As you're planning your trip to Iceland, something that often doesn't deserve enough attention is figuring out what to buy in Iceland before you go. This could be for yourself or for family and friends back home. It's worth thinking about Icelandic souvenirs to buy so you can plan those stops along the way.
Read more about Iceland
- How to plan a 6 day Iceland itinerary
- Best hotels in Reykjavik on a budget
- Top 12 things to do in Iceland
- Iceland travel guide
Where to stay in Iceland?
Here's what we're covering:
- Best Icelandic Souvenirs To Bring Home
- Souvenirs in Iceland You Should Avoid
- How Does The Iceland Tax Free Refund Work?
- Where can you get a tax free refund?
- Who is eligible for a tax free refund?
- What is eligible for a tax free refund?
- How does the purchase process work?
- How to prepare your purchases for departure?
- How to make your tax free refund?
- Where else can you claim Iceland tax free?
- What if you're in a rush?
- Do you need a special tax free receipt to be able to claim a tax free refund?
- Where to Buy Icelandic Souvenirs Online
- Which Souvenirs in Iceland Will You Buy?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Icelandic Souvenirs To Bring Home
Iceland is such a visually stunning place that will surely create some epic memories during your time there but aside from memories and photographs, what should you think about buying? Here are the must-buy Icelandic souvenirs that best represent the country, is easy to pack, and is actually practical and useful.
#1 Icelandic Wool Sweaters
When you're walking around the streets of Reykjavik or anywhere in the island for that matter, you'll quickly learn that locals have a keen sense of fashion. Everything they wear is sharp, warm, and practical. Part of that dress are Icelandic wool sweaters which are called lopapeysa.
The island is home to ridiculously high quality wool and that is the foundation of these stylish sweaters that often feature simple diamond and zig-zagging lines in neutral and earthy tones.
One of the things many people underestimate when thinking about what to wear in Iceland is how cold it is so if you end up buying this as a souvenir for yourself at the beginning of the trip, the lopapeysa could help fill the gap in your gear and also help you fit in like a local Icelander.
If you'd love to own one (or buy as a souvenir), make sure to include a stop at one fo the stores or markets in your Iceland itinerary.
WHERE TO BUY LOPAPEYSA
Average price: These aren't cheap so expect to spend at least $150 USD.
What to watch out for: Many shops sell the cheaper sweaters that have very similar styled designs except they're made in say, China. Avoid these as what you want are the a wool sweaters that are authentically made in Iceland.
#2 Chocolate-Covered Liquorice
I know, not everyone likes it but as it turns out, Iceland has a bizarre obsession with liquorice. When you start poking around different grocery stores, gas stops, and general stores, you'll realize that more than half of the selection has some sort of liquorice.
One that's perhaps worth trying even for the non-believers is chocolate-covered liquorice. It sounds strange but could be that perfect combination that'll make your head tilt in surprise.
So when we're talking about what is Iceland known for, this totally fits the bill. Just look for the words Lakkrís (liquorice) and Súkkulaði (chocolate).
WHERE TO BUY CHOCOLATE-COVERED LIQUORICE
Recommended locations: You can find these practically anywhere selling snacks including grocery stores and gas stations. For the best price, buy then at the grocery store, Bonus.
Average price: Standard price of a chocolate bar depending on the size. Only a few dollars.
Tips: Give them a try while you're in Iceland and either stock up at Bonus or buy the special bundles that you'll find at duty free.
#3 Map of Iceland
I have no doubt that you'll have a grand adventure on your road trip around Iceland like our 8 day Iceland itinerary.
Thinking about your home decor at home, a map of Iceland makes an awesome souvenir for yourself. Not only will the geography be that much more meaningful to you, it would make for a really great statement piece.
Especially when shopping around Reykjavik, you'll notice that there are a number of shops that sell art and unique crafts.
During our trip, we found a number of graphically stylized maps of Iceland that we just couldn't say no to. And now, it's a permanent display piece in our home.
WHERE TO BUY MAPS OF ICELAND
Recommended locations: Your best bet is looking for these when walking along Laugavegur, the main shopping street in Reykjavik and look out for trendy art shops or souvenir stores.
