Best place to shop for touristy stuff: Geysir
Downtown Reykjavík is starting to feel like some sort of Disneyland puffin mall, what with all the numerous new stores that cater exclusively to tourists in dire need of puffin or volcano related souvenirs. It’s understandable, though, because all you wonderful travellers need to bring back items for your loved ones and—who are we kidding—puffins and volcanoes are the most interesting things Iceland has going for it. Tourist shops are necessary, and it is thus important to commend those that go an ambitious route in serving up the coveted trinkets and stuffed dolls.
All decked out in salvaged wood and decorated with found photographs from Iceland’s past, Geysir on Skólavörðustígur does a commendable job of catering to tourists in a tasteful, yet quirky manner. Locally crafted goods, lopi sweaters and everything you’ll need to hike across the island can all be found there—seek out Vík Prjónsdóttir’s playful line of woollen goods for an example of current local design.
Best place to stock up on local design: Kraum
Representing over 200 local designers and artists, Kraum offers an expertly curated, collection of the best things currently being envisioned and crafted by locals. The wide variety of items on offer (“their collection is GARGANTUAN”) can be hard to navigate, but the expert staff ensures no one leaves without finding what they need.
Best place to stock up on local fashion design: Kiosk
Last year we said: “Run by a collective of young Icelandic fashion designers, Kiosk is such a welcoming addition we felt the shop deserves its own category. Kiosk is a co-op shop and serves as a first step for young local designers to sell their creations. It’s not only the cool designer wear and accessories that make the shop a great pick, but since the designers take shifts behind the counter you can always guarantee to meet a young new talent.” We couldn’t agree more for this year, and Kiosk has expanded since last year so there’s even more fresh talent to check out.
Best bookstore: Mál og menning
After several years of humiliation, Mál og menning—once Reykjavík’s favourite bookstore—seems to have finally gotten its shit together in a big way. Aside from building up a respectable (for Iceland) stock of literature and magazines and hosting various fine literary events (readings, discussions, etc), they have opened an art gallery on their top floor in conjunction with the crew from Havarí and generally seem in good spirits. This is great news for downtown Reykjavík!
Runner-up: Útúrdúr remains awesome with its selection of ‘zines, art books and other curiosities.
(2011: Eymundsson, Austurstræti
2010: Eymundsson, Skólavörðustígur)
Best place to get a trendy haircut: Rauðhetta og úlfurinn
Rauðhetta og úlfurinn are an enduring favourite when it comes to supplying the good people of Reykjavík with their trendy haircuts—which is odd because trends keep changing and fashion is notoriously fickle. “I can always count on excellent service at Rauðhetta og úlfurinn, they make me look good every time,” one reader noted.
(2011: Barber Theater
2010: Rauðhetta og úlfurinn)
Best second hand shop: Fatamarkaðurinn
Fatamarkaðurinn by Hlemmur seems to be pretty popular these days. “Clothes at Nostalgia and Spúútnik have been pre-selected so they tend to be cooler, but they are more expensive. If you’re willing to put in the work, Fatamarkaðurinn is can be pretty great,” one of our second hand shoppers explained.
Runners-up: Nostalgia and Spúútnik
Best shop for ‘high fashion’: KronKron
Those with a fashion fetish will tell you that KronKron offers “the only proper selection of current international designers in Reykjavík,” with one even remarking: “I would have no idea what I’d do without them! They are the only ones actively importing new clothes!” Go there for clothes by labels such as Marc Jacobs, Wood Wood and Vivienne Westwood, shoes by Eley Kishimoto and Sonia Rykiel and of course the storeowners’ newly launched label KRONbyKRONKRON. Of course it all comes with a price, but we are told tourists can get tax-free rebates of the stuff, which ultimately renders it pretty cheap.
Best haberdashery: Herrafataverzlun Kormáks & Skjaldar
Located directly under Laugavegur’s Bónus outlet, Herrafataverzlun Kormáks & Skjaldar is an enduring hipster mall of a store, where discerning Reykjavík gentlemen go to get decked out in proper Don Draper gear or disguised as English lords out for a fox hunt. Selling everything from shoes and undergarments to suits and overcoats, HK&S even host a proper barber in the corner who gives a mean shave and/or a haircut.
(2011: Herrafataverzlun Kormáks & Skjaldar
2010: Herrafataverzlun Kormáks & Skjaldar)
Best place to shop organic: Frú Lauga
The couple that runs Frú Lauga shop from farmers from all over the country and everything in the store is labelled so customers knows exactly what they are eating and where it comes from. Need we say more?
(2011: Frú Lauga)
Best record store: Lucky Records
Lucky Records offers scores of hard-to-find vinyl and first editions of rare Icelandic and international LPs. “This is where I send my visiting music geek friends,” remarked one reader while another noted that the store is “world class! I found a battered 7″ of ‘Kind Midas Touch’ by The Hollies for 1 EUR and a pile of old electro boogie stuff.”
Most welcome addition: 20bé
Starting its life as a travelling pop-up shop, 20bé has found a permanent home on Laugavegur, where its three designer/artist owners sell their wares, host parties for friends and passers-by and promote local art through regular shows. “Helicopter’s dresses alone make 20bé a great stop on a stroll down Laugavegur, but I always find something fun or interesting when I go there.”
(2011: Jet Korine
2010: Fiskmarkaðurinn við gömlu höfnina)