Iceland is cold in winter, there’s no denying that. But, surprisingly to many, the weather in Iceland in the winter is actually milder, on average, than the winter weather in New York City. Days will be short, dark, and cold, with lows ranging from -1 to -3 °C and highs highs hovering around 3°C (about 30-35°F on average) but the biting wind and negative (°F) temps you’ll find in cities like New York and Chicago are largely absent.
Like packing for a trip to Iceland in other seasons, packing for a a trip in the winter seasons requires lots of layers. When engaging in outdoor activities, you’ll need thermal long-underwear (a shirt and pants), a layer of fleece on top, and then waterproof pants and jacket. A scarf, hat gloves, and several wool sweaters are also necessary, as are sturdy, waterproof boots. Beyond that, most tour operators will provide you with any gear needed for outdoor activities like snowmobiling and glacier walking.
Despite the cold temps, don’t forget a bathing suit. Public pools in Iceland are heated and open all year round, and there’s no more memorable experience in Iceland than soaking in the Blue Lagoon as it snows.
In Reykjavik, you’ll see locals wearing everything from jeans with boots to dresses with open-toed heels and bare legs. For men, you can’t go wrong with slacks and a sport coat or dark jeans and a nice shirt. Nearly all clubs in Reykjavik have free coat check services, so everyone wears their warm, heavy winter coats out on the town, sporting their best bar clothes underneath.
Photo by ezioman