When I booked our first trip to the land of fire and ice, I had no idea what to wear in Iceland in winter. I live in Brisbane, which is fairly warm all year round, so my standard wardrobe didn’t really consist of any appropriate clothes for Iceland in winter. I had to buy a whole suitcase full of new outfits for my trip.
I’m usually a minimalist packer, but I also like to look stylish wherever I go. So I did a fair amount of research before my trip and came up with my own Iceland winter packing list!
Iceland’s winter actually lasts for around six months of the year!
My husband and I did a road trip in Iceland in early March. However, if you are planning a trip and wondering what to wear in Iceland in winter, not only will this packing list will help you figure out what to wear in Iceland in March, but it will work for anyone planning a trip anytime between October to April.
I actually ended up taking way too many clothes with me on my trip to Iceland and didn’t wear some things. Turns out even a lot of research didn’t prepare me for what I actually needed to pack for Iceland in winter.
So, I decided to share my personal experience with all my readers, along with examples of what I wore in Iceland in March. Hopefully, this article will help you be a little more prepared with your Iceland winter packing list than I was!
The list below should help you figure out what clothes you are going to need (and not going to need) to wear in Iceland in winter!
+ scroll to the end to get your free printable Iceland winter packing list
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Considerations for Planning What to Wear in Iceland in Winter
Activities in Iceland
It’s a good idea to consider what activities you plan to do when deciding what to pack for Iceland in winter. The best things to do in Iceland in winter are outdoors, where you may be subjected to the harsh weather conditions – it’s important to pack appropriately. Some of the activities we did were ice-caving, snowshoeing, glacier walking, snowmobiling, soaking in hot springs, hiking, and chasing the Northern Lights.
Weather in Iceland in Winter
The weather is a key factor in working out what to wear in Iceland in winter. Iceland’s weather conditions can be quite harsh and it’s important to pack appropriately. As mentioned earlier, Iceland’s winter can last from October through April. While the average temperature hovers around 0°C (31°F) between December and March, the wind chill can make it feel much colder. There is also snowstorms and freezing rain you need to consider.
Related Post: The Ultimate Iceland Bucket List: Top 50 Things to Do
General Tips for Your Iceland Winter Packing List
- Layers, layers, layers! So long as you wear layers, you actually won’t need to pack many clothes for Iceland in winter. Shop mens layers and womens layers.
- Choose merino wool for your base layers – particularly thermals and socks. Due to its breathability and resistance to odor, wool clothing can be worn again and again before it needs a wash. Icebreaker and Smartwool are my go-to brands!
- Make sure your outer layer is waterproof and windproof. Not taking a waterproof or windproof jacket is the worst Iceland winter clothing mistake you can make! Snow jackets are usually the best option (shop mens or womens snow jackets).
- Humans lose most of their body heat through their heads, so a good beanie is one of the most essential items of clothes for Iceland in winter! Shop womens beanies or mens beanies.
- You are going to need a good pair of gloves. I recommend going for windproof tech gloves otherwise your fingers will freeze every time you take your hands out of your gloves to take a photo or use your phone. Shop womens gloves or mens gloves.
What to Wear in Iceland in Winter
- Wool Scarf or neck warmer – Make sure it’s a warm one – it’s worth investing in a good quality wool scarf as you will probably wear it every day. I opted for a simple merino wool neck gaitor, but I also love this cute wool scarf. Shop womens neckwear or mens neckwear.
- Backpack – This Scandinavian designed Fjällräven backpack because its water resistant, fits a 15 inch laptop and is perfect for travel in Iceland in winter. It also comes in a huge range of colors to compliment your chosen jacket. Shop all everyday backpacks.
- Swimwear – There are hot springs everywhere in Iceland. A swimsuit is absolutely needed! I love this Seafolly one piece. Shop womens swimwear or mens swimwear.
- Gloves – waterproof Tech Gloves are essential Iceland winter clothing items because I was taking my hands out of my gloves all the time to use my phone or take a photo and the wind was freezing. I paired these merino wool inners with a more stylish outer glove. Shop all mens gloves or womens gloves.
- Beanie – You will wear this every day. I like this unisex cable knit beanie with pom pom or this cute double lined mammut beanie. This stylish Smartwool beanie also comes in a range of colours. Shop all womens beanies or mens beanies.
- Warm Socks – Again, merino wool is the best option because they are warm, breathable and naturally antimicrobial. Opt for hiking or ski socks. Shop all womens socks or mens socks.
