Shopping in Reykjavík, sweetie darling!*
Iceland is a superb place to go shopping, if you have lots of money. But even those of us on a tight budget can find good value and unique buying opportunities. Read on…
Compared to New York, Paris or London, Reykjavík has a tiny, miniscule number of shopping options – but it is quality not quantity that counts. Reykjavík offers the shopper all the world’s biggest designer brands from Apple, Rolex and Calvin Klein to Armani, DC and Nike – and everything in between. The city distinguishes itself though, by allowing you to browse and buy without crowds of people and without needing to take a single taxi or limo between your various shopping, lunch and champagne obligations! In fact you could buy a beautiful new 10,000 dollar wardrobe in two hours in Reykjavík that might take you two days in New York.
The main reason designer shoppers from overseas visit Reykjavík is not for the brands they can get everywhere else, though. As discussed elsewhere on this website, Icelandic design is world famous and has become a massive draw over the years.
All this is rather dependent on having bags and bags of cash, though…It is easily possible to shop well for less – in fact the entire distinctive ‘Reykjavík Look’ is based upon doing just that. First and foremost are the so-called kilo markets where you can select and buy second-hand clothes and shoes, bric-a-brac style, and pay for them by weight. When imagining these shops you should think more of a trendy gallery or record store vibe than a charity shop or village church fundraiser ambience. This is where you’ll find the cool kids.
Slightly less cool and a little more gritty, but no less interesting, is the Kolaportið indoor flea market near the harbour. Here you’ll find plenty of all sorts of things, new and used, high quality and low, to spend your hard-earned money on. And if nothing grabs you, then there’s always the extensive candy offering to tempt you.
There are three or four good antiques shops around central Reykjavík which may be good for a bargain, and none more so than the two-floor shrine to beautiful old junk and treasure on the street corner by the tapas bar just off Ingólfstorg square. You need a hundred year old button? A 1930s Swedish coffee tin or a working record player? A painting? They’re all there and more.
If you actually want to visit a shopping centre during your precious holiday time, be our guest. The Icelandic capital has plenty; although only two worth mentioning here: Kringlan and Smáralind. Both offer a similar wide selection of international and local shops with the usual offering of food, clothes, household goods, et cetera.
Smáralind is the biggest mall in Iceland, but for some reason we find Kringlan a bit more interesting to explore. You may disagree though, and that’s fine too!
So to conclude this slightly rambling piece, we would remind you that shopping in Iceland has been considerably cheaper for foreign visitors since the financial crisis in 2008 and instead of finding the odd product sold at a tolerable price among all the other eye-watering price tags (as it always used to be), you will now find the odd product at a thoroughly reasonable price among all the other tolerably priced goods. That’s progress!
Also don’t forget to ask for a tax refund form on purchases over 4,000 kr. and you’ll get given money back as you leave the country. Winner!
The picture of Eddie and Patsy is not a claim that these fictional characters like shopping in Reykjavík; but is simply an illustration of 'fabulousness'!