How to Pack for Iceland in Winter in a Carry-on

By Danielle Cemprola on December 05, 2023
2 min read

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Iceland gets a ton of tourist buzz during the summer thanks to its lush green landscapes and towering waterfalls, but this island nation is a sight to behold in winter, too. If you choose to visit Iceland in winter, you’ll reap the benefits of potentially spotting breathtaking northern lights, trekking through an ice cave, and seeing frozen waterfalls firsthand. However, packing can be a challenge.

Traveling to Iceland is the most cost effective when you travel from the United States via a low-cost European carrier like IcelandAir or Play, but European airlines often have luggage size restrictions that make checking a bag cost prohibitive. Fortunately, it’s possible to pack for a vacation in Iceland in the winter in just a carry-on! On my recent trip to Iceland in January, I spent a week in the country and brought only a carry-on. Here’s what I brought:

Winter Packing List for Iceland

  • ÜKON Down Parka – Carry your jacket on the plane and stick it in the overhead bin to save space in your luggage. The FROST Parka is another great option with slightly less bulk.
Ukon Frost DanielleC Waterfall
Wear your ÜKON Down Parka on flight and stow in overhead bin
  • Two pairs of long underwear – I brought two sets of the AKKOMPLICE CREW and AKKOMPLICE BOTTOM and rotated each day. The merino wool fabric keeps you dry and keeps odors at bay!
  • One midweight, heavy shirt or fleece to wear over long underwear.
  • Two pairs of weather-resistant pants – I brought the FROST Softshell Pants in Raven and Eggplant and wore them for everything from glacier hikes to horseback riding on the beach!
  • One cozy outfit for hanging out in Reykjavik – I brought The FLIGHT Suit and got so many compliments when out downtown! Plus, the extra warm fabric is perfect for keeping you comfortable as you explore the city.
FlightSuit DanielleC IcelandPacking
Hanging out in Reykjavik in The Flight Suit
  • A comfy pair of pants for the long flight – try the BLISS JOGGR
  • A fleece or sweatshirt to keep you comfortable on the plane – I love the PRISM ½ Zip
  • One warm hat or headband to keep your ears warm – I recommend bringing one and buying another, as there are so many cute options in Iceland.
  • Warm gloves or mittens and liners
  • Warm socks
  • Warm waterproof boots with tread
  • Hot packs for your hands and feet
  • Sunglasses
  • Bathing suit – You’ll need one for the Blue Lagoon and any hot springs you decide to visit.
  • Socks and underwear (amounts based on personal preference)
  • One set of pajamas. Choose something lightweight, as hotel rooms tend to be extremely warm.
  • Universal outlet adapter
  • Toiletries

If you end up forgetting anything, don’t worry – Iceland has all the cold weather gear you could possibly need. Make sure to save room in your suitcase for a souvenir or two!

Danielle Cemprola
Danielle Cemprola

Danielle Cemprola is a freelance writer, marathoner x 52  and world traveler. Danielle and her husband, AJ, love to hike, travel, and eat their way across the planet. She's a self-described carry-on enthusiast who loves challenging herself to pack for any trip, no matter the length or destination, in a carry-on bag. When Danielle's not flying the friendly skies, you're likely to find her working at her day job as an environmental scientist - hey, someone needs to pay for all those plane tickets!


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