What to wear in winter
As you already might know, the weather in Iceland is unpredictable. Therefore it is often difficult to decide what to pack for a trip to Iceland. Here are few guidelines what you will probably need during your stay, but the bottom line is: Dress warm and the keyword is layers, many layers – especially if you are going out in the country)!
Warm coats/parkas are a must in winter. If you don´t have one, then we strongly recommend you get one before you arrive or you can buy one when you arrive. Waterproof outer layer is also vital. In Bankastraeti and Laugavegur in the city center, as well as in Kringlan and Smáralind shopping malls, you will find Icelandic stores with outdoor clothing for the whole family, such as 66North, Cintamani, IceWear and ZO-ON.
A warm coat isn´t enough. Don´t forget to bring (or buy) mittens, a scarf, a hat and warm socks. Wollen socks are ideal as they will keep your toes warm no matter how cold it will get. If you are planning on going out in the open sea or out in the country (snowmobiling for instance), keep in mind that it gets much colder there than in the city.
With the weather, you can never tell what to expect. When the sidewalks are clear, trainers – even boots with heals – are fine. However, when it becomes slippery or the sidewalks and roads are covered with snow, you want shoes with a good sole and above the ankle so you won´t get snow into your shoes. When going on tours outside of Reykjavík, we recommend good shoes or boots. You can buy shoes in Reykjavík that suit real Icelandic winter conditions.
Sunglasses and sunscreen
Sunglasses and sunscreen are probably the last things on your list for a vacation in Iceland, but nevertheless it´s a must! The sun doesn´t go very high in winter and it is very strong, not to mention when the ground is white (reflection reflection reflection!). Protect your eyes with sunglasses, whether you are in the city or out in the country. Protect your skin with sunscreen when you go skiing or on a snowmobile on a sunny day, even though the temperature is well below zero! Last but not least, when the sun is coming up or going down in winter, it is very strong and can make it hard to see where you are driving.
Sweaters and pants
Warms sweaters and trousers should be on your list. Leggings underneath might also be a good idea if you are going up to the mountains or will be spending time outdoors out in the country. If you are a fashionista, Reykjavik is packed with amazing stores and boutiques with beautiful Icelandic designs, both for men and women, where you will find something of your liking. Lopapeysa (the woolen sweater) is a classic and we recommend you get one, both to keep you warm and as a memento. If you are planning on just walking around in the city, jeans are perfectly okay. However, if you are going on a tour, the key is not to wear jeans or any cotton close to your body. If jeans get wet, they stay wet and cold. If you sweat in a cotton shirt on a short hike and stop, you will be freezing cold!
We always recommend visitors to enjoy a swim in at least one of many great swimming pools across Iceland, as well as the Blue Lagoon and/or another geothermal baths/pools. So, don´t forget your swimsuit!
Many who visit Iceland want to explore the countryside and visit famous sites, such as Gullfoss, Geysir and go snowmobiling. As stated before, it gets colder when you go out of the city and the same goes for the open sea. Northern lights tours are popular during winter and while the car/bus is warm and nice, it might get cold standing outdoors for some time while admiring the beautiful aurora. Bring warm clothing!
As you have probably figured out by now, it is important to dress warm when you visit Iceland in winter. If you realize when you have arrived that you haven´t brought clothes that are warm enough, it´s easy to go to the shopping malls (Kringlan and Smáralind) or to the city center, where you will find a great selection of stores to gear up. The main thing is: The weather in Iceland is unpredictable, especially during winter. You might get a lovely sunny day where you don´t need to think about hats, gloves and scarfs. You might also get a cold day with strong winds that requires warm clothing. Every day is unique, enjoy it and enjoy wonderful Iceland!