Street style

What to Wear in Reykjavik during Autumn and Winter

Most blogs that tell you what to pack for your Iceland trip forget to mention that the dress code in Reykjavik is quite different from what goes in the wild. That's why we have chosen a few essentials you should consider to bring with you for the city.

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Nína Þorkelsdóttir

19. December 2017

Most tourists come to Iceland to explore the country’s marvellous nature, going on expeditions, hikes, horseback riding etc. Expecting it to be cold and windy here, people usually bring their toughest gear including windproof pants and jackets, parkas, fleece jackets and a backpack. The outfit is completed with a pair of chunky hiking boots.

It is important to wear proper outdoor clothes while exploring the Icelandic countryside, regardless of whether you are visiting in the summer or during the wintertime. You can always expect extreme weather here, so you better stay safe.

There are numerous articles on what clothes you pack before going on a trip to Iceland. The downside of these articles is that they usually don’t tell you what to pack for Reykjavik. The dress code in Reykjavik is completely different to what goes in the wilderness.

You frequently see tourists wrapped up in Gore-Tex and sporting their Oakleys awkwardly stumble into some of Reykjavík’s hippest restaurants and bars on their steel-toed boots, instantly regretting not having brought something slightly more appropriate. After all, you have to pack for everything.

If you want to ditch your outdoor gear these few days you might be spending in the city, we have chosen some key items that you’re going to need to stay warm and comfortable.


An oversized scarf - How to dress in Reykjavik

#1 An oversized scarf

The oversized scarf is a must if you are travelling to Northern Europe in the wintertime. You are going to need a scarf in Iceland no matter what the season is, and the bigger the better. An oversized scarf will protect you from the omnipresent cold breeze and if it’s big enough you could also use it as a pashmina.

In case I forget to bring it, can I buy it in Iceland? ​Absolutely. The menswear shop Herrafataverslun Kormáks og Skjaldar has a great selection of high quality woolen scarves. They have two stores downtown. GK Reykjavik also has a nice collection of scarves, they have one store in the city centre.


Hip sunglasses - How to dress in Reykjavik

#2 Sunglasses

Although Iceland isn’t the sunniest place on earth, we do get a few rays of sunlight once in awhile. In the summertime there is a plenty of daylight and the sun sits quite low during the nighttime. So sunglasses are definitely a good idea.

In the wintertime there’s less daylight but during the day the sun hangs right above the horizon. It can get blindingly bright during these few hours, so watch out especially if you’re driving. Wintertime sunglasses are totally accepted and we recommend you close at hand if you are visiting off-season.

In case I forget to bring it, can I buy it in Iceland? ​You can, but the market is not so great. There are a few places that sell eyeglasses downtown, but we don’t recommend any one more than the others.


Sneakers - How to dress in Reykjavik

#3 Sneakers

You’ll soon get tired of walking around the city in big and heavy hiking boots. If you are going to be driving a lot, a loose pair of sneakers will work wonders for your feet.

Although there might be snow in the winter, there’s also a chance that the ground will be clear. Most Icelanders wear their sneakers all year round, except for the snow-heaviest days.

Pro tip: ​Wear wool socks underneath, otherwise your toes will freeze off.

In case I forgot to bring them, can I buy them in Iceland? ​Sure. The best place for fashionable sneakers is Húrra. They have two stores on Hverfisgata road, one for men and the other for women. For cheaper options, check out Intersport and Útilíf.



Russian hat - How to dress in Reykjavik

# A Russian hat

A fur hat can be a lifesaver if you can’t stand cold weather. Some Icelanders wear fur coats and hats during the coldest days, looking quite elegant.

Most hats you can get in Iceland are made from rabbit or fox. The fox is, as you might have guessed, a little more expensive but it looks great.

In case I forgot to bring them, can I buy them in Iceland? ​Many of the souvenir shops that litter Reykjavík have some fairly decent hats. If you want to go all in, Eggert the furrier is probably the most upscale you can go, and Feldur offers solid quality as well.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Birta Rán Björgvinsdóttir, from her page Streets of Reykjavik .