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Shopping in Iceland


Reykjavik may very well be the best-kept secret of the cosmopolitan shopping enthusiast. Despite rumours that Reykjavik's an expensive city, its prices are generally on a par with those in New York. And when it comes to high fashion or designer wear, Reykjavik prices are almost always more reasonable.

Visitors often comment on the pleasure of shopping in Reykjavik because of the extensive, high-quality selection available within a relatively small geographical area. The city has two main shopping centres: the Kringlan mall and the downtown area, centred in and around the city's main artery, Laugavegur. In addition, interesting shopping districts may be found in neighbouring towns, as well as in Akureyri in the north of Iceland.


Icelanders have a great deal of affection for their atmospheric "old city centre", which in addition to top-of-the-line stores has a great number of excellent cafes, restaurants and bars. Starting at the top of Laugavegur (Reykjavik's main shopping street) and making your way westward, you will find a number of exclusive boutiques and fashion stores. Just off Laugavegur, on a street called Snorrabraut, the Kistan boutique carries the romantic Laura Ashley line of home design products and clothing. Gallery Sautjan fashion emporium, a little farther down on Laugavegur, carries an extensive range of clothing for men, women and teens, from such diverse manufacturers as Calvin Klein, Paul Smith and Kookai. Farther along, on the left, is one of the most trendy fashion boutiques in Iceland: GK. Its Laugavegur shop carries men's clothing and its Kringlan shop women's.

Where Laugavegur becomes a street called Bankastraeti there's a cluster of fine stores, including Flex, the Saevar Karl boutique (an interior-design delight with even an art gallery on premises). On the parallel street Hverfisgata, the Italian-based Max Mara sells its own well-known lines. But there's more than just clothes to Laugavegur: accessories, children's clothes, fine porcelain, leather goods, cosmetics, lingerie, books, CDs and plenty more. And don't forget to check out stores located on the second floor. Though not so visible, they are usually well worth a browse.

Leading up from Laugavegur and ending at the Hallgrimskirkja church is Skolavordustigur, one of the chicest shopping streets in the city. It has boutiques, gourmet stores, a furrier, jewellery design studios, art galleries and a lot more. A browse through the stores on Skolavordustigur is highly recommended where locally made items of art are among the best buys you will find in Iceland. They are beautiful, innovative, unique and exclusive – at prices hard to beat. You will find these all along Skolavordustigur, in the small shopping plaza Listhusid (on Sudurlandsbraut across from Hotel Esja), as well as in Kirsuberjatred and Gallery Kogga on Vesturgata – and Snegla on Klapparstigur.


At Kringlan, Reykjavik's world-class shopping mall, the selection of goods is every bit as diverse as in the downtown area. And designer labels, both American and European, abound. One of the most spectacular sports and outdoor leisure stores in the country is located in Kringlan: Nanuk. On two floors Nanuk carries an extensive range of equipment and clothing for different types of activities, including a great selection of sporty fashions. It also has a miniature travel agency, a library with a fireplace, stuffed sofas, a collection of books on outdoorsy subjects, and even a real stuffed polar bear – a big hit with the kids. Out in the mall in front of the store there is a three-story-high column for rock-climbing. Like downtown, Kringlan has excellent fashion boutiques including BOSS, Gallery Sautjan, the aforementioned GK for women, Karen Millen, DKNY, In-Wear, Steinar Waage and Valmiki for shoes.

Kringlan is located within walking distance of several of the city's main hotels. It is easily accessible by bus from the old city centre and has ample and free parking.

Of course Reykjavik also has stores specialising in traditional souvenirs, stocking a diverse selection of merchandise including books, crafts, ceramics, jewellery, playing cards, calendars and sheepskin products.

Every now and again, fashion stores will have clearance sales, sometimes collectively. In such cases, they usually rent a space together, fill it with clothes, shoes, or whatever, and throw open the doors to rummagers. Excellent buys are available. Alas, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the timing of such sales, so the best thing is to ask tourist information offices, your hotel, or anyone else who might be in the know.

Indoor Market

Bargain hunters should also check out Reykjavik's only indoor market, Kolaportid. Essentially, it is a large garage sale, though some stands are permanent. Great buys can be had there on handmade Icelandic sweaters and other woolens, CDs (both new and used), toys, and sometimes shoes. Kolaportid's food section is a tourist attraction in its own right, with its traditional Icelandic fare of pickled herring, cured shark, dried fish and various other delicacies. Kolaportid is open weekends from 11am-5pm.





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