Before every holiday I get a feeling similar to going on a date with your crush. And you wouldn’t go on a date without getting ready first, would you? Well, packing is for traveling what make-up is for going on a date: no one likes it, but it has to be done. So check out this Iceland packing list for summer to find out what to pack for the Ring Road trip.
Table of Contents
Yes, it’s true guys, there might be affiliate links in this awesome, free post. This means that if you decide to buy something that you find here, and you use one of my links to do so, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I plan to use this money on ice cream, chocolate, and to travel more so I can write these useful guides for you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Travel essentials for your Iceland summer trip
Now, let’s start at the beginning. You first need to get there and be able to move around. And we all know you cannot do that if you’re missing some very important things.
The official papers that you’ll need will, of course, depend on your passport. You will have to look this up way in advance, even before buying your plane tickets and reserving your accommodation. In any case, you usually need to bring with you your passport and visa plus maybe some custom forms, depending on what you’re bringing in your luggage. Check out your visa requirements below!
A good idea is to also have another form of identification that you keep away from your passport, to use in case you lose your passport and need to talk to the Embassy for your trip back. Of course, travel insurance is never a bad idea, and printed versions of your outbound trip and accommodation reservations might come in handy as well.
As for getting around, you’ll need either your driver’s license and/or international driver’s license if you intend to drive here. Don’t forget to do this for all people that will be added as drivers for the rental car.
For you to pay for stuff, credit or debit cards are all you need. I have not seen an Icelandic Krona while I was there, this is how much they use credit cards. We use Revolut whenever traveling and it worked like a charm in Iceland as well.
The best luggage to use when packing for Iceland in the summer
Before you start thinking about what things you should pack, think about a place to put them in. Although, the other approach is good as well: gather all of your stuff and see what they fit in.
Joke aside, you will need something to pack all of your belongings, and for this, I recommend either a big backpack or a big rolling suitcase. If won’t have to carry your big luggage with you anywhere as you will always have a car or camper van available, so don’t stress too much over it. My favorite rolling suitcase is Samsonite B-lite Icon Spinner (read my full review here) and all backpackers I know recommend Osprey backpacks without a doubt.
For day-to-day use, I recommend having a small day backpack. It comes in pretty handy to carry around a bottle of water and some snacks, plus some gear you might want to have with you. Have some garbage bags with you at all times and also bring some waterproof bags for wet swimsuits (you never know when you’ll find a hot spring in Iceland).
To keep you organized, I have four ideas for you: packing cubes, laundry bags, cable bags, and shoe bags. I’m not sure if you need all or any of them, for that matter, but most people find it easier to keep their luggage nicely packed when using these helpers, so I thought I’d throw them in here for you.
And if you hate taking the wrong back from the carousel bag at the airport, I think you might love the idea of having ID tags on all your pieces of luggage with your data. It’ll make it easier to recognize and they’re so pretty, am I right?
Electronics to add to your Iceland summer packing list
I used to think Japan is a country you cannot go to without all the electronics in the world, but I realize Iceland is the same, but for a different reason. Funny how two wildly different places in the world can have something in common.
You need to be able to find your way around as you’ll rarely find people to ask for directions, you have so much to photograph your eyes will hurt, and you will need a GoPro for your Silfra snorkeling experience (see my detailed review here) and you’ll use your car plug adapter intensively.
You will need a pocket wi-fi or a phone that you can use with a SIM card to create a hotspot for you and your travel partner(s). We used the roaming option which is very convenient for European travelers, but most people choose a pocket wi-fi as it’s easy to use and can serve more users with minimum effort, thus making it one of the most recommended items for the Iceland Ring Road itinerary.
The next very useful gadget is a travel plug adapter. It’s great not only because you can easily use your home chargers, but you can also plug multiple devices into only one adapter. Please buy a general one like this one instead of an adapter for each country you visit! It’s not pricey and you’ll use it on all your trips.
Let’s get to the fun part! I won’t remind you to take your phone as probably no one leaves the house without it anyway, but also don’t forget your laptop or tablet if you use one, and the eReader that you’ll use intensively on the flight and that’s about it. You’ll have other stuff to do when you arrive.
