How to Pack for a Trip to Iceland in May

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Congratulations on booking your trip to Iceland in May! Now comes the difficult part: deciding what to pack. Will it be cold? Hot? Snowing or raining? It is difficult to predict the weather in Iceland in May.

I’ve been to Iceland in May, and I know what the weather is like, so I’m here to help you make sure you pack appropriately! A trip to Iceland is always more enjoyable when you have the appropriate clothing. Especially a trip to Iceland in May when the weather is unpredictable.

The following packing list will ensure that you pack everything you need in order to have an amazing time in Iceland!

A Warm, Rainproof Jacket

You will without a doubt need a rainproof jacket. You will want a jacket that has a hood and some insulation to keep you warm. The wind cuts right through you in Iceland no matter what time of year it is!

This is probably the most essential item for you to pack. You will be miserable if you don’t have the proper jacket. It is no fun to rush a trip to see a waterfall simply because you’re too cold to get out of the car and walk to the viewpoint.

Icelandic Horse in May

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are a must-pack item as well. They may not be cute, but your feet will thank you. You will be walking on a lot of uneven terrain in Iceland. You will also probably do at least a little bit of hiking/walking to viewing points.

I always travel with a really good hiking shoe in Iceland. I find hiking shoes more flexible, versatile, and cute than hiking boots. They work great and prevent your feet from aching from all the walking.

Having a good pair of hiking shoes is even more important in Iceland in May. The paths are normally quite wet, slushy, snowy, and icy. The conditions simply aren’t made for a normal pair of flats. You need the grip of the hiking shoes. Everybody else will be wearing hiking shoes or boots, so you’ll fit in with the rest of the crowds!

Gloves

You will need a good pair of gloves in Iceland in May. You want to get a pair that has some insulation in them rather than the flimsy, cheap gloves you can find at your local drug store.

Getting gloves that have individual fingers rather than a shared pocket for all four fingers and another for the thumb is important. You will have a lot more freedom and mobility.

Most of the tourist sights are outside in Iceland, so you’ll be outdoors a lot. Your fingers will be freezing if you don’t have the proper style of glove. You’ll never be able to snap the perfect picture if your fingers are freezing! Think of how your Instagram feed will suffer if you can’t get that picture!

Southern Iceland Europe

A Headband/Touque (or Beanie for Non-Canadians)

You need to protect your ears from the wind and cold when you’re in Iceland in May. Iceland is windy all year round, but it will be a colder wind in May.

You need to pack a headband or toque (a.k.a. a beanie). It is best to get a something that covers your ears fully and has a tight knit, so the wind doesn’t cut through the fabric. As a Canadian, I know how quickly you get cold when your ears aren’t covered so be sure to cover them up!

A Warm Sweater

You should pack a warm sweater to layer underneath your jacket. This will help you stay warm and gives you the option to remove or add layers depending on the weather.

As mentioned, the weather in Iceland in May can change quickly. One hour you could need a jacket and a sweater and the next just a sweater could be more than enough.

Layers are key! They make adjusting to the changing weather quick and easy.

A Blindfold

It is daylight for nearly 21 hours every day in Iceland in May. This means that the sun will be shining while you’re trying to sleep.

Most hotels in the capital Reykjavik have blackout curtains that make it easy to sleep, but most of the hotels outside the capital do not have blackout curtains. This means the light is always shining into your room, and it is incredibly difficult to sleep.

Packing a blindfold is the best way to combat this! Blindfolds are inexpensive, and they are basically a lifesaver in places like Iceland where the sun only sets for a few hours per day.

I personally get headaches if there is too much light in the room, so a blindfold is an absolute must-pack for me!

Iceland Black Beach of Vik

Thick Socks (and Extra Socks!)

Warm socks are an absolute necessity in Iceland in May! Your feet will thank you for keeping them warm. It can be wet in Iceland in May, so it is quite possible that your socks and feet will get wet through your hiking shoes.

You should pack multiple extra pairs of socks just in case your feet get wet. There is nothing worse than spending the day in wet socks and shoes all because you accidentally stepped in a puddle. Not pleasant.

Having good socks and extra pairs of socks takes away your worry of having to spend the day with uncomfortably wet and cold feet.

Lip Balm

This may seem like an odd thing to add to this list, but lip balm is essential. People often get dry lips in Iceland due to the wind. The elements can be quite harsh on your lips, so you need to make sure you take precautions.

I always bring two or three tubes of lip balm with me to Iceland. I personally use DHC lip balm. It is a Japanese brand, and it is the most moisturizing lip balm I have ever used in my life. It is definitely worth the money in my opinion. Just stay away from the flavoured varieties- they aren’t nearly as hydrating as the original formula!

Puffins in Iceland

Final Thoughts

It is easy to pack for a trip to Iceland in May as long as you know what you need to pack! I hope this list has helped you decide what to pack and gave you a realistic expectation of how the weather will be and how to prepare for it.

In addition to the items listed, you should always pack the standard items you would take on any trip as well as what you would normally pack in your carry-on luggage.

You will be all set for an amazing trip to Iceland when you combine your normal packing habits with the specialized items listed above.

A trip to Iceland should be an amazing experience, and it would be horrible to have to miss out on some of the experiences just because you didn’t pack properly.

A good rule of thumb is always pack more layers than you think you will need! You can never have enough warmth!

How to Pack for a Trip to Iceland in May

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