If Laugarvegur is Reykjavík’s High Street, then Skólavörðustígur is as close as Iceland gets to Portobello Road.
In this soon-to-be recurring feature, we’ll give you an insider’s look at places we live and like. If you need to find the closest hotel to the Blue Lagoon, get a guide book. If you want to see locals in their natural habitats, read on…
Part of the charm of Iceland is that it seems to be stuck between the old and new – the trappings of a modern and growing society rubbing naughtily against the traditions of the past.
Skólavörðustígur shopping street is a model of this torrid integration. The street is book-ended by Iceland’s largest symbol of religious tradition on one end, and the Naked Ape clothing store on the other. Between lies a schizophrenic mix of familiar history and trends not yet realized; new-aged vegan eateries and furriers displaying snarling polar bear rugs and seal skin coats; the oldest tourist shop in the country next to a tragically hip music store/record label/concert venue.
A stroll down this popular street could find you facing relics of times past or discovering the next big underground fashion, and we love it.
Some of the highlights:
12 Tónar – We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, this record store/label is a great place to raise your cool quotient. Not only is it one of the few shops in Iceland that has heard of the term customer service (free espresso while you browse, anyone?), but they have a truly fantastic music selection.
Börn Náttúrunnar - Plastic increases your kid’s carbon footprint. Make your little Al Gore the envy of the commune with the latest in must-have green/eco/environmentally friendly/all natural toys.
Babalú - One of the few gathering spots in Reykjavík where the bartender won’t decide when to serve you based on which design house your shirt came from. You can also enjoy your drinks on the second-floor patio, assuming you remember your parka.
Kulusuk Art - Need a reminder of who’s at the top of the food chain? Kulusuk Art has animal artifacts from all over the world, conveniently dead for your enjoyment. Our favorite item: a gun case made out of antelope fur. Now that’s just rubbing it in.