Shopping downtown in Reykjavík offers excellent possibilities, especially for buying unique Icelandic designs, inspired by the country’s beautiful nature and landscape. Iceland has seen a growing number of designers offering their special creations in several stores in Reykjavík. Designers have often studied abroad and return to enrich the country with their unbound creativity, colours and forms that show an international flair, and are yet firmly rooted in Icelandic culture. Reykjavík’s downtown area is compact and fun to walk around. It’s size makes shopping easy and relaxing. Most downtown stores offer tax free shopping, so take advantage of being in the city and explore the many shops selling that perfect gift or souvenir.
There are also a number of charity shops selling second-hand clothing and items, where you are bound to find a bargain or two. Kolaportið, Iceland’s indoor flea market, where Icelandic jumpers and delicacies are sold at acceptable prices, is a must-stop for bargain hunters and collectors.
Reykjavík’s Main Shopping Streets
The main shopping area of Reykjavík is concentrated mainly in three streets, namely Laugavegur, Bankastræti, and Skólavörðustígur. However, other interesting shops are often hidden in the side streets, so it pays to make a turn every now and then. The Grandi District and Old Harbour Area are home to many designer stores/open workshops, restaurants, museums and more. It is a wonderful example of the blending of two main industries, fishing and tourism. This mixture of galleries, jewellers, fashion designers, handcrafts and second-hand stores are mostly housed in disused baiting sheds or fishermen‘s garages and has become a social hub for designers and buyers alike.
Taking a slow amble down Laugavegur, the longest shopping street in Reykjavík, can be an enjoyable way to do your last minute shopping. It is also a good opportunity to buy something special from Iceland. Laugavegur offers the greatest number of shops with an emphasis on fashionable goods of all shapes and sizes, as well as speciality stores, cheaper souvenir shops, cafés and restaurants. At no. 8, Álafoss displays beautiful woollen products from yarn to Icelandic blankets. The handknitted Icelandic jumpers called “lopapeysur”, are all marked with the knitter’s name to ensure authenticity. The original factory shop in Mosfellsbær is also popular to visit. Fjallakofinn Outdoor Centre at Laugavegur 11 sells clothes and equipment for outdoor lifestyles from hiking to cycling as well as a good selection of camping goods. At Laugavegur 62 you will find JS Watch Company and retail shop where Gilbert Ó. Guðjónsson, one of Iceland’s best known watchmakers will give you a concentrated smile.
The short street that runs up the hill from Lækjartorg, to meet Laugavegur, is a design lover’s delight. Filled with jewellers and design clothes stores, this short street also hosts Iceland‘s favourite coffee shop, Kaffitár at Bankastræti 8. There are 6 outlets dotted over Reykjavík with the latest opening in the new exhibition centre at Perlan. Motivated by passion and professionalism, Kaffitár is always a delight to visit. The world of 66° North takes up no. 5 with its popular outdoor clothes. At the corner of Þingholtsstræti and Bankastræti, Icewear has a big store on 2 floors also selling popular outdoor fashions. Further up the road at no.17 there is a children‘s Icewear store with a good selection of outdoor clothing for kids. ZO-ON Iceland is at no. 10 and sells trendy clothing for all sorts of weather, encouraging people to “Get Out There” and enjoy the great outdoors.
Skólavörðustígur is one of the most attractive streets in Reykjavík. It runs from the corner of the main shopping streets, Laugavegur and Bankastræti, up to the magnificent Hallgrímskirkja church. In front of the church, a statue of Leifur-the-Lucky watches over the shoppers as they walk along the street, admiring the charming old houses, browsing through the windows of stores and galleries. Whether you’re looking for Icelandic design, souvenirs, woollen goods, photographs of Iceland or exotic arts and crafts, you’ll find it here. Near the top of the street and the church is the artist Lana Matusa at Skólavörðustígur 41. Lana has participated in more than 120 international shows. Inspired by Icelandic nature, the artist creates beautiful high-fired ceramics with a special lava design – unique in Iceland. Since the store is also Lana’s work studio, customers have direct contact with the artist. The Handknitting Association at no. 19 is good for woollen goods. Across the street at no. 20, Gjóska displays unique clothing inspired by Icelandic lava, glaciers, volcanoes and moss. These elements are all reflected in the garments using Icelandic wool to create a beautifully simple style. Guðlaugur A. Magnússon (GAM) at no. 10 is a long-established jeweller shop and silversmith renowned for its creative, unique designs and high quality pieces. There are a number of art galleries dotted along Skólavörðurstígur as well as eclectic coffee shops.
Further away from the centre at Dalbraut, you will find the artisan Jóhannes in his store, Icelandic Knives. These knives are handmade with the finest steel and unique shafts of wood or bone. The specialized Icelandic Hunting Knife is a firm favourite amongst buyers.
Reykjavík’s Oldest Area
Aðalstræti is Reykjavík’s oldest street where Iceland’s settler, Ingólfur Arnarson, built his farm after 874. This short street is filled with artists and designers who offer their unique wares to discerning connoisseurs of good taste. No. 10 is the oldest building in the city. Aðalstræti consists of hotels, restaurants and shops. On the corner at Vesturgata, the Icewear shop and market recently opened with a great variety of goods. Further up the street is Kirsuberjatréð, where the original 19th century shelves are filled with colourful and lively clothes, accessories, utensils and decorative pieces for the home. Everything is handmade by the eleven women who run this well- known co-operative of artists.
The City Library with the Reykjavik Photographic Museum is only 50 meters away towards the old harbour area, next to the Reykjavik Art Museum.