Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Part of the fun of a trip overseas is finding just the right souvenir to remind you of your vacation. While bringing something special or unusual home for a friend or family member allows you to share your experience with them. Some people collect fridge magnets, others a bottle of the local tipple to try. But what are the best Iceland souvenirs and products to take home? Here we take you through some of the traditional products you might find around Reykjavik and beyond. We will run through a list of the top classic handicrafts and food products. We will also take a look at some of the more unusual and quirky gifts to be found. Read on for our ultimate guide to Icelandic gift ideas.
Traditional Icelandic Souvenirs
#1 The Icelandic Wool Sweater
Perhaps the most iconic of all the Icelandic-made products are the classic Icelandic sweaters known as lopapeysa. These are traditionally made using pure unspun Icelandic sheep’s wool. Because the wool is not spun it contains more air. This means that it gains better insulation properties. There is also a certain amount of water resistance gained from the use of this yarn. These sweaters will keep you warm and to a certain extent dry in the wild Icelandic weather.
The typical designs are in earthy natural tones with a circular pattern around the neckline. These cozy and stylish creations will always remind you of your trip. They can be bought all over Iceland in clothes shops and souvenir shops. Do read the labels carefully though if you want a truly authentic product. These days many are made in China out of mixed yarns. For the best product lookout for the Made in Iceland label and check the fabric ratios. If you don’t fancy a sweater there are many more Icelandic wool products on offer. How about a pair of mittens, a shawl or a snug warm blanket?
#2 Icelandic Licorice
Some of the best gifts you can bring someone from a trip away are edible offerings. These are an especially good idea if you are not exactly sure of the recipient’s tastes. Iceland in a country obsessed with licorice. The national taste buds really are highly attuned to this slightly bittersweet flavor. You can buy it in many forms, including soft licorice covered in chocolate.
#3 Omnom Chocolate
This is the leading artisan chocolate brand in Iceland and it makes for a great gift. The company carefully source their cacao to create delicious and attractive chocolate bars in all sorts of flavors. Unsurprisingly the most popular and highly recommended flavor is licorice and sea salt. If this all sounds a little too unusual for your tastes they have many more conventional flavours in the mix.
More of the Best Iceland Souvenirs
#4 Puffins Galore
These cute and characterful creatures flock to the Icelandic coastal cliffs to nest in summer. And they also flock to Iceland’s souvenir shops! You can buy them in all sorts of incarnations, from cuddly toys to keyrings and fridge magnets. Every self-respecting souvenir shop will have a puffin or two on offer.
#5 Brennivín – The classic Icelandic Schnapps
We’ve all done it. Tasted the local spirit when on vacation, gotten a little drunk and enthusiastic and purchased a bottle to take home. Often times it then sits in the drinks cabinet for years. You never know though, Brennivín might be different. This clear liquor is made from fermented grain or potato and flavored with caraway. It is the favorite shot for festive celebrations and it is certainly warming. If you would like a bottle or two you are better off buying it at the airport shop when you leave. That way you skip paying the heavy taxes placed on alcohol in Iceland.
#6 Herbal Sea Salt from Iceland
This is the ideal souvenir gift for the foodies in your life. Icelandic salt is blended with handpicked herbs to create a lovely aromatic seasoning. The salt might be flavored with Arctic Thyme, Birch, Liquorice or even Lava.
#7 Arctic Thyme Tea
Here is another foodie gift for that herbal tea-sipping friend. This is a traditional Icelandic tea that is actually found in many other Scandinavian countries too. It is said to have antibacterial properties that help fight colds and flu. It can also ease upset bellies and has a subtle alpine-scented flavor.
#8 66 North Outdoor Gear
For some contemporary yet classic Iceland designing excellence head to the 66 North shop. This outdoor-wear shop has all sorts of very well made gear on offer. From proper parkas and fleeces to technical trousers 66 North has got covered (quite literally). You will find their shops in Reykjavik and other large towns right across Iceland.
#9 Icelandic Beauty Products
Iceland has some fantastic beauty and skincare brands. And a little bottle of something luxurious makes a great souvenir gift. The Blue Lagoon Algae Mask is a popular choice. Bringing some of the therapeutic properties of Iceland’s most famous hot spring. Anything from Soley Organics will be great and the Bioeffect Serum is legendary (if a little pricey).
Some more unusual ideas for Icelandic Souvenirs
Spin a yarn with some Icelandic wool
Iceland has a strong tradition of knitting. The Icelandic sheep wool is some of the best and can be bought in all shades and colors. It makes for a great gift for your craft-loving friends back home. They are expensive but it is one of the must-have items to buy!
#10 Nature Condoms
Iceland souvenirs don’t come much more quirky than this one. Designed by a pair of art students these comedy condoms won an award for the best souvenir back in 2010. Since then they have become a classic gift from Iceland.
Each pack contains one condom and depicts a natural highlight of Iceland. These include the more phallic and explosive examples, such as geysers, volcanoes and sea stacks. Their success is a testament to the national character of the Icelandic people who can be quite open about sexual matters. This is the ‘Land of Explosions’ after all!
#11 Art, Fashion and Music
If you’re after something creative and contemporary you could head to some of Iceland’s independent shops. Iceland has many fascinating artists and musicians busy creating. Many of the cafes in the downtown area of Reykjavik feature changing exhibitions of new artists’ work. Most of them are available to buy if something catches your eye over coffee.
Fashion boutiques reflect the unique and eclectic Icelandic style sensibility. You might just find the perfect hat or piece of jewelry to take home. There are also lots of independent music shops to browse. Have a chat with the record shop staff about your tastes and see what they recommend. There is bound to be something to pique your interest.
Icelandic novels and Sagas
If you love reading, then getting an Icelandic book is a fantastic idea. From Halldór Laxness, who won the Nobel prize in literature, to the Icelandic sagas that narrate the stories of the settlement on the island, Iceland is full of great literature for everyone!