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With friendly people, wonderful food, and gorgeous scenery, Iceland is a country that will utterly draw you in after just a few hours on the ground. But don’t miss a stop in the shops, especially in Reykjavík, where there’s an ongoing emphasis on Icelandic-made skincare, clothing (especially woolens and knits), and homewares which combine modern Scandic design with, upon occasion, a bit of offbeat humor. We’ve rounded up some of the best gifts you can buy on a visit to Iceland—or pick up on Amazon after the fact if your carry-on just can't fit anything else.
01 of 08
If you have a skincare junkie in your life, this Bioeffect daytime cream is an absolute treat. Launched in 2010, this Icelandic brand is used by 30 percent of women in the country—which speaks volumes for its quality. The formula is constructed around one foundational ingredient: EGF, a naturally occurring human protein that scientists discovered how to bioengineer from barley.
According to the company’s website, EGF encourages the body’s cells to replicate themselves, which increases turnover in the skin and raises collagen and elastin production for extra glowiness and less visible signs of aging. Sure, the price tag isn’t cheap, but this is the kind of product that will become a part of your skincare routine for years to come, from early adulthood all the way past menopause. If you’re looking to really splash out, the company’s serum is also legendary for helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines.
02 of 08
If you haven’t heard, chocolate is a big deal in Iceland—like, a really big deal. OmNom chocolate, based in Reykjavík (originally in a converted gas station), uses Icelandic milk and organic cacao beans in for superior chocolate that makes a beautiful present.
OmNom kicked off when Kjartan Gíslason and Óskar Þórðarson decided to bring the best cacao beans in the world to Iceland, experimenting with formulas in an attempt to create the finest possible batches. We have to say, it seems like they succeeded, with chocolate bars using beans from Nicaragua, Brazil, Tanzania, and Madagascar (the latter from industry-famous Bertil Akesson beans). If their Milk of Madagascar bar doesn’t strike your fancy, there’s also lakkris and sea salt, single-origin varieties, and flavors like milk and sea-salted almonds.
03 of 08
If you’re looking for a cozy gift, an Icelandic sweater is one of the best things you can give, and Icewear makes the real deal. The company dates back to 1972, when it was founded in the village of Hvammstangi, and now creates everything from comfy sweaters to technical jackets for the outdoors. Its Elis unisex sweater is part of Iceland’s long tradition of woolen knits, with all of its wool derived from the country’s sheep. The pattern is a classic tricolor knit lopapeysa design, and you can choose from blue and taupe with white, black and gray with white, and a very light gray with white and black.
Icelandic sweaters are naturally breathable, with all the comfort of wool’s inherent body-regulating qualities and protection against wet, cold weather—plus, unusually, a bit more softness than you might be used to wool sweaters having. We love that this sweater draws upon traditional materials and patterns while remaining stylish and modern.
04 of 08
Textile handicrafts like crocheting, weaving, embroidery, and knitting are having a moment, and if you have a knitter in your life, gifting them a skein of Icelandic wool is going to make their day. Icelandic wool is known for being incredibly weatherproof, with wool knits protecting wearers from rain and wet, as well the starkest cold.
This wool is 100-percent Icelandic and weighs about 1.7 ounces per 100 meters of yarn. Once it’s transformed into a garment, it can be washed by hand in lukewarm water. Do know that it’s a little scratchier and a little hairier than other wool you might be used to, but that’s all part of it—just wear another layer under whatever your recipient winds up making from this. The yarn is available in gray heather, fuschia, rust, olive green, and blue heather.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
These candles started out as a Kickstarter before growing into a wildly popular product line. They range from the quirkily macabre to mysterious with seven characters, each with their own personality. It looks like a solid wax candle to start, but once lit, each animal form melts to reveal an inner metallic skeleton. Made from paraffin wax, cotton wick, and aluminum, each candle lasts approximately 20 hours and is fairly large—nearly 7" x 4.5" x 3".
Each animal comes in a variety of colors, and there’s also other animals available, including fantastical creatures like a unicorn and a dragon. We love that the packaging is practically cute enough to gift sans wrapping paper—just be sure to tell your recipient to put it on a plate once it’s lit so the wax is contained as it burns.
06 of 08
Founded in 1926, 66 Degrees North originally catered to Icelandic fishermen and outdoorsman, but now, the company is one of the country's premier winter outfitters, known for its protective gear and Snaefell jacket. For something equally as cozy but a bit smaller to pack, go for their Kaldi Arctic Mittens. Made with a virgin wool blend, fleece lining, and faux fur, they provide next-level warmth and protection from the elements. Although pricey, these mittens will last for years.
Wearers in cold regions of the U.S. like Maine say that they’re incredibly warm in the wind and snow a New England winter can bring. For extra coziness for someone special, make it a set with the company’s Kaldi Arctic Hat — made from the same virgin wool — with ear flaps for even more warmth.
07 of 08
Tulipop is an Icelandic company known for its quirky creature-characters which are depicted on its toys, homeware, tableware, and stationery collections. Founded in 2010 by Signy Kolbeinsdottir and Helga Arnadottir, the company's products deliver a strong message of progress: Its characters, each of them flawed in very human ways, challenge traditional gender stereotypes and explore respectful relationships with nature and each other. Fred is thought to be part reindeer, given his antlers, and although he might look fierce and tends to hang out on his own, he’s actually kind and gentle, with sensory superpowers and a genuine connection to the natural world around him (he can even talk to animals). This plushie is the perfect soft toy for any child who enjoys flights of the imagination—and we can vouch for just how cuddly it is.
08 of 08
Chocolate is so much a thing in Iceland that we would have been remiss not to include this other brand of the sweet stuff. Founded in 1920, Nóa Síríus is the largest candy and confection maker in Iceland, and the company specializes in semi-sweet, bitter, and milk chocolate. With this order, you’ll get two bars of extra bittersweet chocolate—we won’t tell if you keep one for yourself.
Customers have reported that Nóa Síríus is some of the best chocolate they’ve ever had, particularly in regards to their dark chocolate which is rich with hints of sweetness. Of course, you can't really go wrong with any flavor, so you might as well try chocolate sea salt, chocolate toffee, 56-percent bittersweet, milk chocolate, and chocolate mint as well.
Our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular Icelandic gifts. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 40 different products, screened options from 20 different brands and manufacturers, and read over 50 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.