Iceland: What to expect and what to pack

So, you're going to Iceland...what should you pack?

And what should you expect?


Iceland is a geological paradise with glaciers and volcanoes sitting side by side. One of the main draws to Iceland is its stunning natural beauty so be prepared to be outdoors during extreme weather; because to see the best of Iceland, you will need to be on your feet!  

Before venturing off, you’re probably wondering at least these three questions: What should you pack when you go to Iceland ? What’s the weather like? What should you expect in Iceland? 

*VoyEdge RX runs two trips a year to Iceland....July, and March. Two very different climates during those times...*

In terms of what to pack....it all depends on what you will be doing, how long you are staying, and which season you’re visiting this beautiful country. However, if you’ve done your research you can expect all kinds of weather in Iceland, no matter what the season! The weather can change in minutes, so in one day you can get snow, rain, sunshine, clouds, and wind. Just always prepare for the worst. 

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For example, last June I was in a t-shirt at the waterfalls and an hour later layered up with long sleeve shirt, fleece half zip, and raincoat in the glaciers. Layers are key when traveling to Iceland especially with the wind. Put 'em on as you need 'em, take 'em off when you don't. 

LAYERS, LAYERS, LAYERS

The summer has daylight 24/7 because of the midnight sun, so the temperature won’t drop that much at night. But make sure to bring your sunglasses and sunscreen. Its great to visit Iceland in the spring/summer for sightseeing due to the never-ending daylight, but it does make it hard to sleep. I highly suggest bringing an eye-mask, because waking up in the middle of the night swearing won’t make the sun go away (you can even keep the one the flight attendant gives you on the plane)!

Iceland - land of the midnight sun


Anyway, here’s a packing list for your upcoming Iceland VoyEdge RX trip.

Besides what you would generally pack when traveling anywhere for example (t-shirts, underwear, bras, and jeans):

  • Rainproof Jacket ( good for the rain and running under waterfalls) 

  • Wind proof jacket- if you have it!
  • A set of thermals-even during the summer, just in case. 
  • Good Socks/ Wool Socks
  • Gloves and or mittens - in the summertime you’ll need for certain activities horseback riding, whale watching. 
  • Warm Hat- one just in case if its windily cold day hiking. Also a baseball Hat to block the sun when hiking as well.
  • Hiking boots- if you have them but sneakers work to. 
  • Swimsuit & Towel- you need this for any season visiting! 
  • Backpack- great to bring for carrying layers with you, snacks, and water bottles.
  • Eye Mask- block the sunlight when trying to sleep at night. 
  • Jacket- to explore the city in and to wear at night to the bars.
  • Sunscreen/Sunglasses- you will be outside good to bring!

In terms of electronics, here's what you'll need:

  • extra batteries or plugs for your iPhone etc. electronics die quicker in cold weather/wind
  • Standard European plug socket/ Adaptor , with two round prongs ( 220Volts) make sure to google it!
  • Bring a laptop if you want (or an iPad) 
  • A nice DSLR camera if you have one! Just make sure to keep it on you for safe keeping. 

Anyways, don't overpack! Iceland is not a third world country, so if you forget something, you can certainly go and get it as you need. 

But besides packing light, make sure to only bring as much as will fit in one suitcase and your personal item/ backpack, as many airlines now charge for additional luggage. You will be responsible for loading your luggage on and off buses and into hotels. I recommend you carry valuables, medications, and an extra change of clothes in your backpack, which you can use as your carry-on for any flights. Now, let's get to the fun stuff. 

 Reykjavik Nightlife:

Iceland like most of Europe is fashionable. Reykjavik is a lively city, full of locals and tourist. If you don’t want to stick out as a tourist stay away from bright colors, khakis, big cameras, and a lost look on your face and certainly don't mention the word uber. 

Instead, blend in with the locals by wearing earthly colors, fun prints, and black to dress it up. Reykjavik has a lot more bars than clubs and its not uncommon to find live  music or crafted Icelandic beers everywhere. Iceland is very laid-back with dress codes ranging from a suit and tie, t-shirt and leather jacket, to a knitted Icelandic sweater with sneakers. They just want to serve happy, respectful, and thirsty customers! 

If nightclubs and cocktail lounges are more your style, don’t worry Iceland has it! The dress code for these types of places are similar to the US with no sneakers, no hiking gear, no hoodies, no sweat pants, and no baseball hats. A nice shirt, jeans, dark black/brown shoe , dress, designer top, and coat to bar hop works! 

In terms of nightlife as well, you can stay out as late, or as early as you want. Since the summer is the land of the midnight sun, most bars end up staying open till 4 am or later! Which is pretty wild. So, again...it's up to you whether you want to go out for a couple, or for an all-night rager. 

Again, it's up to you. Just make sure to utilize the buddy system and always get home safely! 

What else should you not forget to pack or expect?

I’m just going to state the obvious because its always a great reminder. Before leaving to head to the airport make sure to have the obvious things like your passport, phone, chargers, information on where you are staying, wallet, flight information, and driver license if thinking of renting a vechile/car. Additionally, Silfra at Þingvellir National Park is an excellent snorkeling and diving site. Anyone can go snorkeling but divers will need to bring their certified diving licenses. I also suggest bringing a paper copy of your passport and having a copy on file in your email just to be safe. 

Money - what to bring and how much?

Iceland uses the Icelandic króna as their currency. I recommend using debit and credit cards to access money while abroad and discourage the use of travelers checks. Be sure to notify your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling abroad so they don’t freeze your card. Most items in Iceland are imported, so things like food and souvenirs will be expensive. Budget at least $50 per day for spending money to cover bottled water, lunches, and more. 

Diet - what to eat in Iceland

The Icelandic diet is simple. Breakfast in Europe is very different from the US (sorry bacon and egg lovers). It typically includes oatmeal, toast,  a protein-packed yogurt-cheese called skyr, juice, coffee, and tea. The local specialities are centered around staples like stews, potatoes, meat, and seafood. Water in Iceland is safe to drink (so bring your reusable water bottles), and table water is always provided free of charge. You will be out and about so packing snacks is a great idea!

Lastly, showers and water in Iceland often smell of sulfur. So before blaming your roommate for stinking up the bathroom, be aware that sulfur smells like rotten eggs. To be honest you only really notice it when in the bathroom washing your heads or showering.Get used to the scent; it is normal and completely safe. It is simply due to the ecosystem in Iceland. 

P.S. Get pumped for The Blue Lagoon before headed back to the airport! 

If you have any other questions, feel free to shoot me an email at: meghan@voyedgerx.com. Head to the trip page by clicking the image down below!