Shopping in Reykjavik
Reykjavik may not sound as a likely place to shop for high fashion items or designer wear but the fact is that there is quite a good selection of high-quality fashion clothing and other exciting merchandise, from both sides of the Atlantic. The standard of living is very high in Iceland and people want quality and are very fashion-conscious. There may even be some products that have not yet been introduced elsewhere, as some big manufacturers use the small but demanding Icelandic market for testing their new products. Look for world-known designer labels in clothing, shoes, giftware and spectacles, among other things.
Iceland has a reputation for being expensive but the prices of these goods are quite comparable with New York – or, in the case of designer wear, often more reasonable. Overhead costs are not so high and the markup is usually considerably lower than in NY. And then there is the tax-free refund for tourists, which is approximately 15% of the price, minimum purchase 4,000 ISK (around $50) on one sales slip, although individual items do not have to to amount to the minimum figure. Price tags in Iceland always include the sales tax. There are three main shopping areas: Besides downtown Reykjavík, there are two major shopping malls, Kringlan and Smaralind.
Downtown Reykjavik, which includes the old city center, Laugavegur and the surrounding streets, has many top stores within a short walking distance of each other. The atmosphere is relaxed and pleasant and the geographical surroundings are beautiful. Laugavegur is Reykjavik’s main shopping street and the starting point, if you want to make your way westward.
Fashion stores in Reykjavik
There are several fashion stores along the way, like Gallery Sautjan, which has a very good selection of fashion wear for both men, women and teens, including several very well known designer labels such as Calvin Klein. Along the way, there are many small stores and boutiques that sell, among other things, cosmetics, accessories, lingerie, leather goods, books, CDs and much more.
Mal og Menning is a well-stocked centrally located bookstore that has a good selection of books and magazines in English. Eymundsson, in the old city center, is another good bookstore.
The old city center is atmospheric and relaxed. Many excellent cafes, bars and restaurants are located there and there are also many shops, including stores specializing in traditional souvenirs and stocking a good selection of merchandise, including crafts, replicas of Viking artifacts, ceramics, jewelry, playing cards, books, calendars, sheepskin products – and Iceland’s famous wool products. If you are looking for a bargain in art or a special souvenir, you should browse the stores and galleries on Skolavordustigur, a side street that runs up from Laugavegur and ends at the towering Hallgrimskirkja church. It is a charming street that has several art galleries and craft shops that carry unique and beautiful locally made things at very reasonable prices. There are also jewelry designers, a furrier and some gourmet stores, including Ostabúðin, where you can sample some local delicacies like smoked goose breast or marinated puffin.
Shopping hours in Reykjavik
Downtown opening hours may vary but generally stores are open from 10-6 on weekdays and 10-2 on Saturdays. Some stores stay open longer on Saturdays and most downtown stores are open until 6 on the first Saturday of each month.
Malls in Reykjavik
There are two large centrally located shopping malls in the Reykjavík area. One of them, Kringlan, is located within walking distance of several of the city’s main hotels. Both of these shopping malls are easily accessible by bus from the old city center and have ample free parking.
Smaralind, opened in November 2000, is located somewhat farther from downtown Reykjavik, in the adjoining town of Kopavogur. It also features a large number of stores, including several British chains like Debenhams and Top Shop.
Smaralind opening hours are generally 11-7 on weekdays, 11-6 on Saturdays and 1-6 on Sundays. Some of the restaurants in the malls stay open longer.
Fashion stores in Iceland generally have clearance sales twice a year, usually in January and in July, although there may be sales and bargains at other times as well. Bargain hunters might also like to visit Reykjavik’s only indoor flea market, Kolaportid. There are many permanent stands but also lots of garage sale stands. Some great bargains can be found there and there is a selection of Icelandic woolen goods. There is also a food section that has some of the more pungent Icelandic delicacies, like dried fish, cured (or rotten, depending on your point of view) shark, pickled herring and more. Kolaportid is usually only open weekends from 11-5.
Kringlan has around 130 shops, restaurants and services to offer and the selection of goods is very diverse. There is a wide range of specialty stores, many of them featuring internationally known designers like Karen Millen, DKNY and Boss. There are also stores offering jewels, accessories, shoes, leather goods, porcelain goods, toys, etc. There are also stores featuring souvenirs and Icelandic specialties.
Opening hours for Kringlan stores and shops are generally 10-6:30 Monday through Wednesday, 10-9 on Thursdays, 10-7 on Fridays, 10-6 on Saturdays and 1-5 on Sundays.
Foreign currencies can be exchanged in all banks. Banks in Iceland are generally open on weekdays from 09:15 – 16:00. The following branches are open outside regular banking hours: Landsbanki at Keflavík Airport open daily around the clock. The Change Group, Bankastræti 2, 101 Reykjavík. Open daily May-Sep, 08:30- 20:00 and 09:00-17:00 during winter. The Change Group, Austurstræti 20, 101 Reykjavík open daily 09:00-23:00 May-Sep, 11:30-19:30 during winter, closed Mondays. Change Group is representative of Western Union – fast delivery of money. Most hotels provide their guests with exchangeservice should the need occur.
Credit cards: EUROCARD/Mastercard and Visa are commonly accepted. Other cards can be used in some places. Cash can be obtained at every bank branch (over 170) throughout the country, as well as in all ATMs. EUROCARD/Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted by retail and service outlets throughout Iceland. EUROCARD Iceland, Armuli 28-30, 108 Reykjavik. Tel: 550-1500, fax: 550-1515.
Cash advance services are available to Visa cardholders in over 170 banks and savings banks branches as well as all ATM’s throughout Iceland including Leifur Eiriksson International Air Terminal Keflavik. International Visa cards are widely accepted as payment with almost every retail and service outlet in Iceland. An increasing number of merchants is equipped to accept either traditional Visa cards as well as electronic only (VISA Electron) cards. Visa-Island, Alfabakki 16, 109 Reykjavk. Tel: 354-525-2000, Fax: 354-525-2020. Debit cards: Electron, Maestro and edc debit cards are increasingly being accepted by merchants. Cash can be obtained against these cards in all banks and savings banks ATM’s, as well as against Cirrus and eurocheque ATM-only cards.