to catch a whale-watching tour or a puffin-watching tour, a pair of binoculars will improve the experience ten-fold.
Toilet Paper and Baggies
If you plan to camp or rent a camper van, you need to be prepared for, you know, when nature calls. But don’t crap on this beautiful country. Instead, bring your toilet paper and baggies and pack that crap out – literally. Pick up your business, put it in a bag and toss it when you get to a trash can. It isn’t pleasant to think about bagging your waste, but in Iceland, you may have to. These baggies are great because they decompose in 3 months, so literally, you are leaving no waste behind.
Another necessity for your Iceland packing list – summer or winter, is a portable battery. Iceland is a desolate country. The vast percentage of the country that remains uninhabited is one of the most fascinating facts about Iceland.
If you live in the Americas or in Asia, you’ll need a plug adapter if traveling to Iceland. Electrical outlets in Iceland are mostly European, which means your phone charger, curling iron, or anything else that requires electricity won’t work unless you have a plug adapter. Luckily, they are inexpensive, and you can buy one that adapts to outlets worldwide. This handy necessity should be in every international traveler’s bag.
Visiting in winter instead of visiting Iceland in summer?
The weather is significantly different in winter than in summer in Iceland. Not only do you have snow and very cold temperatures in Iceland during winter, you also have never-ending darkness opposed to the midnight sun you experience in summer. If you are packing for a trip to Iceland in winter rather than creating an Iceland packing list for summer, you’ll need to add a few extra items to stay warm. With average daily temperatures around freezing, a thick, down coat, gloves, and a warm hat are wardrobe staples in winter!
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This Iceland packing list for summer was first published in September 2019 and was updated in January 2022 for accuracy and current product information.