Tourists like runes, puffins and Gling Gló Skip to content

Tourists like runes, puffins and Gling Gló

Some 170,000 tourists visited Iceland this past summer, spending 10 to 15 percent of their money on retail goods. With the tourism season coming to a close, Fréttabladid reports on which Icelandic souvenirs are most popular with foreign visitors.

The manager of Rammagerdin, Iceland’s longest-standing souvenir shop, says that a new version of the traditional Icelandic sweater, which has always been popular with tourists, has replaced the old in popularity. The new version is smaller in cut and generally has a zipper, as opposed to the formerly popular boxy pullover.

Anything depicting puffins and Icelandic rune symbols is also highly coveted, such as T-shirts and necklaces. The brand name Lost in Iceland, incorporating books, T-shirts, hats and more, also sells well.

As for books, various titles are more popular than others, most notably the Hávamál, or “Sayings of the Vikings, according to a spokeswoman for the Mál og menning bookshop on Laugavegur. The most popular novel is Independent People by Halldór Laxness, closely followed by the books of Arnaldur Indridason.

The independent record shop 12 Tónar is a popular place with tourists and according to a spokesman most people come there to check out modern Icelandic music. The highest seller this summer was a compilation CD by a group called Tilraunaeldhúsid (The Experimental Kitchen), while the only traditional tourist CD that sells in any notable amount is entitled The Soul of the Great Viking.

Tourists also shop a great deal at the Skífan record shop on Laugavegur, mostly music by Sigur Rós and Emiliana Torrini. Gling Gló, a jazzed up version of old standards sung by Björk Gudmundsdóttir in Icelandic, is the highest-selling Icelandic CD ever according to a Skífan spokesman, with a large portion of those sales being to tourists.

Also popular with tourists is outdoor clothing from 66°N, and according to tax-rebate company Global Refund the greatest refunds are paid out in connection with women’s clothing and jewelry.

Meanwhile, the manager of Krambúdin, a small convenience store near Hallgrímskirkja church, one of Reykjavík’s main tourist attractions, says that tourists mostly shop for dairy products such as skyr and yogurt. Icelandic candy is also popular, particularly licorice.

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