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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.

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. 

Iceland packing list summer clothing wearing layers in front of a glacier
Although summer in Iceland is the warmest, driest season, I was freezing in this picture. You’ll definitely want to bring a jacket and a winter hat or beanie.

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 - for families. Picture of what a family wears in Iceland in summer
Wondering what to wear in Iceland in summer? This is how we dressed every day in Iceland.

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. 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.

Iceland family packing list summer

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.

BEST BOOTS FOR ICELAND
Men’s boots
Women’s boots
Kid’s boots

Swimming Suit

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.

SWIMWEAR FOR ICELAND
Men’s swim trunks
Women’s swimsuits
Girls and toddler girls swimsuits
Boys and toddler boys swimsuits

Blue Lagoon packing list Iceland swimming suit

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.

Iceland summer packing list rain jacket for waterfall visits
Soaking wet from the mist of the Gljúfrabúi waterfall.

RAIN JACKETS FOR ICELAND
Men’s rain jacket
Women’s rain jacket
Kid’s rain jacket

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.

Sunglasses

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.

BEST SUNGLASSES FOR ICELAND
Men’s sunglasses
Women’s sunglasses 
Kids sunglasses

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.

Snacks

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 get hungry, there isn’t always a place to grab food within a short driving distance. 

Camera

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. 

Sunscreen

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. 

Face Moisturizer

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. 

Sleep Mask

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.

Daypack

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. 

Binoculars

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.

Portable Battery

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

Plug Adapter

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. 

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One thought on “Iceland packing list for summer: What to pack and what to wear”

  1. Great post! I love the fact that you said everything that it needs it to go for a great adventure to Iceland, it’s a nice place, but I think that in December it’s the best season to go, again a very well post, I want to go as soon as possible to take many pictures and enjoy the weather!

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