Iceland: Double the duty free ....
Iceland may be rather dark for several months a year, but this is more than outweighed by the round-the-clock daylight of its spectacular summers. Another benefit of Reykjavik’s Keflavik Airport is that you can shop tax-free at both arrivals and departures. So as well as being awed by the stark beauty of this country’s unique natural attractions, you get treated to some awesome tax-free shopping • twice.
Keflavik Airport (known as KEF for short or Reykjavik-Keflavik Airport for long) is Iceland’s largest airport. Its two-level Leifur Eiríksson Air Terminal was extended in 2001 and is spacious, comfortable and bright. It now incorporates the South Building (not a separate terminal), with Air Iceland and Iceland Express being its main carriers. In 2012, the UK’s no-frills airline EasyJet will introduce a brand new Luton • Keflavik route, opening up budget travel to this fascinating destination.
Just two miles from Keflavik and 31 miles from the capital, this airport is Iceland’s key international hub, handling only international flights. Domestic traffic goes through Reykjavik Airport (RKV) itself. The airport was built by the US military during World War II, then became a handy refuelling stop for the burgeoning cross-Atlantic aviation industry. It’s a convenient five hours from New York and just three hours from London.
If considering splashing out on top-end fragrances, fashions and other luxury purchases, you’re in the right place. There are several duty-free outlets to choose from, including Icelandic retailers Duty Free Store and Fríhöfnin (open 24 hours). So shop around to seek out a bargain on tobacco, liquor, cosmetics, fashion, leather and local goods. As you’ll note after even a brief stay in Reykjavik, in-airport prices can be as much as 50% cheaper than on the high street.
Duty Free Store stocks cosmetics from prestigious global names such as Revlon, Helena Rubinstein, BeneFit, Too Faced and Clinique. It is also where you’ll find tobacco and favourite confectionary brands, alongside bottles of best-selling liquor from Bacardi, Chivas Regal, Bells and Smirnoff.
The Fríhöfnin duty free store now boasts a Victoria's Secret concession. It offers designer fragrances, lip glosses, mascaras and eye liners, plus many exclusive-to-travel gift sets. Its top-end brands include Dream Angels, Sexy Little Things and Beauty Rush. If Iceland’s natural hot mud and thermal pools weren’t for you, visit their Blue Lagoon store for skin-care products and indulgent spa treatments, too.
For watches jewellery and accessories, pop into the Leonard Duty Free Store. You’ll recognise the world-class craftsmanship from designers such as IWC, Guess, Ulysse Nardin, Mont Blanc, Victorinox, Aurum and Rochet. For an Icelandic touch look to the exquisite jewellery pieces of Hendrikka Waage, Sign and Sif Jakobs.
For authentic crafts from Icelandic and Scandinavian designers try Epal Design, or for Icelandic gifts and souvenirs, visit Rammagerðin or the Inspired by Iceland shop.
Elko is the place for tax-free electronics. Its main store is in Departures, and there’s a counter within the Duty Free Store for arriving passengers. Elko stocks MP3 players, DVDs, digital cameras and personal computing and entertainment lines from brands such as Apple, Bose, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, AEG Electrolux, Philips and Canon.
If your prescription lenses, sunglasses or ski goggles need updating, KEF’s duty free Optical Studio offers sight tests and a rather impressive 15-minute turnaround on prescription frames. Grab a bite in one of the airport’s eateries while you wait. There are several cafés as well as the Bistro Atlantic, the Panorama Bar (in Departures) and Nord, with its themed health, seafood and wine bars.
These days, Iceland’s visitors don’t worry about names like Grimsvotn or Eyjafjallajökull (the volcanoes). They’re far more interested in duty-free designer names like Gucci, Prada and Diesel.
Keflavik Airport Airlines
- Transavia France, Scandinavian Airlines, Niki, Lufthansa, Icelandair, Iceland Express, Germanwings, Easyjet, Delta Air Lines, Austrian Airlines, Air Greenland, Air Berlin
Reykjavík Airport Airlines
- Air Iceland, Atlantic Airways, Eagle Air
For arriving passengers, check your duty free allowances; Iceland Duty Free Allowances