Edit: June 8th, 2020 The Golden Circle in Southwest Iceland has for years been one of the more famous routes to go sightseeing in Iceland. The circle includes Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall or Golden Waterfall but that is where the name comes from. However, the Golden Circle has now got…
The first thing you need to know about how to dress when in Iceland; wear layers. No matter the season, it is a good rule of thumb to wear layers of clothes. If you get too warm, you can just take a layer off. However, if you get too cold and you do not have anything extra, then you are in trouble.
We have made a list of things we think is essential to pack for travel in Iceland, both winter and summer. Some things overlap, like hats and warm socks – you can never go wrong with those!
A windproof and rainproof jacket or coat
This is important. There is almost always some wind in Iceland. If it is a thick winter coat as well, even better. With a hood! Then you do not have to pack a separate one. However, layer up underneath this one, especially if you are going hiking.
If your windproof and rainproof jacket is not a winter coat as well, pack this one. You could get away without it if you bring enough warm layers and can pack them on underneath the windproof jacket, but we recommend you bring it regardless of all the other layers you bring.
Cold toes are one of the worst things in the world. Icelandic wool socks are the best in our opinion (of course) because they are both insulating and keep you warm if you get wet! Double bonus!
Gloves, scarf and a hat
There is no need for your head, hands, and neck to be cold. Even if you wear a turtleneck, we still recommend you wear a scarf. Gloves and a hat just make sense, who wants to be cold when they do not need to?
We recommend you bring a few types of jumpers with you.
Good thermal underwear to wear underneath your clothes is essential if you are going to go spend hours hiking or sightseeing in Iceland during winter.
You would not think going swimming in the cold weather is a good idea, but Icelandic swimming pools are filled with geothermal water and are kept between 29°c and 33°c warm. Then there are hot pools, which are between 37° and 44°c.
We get only about 4 hours daylight during the darkest months of the year in December and January, so you would not think we would need sunglasses. However, the sun stays low in the sky those few hours it shows its yellow face so, bring sunglasses if you do not want to be blinded. You get some free-to-use sunglasses in the camper, but we recommend you bring your own.
Just because it is summer, it does not mean it cannot get cold. The winters are mild, and summers are cool in Iceland. The mean temperature in Iceland during July is between 11-14°C (depending on where you are). And then there is the (almost) ever-constant wind. We do include a bandana in every rental, just in case.
In the winter we get only 4 hours of daylight during the darkest months of December and January. During the summer months we, however, get about 24-hour daylight. So, bring sunglasses.
Oh, yes. The sun can burn in Iceland. Because of where Iceland lies on the planet, the sun’s rays can sometimes be stronger here than in other places in Europe – there is also less pollution.
It rains in Iceland. It is not often torrential rain, but it tends to drizzle.
If you have a hard time sleeping when it is light outside, this is essential. There are curtains in our campers, but if you are extra sensitive to light, the sleeping mask helps.
Going to many of the open (and in many cases free) geothermal pools in the dead of night while it is still bright it an experience you can only have in Iceland
While almost everything is frozen during the winter months and you need shoes with a good grip then, you will need waterproof shoes for summer. Especially if you are going to hike in the highlands.
Other things to pack
Fleece jacket or a lightweight wool sweater.
Rainproof and windproof jacket and trousers.
Sturdy walking shoes with a good grip.
Non-outwear clothes if you want to go out on the town.
Finally, we have an in-depth article on what to pack for the Icelandic Road Trip.
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In the strictest terms, you could technically go around the island in one day, but that is no fun. We recommend no less than a week. 7-10 days is ideal while 14 days is excellent. In two weeks, you will be able to see all the best sights, as well as some of the lesser-known…