Don't know what to wear in Iceland? You're not alone. When I bought my ticket, I had absolutely no idea.
Sounds ridiculous, I know.
But I’m from a hot country, and surviving in freezing temperatures for a month is not something I’ve ever had to think about – in Australia, we just don’t do stuff like dress for the cold, install heating in every room, or wear lined boots, wind-breakers, and coats that actually keep you warm.
To me, anything below 12-degrees Celsius is like an arctic-blast to the face.
Knowing Iceland might be covered in snow in March, I hit up Google and online shopped like I’ve never online shopped before, and learnt that you don’t have to deck your suitcase out in stuff from the camping and hiking store.
Regular humans live in places considered by the rest of the world as ‘wild’ or excessively cold, and those humans probably aren't traipsing around the trendy cafes of Reykjavik in fuchsia fleece sweaters and ski boots. They’re wearing regular warm stuff for regular humans who want to be warm. And you can too.
I searched and online shopped so much that you don’t have to, and put it all in a list with links to useful stuff that ships word-wide (including Australia! Because I'm sick on finding stuff on Amazon and finding it doesn't ship to Australia), and I can honestly say there’s nothing I wished I’d taken by the end of my month-long trip, so I’m genuinely recommending all of it. Plus, for humans who identify as male, I've included 'man' options so everyone knows what to wear in Iceland!
(Note: There are a few Amazon affiliate links in this article, which just means I’ll get a (small) commission if you buy things by clicking on the links under the images on this page.)
Don't know what to wear in Iceland when it comes to shoes? I recommend starting with a pair of good-quality, waterproof boots. I’m usually all for the cheap option, but I really don’t think you can stinge on boots when you’re heading to the arctic circle – wet feet could mean frostbite, which would really ruin your holiday.
Click here for Joan Of Arctic Wedge Booties (summer recommendation)
If you’re there in summer it’s not as crucial to get lined boots, but you’ll still want some waterproof ones because there’s still butt-loads of snow, ice, and rain. If you’re heading there in winter, it’s super important to get waterproof boots with lining and an inner-boot.
Click here for Joan Of Arctic Boots (winter recommendation).
Whenever you’re going, I highly recommend Sorel. They are warm and waterproof and amazing and I love them and they’re not paying me to say this – I just love these boots. They’re a Canadian company, so they know cold, and have a range of stylish options for those who don’t want to buy generic boots and look like a walking ad for a camping and hiking store.
I was in Iceland in Spring and wore the Joan of Arctic Wedge Booties (because at The Global Shuffle, we believe you can still wear heels even when it's snowing), but I would have bought the regular Joan Of Arctic boots if I was there in winter. If you really have no idea what to wear in Iceland, I can't recommend a pair of good boots enough.
Click here for the Caribou II Boot ('man' recommendation).
Along with boots, a good-quality waterproof coat is worth spending money on. I Googled for a really long period of time to find one I liked because I couldn't decide what to wear in Iceland, and eventually found a coat in Germany (I knew the German company had the one I wanted, and I had to Google search in German to find it. I don’t speak German. The shipping process was nightmarish and I had to translate all webpages, emails, and invoices), but Reykjavik was absolutely freezing when I got there, and as soon as I put the coat on, I realised it was all worth it. I now wear it in Canada and I still don't regret my choice.
As with the boots, being freezing and wet in Iceland would be awful, and I really recommend buying one before you leave home because while they sell coats in Iceland, they’re hell-expensive.
I got a Nikita snow jacket because they make stuff for snowboarding – it’s got a detachable fleece lining, detachable hood (which is great for when it’s really windy and your ears hurt), and is a size too big so I can literally wrap myself in it – it’s a fantastic coat. I ended up being so cold one night I slept in it.
Click here for Nikita snow jackets (all gender options)
These aren’t a necessity, but you might not want to explore a mountain in your snow boots if it’s not covered in snow. I got my Scarpa boots for $80 on Gumtree (kinda like Craigslist, but Australian) and they’re great, but you don’t need super ones like I had, just make sure whatever you get is waterproof – there are a lot of waterfalls in Iceland and, even if it’s not snowing, it would really suck to walk in wet shoes.
Click here for hiking boots (all gender options)
These are great for adding another layer of warmth, and if you get good ones, they’re super-comfortable! I got some with really thin material so I could wear them under my jeans, and they really do raise your body temperature. I bought two – wore one during the day, and slept in the other.
I opted for black Cuddl Duds, but you can get some with patterns, or in all the colours of the rainbow – just make sure you read the reviews to ensure they’re comfortable and warm. Rigid thermals would be the worst.
Mega-comfortable, durable, easy to wash, and come in any colour or pattern of your choice, from plain black to metallic pink. I recommend looking at the material before you buy anything to make sure they’re not 100-percent lycra or anything – BlackMilk leggings are amazing, but they’re not warm, so try looking for something with cotton. Fleece-lined leggings are better.
Make sure you have some thick ones for hiking and snow, and if you’re going in summer, take some thinner ones for when the sun comes out. I bought mine at ALDI for $10, but there are some nice options online if you’re in to your socks.
Not essential, but when you're thinking about what to wear in Iceland, I highly recommend these. I wore fleece-lined stockings all the time throughout my time in the fjords and they were warm, comfortable, and I could wear all the skirts I wanted and not freeze. It was great. Mine are Bonds and I still wear them sometimes because I live in Canada and it gets below 12-degrees.
Click here for fleece-lined stockings.
While you can go mad with waterproof pants, I wore jeans the whole time and didn’t have a problem. They’re comfortable, durable, and you can wear thermals under them. I wore black Joni’s and blue Jamie’s from Topshop, which I loved because they're made well, they come in cuts to suit almost everyone, and they're measured by length and width, which means they fit!
If you don't want Topshop jeans, click here for alternative man and woman jeans.
I would say gloves are pretty important when you're thinking about what to wear in Iceland. It gets pretty windy around the Golden Circle, and the wind can be icy, so gloves make a really big difference when you’re facing the hail with exposed fingers while trying to click the button on your selfie stick. Mine are from Target, but they still made a massive difference, so better-quality ones probably wouldn’t go astray.
You lose most of your body heat from your head, so you really do need a beanie. Doesn’t have to be a good one – I got mine for £10 in London, but they sell great ones online so you don’t even have to step outside your house.
Click here for beanies (all genders).
It probably goes without saying that this is a must – a scarf makes an enormous difference when you're in the wind. And Iceland is a windy place. You'll probably want a thicker one whether you go in summer or winter, and but you'll probably want to spend a bit more on a good-quality one if you're going during the colder months – with a high of -2-degrees Celsius in January, you won't regret that investment.
Click here for scarves (all genders).
Long skirts (with tights – they're warmer than short ones).
Long-sleeve shirts and thermals.
Padded sweater vest.
(If you're there in winter, you'll definitely want to take that extra jacket and vest.)
So that's basically everything warm I brought with me for a month-long Icelandic trip in April/May!
If you take anything from this article about what to wear in Iceland, it should be that dressing for Iceland is all about layering – they tend to crank the heating inside and you'll find yourself trying to remove all your jackets, so the key is to wear something like a long-sleeve shirt and a lighter cardigan or jumper under your snow jacket, with a scarf, beanie and gloves.