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With so many design and tourist shops available in downtown Reykjavik, it can be hard to know what is worth taking home, let alone where to buy it. From salt and schnapps to books and sweaters, these are the places to find the best souvenirs in Reykjavik.
Despite being a budget supermarket chain, Bónus offers many of the quintessential Icelandic things such as chocolate and specifically chocolate from Omnom, which offers an incredible array of finely tuned chocolate bars. The seasonal bars consist of tangy raspberries with dark Madagascar cacao nibs. You can also opt for a delicious blend of almond cookie with clove, orange, cinnamon, anise seeds and cayenne pepper.
At Bónus you can also find traditional Icelandic tea such as Arctic Thyme which has a distinct, subtle alpine taste that has long been used for medicinal purposes in Iceland and in other Scandinavian countries, as it is especially prevalent in Northern environments. It has antibacterial properties and are considered good for a cold, flu, and upset stomach. Bónus also offers a variety of hand-harvested herbal sea salt blends from Saltverk, a Westfjords company that offers exciting mixes such as Arctic Thyme, Birch Smoke, and Licorice to name a few.
Last but not least, Bónus offers Icelandic licorice in all kinds of varieties, mixed with chocolate.
This is the state-run liquor store with many shops in Reykjavik and around Iceland. Here you can find all of Iceland’s most unique spirits. Brennivín is especially one to take home: this clear, unsweetened schnapps is considered to be Iceland’s signature liquor. Brennivín is made from fermented grain or potato mash and flavored with caraway. It is also the drink of choice after eating the fermented shark hákarl.
Kolaportið can feel like a different world entirely. Located downtown with a view of the harbor, this former coal port is where Icelanders come to sell their wares when moving house, moving out of the country, or just spring cleaning their closets. One can find just about anything here — rare books, jade Buddha statues, kimonos, handmade jewelry from Kenya, fur coats, boots, you name it! Kolaportið is only open on weekends from 11am to 5pm.
Here you can find beautifully designed versions of the Icelandic wool sweater, or lopapeysa, which is a staple in Icelandic fashion. With the typical circular patterning around the shoulders and a wide variety of colors, this will definitely remind you fondly of your trip while keeping your warm. The yarn used, lopi, is made from unspun sheep wool, so it contains more air than spun yarn and consequently, it has better insulation properties. This is the same for all Icelandic woollen products, including blankets, mittens and hats – all of excellent quality and durability.
Icelandic music comes in a wide variety of styles besides dreamy pop, and at 12 Tonar and Smekkleysa Records, knowledgeable staff help you decide which CD or record will fill you in on the latest trend in music in Iceland. What better way to take home memories from your trip than a hand-picked album?
Many popular Icelandic titles have been translated beautifully into English, bringing Icelandic literature to a wider audience. Visit Eymundsson, which has many shops around Reykjavik, or Mal og Menning for assistance in picking out a classic Icelandic novel from renowned writers such as Sjón and Halldór Laxness, Iceland’s only Nobel Prize winner in literature. You can also try out an Icelandic Saga such as Njál’s Saga or a children’s book for an easy way into reading Icelandic.
This shop offers all kinds of quirky gifts that pertain directly to Iceland: t-shirts with random Icelandic slogans, Saga memorabilia, fur rugs, Viking hats – you name it. You can also find locally influenced items such as the condoms designed by two Icelandic art students while still in school.
Enjoy Our Nature condoms promote Iceland’s natural landmarks such as iconic geysers, volcanoes, aurora borealis, and sea stacks. Each package comes with a condom and background information about the landmark’s history and geology.
Stores such as Geysir and design shops such as Hrim offer beautiful vintage-style maps of Iceland from various centuries. The cartographic history shows an evolution of world perception, with some vintage maps of Iceland showing sea monsters swimming in the corners, and other recent versions coloring the island in bright neon shades.