Iceland gifts? So what can you buy in Iceland, and what are the most special Iceland gifts you can bring back home?
Iceland is a beautiful place and you want to buy a souvenir. So what can you buy in Iceland, and what are the most special Iceland gifts you can bring back home?
Turns out, there are quite a few items that are truly special and deserve at least some consideration if you’re looking for things to buy in Iceland.
What to buy in Iceland
Icelandic Wool Products
Iceland isn’t just famous for its stunning landscapes and geothermal wonders; it’s also a place where wool is a big deal.
Imagine this: you’re in a country where sheep often outnumber people. These fluffy creatures are not just adorable but are also the source of one of Iceland’s most prized materials: wool.
Icelandic wool is a bit of a superhero in the fabric world. It’s incredibly warm, water-resistant, and lighter than most wools you’ve encountered.
It’s been a part of Icelandic culture for centuries, and it’s deeply embedded in their way of life. From keeping fishermen warm in icy waters to becoming a fashion statement in the cities, wool is to Iceland what wine is to France—indispensable.
So what can you take home?
Well, there’s the famous Icelandic sweater, also known as the “lopapeysa.” These sweaters are like wearable pieces of art.
Each one has intricate patterns and designs that often tell a story or represent Icelandic traditions. They’re so warm and comfy that you’ll want to live in them all winter long.
If a sweater feels too bulky, there are other woollen options.
How about a scarf or a pair of gloves? These items are easier to pack and make a stylish addition to your winter wardrobe. You can also find woollen hats, socks, and even blankets to cosy up your home.
Wondering where to find these woolen wonders? You’re in luck!
From Reykjavik’s bustling markets to tiny shops in small towns, wool products are almost everywhere. Some specialty stores even allow you to watch artisans at work, weaving their magic into each piece of fabric.
Some of the most popular shops for buying Icelandic wool products are:
- Handknitting Association of Iceland (located in Reykjavik)
- Álafoss (in Mosfellsbær, a short drive from Reykjavik)
- Icewear (multiple locations across Iceland)
- The Viking Store
- Farmers Market (Located in Reykjavik)
Get the original lopapeysa
Make sure to buy the original lopapeysa Icelandic sweater! There are many imitations.
To qualify as a true Icelandic lopapeysa sweater, there are some pretty specific rules. First off, the wool has to come from an Icelandic sheep, and it has to be new—no recycling allowed. The yarn used should be locally sourced, with names you might hear like Plötulopi or Álafosslopi.
The knitting style also matters. The sweater should be knit in a circular fashion, without any seams. Also, it has to be hand-knitted right there in Iceland, and it should either be a whole sweater or a cardigan style.
Now, here’s how to spot a fake.
If the label says it’s “designed in Iceland,” that means it wasn’t actually made there.
If the wool feels too soft, like cashmere, it’s probably not authentic Icelandic wool, which is a bit rougher.
Look out for seams around the shoulders and sleeves; a real lopapeysa wouldn’t have visible seams like that.
And finally, if the price tag looks too good to be true, be sceptical. Authentic lopapeysas are a bit of an investment, typically costing between $150 to $220 and even up to $300 if they have added details like zippers or buttons.
Icelandic Food & Beverages
Iceland isn’t just a visual feast with its jaw-dropping landscapes; it also has some unique flavours that you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re looking to bring a slice (or sip) of Iceland back home, you’re in for a treat!
Fermented shark (Hákarl or hardfiskur)
First up, let’s talk about dried fish, also known locally as “hákarl”, “hardfiskur” or rotten shark.
Imagine jerky, but it’s fish instead of beef. It’s a high-protein snack that’s much loved by Icelanders and often enjoyed with butter. This makes a great gift because it’s light, portable, and gives you a taste of local life.
Where to get it: Kolaportid Flea Market (only weekends)
Icelandic yoghurt (Skyr)
Now, have you ever tried skyr? It looks like yoghurt, but it’s thicker and richer.
It’s a dairy product unique to Iceland and has been a staple in the Icelandic diet for over a thousand years.
You can find it in various flavours like blueberry, vanilla, and even coconut. Though it’s perishable, some stores offer skyr powder that you can easily take home.
Where to get it: Grocery stores
For the adults, there’s Brennivin, often referred to as “Black Death,” but don’t let the name scare you.
It’s a schnapp made from fermented potatoes and flavoured with caraway seeds.
It’s the kind of drink that warms you from the inside, making it perfect for those icy Icelandic evenings. A bottle of Brennivin is a must-bring if you want to share a truly Icelandic experience with your friends back home.
Where to get it: liquor stores
Last but not least, let’s not forget about Icelandic chocolate.
Brands like Omnom are internationally recognised for their quality and unique flavours like sea salt, liquorice, and even fermented barley. It’s a sweet way to remember your trip!
Where to get it: Grocery stores
If you’re searching for what to buy in Iceland that is not necessarily edible or wearable, then handmade crafts are the way to go.
Where can you find these artistic treasures? Local markets are a great starting point. In Reykjavik, for example, you’ll find several markets and boutiques specialising in handmade goods. You can also find craft stores in small towns, offering an intimate shopping experience where sometimes you can meet the artisans themselves.
Let’s start with wooden figurines. Iceland is a land of myths and legends, so it’s not surprising to find intricately carved wooden trolls or elves.
These figures often come with a story, adding a layer of meaning to what could otherwise just be a cute ornament for your shelf.
They’re available in various sizes, so you can choose something that fits comfortably in your luggage.
Next up are ceramics. Icelandic pottery often takes inspiration from nature—think of textures mimicking lava flows or colours that resemble the Northern Lights.
Coffee mugs, plates, or vases in these designs offer something that is both functional and beautiful.
If you’re looking for something even more unique, don’t overlook Icelandic glassware.
Artisans often incorporate volcanic ash or even bits of lava into their designs, making each piece a small work of art that’s distinctively Icelandic.
Now, if you’re looking to bring back something from Iceland that’s not just beautiful but also deeply symbolic, then you should definitely consider Icelandic jewellery.
These pieces are more than just accessories; they’re tiny encapsulations of Iceland’s rich culture and breathtaking nature.
Reykjavik has several upscale boutiques where you can find handcrafted pieces. If you’re venturing outside the capital, many smaller towns have artisans who sell their works in local markets or even out of their workshops.
One of the most iconic pieces you can find is a necklace or pendant featuring the “Vegvísir,” an ancient Icelandic symbol often described as a compass for the heart.
It’s said to help guide you through challenges, making it not just a stunning piece of art but also a meaningful talisman.
Lava stone jewellery
Next, let’s talk about lava stone jewellery. You read that right—actual pieces of volcanic rock are used to create unique necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.
Imagine wearing a piece of Iceland’s fiery heart right next to your own. Plus, the porous nature of the lava stone makes it great for holding scents. A few drops of essential oil and your jewellery doubles as a natural diffuser.
Jewellery with local stones
But if you’re searching for something truly luxe, Iceland also has jewellery featuring locally sourced precious stones like arctic chalcedony, which is known for its stunning sea-blue colour.
These high-end pieces are like carrying a piece of the Icelandic sky with you wherever you go.