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What to wear in Iceland in October: Iceland Packing List

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Wondering what to wear in Iceland in October and other fall months? We got you covered. In this post, we are sharing our Iceland packing list for fall, plus checklists and travel tips so that you are trip ready, happy and ready to go!

Prior to our trip to Iceland in October, we researched everything to the T, and we knew the weather is unpredictable there, so we packed clothing items accordingly. But don’t let the ‘unpredictability’ scare you, it was actually so much fun – chasing waterfalls, and northern lights on the same day, braving winds, and wandering the lanes of Reykjavik.

Being a crossover month, Iceland in October is the best time to visit. 

What to wear in Iceland in October: Iceland Packing List for fall and winter

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What to pack for Iceland in October & winter months

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October is considered as a transition month in Iceland – where days are still warm and long and winter has not set in yet. The summers are the busiest months in Iceland and they are from July – August.

And winter months, with heavy snowfalls occur in November-February. In October, you get to experience the best of both worlds – summer and winter.

Although this post has a packing list for Iceland in October, it will be applicable for Iceland in September through early April. So if you are planning a visit to Iceland in the future, you can definitely use this packing list with variations.

Snapshot of Iceland seasons, and Iceland packing tips

Iceland October Weather Snapshot

  • Average Temperature (Low) – 2 degrees Celsius (36 F) 
  • Average Temperature (High) – 7 degrees Celsius (45 F)
  • Rain in Iceland – October in Iceland is the wettest month, with 14 days of rain on the southern coast. However, the rains are more of a drizzle than heavy monsoon sort of rain
  • Iceland Weather October northern lights possibility – Northern Lights in Iceland are easy to sight in October, as it experiences an average of 15 hours of darkness. 

Winter temperatures in Iceland in November, December, January, February, March, April

November

  • Low: 3 deg Celsius (38 F)
  • High: 4 deg Celsius (40 F)

December

  • Low: -2 deg Celsius (28.4 F)
  • High: 4 deg Celsius (39 F)

January

  • Low: -3 deg Celsius (26.6 F)
  • High: 3 deg Celsius (37.4 F)

February

  • Low: -2 deg Celsius (28.4 F)
  • High: 3 deg Celsius (37.4 F)

March

  • Low: -2.2 deg Celsius (28 F)
  • High: 3.3 deg Celsius (38 F)

April

  • Low: -1.1 deg Celsius (30 F)
  • High: 4.4 deg Celsius (40 F)

As you can see, the temperatures remain more or less similar from October to April. In late April, you can expect the temperatures to rise up to 7 degrees (45 F). However, each month presents a different side of Iceland and showcases natural attractions and festivals differently. 

For more Iceland Travel Tips, read all of our guides here

So here is what to pack for Iceland in October

Travel Backpack or carry on for Iceland packing list

Packing for Iceland in a carry-on

Our pro tip for packing for Iceland in October and winter months is to wear thick and heavy winter parka, and layer on using lightweight merino wool thermals (bottom and top). 

We traveled to Iceland using our backpack (45 litres) and we were able to carry one pair of runners, warm socks, 2-3 warm colorful beanies, loungewear, swimsuit, accessories, scarf, socks, and cosmetics. We used packing cubes to store everything neatly!

Using a backpack will allow you to save on baggage fees, and also save the headache of checking in your suitcase when you are flying out. You won’t believe the line-ups for checking in were super long at the Reykjavík–Keflavík Airport, which is the largest airport in Iceland. 

Our top backpack picks: Pacsafe Venturesafe 45 L | Osprey Backpack 40 L | North Face Hiking Backpack 40 L

Make sure your daypacks and your backpacks are waterproof as well. The same goes for your camera and other equipment for gear protection.

Waterproof winter jacket

Temperatures in Iceland in October and winter months can drop to 0 degrees or negative, so carrying a warm winter jacket is a must. Due to the winds, some of you might feel colder than what it is – due to the temperature. 

Warm jackets or parkas are handy when you go chasing northern lights at night or head out to sightseeing in the early morning hours in October and winter months. 

Here is my lovely and dependable NorthFace Winter Parka

Waterproof light jacket (carry all year)

Iceland is windy at any time of the year, and you must expect rains when it is least predictable. So windproof and waterproof clothes are a must.

Tips on what to wear in Iceland in October. Girl wearing jacket and boots
What to wear in Iceland in October

If you are visiting waterfalls (which I am sure you will be) – waterproof clothes are important. 

In October, you will be visiting Iceland at the wettest time of the year, so you can definitely carry a poncho or good waterproof shoes and clothing. 