SHOP ICELAND ESSENTIALS:
Windproof Outer Shell – The number one item of clothes you need for Iceland in winter! I put my outer shell on every time the weather turned windy or rainy (which was on and off on most days). Choose a lightweight waterproof and windproof outer shell to wear over warm layers – I love this Patagonia Triolet Jacket or this Arc’teryx Alpha SV Jacket. Shop All womens or mens outer shell jackets.
Down Jacket – Another good outer layering option for your Iceland winter packing list to keep you warm on particularly cold and rainy days is a down or insulated jacket. I wore my down jacket as my outer layer on most days, and put on my outer shell over the top if the wind or rain picked up. I love this Patagonia Down Jacket. Also, this Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisper 2 is water resistant so can be worn as an outer layer and underneath an outer shell. Shop all womens or mens insulated jackets.
Icelandic Sweater – This Icelandic-style sweater is so cute and literally everyone was wearing them in Iceland!
Long Puffer Jacket – Another good puffer jacket option to keep you looking stylish and warm below the waist and protect against wind chill is this Canada Goose long puffer jacket perfect for alpine temperatures. It’s an investment piece, but totally worth it. Shop all womens or mens insulated jackets.
Traveller Tip: If you’re only visiting Iceland for a week and don’t want to take too much luggage, I would recommend at least a down jacket and a waterproof outer shell (because they can be layered together when it gets really cold and rainy). I took three – a down jacket, an outer shell and a long puffer. I used the long puffer on days that we were driving or sightseeing around the city and the outer shell when we were out on the glacier, or hiking, or if it was raining heavily. I wore the down jacket as my middle layer everyday.
Layers & Tops
- Thermal Top & Pants – Thermals are absolute essential clothes for Iceland in winter. Merino wool is the best option for both warmth and comfort. Icebreaker is my favourite brand for merino wool thermals. It’s naturally resists odor, which means they can be worn more than once before washing. Just air them out at the end of each day. Shop mens base layers and womens base layers.
- Fleece Pullover – Perfect for layering over your thermals and under your outer layer, particularly needed on very cold days! I love this Sherpa-style fleece. Shop mens fleece or womens fleece.
- Wool Sweater – A stylish wool or cashmere sweater like this one can be worn over your thermals during the day and is also great for going out for dinner at night. Shop womens sweaters or mens sweaters.
- Down Vest – I love these Patagonia Micro Puff Vests because they pack up really small and keep you warm under your waterproof outer layer. Shop all mens vests or womens vests.
- Flannel Shirt – Pick a stylish plaid flannel shirt to compliment the color of your jacket or down vest – finish off the look with a neutral colored knit hat. Shop all mens flannel shirts or womens flannel shirts.
- Long Sleeve Tops for Layering – Take a few lightweight long-sleeve tops in a variety of colours to change up your look each day! Wool is best. Shop all mens or womens tops.
SHOP LAYERS & TOPS:
Related Post: The Coolest Things to Do in Iceland in Winter
- Waterproof Pants – Absolutely essential for outdoor winter activities in Iceland. Opt for outer shell pants that you can layer underneath or insulated ski pants. Shop all mens or womens waterproof pants.
- Waterproof Soft-shell Pants – if you are planning to do any hiking or active pursuits, take a pair of soft-shell pants designed for the alpine environment. These Backcountry ones are fleece-lined and specifically designed for winter. Shop all mens or womens soft-shell pants.
- Fleece Lined Leggings – These are the best invention ever – so warm and stylish. You can also wear them under a pair of waterproof pants.
- Jeans – I wouldn’t say that jeans are absolutely essential items of clothes for Iceland in winter, having waterproof pants is far more important. However, I took a pair of my fave stylish lightweight black jeans to wear around the hotel for dinner in the evening.
SHOP WINTER BOTTOMS:
Waterproof Boots – for the best boots for Iceland in winter, most people recommend the Sorel Caribou boots, due to their waterproof construction and warm inner made from Sherpa pile. Shop all mens or womens waterproof boots.
Snow Boots – I personally thought these Sorel Joan of Arctic boots were the best boots for Iceland in winter, because you could get away with only wearing one pair for your entire trip! They are waterproof, warm and stylish. I literally wore them everywhere – I even wore them hiking and out for dinner on most evenings. Shop all mens or womens winter boots.