Average price: Shouldn't be more than $30 USD.
Tips: To prevent the map from being crumpled, see if you can purchase a poster tube.
#4 Omnom Chocolate
If you love chocolate, you're going to love the artisanal chocolatiers, Omnom. Located in Reykjavik, you'll find unique creations that range from Black N' Burnt Barley, S'mores Kit, Omnom Krunch, Sea Salted Toffee, and of course Lakkrís.
Known as Iceland's leading chocolate brand, they take a bean to bar approach and blending them with other ingredients to create unusual and wonderful combinations.
You can visit their chocolate factory at Hólmaslóð 4, located in the Grandi harbor area of downtown Reykjavik. Here, you'll find a their widest selection of chocolate products, ice cream, and also factory tours that are offered three times daily, year-round.
These chocolates also make great road trip snacks so grab a bunch to devour after you pick up your car rental in Iceland.
WHERE TO BUY OMNOM CHOCOLATE
Recommended locations: The Omnom chocolate factory is the best place to buy this only-in-Iceland product but you'll find this sold in supermarkets, souvenir shops, and anywhere else that carries confectionery.
Average price: Each bar is roughly $6 USD.
Tips: Similar to the liquorice, you can stock up at the grocery store, Bonus, for a good price or you can wait until you get to the duty free at the airport.
#5 Brennivín Icelandic Scnapps
Alcohol is notoriously expensive in Iceland which is why all the Iceland guides will tell you to buy it at the airport duty free right after you land.
Brennivín is one of the Icelandic souvenirs that you definitely want to consider if you're a fan of clear, unsweetened schnapps.
Made of fermented grain or potato mash and flavored with caraway, this is the traditional shot of choice for locals.
WHERE TO BUY BRENNIVÍN
Recommended locations: The airport duty free is the best place to buy alcohol, period. That said, if you are looking for this around the country, you'll have to go to the country-run liquor store, Vinbuðin.
Average price: A 500ml glass bottle is $34 USD. The 500ml plastic bottle is only $10 USD.
Tips: Look out for not only the original Brennivín but also some of their special editions such as Dill, Helvíti, Rúgbrauð Edition, and Þúfa. Heads up, the glass bottle of Brennivín is only available at the arrival airport duty free store.
#5 Reyka Vodka
Since we're on the topic of liquor, Reyka Vodka is relatively new, launching in 200, but has quickly become one of the most popular made in Iceland products to gift to family and friends back home.
This vodka is hand crafted in Iceland using its glacial spring water that is distilled through lava rocks to create an ultra-smooth, crisp, and clean taste. The distillery itself is also geothermally powered.
WHERE TO BUY REYKA
Recommended locations: Stock up at the airport duty free when you take your flight back home. Outside of the airport, you'll need to head to Vinbuðin.
Average price: A 1L bottle is $28 USD.
Tips: Reyka Vodka also comes in 50mL bottles that make great souvenirs and the duty free will often run deals where its 6 for the price of 5.
#6 Fish Oil
Turns out that Icelanders claim to incredible levels of health and happiness is in a diet that's rich in fish and fish products such as fish liver oil. What's in it is Omega-3 fatty acid and not only does it have huge health benefits, it also helps with the incredibly shortened days of winter which may lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
We were certainly not well-versed in this until the shock of our first breakfast at the Hilton Nordica Reykjavik. Next to the buffet of croissants and eggs was a yellow bottle of something called Lýsi. We asked what it was and we were told the story around Omega-3 and how this translates directly to fish liver oil in Icelandic.
Starting at a young age, fish oil is consumed as a food supplement and what you're suppose do to do is take a shot of it or spoonful every morning.
Fish oil is incredibly expensive back at home so as far as Icelandic souvenirs go, this one is packed with health benefits and value.
WHERE TO BUY FISH OIL
Recommended locations: The main brand to look for is actually called LYSI as well. Look out for it in special health stores in Reykjavik or the easiest place to find them is in grocery stores.
Average price: You can find the LYSI cod liver oil for just over $10 USD for 240ml or 500ml for $18 USD.
