Souvenirs from Iceland: How to Find Authentic Items

Colorful icelandic souvenirs in tourist shop

You will have the best road trip of your life in Iceland, and you will make some great memories, we can assure you. Naturally, you probably will want to bring something home with you. Of course, the most valuable souvenir from your trip to Iceland will be your memories and experience, but there’s nothing wrong with getting something for yourself or your loved ones. To help you out, I present the ultimate guide to souvenirs from Iceland. What to get, where to get it and how not to get scammed. 

Taste of Iceland: edible souvenirs

Probably one of the most budget-friendly souvenirs from Iceland is various snacks and drinks. Bringing something to taste from Iceland can be a cool party trick or a nice gesture for friends and family. Here are some of the most popular items:

  1. Icelandic Salt & Spices – flavor your meals with Icelandic salt and herbs. A handful of companies produce salt and spices, and they are wildly available in gift shops, the airport, cafes, hotels – you name it. If you want to save some dollars, you can find Norður Salt and Saltverk in grocery stores. The selection may not be as great as in some gift shops, but you will get a better deal. 
  2. Chocolate and candies – the biggest selection of Icelandic sweets is any grocery store. Navigating through the candy aisle can be overwhelming. That’s why we prepared a helpful guide: Icelandic Candy 101. Since we are talking about sugary stuff, I’ll also mention jams. There are just a handful of fruits and berries that grow in the Icelandic wilderness. Nevertheless, you can find some authentic, delicious Icelandic jams if you visit local cafes or some farms. 
  3. Alcohol – Brennivin may be the signature Icelandic drink. However, many new distilleries and breweries popped up all around Iceland in recent years, creating everything from beer to vodka to gin, etc. Therefore, today there is no shortage of locally produced, high-quality alcoholic beverages. In Iceland, alcohol can be bought only in two places (not counting bars) – duty-free at the airport and government-run alcohol shops Vinbudin. We always advise happy campers to stock up for the trip at the airport, and if you decide to buy alcohol as a souvenir from Iceland – wait until you are back at the airport. The tax-free alcohol will help you save A LOT of money.

Warm memories from Iceland

Icelandic knitwear is known for its great design and outstanding quality. Lopapeysa – the traditional Icelandic wool sweater, is a popular souvenir from Iceland. It can also be pricey; therefore, some opt-out for other kinds of wool products such as blankets, hats, socks, gloves.  

Moreover, if you buy them in big souvenir shops, they are likely made in China and only “designed in Iceland.” My tip is if you want the real deal, look for signs about wool products for sale near farms when driving. This way, you will support locals and get an authentic Icelandic item. Or visit Kidka Wool Factory. Not only do they make authentic Icelandic knitwear, but they are also our friends and give 10% off all items if you visit them in Hvammstangi. They can even give you a factory tour so you can see for yourself how they make Icelandic 

If you know your way around the knitting needle, you can buy some Icelandic yarn and some knitting instructions at the Icelandic Knitting Association (Handprjónasamband Ísland) and create something yourself. This is the place to purchase handmade knitted products if you are shopping in Reykjavík. They are all made by members of the Association; therefore, you will be supporting small local artisans.

Art, Crafts and Fashion

Icelanders are very creative. Many of them have some kind of artistic “side-hustle.” Some sing, some play, some paint, knit, or sew. Downtown streets are indeed filled with tacky made-in-China gift shops, but you can also find many boutiques, galleries, and small shops with some great authentic Icelandic art, fashion pieces, or jewelry.

During summer you can find artists selling hand-made goods on the street. Usually, they only accept cash, but you can find really cool inexpensive hand-made souvenirs, and you could support local artists. Another place to look for gems is Kolaportid. Kolaportid is a flea market where locals sell everything – food, antiques, books, clothes, art – you name it. 

A huge part of Icelandic cultural heritage is literature. Coffee table books, children’s books, both – fiction and non-fiction – it is not hard to find translated Icelandic books in bookshops, museums, and gift shops. I think it is a great idea to buy a book as a souvenir from Iceland.

To sum up, there are two options to get souvenirs from Iceland. You can stick to mass-produced items in tourist shops, or you could support local businesses and local artists and bring something authentic and, maybe, delicious.