7 Icelandic Gift Ideas

Even though Iceland is an independent state with a separate identity, it has had certain customs in common with the rest of Scandinavia ever since it was discovered by Scandinavian sailors in the mid-ninth century. Due to the settlers and slaves that were brought in at the time, there is some Norse and Irish influence in the Icelandic culture. Basic rules of courtesy, gift giving and etiquette apply at all times.

If you are invited for a meal, keep in mind that is customary to thank the host afterwards. Being invited to someone’s home for supper is not unusual, especially between business associates. If you go out for a meal, remember that tipping in Iceland has its own set of rules.

Here are the most popular Icelandic gift ideas suitable to give to your Icelandic host or to bring home as travel gifts.

  • 01 of 07

    Icelandic wool is famous for its quality and warmth, since it is tough enough to keep the extreme cold at bay. The wool is also semi waterproof, and very common in Iceland due the large amount of sheep. Also called Lopapeyasa, the sweaters are easily recognized by their yoke design. The yoke is a decorative colorful collar, lining the neck.

  • 02 of 07

    Blue Lagoon Bath & Body Gifts

    Aerial View of People in Blue Lagoon
    ••• Cultura RM Exclusive/Henn Photography / Getty Images

    The Blue Lagoon is one of the top tourist attractions in Iceland, so it is no surprise that it is home to its own range of skincare and body products. They are made from natural minerals and algae that can be found in the lagoon’s waters. The products are known for their revitalizing and anti-aging effects. The products can be purchased at retailers around Iceland and also at the duty free at Keflavik airport. Should you wish to take any of these products out of the county, be sure to check with the sales person, since not all items are allowed on international flights.

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    Black lava jewelry is something unique to Iceland, and incredibly beautiful. It is usually handmade from natural lava rocks and some pieces are held by pure silver. The lava is produced from the Icelandic volcanoes, and is heated up to 1700 degrees C for 5 hours, before being cooled down for 24 hours. Because each piece is handmade, each piece is unique.

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    If you're looking for gifts to give to friends in Iceland, imported food is a great choice. Certain kinds of food, like cheese, are very expensive in Iceland, so gifts of food and small feast baskets are always appreciated.  You are allowed to bring up to 3 kilograms of food into Iceland, with the exception of raw eggs, raw meat and milk according to current Icelandic customs rules, so it's quite possible to bring your native foods or to take Icelandic delicacies home. If you want to bring Icelandic food home with you, a good choice is brennivin - an alcoholic beverage more commonly known as “black death” - along with fermented shark meat and smoked lamb.

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  • 05 of 07
    If ever you find a gift left in a shoe, or the sudden disappearance of milk over Christmas time, you can be certain that the Yule lads are back again. Whether in book form, or in the shape of figurines, the Yule Lads gives you an insight in Icelandic history and Christmas traditions. Or, go for Icelandic boots...for the Yule Lads to steal.
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    For many centuries, trolls held a prominent place in the hearts and minds of the Icelandic people. It is believed that many of the trolls have turned into stone, as can be seen in the massive troll-like rock formations scattered across the country. An illustrated book by Brian Pilkington brings the trolls to life even more.

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    Atson Leather Gifts from Iceland

    Atson leather goods are handcrafted from raw materials and are known for their outstanding workmanship and durability. The briefcases come with a pocket suitable for both notepads and notebooks. Also available in the range are purses and wallets, credit card holders, guest books, key rings and suitcase tags, most made out of Spotted Seawolf leather. It's not as gruesome at it sounds: Spotted Seawolf is a kind of fish.