For many tourists, as well as for me, a holiday in Iceland was truly a unique experience that cannot be compared to a trip to any other country I have ever visited. Therefore, I and other travelers who visit Iceland every year want to preserve the sights of this beautiful country in the form of traditional souvenirs from Iceland.
But buying souvenirs is always a very difficult thing for me – I want to bring authentic gift, not souvenirs that we find in every other store on the main shopping street.
On the other hand, holiday expenses in Iceland are quite high, so I would rather put my savings in experiences than in material things. So how do I find a compromise between bringing an authentic gifts from Iceland and still not costing me too much?
Let’s take a look at what your options are, what souvenir shops in Reykjavik sell, what you can buy and where you can find the cheapest souvenir shops.
Best souvenirs from Iceland
I noticed the same goods over and over again while shopping in Reykjavik. Stuffed puffins of various sizes, T-shirts with Viking motifs and Icelandic runes, and pendants and bracelets with Icelandic runes.
Although I am not dismissing the quality of these items, they appear to be mass-produced in a factory, therefore we cannot discuss authenticity.
However, I received some advice from locals on what and where to shop, and as a result, the variety was considerably more diversified.
Iceland is not one of the countries that would be famous for its quality wine or excellent whiskey. However, this does not mean that they do not have their specialties here either.
One of them is, for example, local vodka – Reyka Vodka, which fascinated me especially with the design of the bottle. While walking through a liquor store (Vinbudín, the only type of store where you can buy alcohol in Iceland – from beer to whiskey), I came across a beer from a local small brewery.
They sell a beer called Lava, a very dark, smoked beer with 9.2% alcohol. I have to say that I have never been anything like this before, so I decided that I had to bring one such beer home. Beer is smaller than a bottle of vodka and the price is several times lower, so if you have the opportunity, I definitely recommend trying it.
However, because it is a lesser-known beer, they sell it in only a few stores. I therefore recommend that you check on Vinbudin.is if this (or your other favorite alcohol) is available at a store nearby.
Clothes and wool sweaters
Among the products for which Iceland is definitely much more famous than alcohol is wool. During your stay in Iceland, you will definitely meet many locals, but also tourists who are dressed in a typical Icelandic wool sweater – lopapeysa.
You can buy Icelandic lopapeysa sweaters in several stores. Among the best known are, for example, Icewear, others are, for example, the Handknitting association. Outside Reykjavík, you can buy these sweaters, for example, in smaller local shops such as Álafoss or Þingborg in the south of Iceland.
Although I really wanted an Icelandic sweater, I didn’t buy it in the end because the prices for authentic lopapeysa sweaters are high and I personally can’t imagine wearing this sweater regularly at home.
Where to buy Icelandic sweaters?
- If you ask locals where to buy their typical wool sweaters, the first recommended place will almost certainly be the Hand Knitting Association of Iceland. The store is close to the center of Reykjavík and is definitely worth a visit, even if you wouldn’t choose anything.
- Another popular shop and the only Icelandic bazaar is Kolaportið, where you can buy sweaters at lower prices. But I must warn you that if you visit Kolaportið, you will definitely buy more things than just an Icelandic sweater. I Kolaportið is located in central Reykjavík, about 15 minutes ’walk from Reykjavík’s largest church, so if you have a free afternoon and don’t know what to do in Reykjavík, be sure to go shopping.
- Álafoss is a store that is not so well known among tourists, but it is a traditional manufacturer and seller of wool sweaters and other products, which has been operating since 1924. You can visit the shop, for example, if you set out on a road around the ring road and head north from Reykjavik. about 15 minutes by car from the center of Reykjavik.
- The last mentioned store where you can buy not only Icelandic sweaters is þingborg. You will encounter it if you head east from Selfoss. It is open from Monday to Saturday and although it is not as big as the previously mentioned places, you should definitely visit it if you are interested in quality and local products.
Food, sweets and candies
When it comes to local products, I should definitely not forget to mention two things that are really common in Iceland. The first is fish and the second is licorice, which you can find in various forms in sweets.
A favorite sweet that you can buy with the aforementioned licorice is chocolate made in Iceland under the name Omnom. If you have someone in your family who appreciates something to eat as a souvenir, then I definitely recommend Omnom with sea salt or licorice.
Hardfiskur (dry fish) is a typical delicacy you can meet at Icelanders’ celebrations.
