Iceland is known for its beautiful landscapes. The geographically isolated island in the North Atlantic seems like a big rock in the ocean. With a cultural heritage of more than 1500 years, the country has wowed tourists from all over the world. From the magical northern lights, the Blue Lagoon, thundering waterfalls, ice-capped volcanic mountains, to the busy streets of Reykjavik. It’s simply a treasure trove for visitors. Once tourists finish exploring this beautiful island, they love to take back some memories in the form of souvenirs. And in Iceland, there is no shortage of peculiar and authentic souvenirs.
Many people end up at “puffin shops “which have become ubiquitous in Reykjavík and across the country. But Iceland has much more to offer than puffin souvenirs. We know how overwhelming it can get while making a selection. That’s why we have prepared a list of souvenirs after exploring from the busy streets of Reykjavík to the remote town of Siglufjörður. We are almost certain that you will love these products and take one of them back as a memorable gift.
PS: We have not included puffins or t-shirts on the list. You will find them anyway!
1. Icelandic Wool Sweater
If you have to pick only one item, it must be lopapeysa. The Icelandic wool sweater, lopapeysa, is made from unspun sheep wool and is known for its insulation and warmth. Almost all the lopapeysas have typical round-neck patterns and attractive colorful works on the upper portion of the sweater. Icelandic men and women have been wearing heavy wool sweaters for generations. These sweaters are known for long-life as it doesn’t wear out even after decades of use. On top of that, the coarse wool repels water.
You can get Icelandic woolen sweaters from any stores in Reykjavik but we recommend buying them from Icelandic Hand Knitting Association if you want to be assured of their authenticity. You can also purchase Icelandic wool yarns to knit or a souvenir for your lady friend. And for that Alafoss Wool Store is probably the best choice. Alafoss has been selling authentic woolen yarns since 1896.
2. Icelandic Skincare Products
Do you know Iceland is the second healthiest country in the world? Thanks to the healthy diet, a robust healthcare system, and clean water, Icelanders are the healthiest people second only to Italians. Additionally, the country is endowed with geothermal spas and plenty of minerals beneficial both for health and skin. It comes as no surprise that these minerals have been implemented into skincare products.
The famous Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spring surrounded by a black-lava landscape that has become one of the most visited spots in Iceland. The lagoon’s elements such as silica mud, algae, and other healing minerals are known for rejuvenating effect on skins. Silica is known for its healing capabilities especially for oily skin and acne. The green algae work great on dry or aging skin. That’s why Blue Lagoon skincare products have now become a new sensation not only in Iceland but also sought after all over the world. Although the products are available on major e-commerce websites and retail stores in many countries, you can’t get the same feelings as buying Blue Lagoon products from Blue Lagoon itself.
Another famous brand from Iceland is Bioeffect that is known for its great skincare lines. You might have come across popular EGF-serums of Bioeffect. Bioeffect products are used by almost 30% of Icelandic women. These products are known for their glowing and renewing effects on the skin.
3. Icelandic Harðfiskur
The dried fish, also known as Harðfiskur is the delightful delicacy of Icelanders. Maybe its location (surrounded by ocean) is responsible for Icelanders choosing this delicacy as their favorite snack. It has a strong smell so pack it in as many layers as possible before sliding it in your luggage if you are planning to take Harðfiskur back home. The protein-rich Harðfiskur is usually dried from two white fishes: ýsa or steinbítur. Have it with butter or without any sausage, it tastes amazing both ways. One of the best Icelandic snacks you can take back home with you.
Dried fishes are available around the grocery stores and many other places including gas stations.
4. Icelandic Licorice
Although Harðfiskur is a great source of protein, it is not a souvenir for everyone especially our vegetarian friends. Worry not! We have got you covered. Icelandic licorice is a feast for every taste-buds. Made from the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra and mixed with chocolate, marzipan, or toffee, it is a beloved candy throughout Nordic countries. Take a handful of Icelandic Licorice to delight your friends and family back at home.
Some of the recommended varieties include Góu Kúlur (milk chocolate covered), Appolo licorice (mix of licorice and marzipan), and Nóa Sírius brand licorice. A great souvenir to end your trip, the only downside is it doesn’t last long.
5. Icelandic Liquor
Icelanders are famous for their party spirits and love for drinks. The liquors made from fresh glacial waters and local produce once available to locals only are now sold globally. The most famous is, however, the Black Death or Bennivin. A seasoned schnapps with a distinct flavor Bennivin is perhaps Iceland’s signature distilled beverage. The cumin-tasting liquor tastes best when served ice-cold. Another popular drink from this region is Reyka Vodka. A transparent vodka made with glacial water.
Both drinks are easily available at duty-free stores at airports.
6. Handcrafted Jewellery
The beautiful and intricate jewelry designs have been around in Iceland since the early Viking Era (800AD). Viking men and women wore pieces of jewelry made from precious stones and metals as status-symbol and often used them as currency in trade. Today, Iceland along with Scandinavian countries offer some of the best Nordic styles that are known for their ultra-minimalistic, clean, and sober designs. Icelandic handcrafted jewelry is a great souvenir for someone you are close with or best, for yourself.
You will find all kinds of jewelry in Iceland and most of them are expensive. Most of the iconic jewelry stores are located in Reykjavik. One of the coolest places to check out is Orrifinn where you will find all sorts of handcrafted jewelry of your taste.
7. Bloðberg (Arctic Thyme) Tea
Bloðberg is a traditional Icelandic tea known for its distinct but subtle alpine taste. The tea is also considered to have medicinal properties. Its antibacterial properties provide satisfactory relief from mild colds and seasonal flu. Found across most of the grocery stores, Bloðberg tea is a perfect souvenir for someone who enjoys a healthy cup of herbal teas.
8. Icelandic sea salts
Icelandic sea salts have emerged as a very popular takeaway gift from Reykjavik in the past few years. The sea salts are available in a variety of colors, flavors, and mixes making it a perfect choice for spicing up your cooking. The two popular varieties of salts: sea salts and lava salts are harvested from one of the purest saltwater grounds of Westfjords of Iceland.
The most authentic brand to look out for is Saltverk´s Icelandic Flake salt, the world’s only artisan salt produced with 100% geothermal energy.
9. Northern Lights memorabilia
The mesmerizing colorful lights in the skies known as the Northern Lights are a spectacular show to witness in Iceland. However, catching sight of this miraculous beauty requires an expert guide and little luck on your side. And the best time to see these is between September and mid-April. Travelers often take the beautiful picture of this amazing phenomenon or posters as souvenirs for friends and family. The posters and pictures of all sizes are available at many shops in Reykjavik. Northern Lights memorabilia is a perfect home décor item.
10. Nature Condoms
This is the weirdest and probably most bizarre selection on our list. Nevertheless, a classic souvenir for happening couples and love-birds. Called ‘enjoy our nature’, the designers have come up with various versions of “Icelandic eruption”! The condom notoriously depicts the Icelandic landscape in its six different designs: the Geysir, Rock formation, Volcanic Eruption, Hengill steam, Þursaborgir, and the Northern lights. On top of that, every packet of condoms provides information about the design-inspiration, some history, and geology.
Whatever gift you bring from this list (or any other), your friends and family will be delighted to have it. However, nothing can beat the memories you have collected while traveling around this majestic island.