What to Wear in Iceland in the Winter

So you’ve booked a holiday to Iceland and now you’re thinking about what to wear in Iceland in the winter!

The majority of Iceland’s activities are outside; from driving snowmobiles across glaciers in full overalls, walking around in snow to see the geyser’s and waterfalls, experiencing running around in the freezing cold at the thermal baths in a bikini to looking fashionably warm out for dinner and drinks in the town! There’s so much to do in Iceland but knowing what to wear in Iceland in the winter is important.

The average temperature in Winter is around 0°C and the weather continually changes. There’s a saying in Iceland, it’s all over souvenirs you can buy; ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change’ and it honestly will!

No doubt, you’ll also be out chasing the Northern Lights (I really hope you see them!) and if you want to truly enjoy them, you don’t want to be cold! People had spent some serious money on the tours we went on and while we were out gaping in awe at this natural wonder, others were huddled up in the coach we’d arrived on, complaining they were cold. Don’t be that person! The trick is, the more exposed the landscape is, the colder it’s going to be!

When in doubt, as a general rule, go for a base layer, a middle layer (or two) and a outer layer. Note the word layer! Here’s my list of what to wear in Iceland in the winter to get you started:

  • Shoes – Good walking shoes or hiking boots are your bare minimum. They will allow you to generally walk around the cities, but also get a little bit more adventurous. Snow boots would be better! Do NOT think that trainers are acceptable. There’s snow on the ground, your feet will get soaked and you’ll end up with no toes (that might be a slight exaggeration); however, I did see a man go for a slip and slide down the street, much to the amusement of his partner and the locals around him. Don’t be that person.
  • Socks – think wool and you can’t go wrong!
  • Base layer – thermals and wool are going to be your new best friends.
  • Middle layer – Chuck on a top and a warm jumper or if you’ve got the budget maybe pick up an Icelandic wool sweater!
  • Outer layer – A warm, thick, waterproof, windproof coat! If you’re going to spend money on anything spend it on a decent coat or you’ll regret it.
  • Trousers – in the cities, as long as it’s not raining, you can get away with jeans. As the weather changes so often, I carried around my fold up waterproof trousers to pop on over the top of my jeans when needed. If you’re going out on adventure trips further away from the city, you want to make sure you’ve got some decent waterproof windproof trousers.
  • Leggings – Instead of jeans, I also wore thick gym leggings over my thermals, this worked just as well.
  • The extras
    • Hat – You can get something pretty with a bobble (think of the pictures) but just make sure it’s thick, preferably lined and you can tuck your ears into it!
    • Gloves – think ski gloves! You can get all sorts of gloves now that allow you to use your electronics with special pads as well.
    • Scarf – I opted for something wide that I could pull up over my face when I got really cold. I spent most of my holiday with just my eyes on show pretending I was a ninja, but I was definitely warm!
    • Buff Cover your face up to your eyes, tuck your ears in, wrap it just around your neck, use it as a hat or even as a ponytail. Think a circular piece of material that you can use as pretty much anything.

What to wear in Iceland in the winter


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When you’re in the city for dinner and drinks, you also want to make sure that you’ve got something nice to wear. Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean Icelander’s aren’t fashionable!

Put your thermals on, then your trousers and a nice sparkly jumper. Then when you get to the restaurant, prepare yourself for a mass unpealing of layers.

 

Now that we’ve finished talking about the cold, don’t forget to pack your swimwear and sunglasses! Yes, you read that right. Iceland has some of the most amazing hot springs and I’m sure if you’re reading this, you’ve heard of the Blue Lagoon.

I hope you found my article on what to wear in Iceland in the winter useful, make sure you check out my other posts on Iceland including why you should visit Iceland for New Year’s Eve and my 20 Photos Series to inspire you to go!

 

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What to Wear in Iceland in the Winter

11 Replies to “What to Wear in Iceland in the Winter”

  1. You got ice in your eyelashes! Wow! It must be really that cold. I don’t do well in the cold weather but I am not going to let it stop me from going if I ever get a chance to go to Iceland. At least now I know what to wear, I honestly don’t think so much of these things because I live in a tropical country so when I went to Taiwan (14 degrees Celcius and I was already freezing), I was ill-prepared. Now I know that it’s not about just layering clothes, but to actually pick the right clothes to layer.

    1. Driving through the snow on a snowmobile make my eyes water which just instantly froze!
      I’m not good with the cold either, I spent the week waddling around because I wore that many layers.

  2. Reading through this just made me think of the wardrobe I had when I lived in Queenstown in New Zealand for winter. Pretty much everything was thermal, and the rest was my snowboarding gear. I do love just having layers and layers of clothes and feeling snug under it. As cold as it got in NZ I’m sure Iceland gets so much colder, still need to experience it 😀

    1. I had so many layers on! I didn’t realise it was possible to wear so many layers! Most days I wore two sets of thermals just to make sure I was warm. My snow boots were amazing though.

  3. I love winters but extreme winters like that in Iceland are tough to fathom. I think the most relieving part about the entire post was the swimwear and the hot springs. I would love to swim in such weather, I think the initial steps would be difficult but the experience would be unforgettable.

    1. It was so bizarre! It was 0 degrees and I was outside in swimwear while it was snowing in a natural hot spring! The initial steps were definitely the worst.

      1. I guessed it right! 🙂

  4. Oh my, you had snow on your lashes too ! I just can’t get over it . BTW, loved your Ninja look. Some great practical tips here to stay warm in sub zero temperature :). Would love visiting Iceland soon.

    1. It was snowing while we snowmobiled and the snow just collected on me! It was pretty cool! Ninja is the way to go.

  5. Alexander Popkov says: Reply

    I love winter cloths. Mine are so comfortable, I would wear them through all year. Iceland in winter would be a nice trip for me 🙂

    1. Not a big fan of winter. It was fun for a holiday but the thought of doing it every year was a bit much!

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