Skin care products
If you are planning to visit during your stay, or you have already visited the Blue Lagoon, then you certainly could not miss the wide range of their skin care products. Even though Blue Lagoon is not the only seller of this product, it is definitely a guarantee of quality and if this is the type of souvenir you prefer, then I can only recommend it.
Best souvenir shops in Reykjavík you need to visit
If you plan to spend at least one day in Reykjavik, then be sure to walk the main shopping street, Laugavegur and the adjacent streets, and discover the many souvenir shops. However, in case you miss some of the “must see” places, I have a list of these most famous shops that you must visit in Reykjavik if you are buying souvenirs.
Iceland’s flea market called Kolaportid can be found in Reykjavik’s old town. It’s one of Reykjavk’s most popular attractions, and it’s only open on Saturdays and Sundays (only). It’s housed within a large warehouse type structure across the street from the harbor.
Used items, such as clothing and books, are offered alongside brand new hand knit sweaters manufactured by local artisans (intended I think for the tourist market).
The flea market has three entrances: one on each end of the house, as well as one on the side facing the port and Harpa Concert Hall.
There are so many one-of-a-kind products for sale there that you could have a hard time locating anyplace else in Iceland, if not the entire world.
Farmers Market is amazing concept store decorated in the traditional Icelandic style. Great stylings are strewn over an atmospheric boutique in Reykjavik’s historic harbor. My sister like their jeans, and I adore Farmers Market’s skirts and knit hats.
Icewear is known for its wool sweaters, but you’ll want to come to them for your waterproof, windproof, and breathable layers as well. This shop sells traditional Icelandic wool jumpers that will transport you to Iceland whenever you wear them. They have a number of locations throughout Iceland, including several in Reykjavik.
Hidden People Iceland
The Hidden People Iceland store is located at the Kolaporti fleamarket on the Reykjavik harbor. Gem, the proprietor of the company, produces many of the gifts and attempts to cater to a wide range of hobbies and budgets. Lava rocks, incense, jewelry, vegan soaps, pebbles, candles, horseshoes, and other one-of-a-kind products crafted from Icelandic nature by Icelandic residents are available.
12 Tónar is located on Skólavörustgur in the heart of Reykjavik. The 12 Tónar shop is regarded as a welcoming location where you can sit and unwind while listening to a wide range of music on two levels, enjoying free cappuccino or tea, reading magazines, and relaxing.
Skumaskot is a centrally located icelandic art and design gallery that attracts both residents and visitors.
An Icelandic jewelry brand by Orri and Helga. The store is also their goldsmith studio where they make and design all the jewelry themselves.
Íslands Apótek is a pharmacy in Reykjavík. You can find here many beauty products and skin care souvenirs, for example products from Blue lagoon mention earlier in the article. Íslands Apótek is situated nearby to Art Gallery 101 on Laugavegur street.
Mál og menning
A large bookshop with English and international titles, as well as a modest cafe serving light meals.
My favourite bookstore in downtown of Reykjavík. You can spend there literally hours and if you get bored, just visit the lovely café on the top floor.
The business sells high-quality, one-of-a-kind handmade products and is actually a selected selection from diverse artists. Kirsuberjatred is a group of local artists who work together to create one-of-a-kind items. It was unlike anything I’d seen in Reykjavik, and I strongly suggest it to anyone looking for something “off the beaten path” and more artistic than touristic.
Little christmas shop
The very unique Little Christmas Shop, located on Laugavegur in the centre of Reykjavik, is dedicated to the spirit of Christmas all year. You’ll find Icelandic decorations and all you need to get into the holiday spirit there. Should not be overlooked as one of the most unique and entertaining stores to visit.
Whether it’s home decor or apparel for adults and children, the emphasis in this shop is on Icelandic craftspeople and Icelandic materials. Although many of the things are made in Iceland, some are designed in Iceland and manufactured elsewhere.
The Viking gift and souvenir store
Maybe the cheapest souvenir shop in Reykjavík from all of them in this list. You can find many gift shops of this brand in the Iceland and it will be those typical “touristy” shops where you see the same and same stuffed puffins and T-shirts made as Icelandic souvenirs. Can´t give them big recommendations but should be on the list.
Eventhough the cheap supermarket Bonus is not a typical souvenir or gift shop, it can be definitely the cheapest way where to go, if you are looking for icelandic chocolate or candies with liqourice.