Picturesque Iceland is not only famed for its alien landscape, volcanoes, hot springs and authentic countryside. Iceland also boasts an impressive urban culture, festivals, bustling nightlife and great shopping opportunities for both budget shoppers and luxury shoppers alike.
However, shopping as a tourist can get overwhelming. You don’t want to fall into the trap of purchasing overpriced low-quality souvenirs that are not made in Iceland. For example, if you are buying lava jewellery make sure it is not manufactured from foreign imported lava rocks. Avoid Polar bear toys as polar bears do not live in Iceland.
Another important thing to note is customs. If you are travelling from abroad do some research into what kind of products you are allowed to bring back home with you. Often there are prohibitions on specific plants and animal products. Be aware of your country of residences return rules on fresh produce, animal products (i.e. horn, fur, and bone).
When shopping in Iceland make sure to be aware of the opening times of shops as this varies through the year. Some shops are specifically open only during holiday time, whilst others are only open during the summer. If you have your heart set on going to Iceland to visit a specific shop, make sure to do a little research and check if they are open before you go.
The best place to shop in Iceland is Reykjavik, the capital. The largest Icelandic shopping mall Kringlan is situated in the heart of Reykjavik and it showcases over 180 shops with a diverse range of stores and restaurants. It even houses a cinema and a public library if you had the desire to grab a book for the road. It even has great parking facilities, so you can park your car and browse the stores as you please. There are fine fashion stores, like Hugo Boss and Vila clothes. However, there are also affordable clothing brands like H&M. Kringlan meets all your homeware, clothes, food, hardware and electronic needs.
The Best Shops in Iceland
A frequently asked question is ‘what are Iceland’s supermarket prices like?’. Iceland is known for having quite expensive prices compared to America and Europe. However, if you know where you are going, you can always find places to buy things that are within your budget. Below you will find a list of supermarkets in order of how expensive they are, starting from the cheapest first.
Bónus: Best known budget supermarket in Iceland, fulfils basic food needs.
Krónan: Very Cheap but has a moderately good selection of food. Caters for individuals with dietary restrictions.
Nettó: Cheap. open 24/7, does online deliveries
Samkaup Strax : owned by Nettó not as cheap but still modestly priced items but poor selection.
Kjörbúðin: Chain store that can be found in smaller towns, not found in major cities.
Iceland : Modestly priced food with a pick & mix candy station. Best to go during the weekend if you wanted to make use of the 50% offer.
Hagkaup: Expensive- to mid-range pricing on food and clothes. Sells international food and has clothes.
10-11: Regarded the most expensive by locals. Open 24/7 and located in popular places. It is a convenient shop if you need a few small things. It can get very expensive if you were to do all your shopping here.
Frú Lauga’s Farmers Market: If you want the freshest food, you can grab local produce at the farmer’s market in Laugalækur 6 would be your best bet. It is open weekdays from 10am-6pm and Saturdays till 4pm. It has treats like Icelandic yoghurt, as well as organic fruit and veg. – Yes, it has wine and chocolates too.
Kolaportið is open on the weekends and is Iceland’s only flea market. It is located in the old harbour area and you can buy a range of things here, from second-hand records, books, décor to Icelandic delicacies such as fermented shark. You will need cash to visit here, as that’s what most vendors at Kolaportið accept. Not to worry there is an ATM nearby.
If you are shopping for handmade speciality crafts then check Thorvaldsens Bazar, founded in 1901 it is said to be the oldest shop in Reykjavík. It specialises in authentic Icelandic handicrafts, knitted and wooden products made by Icelandic women. This is a great place for authentic souvenirs. Best of all, all the profits go to charity! Another great place for authentic souvenirs is Geysir, this is in a geothermal area.