News center
Grade-A components, exacting quality protocols.

Iceland Packing List: What to Bring to Avoid Checking a Bag

Jun 01, 2023

My trusty carry-on and backpack have served me well through numerous trips abroad, including Scotland, New Zealand, and Iceland.

On a recent, five-day trip to Iceland, I went to three lagoons, visited a black sand beach, spent a day with an elopement planner who hosted a wedding in an ice cave, and slept in a clear plastic bubble in the woods.

Here's everything I packed to prepare for the wide range of activities and climates, and four things I wish I'd left at home.

For swimming in lagoons, I packed a bathing suit, swim shirt, and water shoes.

I was grateful for the water shoes so that I didn't have to walk barefoot in the locker rooms. And while the geothermal lagoons were a comfortable, hot-tub temperature, the swim shirt helped keep me warm in chilly temperatures outside the pools.

The sun doesn't fully set in Iceland between May and August, with June being peak midnight sun season, according to Guide to Iceland. I visited at the beginning of June, when there are 24 hours of daylight.

Because the Northern Hemisphere tilts towards the sun during the summer months, countries north of the Arctic Circle such as Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Iceland are continuously exposed to the light of the sun.

Even with blackout curtains at hotels, I was surprised by how much sunlight still remained as I went to sleep. The mask also came in handy on my red-eye flight to Iceland and the night I spent in a clear plastic bubble in the woods.

The weather in Iceland can be unpredictable, even in late spring and summer, so I knew having a mix of layers would be essential. Thankfully, I ended up wearing all of these items, so they weren't just taking up space in my luggage.

I brought three short-sleeve shirts, four long-sleeve shirts, one sweater, and a zip-up hoodie to dress for all possibilities with lots of layers.

I also packed a plug-in phone charger as well as a portable charger.

Aside from the usual toiletries — a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, etc. — I made sure to pack sunscreen to protect my skin from the midnight sun.

Applying sunscreen at 6 p.m. before going out to dinner was strange, but at least I didn't get sunburned.

I found sunglasses essential for visibility while driving in Iceland, even when it was cloudy out.

I was surprised to learn that it's safe to drink straight from many clear rivers and streams in Iceland, and tasted some water from a melting glacier.

According to Iceland Review magazine, food prices are higher in Iceland since it relies heavily on imports and has high import taxes.

I saved some money on food by bringing snacks including peanut butter crackers, granola bars, trail mix, instant ramen, and tuna packets.

I brought two pairs of shoes with me to Iceland: a pair of comfortable boots for everyday wear and a pair of hiking shoes.

Even when the sun was out, temperatures usually hovered around the low 50s and 60s.

I packed my warm winter gear in case I needed it, but I got extremely lucky with the weather I experienced during my trip. It barely rained, and I even had some perfectly sunny days.

These items were bulky and took up valuable space in my suitcase, so I wish I'd left them at home.

Since I was going to be swimming and taking pictures in several lagoons, including Iceland's famous Blue Lagoon, I wanted to be extra careful and protect my phone with a waterproof case.

However, I found that the case actually made my phone bulkier and more difficult to use. The case also obscured my photos. I ended up taking the case off and just holding my phone very tightly while in the water, and noticed lots of other people doing the same.

Read next