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Iceland Mag

Travel

Five great ideas for affordable souvenirs or gifts to take back home

By Staff

  • A stylish lopapeysa You can get Icelandic traditional woolen sweaters in many outdoor-wear stores (including 66°North), but the best place for authentic hand-knit sweaters is the Hand Knitting Association. Photo/66°N

  • Omnom Chocolate The finest chocolate you'll get in Reykjavík. Photo/Omnom

  • A bottle of Brennivín Iceland's signature spirit: Brennivín is a potent aquavit, flavored with caroway and cumin. 

  • Stockfish The superfood of the Vikings, Harðfiskur is made by drying fish in near zero temperature. 

  • Strákarnir okkar "Our Boys" as the Icelandic national football team is know by locals: An authentic Icelandic football jersey is the perfect gift to bring your sports fan friends. Photo/Fréttablaðið

  • A taxidermied puffin Although these are legal in Iceland, and sold at several downtown stores, many countries, including the US, ban the import of stuffed puffins. Photo/Óskars taxidermy

Finding an authentic and affordable gifts and souvenirs to bring back home from a trip can be a challenge. If you don‘t want to stock up on refrigerator magnets, witty T-shirts or overpriced stuffed puffins at the airport or the downtown souvenir stores (called „puffin shops“ by the locals) you should check out some of these great gift ideas!

Icelandic Brennivín
There is no better way to make an entrance at a party than whipping out a bottle of Brennivin with its signature black label. The unique taste (caraway and cumin) and high alcohol content ensure that your friends will remember the experience of “Black Death” for years to come.

Best place to buy: The duty-free store at Keflavik airport.

Read more: What exactly is "Brennivín"?

Omnom Chocolate
The only Icelandic bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer Omnom is a favorite among Icelandic chocolate addicts: The quality of the chocolate is simply superb, and the stylish packaging make Omnom the perfect take-home present for all your friends who either love design or chocolate. Or both!

Best place to buy: The Omnom factory store at Grandi

Read more: Icelandic Omnom chocolate one of Vogue UK's little luxuries

Stockfish
Icelandic stockfish, harðfiskur, is the perfect healthy high protein snack. Plus: It can be stored for years. Usually harðfiskur is made from cod or haddock, but other types of stockfish are available. The fish is gutted and cleaned and then laid out to dry in the cold, ideally in temperatures just above freezing.

Best place to buy: Kolaportið flea market in downtown Reykjavík or any local supermarket. Avoid the overpriced “Viking Snack” codfish unless you enjoy paying extra for clever marketing and whimsical packaging!

Read more: Key to longevity, according to the third oldest Icelander: no health foods, vegetables or fruit

Icelandic football jersey
One of the things Iceland is known for is football. The "Viking War Cry" was one of the most memorable moments of the 2016 EURO and earlier this summer Iceland made history when it became the smallest nation ever to play at the World Cup.

An authentic Icelandic football jersey is a great souvenir and the perfect gift for any sports fan: HÚH!

Best place to buy: If you want the official football jersey you need to find a sports store or og to the football specialist Jói Útherji at Ármúli 36 in Reykjavík.

Read more: Watch: "Viking war cry" goes viral. Video shared 17 million times

Authentic woolen sweater
Nothing says Iceland like an authentic hand-knit lopapeysa! Iceland is one of few countries where sheep outnumber people: At the end of 2017 there were 457,893 sheep in Iceland and 348,450 humans. Without the wool from their sheep Icelanders wouldn't‘t have survived the inhospitable land, with its dark and cold winters. They are incredibly warm, the coarse wool repels water and if well made they last for years.

You can get Icelandic woolen sweaters at a number of stores, but if you want be assured of the authenticity we recommend the Icelandic Hand Knitting Association.

Read more: Icelandic sheep farming should be environmentally sustainable and carbon neutral by 2027

Things you should NOT bring back home: Taxidermied puffins

In addition to ordering puffin at restaurants you can also buy stuffed puffins in Reykjavík. But while it might seem like a clever souvenir, customs laws in many countries (including the US) prohibit the import of migratory birds, their parts, nests or eggs. A safer bet is to stick to the other type of stuffed puffin!

Read more: Traveller stopped upon return to US when customs officials discover stuffed puffin

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