Reykjavík is not the shopping mecca that Paris or London is, but a new wave of boldly conceptual store owners is gaining almost as much attention as the restaurateurs. Most shops are concentrated on Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur—with some of the best discoveries in the network of streets in between. The two streets that extend the bottom of Laugavegur—Austurstræti and Bankastræti—are also good shopping areas.
Reykjavík is a smart place to buy supplies before hitting the rest of the country, where goods are even more expensive. General shopping hours are 9am to 6pm weekdays, and 10am to 4pm Saturdays. Almost everything is closed Sunday except for a few shops, particularly those selling knitted things and puffin snow globes.
Save up to 15% with a VAT Refund
Iceland Refund (tel. 564-6400) reimburses you the Value-Added Tax you pay (about 11%–24% of purchase price) under the following four conditions: 1) purchases must be taken out of the country; 2) each sales receipt must total at least 6,000kr—for less expensive items you can consolidate purchases at a single store; 3) purchases must be from an accredited store; and 4) you must leave the country within 3 months of purchase. When you make a purchase, request a Tax Free form, which must be signed by the salesperson. Your refund can be claimed from the following places: Keflavík Airport, at the Landsbanki Íslands Bank in the Leifur Eiriksson Terminal; the Seyðisfjörður ferry to Europe, onboard prior to departure; and Reykjavík’s Tourist Information Office. If the total value of your refund is less than 5,000kr (that is, if your total purchases amount to about 33,000kr or less), you can receive the refund directly in cash or have it credited to your credit card at the airport or the ferry; at the Tourist Information Office, you can only have it applied to your credit card. If the refund is more than 5,000kr, your only option is to have the refund applied to your credit card no matter where you claim it—and all goods (except wool goods) need to be shown at customs before check-in for your departing flight.
Books & Music
English-language books are not hard to come by, as most Icelanders prefer them to translated editions.
Jewelry is relatively less expensive in Iceland, especially gold and silver. You'll find countless items inspired by the country's natural features and pagan history, often made from lava stones and native minerals. Most jewelers eagerly customize designs, a good way to bring home a little piece of Iceland (especially since it's illegal to collect minerals yourself). For classic jewelry, try the well-stocked Gull & Silfur, Laugavegur 52 (tel. 552-0620).
Cintamani at Laugavegur 11 (tel. 517-8088), the upstart competitor of fashionable 66° North, has slightly lower prices, more camping gear (tents, boots, maps, and so on), and a travel agency for adventure tours. Útilíf is the best place for technical outdoor equipment, especially for camping, climbing, cycling, and fishing—or if you just forgot your swimsuit. Útilíf is found in both major shopping malls: Kringlan (tel. 545-1580) and Smáralind (tel. 545-1550).
Over centuries of harsh weather, Icelandic sheep evolved a dual-layered wool: Inner fibers are soft and insulating; the outer ones water- and dirt-repellent. These qualities create knitwear that is surprisingly light, resilient, and wearable in all kinds of weather. Sweaters in traditional Icelandic patterns are well-known, and you’ll also find wonderful hats, mittens, socks, and blankets. Don’t wait until your return to Keflavík Airport to buy your sweaters; the selection isn’t nearly what it used to be.
A miniature branch of the discount outlet in suburban Mosfellsbær, Álafoss, Laugavegur 1 (tel. 562-6303), offers marginal savings over its competitors, and has a decent selection of traditional wool sweaters and handicrafts.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.