Casual Boots – I wore these most of the time when driving around, sightseeing and in the evenings. I love the Danner brand of boots because they’re stylish and they have some great options for casual city boots that can also handle short day hikes. I love the Danner Adrika Hiker or the Danner Mountain Light Boots because they’re both waterproof. Shop all mens or womens casual boots.
Hiking Boots – If you plan to do any hiking in the snow, then you’re going to need a decent pair of mountaineering boots designed for the alpine environment or waterproof hiking boots. Shop all mens or womens mountaineering boots.
Traveller Tip: I actually only took two pairs of boots to Iceland. A pair of casual boots that were also good for short hikes, sightseeing, and evenings. The other pair of boots I took were the Sorel Joan of Arctic snow boots – I used these whenever we were out sightseeing, on the glacier and when it was really cold. I think one pair of waterproof or snow boots plus one pair of casual boots is enough, unless you want to do any long snow hikes, then you’ll need to take some waterproof hiking boots.
SHOP WINTER SHOES:
Related Post: 20 Photos to Inspire You to Book a Trip to Iceland
Other Useful Things to Pack for Iceland
- Universal Power Adapter – A must-have travel item no matter where you’re going.
- Power Bank – I used my phone to take a heap of photos and videos throughout the day, so a portable charger is great for charging on the go.
- Hand Sanitizer – I always have a bottle of this stuff no matter where I go.
- Wipes – Another must-have travel item for any trip, anytime!
- Travel Towel – Great for when you visit one of the many hot springs around Iceland.
- Water Bottle – The tap water in Iceland is so pure and fresh, so there’s no need to buy bottled water. I love my Larq bottle because it’s self-cleaning.
- Thermos Mug – Most days we wanted to get out early because there was so much to see and do, so we took our coffee to go in these handy thermos mugs.
- Pocket Laundry Wash – I never go on a trip without this. You never know when you’ll need to wash something in the hotel bathroom sink!
- Moisturizer – Your skin gets so unbelievably dry in Iceland’s weather conditions. I reapplied moisturizer several times per day, plus the hyaluronic acid helps with hydration.
- Rugged Suitcase or Duffle Bag – You’ll be moving around a bit so forget the dainty spinner suitcases with flimsy wheels. Opt for a rugged suitcase with heavy-duty wheels or this Patagonia tough duffle bag with wheels instead. This one is perfect to fit all your clothes for Iceland in winter.
- Packing Cubes – I swear by these!
- Travel Insurance – No Iceland winter packing list is complete without the most essential item of all – travel insurance! We use and recommend World Nomads. Be sure to check that all your planned activities are covered.
Related Post: 25 of the Best Luxury Boutique Hotels in Iceland
Shop More Winter Travel Essentials:
Download our Iceland Winter Packing List
Ready to start packing? Subscribe to our newsletter and download our free printable Iceland winter packing list which contains a list of all the clothes you need for Iceland in winter. You’ll also get access to our other free travel resources including our Iceland bucket list, map, and trip planning checklists!
Read More About Iceland:
- 7 Day Iceland Itinerary: Golden Circle and South Coast Road Trip
- Ultimate Iceland Bucket List: Top 50 Things to Do
- The Coolest Things to Do in Iceland in March
- What to Wear in Iceland in Winter + Packing List
- 10 Things You Need to Know Before Your First Trip to Iceland
- 25 of the Best Luxury Boutique Hotels in Iceland
- 20 Photos to Inspire You to Book a Trip to Iceland
- Video: Staying at the Silica Hotel in Iceland
- The Ultimate Travel Bucket List
Planning a trip soon? Here is a list of the websites and resources we use for booking everything from flights, to accommodation, tours, and more:
- Skyscanner for booking the best flight deals
- Booking.com | Agoda | Hotels.com for the best rates on hotels
- Airbnb | HomeAway to find the best apartment and home rentals
- Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals
- Luxury Escapes for luxury package holiday deals and tours
- Get Your Guide for a great range of day tours
- Tourradar | Intrepid for multi-day experiential and adventure tours
- Priority Pass for airport lounge access in hundreds of locations around the world
- Skyroam to stay connected to WiFi everywhere I go
- iVisa to apply for entry visas for most countries in the world
- World Nomads for the most comprehensive worldwide travel insurance
About the Author:
Amanda Twine is the founder and creator of Fly Stay Luxe – a luxury travel blog sharing informative travel guides, food guides, hotel reviews, itineraries and tips about how to make luxury travel more affordable.