Tips: If pure fish oil is too potent, there's a children's version that are flavored. There are also different form factors such as capsules. Also, as far as I know, duty free does not stock this so best to buy it when you're in the city.
#7 Blue Lagoon Skin Care
A trip to Iceland wouldn't be complete without a spa day at Blue Lagoon. I encourage you to do the Premium package which includes a Silica mud mask to feel the benefits of one of their products first-hand.
When you're done, you'll have a chance to browse their store where some of their most popular items are their Silica Mud Mask, Algae Mask, Mineral Mask, Lava Scrub Mask, and Algae Bioactive Concentrate Face Oil.
Whether for you or someone back home, these lavish beauty products certainly belong in the treat yourself category.
WHERE TO BUY BLUE LAGOON SKIN CARE
Recommended locations: The easiest place to buy them is at Blue Lagoon itself. If not there, you will also have an opportunity at their shop in Reykjavik, the special Keflavik Airport store, or at airport duty free.
Average price: The masks start at $49 USD and the face oil is $54 USD.
Tips: Look out for their Discovery Kits (starting at $87 USD) and Signature Mask Collection Travel Size ($102 USD) that bundle multiple products together. Note that these special collections are only available at the arrival airport duty free.
#8 Lava Rocks
You could have a pet rock collection or you can look for Icelandic lava rock incorporated in jewelry or even simply as a magnet if you collect things when you travel.
As a country with active volcanoes and was formed by volcanoes, this is a natural souvenir from Iceland that makes a great convesation piece.
What I don't want you to do is to steal lava rock from its natural environment as this is against Icelandic law. Instead, be on the lookout of how local designers are incorporating lava rock with elements of silver and other materials in jewelry.
WHERE TO BUY LAVA ROCK JEWELRY
Recommended locations: There are a ton of jewelry shops in Reykjavik. In Vík, they have an Icelandic Lava Show where you'll learn everything you want to know about lava. At the end of it, you'll get your own piece of lava rock.
Average price: The Icelandic Lava Show is $46 USD. Jewelry costs can start from $50 and up.
#9 66° North
Consider this to be the Canada Goose of Iceland. 66° North specializes in technical outdoor gear and has been keeping Iceland warm since 1926. Where Icewear is known for wool sweaters, you'll be coming to these guys for your waterproof, windproof, and breathable layers.
In our guide for what to wear in Iceland, you'll read that we recommend 66° North as the spot to pick up anything that you might've forgotten at home.
With its rugged landscape, their made in Iceland products have you covered to allow you to explore the island protected from the elements and in extreme comfort.
Whether you're grabbing an emergency fleece vest or wanting to buy a thoughtful Icelandic souvenir, you can't go wrong with this company.
#10 Einstök Beer
This is completely subjective but out of all the different brews we tried in Iceland, the Einstök Icelandic White Ale was our favourite. Brewed with Icelandic water, a touch of oats, and hints of orange and coriander.
This white ale is perfect for those that also love beers such as Belgian Moon and other Belgian-Style Witbier.
If this doesn't fit your flavor-profile, Einstök also does everything from lager, pale ale, porter, Scottish ale, a berry ale, winter ale, and other seasonal specials.
Another popular brand is Viking Gold.
WHERE TO BUY EINSTÖK
Recommended locations: Like liquor, the airport duty free is the best place to buy beer. After that, you'll have to go to a Vinbuðin.
Average price: A pack of 6 bottles of Einstök White Ale is $14.
Tips: I recommend that you try a variety of beers while dining throughout Iceland. While stocking beer is a relatively new thing, many restaurants should carry Einstök or something similar. Also, heads up that the white ale is only available at the departure duty free store.
#11 Icelandic Sea Salt
Iceland is incredibly mineral-rich and thanks to all of that geothermal energy (the same heat that powers Blue Lagoon), and Arctic sea water, the result is high quality sea salt.
Companies such as Saltverk and Norður Salt create unique blends of salt that you can find only in Iceland. Mixes such as thyme, birch smoked, rhubarb, blueberry, lava, seaweed, and of course, liquorice are a perfect pairing for all dishes from gourmet to basic.
