Knowing what to pack for an extended holiday in Europe can be a bit daunting but after many, many trips to Europe I think I’ve finally got a decent packing list in place. (See what I pack for a summer visit to Europe here.) Knowing what to include in an Iceland summer packing list is a little different, though.
Packing can get really tricky when your itinerary involves visiting countries that have vastly different climates - and that’s what I’m doing on my upcoming trip. During my six week holiday I’ll be visiting England, Iceland and numerous countries in central Europe, including Italy.
I’m visiting during the northern hemisphere summer and expect temperatures in central Europe to be around 25 to 30º C (77 - 86º F) whereas the average summer temperatures in southern Iceland - where I’ll be for one week - are between 10 to 15º C (50 - 59º F) each day. Iceland’s weather is also known to be very changeable so I need to be prepared for rain and wind.
This means that I’ll have to add a few more items of clothing to my packing list to ensure I stay warm enough whilst in Iceland. Layers are definitely the best way to go and I have purchased some thermals which I’ll add to my suitcase. Fortunately the extra items I need to check everything off my Iceland packing list won’t take up too much room in my suitcase - see my packing tip below.
Here is my packing list for Iceland in summer
(Note: these items are all in addition to my regular summer packing list for Europe).
- 1 pair jeans
- 1 pair leggings
- 2 or 3 long sleeve tees (I find merino or merino blends are best)
- 1 zip-up fleece/thermal jacket
- 1 woollen cardigan (mine is cashmere/alpaca)
- Puffer jacket
- Lightweight shower jacket
- 1 long sleeve thermal undershirt
- 1 pair merino thermal leggings
- Socks - I like Explorer socks and also recently purchased a pair of merino socks at the ALDI snow gear sale
- 1 pair walking shoes (I’m taking my Merrells)
- 1 pair flip flops/thongs - great when visiting thermal pools and hot springs
- Waterproof pants - for added protection from rain and the spray of Iceland's many waterfalls
- Swimsuit (for the hot springs and thermal pools)
LIKE A COPY OF THIS ICELAND SUMMER PACKING LIST? You can GET A FREE PDF VERSION HERE
Carrying the added bulk of a puffer jacket, walking shoes and extra clothing for the remainder of my European trip is not ideal but there are a couple of tips I've picked up over the years that should make it more manageable.
The best way to avoid lugging all the extra weight is to wear it! This would work OK for the flight to Europe when I could wear my heaviest shoes (the walking shoes) and wear or carry my puffer jacket, but it's not going to work when I'm travelling in continental Europe, especially when the temperatures are warm.
We'll mostly be travelling around mainland Europe by car so I won't need to be too concerned about lifting heavy suitcases on and off trains and carrying them up flights of stairs, but I do still want to be conscious of keeping well within my airline weight limits.
I always use packing cubes for the majority of the clothing I take with me on holiday and I'll do the same for this trip. The extra items that I'm taking for Iceland, I will compress into large zip-lock bags so that when they aren't required they can sit (relatively) flat at the bottom of my suitcase.
Hopefully I'll be blessed with lots of summer sunshine in Iceland and I'll be lovely and warm having packed everything I need. I'll report back after my visit to Iceland and let you know if there was anything I should have included, or if there was anything in my Iceland summer packing list that I could have left at home.
REPORT CARD: I'm now back from my visit to Iceland and I can happily report that I wore every single item I packed. We rarely saw the sun during the week were in Iceland (despite my positive expectations above!) and the daily temperatures were around 11 or 12º C but I was always warm enough. On a couple of occasions the wind was very icy but with a scarf, woollen hat and gloves, and my puffer coat, I was fine.
My sturdy walking shoes - which I had waterproofed before I left home - were essential. I wore them every day and their good grip came in very handy when visiting waterfalls where the ground was always muddy and sometimes wet.
Indoors I was always able to strip off a layer or two as shops, cafes, hotels, etc. are all very well heated.
Further reading: My Iceland Itinerary - 5 days of bucket list sights
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