Tips for Shopping in Iceland
You are going to want to buy the perfect souvenir to remember your visit to Iceland!
Iceland has certainly got plenty of beautiful handcrafted goods that you can buy. But many cheap, imported goods are pretending to be the real deal.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to end up spending a lot of money on Lava Rocks which were imported from abroad or low-quality jumpers made in foreign sweatshops!
If you want to buy high quality, authentic gifts, or souvenirs in Iceland, this article will tell you about some of the shops that you can trust.
How to Avoid The Common Mistakes
Before we tell you about the best shops to visit in Iceland, there’s a couple of things that you should know!
Careful with horn, bone, and fur!
Firstly, be careful when buying gifts with horn, bone, or fur. Some countries won’t let you import these and you could end up getting your very expensive gifts confiscated, or even accidentally break the law.
This will be different for every country, so take the time to do a little research before you buy any items like this.
Don’t forget your tax refund!
Secondly, don’t forget to keep your receipts and enjoy a tax refund on your shopping!
If you are a non-resident and spend more than 6000 IKR on a single receipt you are entitled to claim back the tax at the port or airport. Ask your vendor for a tax refund form and you can expect to get back up to 25% on retail goods when you are leaving the country.
Stay out of the shopping malls!
Iceland has a couple of shopping malls, the biggest of these being Kringlan.
Many of the shops here are international chains, and the products are more expensive here than in other countries. If you are looking for authentic, local goods you are much better off visiting the smaller boutique shops that we mention in this article.
The most common mistake people make is to assume a product is made in Iceland because it is being sold there.
Many cheap Icelandic style jumpers, semi-precious stones, and lava rocks get imported from other countries and sold at an inflated price.
This is particularly true of the main street in Reykjavik called Laugavegur, so be careful! If you have any doubts, just ask your vendor if they can show you which products were made in Iceland.
Where to Buy Lava Rocks in Iceland
Many visitors yearn to take a lava rock home with them after their trip. To protect Iceland’s natural places, it is illegal to take anything natural out of protected areas.
This includes plants, fossils, minerals, and lava rocks.
If you want to buy a lava rock you should head to a gift shop, but make sure you ask whether it is really from Iceland or has been imported from another country.
You can buy some lovely lava rocks which have been crafted into goods like candle holders in the village of Borgarfjörður Eystri. This small fishing village is in the East of Iceland. You can also enjoy the beautiful colorful boats and visit the local puffins.
Where to Buy Food Gifts In Iceland
The key to a country’s culture comes from its food!
If you are self-catering during your visit, you can buy fresh local vegetables, meat, and dairy at Frú Lauga’s Farmers Market in Reykjavik.
If you want to share some Icelandic food or drink with your family back home, there are many farm shops that sell local, organic food products.
For food gifts, we recommend The Organic Health Shop and Cafe called Matarbúr Kaju in Reykjavik or the Vallanes Farm shop in the East of Iceland. You can also buy food gifts at the airport on the way home.
For alcohol, you should go to the Duty-Free on your way back out of the country. Alcohol in Iceland is so expensive that even the locals head to the airport to buy their spirits.
Where to Buy Unusual Gifts In Iceland
For an unusual gift, you can head to Husavik. This small fishing town is the Whale Watching capital of Iceland. You can head to the Kaðlín handicraft in Husavik to buy bones of whales and puffins that have washed up on the beach.
A little bizarre, perhaps, but some people would certainly love it.
Otherwise, you can go to the Smávinir wood-crafting studio in the West of Iceland. This is the perfect place for a unique Icelandic gift! Here you will find hand-sculpted figurines of horses, birds, and angels made from local Icelandic Birch. You will also find some crafts made from local clay.
For an upmarket unusual gift, head to the Arfleifð designer boutique in the East of Iceland. The handmade items here are crafted in the old Norse style, with fur, leather, and horn.
Where to Buy Knitwear in Iceland
There’s nothing so cozy as a hand-knitted Icelandic jumper! There are a lot of imported fakes around, so make sure you get the real thing.
We recommend a trip to the Handknitting Association of Iceland. Situated in the capital, you will find all sorts of different designs, as well as an abundant supply of Icelandic yarn to make the ultimate gift with your own two hands!
Another option is the wool factory in Vik called Víkurprjón Ltd. You will find plenty of locally crafted jumpers and blankets here. Wrap yourself in your new knitwear and head down to the town’s famous black volcanic beaches.
If you’re in the West, Handavinnuhúsið is a specialty wool shop found in Borgarnes town. As well as wool and knitwear you will find plenty of food and crafty gifts too. In the South, you are better off visiting the Pingborg wool processing factory in Selfoss. You will find loads of knitwear, knitting books, and all the knitting equipment you could need!
Our final suggestion is Thorvaldsens Bazar. This is the oldest shop in Reykjavik. Opening in 1901, it is run by a charity and the proceeds go to help children in need. There are many beautiful handknitted goods for sale and you get the bonus of knowing your money is going to a good place!
Where to Buy Art and Crafts in Iceland
Once you get past the main touristy shops, there are plenty of lovely arts and crafts to be discovered in Iceland.
In Reykjavik, you can head to the Kolaportið fleamarket for music, books, food, art, jewelry, and instruments. This is one of the only places in Iceland where haggling is accepted, and it is a fun place to visit even if you don’t feel like buying anything.
For some beautiful glass products, you can head to the glass workshop called Hendur í Höfn in Þorlákshöfn in the South of Iceland. It is also a cafe so you can enjoy a nice piece of homemade cake whilst you are there.
Also in the South, you can find clay and glass sculpture, jewelry, and knitwear in the Handverksskúrinn shop in Selfoss. In Djúpivogur village, there is a shop called JFS Handcrafts which sells jewelry made with Icelandic Stones.
If you are visiting the Glacier Lagoon, don’t forget to check out the nearby craft center called Handraðinn.
We also highly recommend the ecovillage and community called Sólheimar í Grímsnesi. This wonderful village is firmly based on ecological and social values, selling candles, art, soaps, and ceramics in its shop called Vala Market and Gallery.
Where to Buy Paintings in Iceland
Iceland is home to many wonderful artists. It gives us something to do during those long winter nights!
In the North of Iceland, you can buy a lovely painting at the Linda Ola Studio and Gallery in Akureyri. Otherwise, you can head to Hús Handanna Art and Design Shop in the East of Iceland. This center sells many crafts, including lovely local paintings.
See you soon!
We hope you enjoyed this article about shopping in Iceland. For more information about how to pay for things in Iceland, you may want to check out this article.
To get to some of these amazing local shops, it is a good idea to book a self-drive tour during your stay.
Don’t hesitate to check out our other resources, and we look forward to welcoming you to Iceland soon!