Here is my favorite windproof and waterproof jacket. Plus it comes in a variety of colors. Buy it here

Pro-tip: Bright yellow, pink, and red are really amazing colors to stand out in the natural landscape of Iceland in the fall and winter months. 

Wool Sweater or Cardigan (fall and winter in Iceland)

Carry 1-2 nice sweaters to wear indoors while dining, attending events, or museums, etc. We recommend opting for lightweight merino wool or fleece sweater/cardigans so that you are warm without the bulkiness or added weight in your carry-on. 

Girl wearing mid layer, and outerwear in Iceland in October
Wearing my Lululemon Define jacket as mid layer

Use the sweater and cardigan as a mid layer. 

In October, we were blessed with good (bright) weather in the daytime, so I was able to get by with a slim fitting Lululemon Define Jacket as a mid layer (and had thermals as a base layer at night). 

Thermal wear (top & bottom)

Base layers are super important in Iceland in winters. And because October is a transition month, you must carry a pair or two of thermal wear (top and bottom). 

Thermal Bottoms in what to wear in October in Iceland
Thermal Bottoms in what to wear in October in Iceland

I wore my thermals as leggings, and as a base layer underneath my jeans. They kept me super warm and ready to play and enjoy the outdoors. 

Shop long john/thermals here

Waterproof pant/s 

Although we wore our jeans (and warm thermals/leggings) to Iceland in October, we recommend opting for waterproof pants. 

I am more of a city girl, and I never expected to have so much fun in Iceland – I climbed over rocks, and posed for photos, went behind Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, danced in the rain and what not – and after that sitting inside the vehicle was a bit uncomfortable. 

So buy a pair if you don’t have one. I recommend these waterproof pants here 

Jeans & Tops

Along with the waterproof pants, you must also carry a pair of jeans (or two) when exploring the indoors, or traveling in a vehicle, and inflight. 

Also include a couple of T-shirts (short, long sleeves) to change it up, and wear indoors. Or use it as a base layer when the temperatures are warm during the day, in Iceland in October, or early spring months in March- April. 

Read: Iceland itinerary 3 days

Sturdy waterproof hiking boots & walking shoes

Carry waterproof warm boots for visiting Iceland in October. Ensure the boots have a good outsole or threading so that you don’t trip, or slip on rocks or natural surfaces. 

I wore tall boots (only carried one pair), and it had a light fleece lining inside. It paired well with my jackets, and also my jeans and thermals (bottom). 

Tips on what to wear in Iceland in October. Girl wearing jacket and boots
Rainy Reykjavik in October

My boots are only available in Canada, so I recommend another pair and brands that I own. 

Buy these UGG waterproof boots | UGG waterproof boots – taller version | NorthFace Boots

For walking in and around Reykjavik, I also wore my runners (they were from Nike), but I would advise to grab waterproof hiking shoes. 

I wore these KEEN Explore Hiking shoes in many of the fall trips in Europe. You can check it out here

Warm socks

Warm socks are important to pair up with your boots and comfortable walking shoes. Try these thermal socks available for both women and men. 

If you prefer something lightweight, here is a pair of merino wool socks that are worth buying.

Warm scarf for any time of day or in-flight

A warm scarf is very handy at any time of day. And if you are like me (and always cold), you will need a nice scarf to keep you cozy and toasty in flight or while exploring Iceland. 

I carried one scarf, and it was amazing as a photo prop, as well as functional. I recommend wearing it when you are traveling so save space inside the carry-on bag. I like infinity, buff or small triangular or rectangle shaped scarves – they are easy to carry, style and are lightweight. 

Here are my top picks: Infinity Scarf | Vinyasa Scarf Rulu | SmartWool Merino Scarf

Tech Gloves, warm and waterproof

Keep your hands warm with these tech gloves from GORE WEAR. These are unisex Gore-tex Mid Gloves that are made of breathable material and are comfortable to wear. 

Gloves are windproof, highly water-resistant, and come with a touch-screen-compatible thumb and index finger so that you can use your smartphone to snap photos!

Warm beanie or hat

Okay, this is my favorite item to carry to Iceland or anywhere really. A warm beanie or cap is not only functional, it also adds a little cuteness and color to your photos.

During our last trip to Iceland in October, I carried 3 different beanies in different colors. 

I bought the colorful beanie with pom-pom from a Canadian store prior to our trip to Iceland, but I have a few recommendations for you from the Amazon store. I got 5 of these in different colors (blue, pink, lavender, red, and mustard yellow) and wore them to Jasper in Canada. 

Girl wearing a colorful beanie in Iceland in winter months. Iceland packing List

These beanies are very comfortable to wear, and they cover your ears perfectly. The pom-pom can be removed as well. 