For the photographer in you to be happy, don’t forget your camera and additional accessories you might use. Most people have some sort of lenses they love and even I have a tripod these days (there’s so much anyone can take when you see blurred photos on a travel blog, right?). If you want to remember things in motion, bring your GoPro and take some cool shots at the Silfra fissure.
Small, but important electronics are the following: chargers for all devices mentioned above, a power bank to keep them alive on the go, spare batteries (especially for that battery-eater GoPro), and SD cards, especially if not bringing in a laptop. You might also want an external hard drive if you want to be on the safe side of not losing all your photos and videos.
And for your flight, I cannot emphasize enough the need for ANR headphones. The quality of our flights has increased significantly since we bought ours, and we’re spending plenty of time praising this amazing invention to everyone. Now, if you can afford a nice Sennheiser, be my guest, but something less pricey might work miracles as well.
As this is one of the most physically demanding trips I have ever done, I have greatly appreciated having my smartwatch telling me how cool I am for exercising this much. Mine died in Iceland (no idea why it might have been the cold) but I used the opportunity to buy the new Fitbit and I love it! OK fine, I’ll admit, probably Apple Watch is very good as well, but I haven’t personally used it so I cannot recommend it before I do.
Recommended clothes for your summer Iceland packing list
The most important thing to know, even before I start telling you what you need, is to use the most used tip: layer up! Use the following rule any hiker and winter sports fan will tell you: have a base layer meant to force the humidity out, add a warm layer to keep you comfy, and finish with a light windproof and waterproof layer to keep you dry.
Bring also some day-to-day shoes for city walking and add a pair of flip-flops if you intend to visit a hot spring or pool (which you should), in which case you also need a swimsuit. For daily use and light hiking, I love my Saucony sports shoes as I have overpronation and these help me a lot with it. My husband has under pronation and he found a model for him, and he also used the wide version which is nice as well.
Don’t forget to bring in plenty of pairs of socks (wool for hiking and normal for … well, everything else), a pair of compression socks for your flight, and a buff or scarf to cover your neck. Find a way to keep your head covered and gloves aren’t far-fetched either. To finish the “little items” list, bring also your comfy and warm undergarments and sports and normal bras.
On most days you’ll wear a base layer (pants and tops), warm layers or a lightweight fleece, and a waterproof jacket and pants. You can technically use your ski gear if you have, this is what I did, but my snowboarding gear felt a bit too much after a while. I adored the lightweight options my friends had. Check out the tables below with the full gear I recommend.
|Base layer top||Base layer bottom||Lightweight fleece||Waterproof jacket||Waterproof pants|
|Base layer top||Base layer bottom||Lightweight fleece||Waterproof jacket||Waterproof pants|
For normal walks in cities, have one or two pairs of jeans and a few T-shirts. Do not bring fancy clothes like button-down shirts and high heels. It’s not the place for this and that would be a waste of your luggage space. How’s that filling up, by the way?
Toiletries to add to your packing list for Iceland in the summer
I’d like to take this moment and tell you that Iceland is a very environmentally conscious country, and you should be the same while there (and in general, to be frank). On this note, please try to use as little single-use plastic as possible, and use solid toiletries whenever you can.
First, you’re going to need a toiletry bag, or more, depending on how many of these things you’re going to take with you. Then, have everything you need to take care of your smile: toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. If you can use a bamboo toothbrush and solid toothpaste, I’ll be your best friend.
Next, let’s cover everything you need for washing: shower gel, shampoo, conditioner. Try to use solids wherever possible, to not create more waste. The next step to looking neat is to have deodorant and a comb or brush.
Hell, you might even fancy using some perfume while out in Reykjavik. Add some hair ties and bobby pins and whatever else you need to keep your hair out of your way. Don’t forget hand sanitizer and sunscreen, and some eye drops might be useful as well, especially for the flight.
To keep yourself groomed, have a nail care set and a grooming set plus a razor, either classical or electrical. For your skincare, don’t forget everything you need for your skin routine: face wash, moisturizer, hand cream, body lotion, lip balm, and God knows what else is there.
