From Iceland — How To Buy The Right Souvenirs…Without Being Tacky And Losing The Respect Of Your Peers

How To Buy The Right Souvenirs…Without Being Tacky And Losing The Respect Of Your Peers

Published November 29, 2018

How To Buy The Right Souvenirs…Without Being Tacky And Losing The Respect Of Your Peers
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Going on vacation means diving into a new culture; a new society, with different myths and endless unforgettable impressions. It’s natural to want to take something home to remember it by. Et voilà—the souvenir shop is born. There are many in Reykjavík’s city centre—so many that it can be hard to know where to look and what to buy. Sure, you can take home the tacky little puffin statues or a ‘real Game of Thrones drinking horn.’ But why should you? You’re in Iceland. Get something that wasn’t made in China.

No money, no problem

Souvenirs don’t always have to be expensive or even cost money at all. In the age of iPhones and GoPros you’ll be bringing back a bank of Iceland content to annoy your friends with on social media. And, well… there are always good old analogue memories. I know it sounds like a cliché, but some things can only be preserved in your memory anyway.

Woolly warm waist

Instead of buying a hoodie made in China, why don’t you check out some handmade Icelandic wool sweaters? Sure, they might feel like hundreds of little ants running all over your body because of the spiky, unspun “lopi” wool, but if you wear a t-shirt underneath, they’re warm and long lasting. Imagine sharing the same coat as happy Icelandic sheep. The Hand Knitting Association store on Skólavörðustígur is best, but If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you should check out the second-hand stores on Laugavegur. There are always a few sweaters waiting for a new home.

Something warm for the hands

The picture shows some beautiful leather gloves by VARMA (10,900 ISK at Hrím, Laugavegur 25). They are handmade in Iceland and will definitely remind you of that freezing cold you got to experience here. Not only are gloves a great gift (if the recipient of the gift lives in a country where snow exists), they also last a lifetime. And OMFG you definitely don’t want to travel Iceland without a pair. Pretty and practical!

Salt, salt, salt

For the foodie in your life, get some of the crazy varieties of different salts Iceland has to offer. There’s lava salt, salt with rhubarb, salt salt, salt with herbs, black beach sand salt, wild berry salt, Icelandic moss salt… probably even a salt that makes the northern lights fly out of your mouth after eating it. The range of salts from URTA are worth checking out (1,490 ISK per 100g).

If being a princess and bathing in salt is more your thing, well you’re in for a treat without even looking at tacky little puffin figurines. ANGAN produces a sustainable skincare line made right here in Iceland. Their bath salts and scrubs are natural, environmentally friendly and don’t contain synthetics. The bath salt pictured (3,590 ISK) can be found in Heilsuhúsið (Laugavegur 20b) and numerous other shops.


Puffins are cute, and they have become the unofficial mascot of Iceland. Of course, you wanna buy a little bird to take home. Skip the ubiquitous plush ones and do it right. Many stores stock handmade wooden puffins in different sizes. And fun fact: DON’T buy polar bear teddies—there’s nothing less Icelandic you could take home.

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