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WHAT TO WEAR IN ICELAND DURING WINTER

Are you traveling to Iceland in the winter?

If so, you are doing a great job by looking up what to wear and how to dress in Iceland for this time of the year. Because one thing is for certain: It. Will. Be. Cold!

In this blog post, I am going to do my absolute best in telling you everything you will need to know on what to wear and how to dress for your Iceland trip!

Let's get started!

Egill Fannar
Egill Fannar
Last updated: June 18, 2020

Don’t miss: The Best Winter Tours from Reykjavik

arial shot of Iceland in winter

… Did I mention that it snows in Iceland?

WEATHER IN ICELAND DURING WINTER

It is safe to say that Iceland is literally a winter wonderland. With short summer months from May-August and cool spring and autumn, it’s easy to call everything from October and until April, winter in Iceland!

The average temperature in Iceland during the winter is around 1,7 °C or 35°F.

January is always the coldest month of the year with February and March as strong runners up. Other signatures of the Icelandic weather are wind and rainfall – Or our favorite: Snow!

So, it will definitely be cold. No doubt on that. But on our clear, snowy days – Oh, how beautiful it gets to be!

The average temperature in Iceland by month:

average winter temperatures in Iceland

WHAT TO WEAR IN ICELAND

I decided to split my little ‘what to wear blog’ into two! What to wear in Iceland while touring around, doing road trips, exploring waterfalls or glaciers – And then on the other half, how to dress in the city (see below).

So, for exploring the outdoors you will obviously have to be prepared for any kind of weather and your job is to dress so warm that nothing will stand in your way from enjoying the day to the fullest! Here are my recommendations:

– Shoes: First and foremost – PLEASE do not go for sneakers. You might think this is too basic but you would not believe how many people travel our country during winter in their Nikes and complain that they are cold on their feet. Good walking shoes are the minimum requirement, hiking boots are recommended or anything with water/snow blocking.

– Good socks: One thing that has followed our culture from the Viking ages are our “Ullarsokkar” or simply wool socks in English. Oh, god they are good on cold days! Big recommend.

– Your warm base layers: The last thing you will regret while spending time outside is wearing quality base layers from top to toe. Most Icelanders will have a wool first layer underneath their other clothes and parkas. Essential on cold days!

– Icelandic wool sweaters: Well, do I even have to mention this? Our hand knitted wool sweaters almost serve as the national costume of Icelanders and for a great reason. They are as warm as a sweater can get! … And so trendy!

– Jackets and/or parka: For most days this is your most important layer. A warm jacket – Or a super warm parka like most Icelanders wear is going to keep you warm and dry from October – April. When exploring Reykjavik and definitely the countryside you will notice almost every single local wearing a parka. I recommend the same to you. And on extra cold days or when you are spending a lot of time outdoors, we recommend base layers and even wool sweaters or a fleece layer underneath!

– Hats and gloves: Like every Icelandic mom will tell her children: “It’s better to dress too warm and be able to take layers off rather than to not dress properly and be cold!”. Definitely, go for your favorite set of warm clothes or stock up with some of our super trendy Icelandic outdoor clothing brands (see below!).

Reykjavik covered in snow during winter

Reykjavik on a snowy day, seen from Hallgrímskirkja church.

HOW TO DRESS IN REYKJAVIK

I can easily say that almost everything I mentioned regarding what to wear (up there) definitely applies for the city as well. Since on the coldest days of winter, walking up and down the main shopping street Laugavegur might feel like you just hiked up a glacier!

However, the only difference is that most locals try to be more trendy in Reykjavik. Icelanders have a great sense of fashion (or at least we like to think so!) and obviously, it’s all about winter fashion! Here are some things to keep in mind for your Reykjavik trip and what to wear:

  • Even though you are only spending time in the city – You still have to dress warm! Use the list above as a guideline.
  • Most importantly I recommend a good jacket or a parka to keep you warm. It’s a big pro if it also looks great as then you can use it in the evening as well if you want to visit fine dining restaurants, bars or clubs.
  • Keep trendy hats and/or gloves in your pocket. Believe me, you never know when you just might need it!

The “Iceland” parka from Cintamani is so cool!

BEST WINTER TOURS IN ICELAND

My highest priority with this blog is to ensure that YOU have a truly unforgettable trip to Iceland.

And what better way to ensuring a fun trip then to fill it with awesome activities?

Here below you’ll find my favorite activities and things to do in Iceland in the winter time.

1. EXPERIENCE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

northern lights in iceland

If you’re in Iceland, anywhere in between August-April. Then you’re in luck!

I look at it like this…

You’re in Iceland in the peak season for seeing the Northern Lights – why not experience the magic?

There are many different northern lights tours to choose from.