Swimsuit and a quick drying towel

A swimsuit is a must on your Iceland trip. Pack 2 if you are planning to enjoy various hot springs, or visiting the Blue Lagoon Spa. Here is a one-piece swimwear with a halter neck.

A quick-drying towel is a must-have item on your Iceland Packing List at all times of the year.

Also include flip flops, a waterproof pouch to store the wet swimwear, and a hair tie so that your hair doesn’t get sticky in the mineral water plus it is windy. 

Sunglasses

Don’t forget to add your sunglasses to your packing list to Iceland. I had my Rayban Aviators with me throughout my trip.

Reusable water bottle

Tap water is safe to drink in Iceland. Carry a reusable water bottle to bring water with you on the go – on guided tours, road trips, and sightseeing.

Thermos flask and food jar

A thermos flask is so handy after a windy (and wet) day in Iceland. You can fill it up with hot beverages at the hotel, coffee shop, or in your kitchenette and sip it on the go. 

A nice travel mug is best – it is lightweight, and will easily fit into your daypack while on the go. And while you go exploring national parks, and waterfalls you will thank yourself (and me) for this tip! 

Some of our travel friends have also carried a food jar during their day trips to save money on meals. We use the Thermos brand, so we recommend their food jars if you need to purchase one.

Packing cubes

We always use packing cubes to organize our clothing and other items into our 45 litre backpack. Highly recommend it.

What to pack for Iceland all year: Toiletries & medications 

If you miss any items, you can easily purchase them in Iceland. Reykjavik has a lot of grocery and departmental stores – just that they will be expensive. 

We recommend packing them – in travel friendly sizes. 

What to pack for Iceland: Electronics 

  • Phone: Don’t forget to carry your smartphone or any phone
  • Sim: I didn’t carry any sim card on our first short visit to Iceland. Wifi was easily available in Reykjavik. You can also buy portable wifi from the airport to carry on your road trips. Use that for navigation and to stay connected with friends and family. 
  • Charger: A multi-port charging cable is a life changer. Here is a favorite pick from Amazon – so affordable and durable.
  • Power Bank: A power bank to pair with your multi-charging cable to charge your electronics on the go. Buy yours here
  • Adaptor: In Iceland, you will need to use a different power adaptor (with round pins). We carry our universal adaptor with us on our trip overseas. Buy it here
  • Camera gear: To capture all the amazing photos in Iceland carry your camera. We had our Sony mirrorless cam, and if you are photographing the Northern Lights, here is an awesome camera to get
  • SD Card
  • Laptop 

Checklist for travel to Iceland: Essential Documents

  • Tourist Visa: US and Canadian passport holders can travel to and stay in Iceland for 90 days without a visa. Ensure your passport is valid for 6 months after entry into the country. If you require a tourist visa to enter European countries, then you must apply for the Schengen Visa ahead of time. 
  • Currency: Icelandic krona or ISK is the official currency in Iceland. Iceland is a non-EU member (although it follows the Schengen agreement) and doesn’t accept Euros. I used our credit cards and exchanged a small amount of cash for ISK during our trip to Iceland. 
  • Transportation: Private cars and/or guided tours are the best ways to explore Iceland. Unlike many popular European destinations, the public transportation system (trains, and buses) are non-existent in Iceland. Iceland in October and later winter months call for cautious driving skills, especially on the popular ring road. If you are not comfortable driving in the winter with your rental car, then we recommend going on guided tours. Guided tours in Iceland are not overwhelming at all – in fact, we LOVED it. 
  • Hotels: October is off-season in Iceland, so you can expect amazing hotel deals. We were able to score a spacious room with an attached bathroom in the heart of Reykjavik for less than $100 USD. Also, don’t forget to book accommodation ahead of time.
  • Travel Insurance: Don’t forget to protect your trip to Iceland. In today’s changing times, it is important to insure your trip from cancellations, baggage delay, and medical emergencies. World Nomads is a great choice to cover your travel plans. You can browse for quotes based on the number of days, and the type of activities you will be enjoying in Iceland. Apply for a quote for free here

Need more Iceland tips and tricks? Read our Iceland Planning Guide with insider tips

What not to bring to Iceland

You will find everything in Iceland for a comfortable trip, from personal essentials, jackets, cute sweaters, food and more. But there are certain things you should not bring to Iceland. We have rounded up the list below (based on our experience),

  • Umbrellas are almost useless here, due to the wind. No umbrellas may be poncho if you like. Wearing waterproof jacket, pants and boots or shoes will keep you dry anyway
  • Don’t bring a lot of cash. Credit cards are widely accepted everywhere. Your cash will have converted to ISK and once you leave you won’t be able to use ISK anywhere else in Europe. 
  • No fancy clothes or jewelry: Being an outdoorsy destination, we recommend that you leave your fancy bags, jewelry and clothes at home. In October in Iceland, you will be bundled up and chasing falls, northern lights and relishing traditional lamp soup – so no expensive items please!

