Summer is a great time to visit Iceland. The landscape turns green, millions of birds flock to Iceland and the sun sets very late. These long days offer amazing opportunities to discover the country. Summer is the best time to go on longer trips farther out of Reykjavík. Driving all around the island is a great way to spend your vacation, but you can also venture into the isolated Westfjords or go to the highlands, areas that are mostly closed off in winter. Summer in Iceland is a little bit different than summer in other countries, so it’s good to think about what to wear and what to pack!
What to wear
You might have heard the old saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” This holds true just as much for summer as it does for winter. To stay warm and dry, you have to layer your clothing. Wear warm, breathable fabrics underneath a waterproof outer layer. It’s always important to stay dry, and a good outer layer that protects against wind and rain is essential. You might be surprised, but bringing a hat and gloves is not an unnecessary luxury. You will appreciate these in the late evening, and especially in the northern parts of the country or close to the ocean, a chilly wind can blow. Even though it sounds excessive, you will thank us later! It’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, shoes! Hiking boots are essential for Iceland’s rugged terrain.
What to pack
First things first, bring a bathing suit! Even if it’s not sizzling hot outside, locals love going to the pool. It’s the perfect way to unwind. The thermal pools usually keep a temperature of 30 °C, great for swimming. But the best part are the hot tubs, with temperatures ranging between 36 and 44 °C. Icelandic people love soaking in hot tubs while chatting, discussing, or arguing about daily life. The most famous pool is the Blue Lagoon, but Reykjavík also has some great thermal pools.
Secondly, bring a photo camera. Iceland is a paradise for photographers and Instagrammers. The sun shines bright in summer, showing all of Iceland’s gorgeous bright colours. Combine this with the serene landscape, complete with waterfalls and dramatic coastlines, and you have excellent ingredients for a beautiful snapshot. Because of the bright sunlight, it’s also necessary to bring a good pair of sunglasses.
The next item on your list should be a sleeping mask. In Icelandic summer, the midnight sun shines almost all night. In Reykjavík, the shortest night is a little less than three hours, but even if the sun sets, it doesn’t get completely dark. A sleeping mask can be crucial for a good night’s sleep.
Fourthly, we recommend bringing a reusable water bottle and a thermos. Icelandic tap water is the best in the world, and it’s completely unnecessary to buy water bottles in the supermarket. Just bring a bottle with you and fill it up whenever you can! Also, a thermos can be really nice when you are planning to stay outside for a prolonged time. When you feel weather-beaten, a warm cup of tea is just what you need!
Other items that you should bring are:
- Sun protection – even if it doesn’t get super hot, you can still burn!
- Anti-mosquito spray – especially if you stay close to a lake.
- A smartphone with data – it’s always good to be able to reach your accommodation if something comes up.
- If you are not from Europe, you will need an electrical adapter. Electrical sockets in Iceland are standard European electrical socket types C and E.
Keep your plans flexible
Summer in Iceland is amazing, but it’s definitely not like in Spain or other Mediterranean countries. Don’t come to Iceland expecting only high temperatures and calm weather. Even though it can get warm and sunny, the weather in Iceland is fickle and the most important thing is to stay safe. By all means, make plans, but be prepared to change them if the weather is acting up. Check the weather forecast before you set off and don’t risk driving far if the weather is bad!