Well good on you! Plenty of stuff do to around our little island, and you can find countless guides and blogs about what to see and do. But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about. You see, there is this very open secret that Icelandic weather is quite terrible. It’s pretty well advertised but we that live here see it all the time, people that come wholly unprepared for the climate. Walking on the beaches in Nike’s or only bringing a down jacket that they bought in Uniqlo and are going hiking in the highlands.
That is what I’ve come here to warn you about. To make people realize that Icelandic weather is nothing to scoff at and to tell you the no-nonsense clothing you need.
So, first things first, what am I talking about when I say that the weather here is bad? Is it cold? Is it rain? Is it the wind? Well, how about all of the above?
Iceland does not work in the extremes. That is to say, you don’t have to worry about -25C° (-13 F°) or 40 C° (104 F°). What you do have to be prepared for is four different climates in an hour. It is not unusual to be experiencing a sunny day that is abruptly covered with clouds and you realize that it’s actually quite windy. Then a few minutes later it starts raining and before you know it, it starts snowing. Then you just rewind and start over again.
Because of the variety of weathers that we can get in a day, having a wind and waterproof garment is essential.
Now, if you’re thinking about taking the chance and say to yourself, “I’ll be there for a week, it can’t possibly rain for the entire time”. Well, you’ve already made the mistake of underestimating Iceland.
When I try to explain to people about the weather, I like to tell them about the summer of 2018, the worst summer in recorded history. Currently, we Icelanders say that we’ve not had a summer since 2017 and let me tell you why.
In June the rain was measured at 88,4mm, only six times since we started recording have we had as much rain. Only once have we had as little sunshine in June, and that was in 1914.
Then in July, the rain in Akureyri, which is the biggest town in the north, was measured two times higher than the average. Only three times has it been as rainy.
Back in Reykjavík, the sun came out from behind the clouds for a grand total of 89,9 hours, that has not happened since 1989.
Then comes, August, which was quite nice. It was the closest we came to an actual summer and we got more sunny days than on average in August. If you ask me, we deserved it.
So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s what you need:
- Good shoes
- A beanie
- Nice warm socks
- A scarf
- Water resistant hiking pants
- Water and wind resistant jacket/parka/down jacket
Simple right! I could add a mountain on top of this list, but honestly, it isn’t necessary. If you bring these items, you’ll be good to go for almost anything Iceland will throw your way. Because as I mentioned above Iceland isn’t all that cold, so that’s not what you have to worry about. It’s the low temperatures combined with the wind and rain that are the issue. So, if you have water and windproof clothing, you are good to go!
You can purchase the clothing you need either before you come to Iceland but that will fill up the baggage and you might have to add a check-in bag or wear a lot of clothing in the airplane itself.
Another way is to purchase the clothing once you arrive, but Iceland isn’t known for being cheap, so it’s definitely going to cost more.
Well that is about everything I have to say! Come on over to our lovely country, explore the entire island and I promise you, if you don’t underestimate the weather, you’ll have the time of your life.