The name Iceland might just as well refer to the coolness of modern day Icelandic design. Icelanders are a creative bunch, and blissfully unrestrained by tradition. This has resulted in a creative scene that will make your shopping in Iceland both enjoyable and full of surprises.
Reykjavík's shopping streets Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur are filled with upscale design houses, featuring the latest in world fashion, mixed with small hole-in-the-wall stores featuring local designers. Along the way you will also find a curious mix of souvenir shops, jewelry designers, and outdoor clothing stores. Shopping malls Kringlan and Smáralind are also good bets, offering up to 150 stores under one roof.
You already know that Iceland is a hot spot for nature lovers. But for shoppers too? Absolutely.
The traditional Icelandic lopapeysa, a knitted wool sweater with special design at the top and on the sleeves, is now a must-have fashion item. Worn for practical reasons by farmers and fishermen, the sweater (or its variations, including button or zipped cardigan) is one of the trendiest items around. You can also buy high-quality woollen scarves, gloves, hats, blankets, and many other things, all made from Icelandic wool.
Jewelry inspired by the nature and pagan history are often made from lava stones or other local minerals, and can be specially designed for you. Local designs have been celebrated of late for their observation of Celtic and Old Norse patterns. The constant desire for fresh materials and inspiration has kept goldsmiths in the capital churning out gallery pieces.
Take Advantage of Tax-Free Shopping
Another serious power shopper's secret is that designer labels like Hugo Boss and Max Mara are typically 10 to 35 percent less expensive in Iceland than in Europe and the US. The 15 percent tax-free refund for tourists on a minimum purchase of 4000 ISK (approx. $60 USD) adds to the shopping nirvana.
If anyone knows how to make outdoor wear practical, durable and fashionable, it is the Icelanders. Several local companies offer great looking outdoor clothing that you can use on any of your hikes, or just when you need to be warm. Stock up on everything from fleece, wind and rain gear, to hiking socks (highly recommended!).
Music, Literature and Art
Iceland is home to both a vibrant music scene and long standing tradition in literature formed by the Sagas that date back to the 12th century. But Iceland has a lot more to offer the worlds of literature and music. You can buy some of the best up-and-coming Icelandic music here at a fraction of the import price you would pay back home. Impress your friends with music from the hippest acts like Sigur Rós, Of Monsters and Men and Mugison.
Terrific photographic books on all things Icelandic are widely available, as well as English translations from well-known authors, including the Nobel Laureate Halldór Laxness. Artists in Iceland often take their inspiration from the outstanding natural surroundings or from the literary history. From paintings to sculptures, to pottery and glass work, you will find all sorts of creative designs in Iceland, both small and large.
The main shopping streets in Reykjavík are Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur. Most stores are open from 10.00–18.00 on weekdays and from 11.00–16.00 on Saturdays. Clothing stores are usually closed on Sundays, but the record and bookstores will be open. For longer shopping hours, visit either Kringlan or Smáralind Shopping Centres. Kringlan and Smáralind both have a number of major stores for clothing, accessories and books/souvenirs.