What to buy in Iceland?
That’s a good question! Iceland has a lot of fun, good and unique products which you can’t get anywhere else. From statues of trolls, elves and puffins to penisesat The Icelandic Phallological Museum. Lots of good alcohol, like beer, wine and whiskey. And also, strange but good food.
Wherever you go in Iceland, you can find almost anything. Still, you’ll probably find the best selection in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, when you walk up the main shopping street, Laugavegur. There you can visitfantastic museums with all kinds of museum pieces, or you can walk into stores like Icewear, which has the largest and most beautiful modern sweater collection made from lopi and other woolen products in general in Iceland. Icewear for example isan Icelandic label which produces good and popular outdoor clothing.
You can also enter Omnom,an Icelandic chocolate factory, local breweries, and more.
Icelanders have a fascinating and a veryamusing history. Our story begins with the Vikings settling here, and because we’ve been rather isolated on our remote island, we’ve kept a lot of our old customs and culture. Therefore, you’ll be able to find a lot of souvenirs related to Vikings, trolls, elves and more – even go to The Little Christmas Shop which is open all-year-round and collect all of our mischievous Yule Lads (which, believe it or not, we have 13 of). Likewise, you can get a lot of very strange Icelandic food, such as rottenshark, dried fish, smoked puffin, the Icelandic skyr (a yogurt-like product, only thicker), whale meat, and a lot more. We also have over 30 breweries in our country with beers containing pure Icelandic spring water, and you definitely have to taste our world-famous Brennivin (sometimes referred to as “black death”) which is a clear, unsweetened schnapps made from cumin and potatoes. Brennivin is a must with the rotten shark.
Still, buying a lot of this can be expensive, since a lot of it is handmade by locals instead of beingmade in factories. Everything is actually very expensive in Iceland and can be tricky to find something that is inexpensive.
But what are the main things to buy in Iceland? I’m going to present you a good list– ranking to my most recommended product as no.1 – and go deeper into some things than others. Also, I’s like to point out that this is only my personal opinion. My recommendations are e.g. based on what effect the product has had on Icelandic history, how long it’s been around, and its importance in Iceland’s society today.
10. Buy from an Icelandic clothing brand
We Icelanders pride ourselves in everything we do. In our opinion, EVERYTHING we make, own or are is THE best in the world. Our Icelandic clothing labels are no exception. We have labels which have been around for many decadesand also only a few years old. We produce all kinds of clothes, but our main focus is outdoor clothing and warm clothes. Is shouldn’tsurprise anyone that we are experienced in warm clothing, living in the land of ice and snow. However, all kinds of fashion labels have joined the market and a lot of the clothing is made of Icelandic wool from the Icelandic sheep which dates back all the way to when the Vikings settled in Iceland.
I’m going to make a list of the brands I recommend for you to buy:
1. 66North –Iceland’s oldest clothing brand. First, they started making clothing for fishermen but today they make warm and fashionable outdoor clothingloved by celebrities. This is by far the most expensive label, but also the very best.
2. Cintamani – No. 2 when it comes to quality in clothing here in Iceland but is also the second most expensive. They produce outdoor clothing but in a stylish fashion, not the old school style like 66North does.
3. Icewear – Outdoor clothing – This brand is not expensive but is a very goodlabel. They have the finest selection in Iceland of modern lopi sweaters made from Icelandic wool and other woolen clothing in general
4. ZO-ON – Like Icewear, they make cool outdoor clothing, but are slightly more expensive than Icewear.
5. Geysir – They make a lot of their clothing from Icelandic wool. You can find their stores on Laugavegur and Skolavordustigur in Reykjavik and they also have a store the Geysir hot spring.
9. Icelandic food
Why? Because the Icelandic food is unique! There are so many things here which you won’t find anywhere else. It’s also something that nottake back home with you, like therotten shark, sour whale fat, whale meat, fermentedrayand salted fish. Any other Icelandic food should be ok to travel with back home.You can at least try our foodduring your stay in Iceland.