WHERE TO BUY ICELANDIC SEA SALT
Recommended locations: Gourmet and boutique food shops will carry these as well as souvenir shops. The best place to get them is at the grocery store so remember to stock up at Bonus or you could go to Krónan, Nettó, or 10/11. The airport might stock them as well.
Average price: Starts at $13 USD so they are not too expensive.
Tips: Saltverk also has gift boxes so look out for those.
#12 Arctic Thyme Tea
Also known as in Bloðberg Icelandic, this is a traditional tea that has a distinct alpine taste. This is made from a wild thyme that can be found all over the island.
This type of tea is a natural remedy used by locals for its antibacterial properties and is good for upset stomach, cold, and flu.
Tea is normally not something you look for in Iceland but if you're doing some grocery shopping, make sure to take a peek at their tea section.
WHERE TO BUY ICELANDIC SEA SALT
Recommended locations: Grocery stores and convenience stores are your best bet.
Average price: This is another inexpensive souvenir that includes made in Iceland products. You can find a box of teabags for $10 USD and up.
Souvenirs in Iceland You Should Avoid
There are of course many Icelandic souvenirs that you can pick up but there are a few that you should try to avoid, mainly because they're not actually made in Iceland.
This applies to almost any country you go to.
Along the main strip of Laugavegur, you'll find plenty of generic Iceland gift shops. Locals call these “Puffin Shops” as places that sell things exclusively made for tourists.
Items you'll find here typically include stuffed puffins, Viking helmets, shot glasses, keychains, and magnets. All of these are made in China and nowhere close to being local.
I'd also avoid buying reindeer pelts. This is maybe more of a personal preference but it's the same idea of buying fur because animals need their coats more than we do.
How Does The Iceland Tax Free Refund Work?
While it is expensive to go shopping in Iceland whether it's for souvenirs or basic groceries, something handy to know is that Iceland has a robust tax-free refund program.
The reason why things are so expensive in Iceland is because of their value added tax (VAT) which is a whopping 24%.
Where can you get a tax free refund?
Anytime you're making a purchase greater than 6,000 ISK ($47 USD) including VAT at one store, you are eligible for tax free shopping where you are entitled to 14% back in refunds.
The only exception are for books where the refund rate will be closer to 11%.
TIP: Pool your purchases if you're travelling in your group. If you're really ambitious, you can see if other tourists at the store are interested in pooling and you coordinate how to handle the refund.
Who is eligible for a tax free refund?
- Non-Iceland residents
What is eligible for a tax free refund?
- Purchases must be made at stores that offer tax free refund.
- Your form must be stamped within 3 months of purchasing. Afterwards, you can make your claim at any time afterwards.
- You must have the items with you at departure from Iceland.
- Restaurants, hotels, tour operators, and any services don't qualify.
How does the purchase process work?
When you make a purchase at a store that has the tax free sign outside and you make a minimum of 6,000 ISK purchase, the retailer will print out a receipt with a tax free form built-in. The retailer with sign or stamp it. They will also provide an information booklet with more information about the Iceland tax free program.
With the receipt stored in the pouch of the booklet, you will then fill out the remaining parts of the form with:
- Full name
- Passport number
- Credit card number
How to prepare your purchases for departure?
When making your claim at the airport, the customs officer may ask to look at the items purchased so you need to make sure it's in an easy-to-access compartment of your bags and that they're organized together.
Plan to go to the airport earlier than normal if you're processing a tax free refund. The hours of operations are designed to be during flight operations which means that they'll align with all outbound international flights.
I recommend going to the airport 2 to 2.5 hours ahead of your departure.
TIP: Take pictures of your receipts so you have a record of it.
How to make your tax free refund?
For most people, you'll be departing Iceland from Keflavik Airport.
Step 1: Get your refund validated
Before you even check in your luggage, head to the arrival hall opposite to the car rentals and follow the “Tax Free” sign. Note that once you clear security, you won't be able to make your claim.
If your purchase is between 6,000 and 100,00 ISK, you will head to Arion Bank (also labelled as Currency Exchange) to have your tax free refund form stamped.
