What to wear and what to pack for iceland in winter

Gloves, scarf or buff, and a winter hat are an absolute must. Consider wearing warm waterproof gloves together with thin inner gloves which you can keep on while taking pictures. I packed two warm hats with me as well: a fleece hat and a winter hat with ear flaps that I wore when the wind was really strong, or at night when hunting for the Northern Lights. Swimsuit and a quick-drying towel

Here are some examples of the clothing I wore on my trip to Iceland in November. We had very cold weather, with temperatures dropping to -10°C (14°F) and winds up to 100km/h (62 mph) on several occasions. We asked Icelanders what they thought the wind chill factor would be, and they said there was no number to describe it; when it comes to Icelandic winter weather – they told us – you can only divide it into two categories: cold or bloody cold, and it was the latter.


There are few things in life which make you feel better than a sip of hot drink after a walk in the cold. And even though there are many more cafes and restaurants in Iceland now than there used to be when we visited ten years ago, finding one while on the road can be trickier than you think. Packing a thermos flask (and a picnic lunch for that matter) gives you complete flexibility during the day. You can fill it up with coffee or tea at breakfast in your hotel or at a petrol station or a restaurant (when you find one). Find a beautiful spot, sit down on a rock with a warm cup of tea in your hands and a magnificent view in front of you – it’s as good as it gets. Reusable water bottle

Having a small powerful flashlight in your pocket can be very useful on many occasions as it gets dark very early in Iceland in winter. We used flashlights all the time when looking for a good spot to photograph Northern Lights or when trying to choose the right camera settings or to focus in the dark. Headlight keeps your hands free, so it’s ideal for night photography. Moisturiser

Hi Mike, I will have to refer you to some of my other blog posts for winter travel. Check our winter itinerary for ideas of what you can do. Check this if you rather stay in Reykjavik and do day tours. Normally, all the tours that I mention in my posts run in winter. Some may not go daily, but you can see it in the calendar when you book. Yes, it sometimes happens that they get cancelled due to the weather, but not often. If you want to do any tours, book ASAP – Iceland is very popular and definitely around Christmas/ New Year. Lots of things (tours, hotels, car rental) get fully booked, so if you still need any of that, book now.

As for transportation, do not count on public transport as it will really not get you anywhere in terms of sightseeing outside the city. You have to either rent a car or do tours. If you don’t have a car and have to get to the city from the airport, make sure to book an airport transfer in advance. It only costs around 25USD. I just saw someone complain on Facebook that they took a taxi to Reykjavik and paid almost 200 USD.

As for the meals, it depends on where you are. In Reykjavik and some other towns you will have more choice in terms of restaurants, but even then it’s difficult to find any good meal under 20-30 USD. often, you will pay 35-50USD for a main course at dinner, especially in remote areas. Alcohol is very expensive too (10-12 USD for a beer in the restaurant isn’t uncommon). 3-5 USD for a soft drink. Don’t worry about tipping – it’s not needed. They won’t say no of course, but it’s not a must at all.

But anyway. Back to packing. I actually think it’s possible (we travelled to Australia for 5 weeks with 2 suitcases for the 5 of us, with temperatures ranging from 50°F to way over 100°F in different regions we covered). Take just one pair of shoes – wear them. Pack a waterproof jacket – wear it as well. One sweater (fleece = light and warm) per person – wear it. Pack one extra fleece sweater, maybe an extra pair of pants. For the rest it’s just some underwear and t-shirts really (which can be washed in the hotel in the evening if need be), swimsuit (but leave the towels and even flip-flops at home). A buff, gloves, toiletries (as little as possible – you can use hotel amenities or buy what you need upon arrival)… It’s not easy, but feasible even with 10lbs. Don’t take anything that is not 100% necessary. Make sure that all your clothes match (so no pants that only fit with that sweater and situations like that ;)) and that you can layer the sweaters/jacket if necessary. You’ll be surprised how little you actually need. Hope this helps! Curious to see how you manage it! 😉