We always advise to pack light, and Iceland is no different. Baggage fees at IcelandAir are very high, and line-ups at the busiest international airport in Iceland is crazy! Avoid heavy items, or electronics if you don’t need them.

Things to Consider When Packing for a Trip to Iceland

  • Time of year: October being a transition month, you can expect both fall and winter like conditions and temperatures. Highly recommend carrying waterproof jackets, boots, and warm thermals to stay dry and toasty. If you are planning a trip in late October or November, do not skip winter essentials like gloves, sweater, scarf, etc. 
  • Where are you going: When visiting natural landscapes, layer on and follow weather warnings in Iceland in October and in the winter months. During ice cave walks and guided glacier hikes, you will be provided with protective gear including cleats and lights (always check with the tour operator when you book online!)
  • What are you planning to do: Your Iceland packing list should also take into consideration the types of activities you are planning to do. Like carry a swimwear if heading to Blue Lagoon or any other hot springs, camera gear for capturing northern lights, Thermos flask or food jar, etc. 
Iceland is windy! So pack well – Iceland in October

Things to do in Iceland in October

Iceland is a wonderful destination to visit all year round. But the beauty of visiting Iceland in October is experiencing variety in the weather conditions. We were fortunate to have experienced sun, rain, flurries, and rainbow on the same day in October.

In October, most of the tours and attractions in Iceland are still in operation. Classic day tours like the Golden Circle and South Iceland tours will be open. Access to the Snæfellsnes peninsula in West-Iceland via road is also possible in October from Reykjavik.

Multi-day tours to North Iceland are also possible in October. North Iceland’s most stunning sights, such as Lake Myvatn, the waterfalls Dettifoss and Godafoss, etc are perfect to explore in the fall. 

October and late winter months are great for sighting Northern Lights in Iceland. Northern lights tours are offered from Reykjavik between 08:30 pm to 10:00 pm. Other winter tours like ice caves, snowmobile, and super jeep tours, and glacier lagoon hike tours are also available in October through February. 

Girl in south coast of Iceland in October packing list. Find what to wear in Iceland in October
South Coast Tour in October Iceland
  • Classic Golden Circle Tour – One of the most popular tours is the Golden Circle tour from Reykjavik. Explore the Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, and the stunning Gullfoss waterfalls. Click to view this tour
  • South Coast Tour – Must add to your Iceland bucket list to chase waterfalls. Book this tour here
  • Northern Lights Bus Tour from Reykjavik – Soak in Northern Lights in October on this night bus tour. Click to view Northern Lights tour
  • Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Full-Day Tour from Reykjavik – Jökulsárlón Glacier is an easy day trip idea from the capital city. And October is the last call of nature to experience a boat tour. Book this tour here
  • ATV & Whale Watching – Combine the best of 2 tours with ATV rides in the rugged nature and go whale watching. Click to view this tour

You can also participate in film festivals in Reykjavik in October. 

Iceland Packing List: What to wear in Iceland in September to early April

Additional Tips for Packing for Iceland in October

How cold is Iceland in October?

Iceland in October experiences a high of 7 degree C (45 F), and a low temperature of 2 degrees C (36 F). Although snowfall is rare, you might see snow in the later weeks of October, as Iceland transitions into the winter season. 

Due to winds and rains in October, Iceland ‘feels’ much colder than the average temperatures listed here, so do pack warm and waterproof clothing with you.

What should you not wear in Iceland?

Don’t wear expensive fancy clothing, loose skirts or shoes, and jewelry on your trip to Iceland. Layer on to stay warm and dry.

Is October a good month to go to Iceland?

October is the best month to go to Iceland. October is a crossover month, so you can enjoy winter activities like northern lights, glacier and ice walks tours without the crowds. As the summer tourist season ends in August, October is much quieter, and you can easily score nice accommodation, or deals on guided tours. IcelandAir does their flash sale in April of every year, and flights in the month of September and October are the cheapest, in our experience traveling from Canada.

Can you see the northern lights in Iceland in October?

Northern Lights in Iceland are easy to sight in October, as it experiences an average of 15 hours of darkness. It is important to note that due to rain or overcast conditions you may not always see northern lights (as it is a natural phenomenon), but the possibility is high.

So there you have it! We hope you found our Iceland packing list for October and winter useful. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us below!

Happy Packing 🙂

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Iceland packing list for October

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