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Iceland Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Iceland

Fluffy, earth-coloured Lopi wool blankets and coats, jackets, hats, handknits and thick patterned jumpers are synonymous with Iceland; increasingly, small collectives are creating cutting edge and modern versions of the traditional knitwear to appeal to younger visitors. Several local potters hand-throw earthenware containers in natural colours. Crushed lava is a common addition to highly glazed ceramic pieces, which are popular as souvenirs. The duty-free shop at Reykjavík Airport sells all of these products, along with wallets made from fish skin, copies of the Icelandic sagas in translation, Brennivin, the country’s unique spirit, and coffee table photography books.

Laugavegur is Reykjavík's main shopping street, where you will find unique fashion stores, jewellers, tourist shops selling plastic Viking hats and stuffed puffins, and quirky Scandinavian interior design boutiques. The shops along Skólavörðustígur are good for art lovers, with plenty of small boutiques selling small and affordable pieces of art and craft. Kringlan is Reykjavík's largest shopping mall, located just outside the centre. Bargain hunters should visit the indoor Kolaportið market in Reykjavík, held every weekend, where great buys on handmade Icelandic jumpers, food and toys can be found.

Shopping Note

Shoppers can claim back tax spent on items in Iceland before they depart. The tourist office has forms as does the branch of Landsbankinn bank in the departures lounge of Reykjavik Airport. Keep all your receipts to get around 15% of the money you have spent on goods (not services or food) back.

Shopping hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1800; Sat from 1000-1500. Most shops close on Sundays, and many shops also close on Saturdays during the summer (Jun-Aug). Some supermarkets are open seven days a week until 2300.

Nightlife in Iceland

There are plenty of nightclubs, bars, cafes and cinemas in Iceland, most of them in the capital. Icelandic nightlife is particularly vibrant from June to August when there is nearly 24 hour daylight.

Reykjavík has a strong café and bar through the year and you can find live music most nights of the week. The classic runtur or pub crawl around the city starts late, from at least 2200, and takes in the many pubs and bars along Laugavegur. For a more sophisticated evening, the city’s more upmarket hotels all have bars and restaurants that are popular with well-heeled locals. Outside the capital, there is much less choice.

Leading theatres are the National Theatre and the Reykjavík City Theatre. During July and August there is an attractive light entertainment show in English called 'Light Nights' (www.lightnights.com) with traditional Icelandic stories and folk songs.

Harpa, the Icelandic National Concert and Conference Centre, is housed in an iconic building designed by pre-eminent Scandinavian architects and internationally acclaimed (and half-Icelandic) artist Ólafur Elíasson. The centre, which cost US$100 million is the home of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera and attracts regular touring classical and rock acts from both sides of the Atlantic as well as local acts, theatre, comedy and opera. In general, Iceland has a vibrant music scene that has produced, amongst others, internationally acclaimed artists Björk and Sigur Rós.