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Shopping in Iceland

As you may remember, Laia and me spent three weeks in Iceland for holidays two months ago. This is the fifth post in the series Things you should read before travelling to Iceland. If you came here directly don't forget to read the previous post in this series
Iceland's currency is the Icelandic króna (plural krónur), with international code ISK. Iceland has a very strong economy, and we thought the prices would be extremely high compared to the Euro zone.

We were gladly surprised, prices are not that high compared to European prices, once we got the change right. Luckily for us, the Icelandic króna was around 160 ISK for an Euro, which is the same the Peseta (Spanish currency before Euro) was when the Euro was introduced, which made thinking about prices a charm.

Iceland was not as expensive as we expected. We packed a lot of food (instant soups, mostly) to avoid spending a lot of money on eating, but in the end, those same instant soups were available there for just a little more. If I were to go again to Iceland, I would buy instant food right there.

The best place to buy souvenirs is probably Reykjavik, just don't buy in the first place you come upon and look a little around, almost all shops carry the same items. Anyway, prices are pretty much even across the city, but we saw Hnefatafl, the viking board game (wait for an upcoming blog post about it) priced from 6000ISK (~40€) to 9000ISK (~55€) all around Iceland. Look around, but not too much, time is also money.

There are also souvenir shops all around Iceland, offering different stuff than in the capital. We found a very nice shop in Egilsstaðir where we bought several wonderful items (fish scale diadems and scrunchies, two small leather satchels) for just around 40€, and another one in Husavík where we bought 9 rhubarb jam jars as a gift for friends for just around 25€ total (not counting the overweight we had to pay coming back to Spain...).

If you enjoy reading, you will find several book stores in Reykjavik and all over Iceland, the biggest one being the Eymundsson franchise, which extends all over Iceland (we found it in Reykjavik, Akureyri and Isafjördur). There is no problem in finding English books, but they are more expensive than they would be in Spain or where you live. And Icelandic books on Icelandic are quite expensive: I bought Egil's Saga, Litli Prinsinn (The Little Prince) and an Islensk-Ensk orðabok (Icelandic-English dictionary) for the equivalent to 20€, 20€ and 60€ respectively. If you like languages and consider learning Icelandic, buy there, it will be cheaper than buying overseas.

Iceland will probably surprise you for the quality of the 'souvenirs' you can buy there: wool is very common, and they produce a lot of different things, all very high quality. Also they are very keen of felt, and make wonderful stuff with it. Just walk around Reykjavik and enjoy your shopping, you will be probably surprised. And then enjoy the rest of the Iceland with its distinctive town shops.

Before I forget, the Icelandic sign for a souvenir shop with hand-made stuff looks like a snowflake (and is very similar to the sign for the Landsbankinn, the Icelandic national bank.

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Written by Ruben Berenguel