10 essentials for Winter Break in Iceland
It is important to have the right clothes and accessories if you are planning a trip to Iceland especially in winter as you dont want to ruin your trip by being cold or forgetting something that will make your life so much easier.
I visited Iceland in January and it was absolutely freezing so here are my top 10 essentials for a winter break in Iceland.
For this trip I didn’t have to think about packing light as I wasn’t travelling around too much and had already paid for hold luggage so it was a luxury to be able to take lots of things I found useful.
Obviously it is going to get pretty cold in Iceland during the winter months. Dress in layers as once your inside or on the buses it can get very toasty and you might want to take one of the layers off until you go outside again. It is important to have the right clothes for your trip to Iceland depending on the season you are visiting as I have seen picture of sunshine during the warmer months.
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I had snow boots and walking boots and still slipped numerous times. One thing I didn’t take and if your luggage allows, was a pair of indoor shoes.
When I was in the hotel and wanted to go to breakfast I had to put my clumpy boots on or even a pair of slippers would have been ideal (I sound like a granny I don’t even wear slippers when I am at home) but it was really annoying having to put the boots on. If you are visiting Iceland in winter you are going to need snow boots these are the ones I wore, I got them from Amazon you can purchase them here.
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If it is snowing, sleeting or even raining it is going to be miserable if you are soaking wet. So a decent waterproof jacket and trousers will make it more bearable. You will find lots of waterproof options on Amazon at really good prices so even if you are on a budget this is one of the items I recommend you have to invest in for a winter break in Iceland.
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Hats / gloves / balaclava
I had two hats, a thinner one I kept on most of the time even in restaurants and then an extra thick Russian style hat to keep my head extra warm. My balaclava was a life saver I have never worn one before but when the wind was biting at my face it was definitely my best friend even if I did look like an armed robber.
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I had black tea in my flask, good for keeping me warm and hydrated. There are lots of places to buy hot drinks but it could work out expensive and sometimes I only wanted a little sip to take the chill off. I also took a travel kettle, it was brilliant as it meant I could have hot snacks like noodles which saved me money eating out. You can drink the water from any tap in Iceland from hotels to petrol stations and it tasty really fresh.
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Read More : Interesting facts about Iceland.
Camera / tripod
If you want to get pictures of the Northern lights ideally you need iOS as high as possible. The best photos being taken were 6000 plus. Aperture low (f1.4 – f4.0) and shutter open for longer than normal (try between 1 and 10) to get the best I found the best at 8. You need a steady camera to get good shots otherwise they look blurry, typically the day I saw the lights I didn’t have my tripod as I wasn’t expecting to go out.
I am not an expert on taking photos and mine turned out pretty bad so if I was to go back I would research more. Here is a great place to see how to take photos of the Northern lights, but luckily I have my memories and now how amazing they looked in real life.
You don’t need a huge tripod, I love the Gorilla Pods as they fit in my rucksack.
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It could take a few nights of going out on tours before the Northern lights appear. Some of the other sights are a distance from Reykjavik so may involves lots of travel time. So you need patience, do not give up if you have the time to spend in Iceland then you just might get to see the Northern Lights as it is amazing and is still one of my highlights of travelling.
Lip balm / Moisturiser
Your skin is going to take a bashing with the wind and then the heating when you come inside. I got cracked lips and so glad I had my lip balm with me. My favourite is Burt’s bees and the vanilla one tastes pretty good too.
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Lots of money
Things can be quite pricy in Iceland especially food and the tours so make sure you have enough budget for your trip.
There can be lots of travelling involved and waiting around for the lights. High fat snacks such as chocolate or nuts can help keep hunger at bay, give you the sugar rush to get energy levels up and apparently can warm you up. Not that I need an excuse to eat chocolate. There were lots of well-known brands such as Mars bars and Twix’s available in Iceland which I was not expecting.
If you are visiting Iceland in December, January or February it is going to be cold so be prepared, I didn’t realise how cold it would actually be as I am from the UK and we don’t really experience extreme temperatures.
Have I missed something off the list? Did you take something on your trip to Iceland that you recommend, if so please comment below.
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- Originally posted Sept 2016 Updated in February 2019