But I recommend buying the dried fish, skyr and try mysa, a whey drink packed with proteins. These are products you can find in every supermarket in Iceland. Also, if you happen to find jellies sheep’s head in stores, try it out. It’s jam that tastes better than it sounds and is made from the meaty parts and fat from sheep heads.
8. A book on Iceland’s history
Iceland has such a unique and isolated history that it is quite a must to get to know it. There are all kinds of books and ancient writingsonthe history of Iceland – and our folklore too. You can buy these books at every bookstore in Iceland and in museumshops too.
Penninn Eymundssonis a bookstore which has a very fine selection of books.
7. Icelandic alcoholic beverages
The beer culture in Iceland is young but still very interesting provided that we only started brewing beer about 30 years ago. And in spite of that we have a lot of beer and breweries. We’re also really good at making beer. We make all kinds of wines and schnappstoo, like Brennivin, and our own Icelandic Whiskeynamed after one of the first Vikings to walk ashore Iceland; Floki. The whiskey brewery, Eimverk, also offers tours around its factory.
The oldest brewery in Iceland is Egill Skallagrimsson.
They produce a lot of good beers, like Egils Gull, Boli (which means “Bull”) and a lot more.
Then the second oldest brewery is Vifilfell. They produce the Viking Gold bear.
We also have a lot of microbreweries. One of them, Bryggjan Brugghus, is also a restaurant and offers a tour around their brewery too.
6. The Icelandic national team jersey
Why is this on the list, you ask? Iceland is the smallest country in history to compete at FIFA World Cup. We made it to the semi-finals of the UEFA European Championshiptoo. We’ve won silver in handball at the Olympics and also bronze at the UEFA European Championship. Owning a jersey with that team is a must – especially if you are passionate about football. We’vemade a mark in football history twice! You can buy our team jersey at Joi Utherji.
5. Yule Lads
Why are trolls on the list? Because they’ve followed us since the Vikings came here. We still believe in them and tell our children stories of them and the trolls, elves and hidden people. We have 13 Yule Lads here in Iceland who are our Santas. They put presents in children’s shoes at night before Christmas and do pranks on the household. You can buy all kinds of books in Icelandic bookstores with fun stories of our Yule Lads.
4. The Icelandic Arctic fox
I put it on this list because this was the first animal to settle in Iceland before the Vikings. You can buy fox fur in various collectible stores and also in Icewear stores.
The Arctic fox came here when Iceland and Greenland were once connected by a glacier during the last ice age.
3. Icelandic lava and black sands
Iceland is basically lava and black sands. This is the land of ice and fire. This is what Iceland is made of. This could easily have been in the 1st or 2nd place on my list. It’s okay to take lava home if you want to. If you want to see pure lava, then I recommend taking one of our tours, the Reykjanes Peninsula tour. In this tour you are driving almost the whole tripwith fields of lava and black sands around.
2. The Icelandic lopi sweater
Woolis what’s kept Icelanders warm for centuries and we couldn’t have survived the harsh conditions in Iceland without the Icelandic sheep. The Icelandic sheep came with the Vikings andwe’ve used its wool, meat and milk completely until about 20 years ago. We don’t use its milk anymore, but we still use the wool. Buying a woolen sweater is a must when you come to Iceland. It can hardly get more authentic than a sweater.
Theycan be expensive to buy, for a good reason. And they’re not expensive compared to all the time and work many women (and men) around Iceland have put into hand-knitting them. This can take many hours, so based on the time and work put into making one sweater, the price is not really much. Support the women rather than buying factory-produced woolen sweaters.
1. The Vikings
Wherever you go, you can buy something related to the Vikings. Glasses made of ram’s horns, shot glasses, T-shirts, or whatever. The Vikings are the ones who built this country and that’s why they are no. 1 on this list. Icelanders come from a line of Vikings and that’s why we’re as strong as we are.