At this point, they may also ask to inspect the items being claimed. Make sure the goods are unused.
For a purchase higher than 100,000 ISK, it has to be signed by Customs. This is literally connected to the bank so you won't miss it.
Make sure to review this map of Keflavik to help you navigate.
Step 2: Claim your refund
Now that you're export validated, you will then head to the “International Refund Point” which is right across from the bank and labelled as “Tax Refund”.
At this office, they will process your refund. At this point you can choose to receive your refund in the form of cash or to your credit card. For cash, a fee may apply so most travellers will opt for a credit card refund. and this is where your credit card comes into play. The information is entered into the system.
You will have to then wait 6-8 weeks for the refund to arrive on your credit card.
The whole process here is incredibly fast.
Where else can you claim Iceland tax free?
If you're not leaving from the Keflavik Airport, you can also make a claim from Reykjavik Airport.
For sailboats, cruise ships, and private aircraft, and other vessels, custom offers arrive on board for custom clearance before departure.
What if you're in a rush?
There is a Global Blue mailbox near the Customs office so you can mail your completed form, stamped Tax Free Form, and receipts to Global Blue for a refund for your credit card.
Use a prepaid envelop if one was provided by the souvenir shop or you'll have to use your own envelope with your own postage.
This is the worst-case scenario. Ideally you plan for enough time and arrive at the airport earlier so you can do this.
TIP: Make sure you add your e-mail address in case they need to reach out to you.
Do you need a special tax free receipt to be able to claim a tax free refund?
So you're probably wondering, can you buy Icelandic souvenirs from a grocery store and claim a refund?
Unfortunately, you won't be able to because one of the first requirements for a refund is to receive a special form printed on the receipt followed by a signature or stamp from the retailer.
That said, anytime you're making a purchase of goods over 6,000 ISK, you should ask the store whether they offer tax free.
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Where to Buy Icelandic Souvenirs Online
If you've returned home and realized you wish you bought something while you were there or if you really loved something and want more of it, the good news is that there are ways order many authentic Icelandic products online.
- Icelandic wool sweaters – Icewear
- Chocolate-covered liquorice – Nordic Store
- Map of Iceland – Etsy
- Omnom Chocolate – Omnom (they ship to USA and Canada)
- Fish oil – Nordic Store or there's always Amazon.
- Blue Lagoon skincare – Blue Lagoon does e-commerce in the US and EU.
- 66˚ North – 66˚ North
- Icelandic sea salt – Shop Icelandic
- Arctic thyme tea – Nordic Store
Which Souvenirs in Iceland Will You Buy?
There's plenty of Icelandic souvenir options to choose from now that you've gone through the whole list. I think if anything, you've hopefully seen that there is really a wide variety of gifts that you can bring home.
The key is to remember to look out for some of these things that interest you, plan for specific stops, and also to take advantage of the tax free refund.
So which of these will you be buying on your trip to Iceland?
Planning a trip to Iceland?
Make sure to read our super guide to planning an Iceland itinerary including insider tips and things you just need to know before you go.
Frequently Asked Questions
The top souvenirs are Icelandic wool sweaters, chocolate-covered liquorice, fish oil, Blue Lagoon skincare, Omnom chocolate, and more!
You'll have two opportunities to use the duty free – when you land and when you depart. Must-buy items include liquor, beer, Omnom chocolate, and Blue Lagoon skincare products.
Iceland is best known for its geothermal springs, active volcanoes, glaciers, dramatic landscapes, wool, and fermented shark.
You'll find gift shops all over the island as you drive around especially at major attractions with visitor centers. That said, the largest density of these shops can be found in Reykjavik in the town center near and along Laugavegur.
Supermarkets such as Bonus are one of the best places to buy souvenirs. When you're there, look to buy chocolate, Icelandic sea salts, fish oil, arctic thyme tea, and liquorice.
Elves, trolls, and monsters are part of Icelandic folklore and legends. As such, troll souvenirs can be found in gift shops all around the island. That said, most items you'll find at these shops are made in China so I wouldn't recommend them unless they were locally made.
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