And some smaller, but very important toiletries should also be on your list. I’m talking about feminine care needs and other intimate life necessities. Shops are rare in Iceland and you wouldn’t want to be in a position to need one of these items and not have them.
What not to bring, you may ask? I’d say nothing fancy in general. No make-up, special jewelry, fancy clothes, or curling iron will be needed on this trip. And you’ll feel so good about it, trust me!
Packing list for Iceland – Summer accessories to add
Here I list everything that didn’t fit anywhere else but should fit in your bag. As water is not only safe to drink, but also delicious in Iceland, I recommend bringing an insulated water bottle with or without a filter and a similar coffee mug. The cost for these two products is covered over the years and you produce less waste.
If you’re a light sleeper, then bring your earplugs and night mask. Days are long during summertime in Iceland (sometimes the sun doesn’t even set) and you might have trouble sleeping and cannot count on having blackout curtains at your accommodation. As a bonus, you can also use them on your flight.
As a fellow “four-eyed” friend, don’t forget your glasses and/or contact lenses plus the solution you need for them. Add your favorite pair of sunglasses and a fast-drying towel for some spontaneous swimming in hot springs. I recommend having the towel, slippers, and swimsuit with you in your day pack all the time.
And last, but not least, you might think of getting some hiking poles if you need to. We didn’t need any, and I never really understood what they’re useful for, but maybe I’m not in the target audience (yet). Also, don’t forget to bring some face masks for the flight. Maybe you won’t get sick this time!
The most important in this section is a first aid kit. The first aid kit can be a general one, but please also add what you need from the following list:
- basic over-the-counter painkillers
- motion sickness pills
- stomach medicine
- allergy medication
- the prescription medication you might need
- the certification of the prescription for any drugs
- documents with your medical history.
Also, keep the first aid kit with you at all times, not at the hotel as I tend to do. I have a nice story to tell you about how I feel in the middle of a temple in Japan and ripped my favorite jeans and bruised my knee, but I’ll keep it for another time.
Apps and sites to use when planning your trip to Iceland
I know you are not packing this, but it’s helpful to have them all listed here so you can download them beforehand. These apps will be useful for all your trips, so just make that “Travel” folder and keep them there.
If you plan to rent a car in Iceland, you are not alone! Most travelers do that, and we did as well. At that point, I didn’t know about Discover Cars. We were young, naive, and likes to spend hours searching for cars. Now I know better and use a great all-in-one solution for this. Plus, it includes local companies so you will absolutely choose the best option for you.
Before I worked in aviation, I would always use Skyscanner to find plane tickets. It has so many cool options compared to other aggregators, like being able to look for tickets without specific dates (“Whole month”), looking for tickets to “Anywhere”, or including nearby airports.
I also use Booking and Agoda for hotel reservations, but I recommend always checking the hotel’s website as well. Sometimes they have better prices and more amenities offered when booking directly. Don’t forget one of my money-saving tips: make a reservation with free cancellation and before it expires, search again for any discounted offers.
Although I haven’t personally used it yet, as I only discovered it during Covid, GetYourGuide has plenty of offers for tours and experiences. Many travel bloggers recommend it and I’ll try it as soon as we can safely travel again as we used to.
If you’re an organizing freak like I am, here’s a tip: use Trello to plan your trip. It’s free (you can add some paid options if you want, but can live without them as well) and you can customize it as you wish. I still have the boards from some of my trips and whenever someone asks me for info, I just share it with them.
Google maps and Google translate are very important and don’t forget to download the offline maps and languages. You never know when you might need them while out of service. And a small helpful tool: download a boarding pass app. It keeps all your tickets organized. We even had “Permission of entry” types of passes added there.
Iceland packing list – Summer edition – The takeaway
Finally, we have reached the end of this Iceland packing list – summer edition. I know it’s been quite a read, but I also know that now you know what to add to your Iceland summer packing list, or at least what are the recommended items.
And because you know I love printable checklists, I have created a FREE list of things to pack for your Iceland summer trip! You can print it to use when you pack, so you won’t feel overwhelmed when you’ll start preparing. You’re welcome!