Style + The Escape

The Escape: Iceland in Winter

This week on The Escape, we follow Sarah to Iceland…in the wintertime. Because, why not?

The Escape is The Work Edit’s travel column written by my good friend Sarah, who has the coveted unlimited vacation policy.  Thanks for reading, and follow along on Sarah’s blog, or @gurrity if you’re just as obsessed with travel photography as she is.

Iceland might be overrun with tourists being super touristy these days, but it doesn’t mean the experiences are underrated. In fact, Iceland is by far the most stunningly beautiful place I’ve ever been — the views will actually leave you speechless. And to be completely honest, I prefer visiting Iceland in the winter.

The days are short, but when you’re that far north, the sunrises and sunsets last about 3 hours each — and winter is the only time you’ll have a good chance of viewing the northern lights. So prepare for the cold, and pack some road trip snacks. Want to read beyond what’s in my suitcase? Check out my Iceland recommendations & itinerary here.

A serious parka — the Mackage option above will keep you warm and make all of Instagram drool… I’m a big fan of that dropped fur trim. Looking for something more moderately priced? This burgundy option from Nordstrom will stand out in a sea of black hooded parkas, and this classic piece would do the trick.

Real wool sweaters — the periwinkle merino wool turtleneck above is the perfect base layer for exploring some of Iceland’s many waterfalls. Want something a bit softer? The basic cashmere option from J.Crew will keep you warm, even in an icy winter mist.

Windproof leggingsthis pair from Athleta is fleece-lined and wind-proof (recommended by winter cyclists everywhere), so they’re a great investment whether you’re booking flights to Iceland or not. Looking for another option? I swear by Under Armour Cold Gear tights, which keep me nice and warm on a long winter run.

Boots — in a place like Iceland, you want boots that are warm and provide traction. You’d be surprised how much you’ll be ambling over snowy hills or glacial moraines to get to that beloved hot spring… so the Kodiaks above would be a perfect pair. If you plan on spending more time hiking, I’d go for this pair from The North Face. And if you’re less of the outdoorsy adventure type, this fur-trimmed option would complete any winter wonderland ensemble.

Bikini + Turkish Towel — If you’re chasing the northern lights and not the many hot springs of Iceland, you’re going to miss out. The northern lights are as fickle as the weather, but Iceland’s incredible hot springs would never disappoint (more on that here). Be sure to pack a bikini or two! This icy blue option would look great in the Blue Lagoon — and I never fly anywhere without a Turkish towel. They’re light enough to dry overnight, and can double as a scarf when you need it!

Not into the pale swimsuit shades? I’m mildly obsessed with the merlot & navy options coming from Acacia Swimwear. And if you need some extra support like I do, the Tulum top at Monday Swimwear will have your back — literally.

Northern lights essentialshand warmers and an insulated bottle are a must. Whether you fill that Swell with hot toddies or hot tea, well… that’s up to you.

Snacks — Scandinavia isn’t exactly known for its food, though you can definitely find some good meals there. But if you find yourself in Iceland in the winter, chances are you’re not spending the majority of your time in Reykjavik. Instead, you’ll be on the open road, with few food options in sight. Scandis love their hot dogs (and cover them with fried onions), but plan ahead and bring snacks from the states — this stuff is pricey out there. We lived off of Think bars and Luna bars both times I visited.

Parka Turtleneck Leggings bikini handwarmers boots turkish towel think bars swell



  1. kIM says:

    This makes me miss Iceland so much! I totally agree with having a swimsuit, I wasn’t prepared for the hot springs and had to rent some.

    Love this! .. STYLECON OOTD!

    September 26, 2017/Reply
  2. Abby says:

    I’m planning/hoping to visit Iceland in January, and this is super helpful!

    September 26, 2017/Reply
  3. RAR says:

    We did Iceland in the summer and did spend a decent amount of time in Reykjavik, so my comment is not exactly in response to the food comments above. I would just like to say that we did a ton of research on food and everything and everywhere we ate was absolutely delicious. Our fave was matur og drykkur, but truly, everything was so good! We also did a food tour through Wake Up Reykjavik. I’m not someone who typically does or enjoys tours, but I really enjoyed this one – we had a charming, knowledgeable tour guide, we got to taste a ton of food (all great), we saw a lot of Reykjavik on foot and it was the perfect activity to kill time between our 6am flight arrival and our 3pm hotel check-in.

    September 26, 2017/Reply
    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Rar! Definitely agree — I’ve had some great meals in Reykjavik! I have such a soft spot for that little city. So glad you enjoyed your tour, too. I’ve read a lot about Wake Up Reykjavik — I’ll def add those tips to my recs in the future!

      September 26, 2017/Reply
    • Erin says:

      Seconded–some of the best meals I have ever eaten have been in Scandinavia broadly defined: Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland all have really, really sophisticated and fresh food. I’d recommend any reader to dig a bit deeper, as we’ve gotten great dining recommendations from places like the NYTimes.

      September 26, 2017/Reply
  4. Kelly says:

    I enjoyed this guest post and would enjoy more of them. I hope this comes across as constructive criticism, not just being nit picky, but in the future I’d suggest introducing guest posts up front. I was quite confused reading this – When did Abra go to Iceland? – and read the post twice before realizing another blogger authored it.

    September 26, 2017/Reply
    • Anna says:

      I was going to say the same thing. Totally love the post and this is definitely a guest post done right, but I had to do a double take too.

      September 26, 2017/Reply
    • LS says:

      Hah me too!! Clearly we all know her too well…

      September 26, 2017/Reply
  5. J says:

    In case you’re open to feedback on this, I’m finding the new site hard to navigate! I always read on my phone and unless I make an effort to scroll down, I keep missing posts.

    September 26, 2017/Reply
    • Niki says:

      Same. And unless I am missing sometjing, the work (weekly?) edit in the middle has been the same ever since the redesign. Shouldthat rotate?

      September 26, 2017/Reply
      • Belle says:

        I’m waiting for Beth to make the final changes before I alter it again. It’s happening this week.

        September 26, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      It’s being changed this week so there will be four posts on the main page. Two above the break, two below, in chronological order.

      September 26, 2017/Reply
  6. Amber says:

    I went to Reykjavik two winters ago, and this is spot on! One of the best international trips I have ever been on.

    September 26, 2017/Reply
  7. Michelle says:

    I visited Iceland this past winter and agree 100% with all of this! Great list.

    The only thing I’d add specifically for a winter trip is crampons. They don’t have to be as intense as it sounds; you can get a pair that strap to the bottom of your shoes on Amazon for less than $20. (like these:

    There was icy ground at many of the places we visited, particularly around waterfalls, and I felt so much more stable with these on. They were the MVP of the trip for me!

    September 26, 2017/Reply
    • R says:

      As an alternative to crampons, I bought these boots for a winter trip to Russia last year, and they have a section on the bottom that will flip over so that there are little spikes (not sharp). They were also super warm and comfortable. The spikes worked well on the ice, and they are fairly easy to flip over and back (they come with a little key to do this).

      Pajar also includes the same feature in other styles.

      September 27, 2017/Reply