I have one tour that I recommend to all friends and travelers on their way to Iceland – and that is this one HERE.

I highly recommend this tour for a few reasons:

– It’s hosted by the best in Iceland
Before every tour takes place, both the northern lights activity and weather is carefully monitored to find the best spot each night with the highest chance of seeing the best northern lights – and that’s exactly where they’ll take you!

– Don’t see the Northern Lights? No problem!
Like I said above, you’ll be going to the best spots each particular night that has the highest chance of seeing great Northern Lights. But they can be unpredictable – and sometimes, unfortunately don’t show up. The good news is that if you DON’T see the Northern Lights – you’ll be able to reschedule for a second attempt for free!

You can read more about the tour & secure your spots right here.

2. ENJOY DELICIOUS ICELANDIC FOOD

Guests enjoying an Icelandic food tasting

Introducing my favorite, the Reykjavik Food Walk tour!

This is a tour that I strongly feel everyone visiting Iceland has to experience. The Reykjavik Food Walk is a 3hr walking food tour in downtown Reykjavik where you’ll have a fun local guide take you to the best local restaurants and hidden gems in Reykjavik to try a variety of delicious Icelandic food!

I never travel to any country without doing a food tour. Simply because it’s the best way to experience the culture of a country – and it’s always a lot of fun.

This tour is currently rated as the #1 thing to do in Reykjavik with over 2.700+ 5 star reviews on Trip Advisor.

It’s perfect for solo travelers, couples, friends, family – pretty much anyone that enjoys good food.

Pro tip: The biggest regret of a lot of foodies that join this tour is that they didn’t do it on their first day. It’s the perfect way to get your bearings and learn everything you need to know about Reykjavik, where everything is – where to go and where not to go. So I would definitely recommend to book this for the first or second day of your trip (if possible)

Also – this is a small group tour that frequently sells out in advance so it’s always best to book with some notice to ensure that you won’t miss out.

You can more read about and secure your spots for the Reykjavik Food Walk here.

3. HIKE (OR CLIMB) A GLACIER

Glacier hike on Solheimajökull glacier

Iceland is home to some of the most magnificent glaciers in the world. Photos rarely do them justice.

If you’re feeling adventurous and in the mood for something different – then a glacier hike will be right up your alley.

On this tour, you’ll visit the stunning Sólheimajökull. It’s a beast!

You’ll both do a bit of hiking and experience incredible sights and views but it’s also an option to ‘climb’ the glacier.

Don’t worry! The tour is hosted by glacier professionals with all gear and equipment. Another great thing about this tour is that you’ll stop by Skógafoss waterfall on your way (on of my favorite waterfalls.)

Skogafoss waterfall

You can read more about the glacier hike here.

4. GOLDEN CIRCLE & SECRET LAGOON NATURAL HOT SPRING

Gamla laugin (secret lagoon)

The Secret Lagoon, Iceland

You might have heard about the Golden Circle in Iceland. For those that haven’t, it’s a driving route in Iceland that includes some incredible sightseeing spots:
– Þingvellir national park
– The Erupting Geysir
– The powerful Gullfoss waterfall

Gullfoss waterfall during winter

Gullfoss (Falls)

Seeing theses spots is definitely awesome, but it’s a lot of sightseeing. That’s why this tour is perfect – because you’ll not only see some of the highlights in Iceland but you’ll also visit the Secret lagoon natural hot spring.

It is 100% natural, which means that the water comes directly from the ground – and it’s perfect hot tub temperature as well (perfect for cold winter days)

You can find more info on the Golden Circle / Natural Hot Spring tour here.

5. REYKJAVIK BEER TOUR

Icelandic beer tasting on the Reykjavik beer tour

As you can see on the photo above, this tour is hosted by us at Wake Up Reykjavik – VUHU!

I don’t know if you know this ..

But the Beer History in Iceland is incredibly interesting and different.

For example: Did you know that beer was illegal in Iceland until 1989!?

But today (thanks to our incredible water) we have some of the best beer in the world with awesome little craft breweries popping up everywhere.

We wanted to make a tour that is all about FUN, meeting new friends, sharing laughs, interesting stories – and enjoy a lot of Icelandic beer (10 beers to be exact.)

And we did just that.

Today, our beer tour runs all year round and has been getting amazing reviews.

This tour is not for ‘beer experts’ only – but rather, all travelers that want to have a fun evening in Reykjavik.

For more info & bookings check out the Beer tour here. 

TO SUM IT UP …

Iceland will be awesome and cold. Are you prepared for it? I certainly hope so!

I really hope that have found the information you were looking for in my blog but please don’t hesitate to let me know and help me to make it better if there is something I missed! Also, you can let me know what you think or if you have any questions in the comments below!

#JustRememberToDressWarm