I don’t know about you, but my life kind of revolves around food. When I’m traveling, this is especially the case…I love to know the country’s food specialties and the can’t-miss food hot spots. Sometimes planning goes awry and you end chowing down on a Five Guys Burger in Paris (…anyone?), but that’s ok.
In any case, I wanted to share some secrets to the awesome food in Reykjavik! Note that none of these are the famous fermented shark (I was informed that most Icelandic people don’t actually eat this, and also that it smells like a toilet, so that’s up to you.)
I was introduced to a lot of these through Wake Up Reykjavik’s Food Tour, and I hands down recommend booking one too. Not only do you get to eat delicious Icelandic food, but my tour guide was hilarious and absolutely fantastic. Out of my 4 days in Iceland, this was the day I learned most about the country itself – the rest of the time was mostly focused on Iceland’s natural beauty, and for good reason!
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Top Reykjavik Food Hot Spots
- Julia & Julia – Wake Up Reykjavik’s morning food tour started here, and I was oh so pleased with that decision. Sip on some fresh coffee, and enjoy a warm chocolate chip cookies with whipped cream and blueberries.
2. Búrið (The Cheese Shop) – This is one of Reykjavik’s not-so-secret secrets. Test out some local meats and deliciously stinky cheeses. Favorites include black Gouda and Icelandic blue cheese, which isn’t as strong as its American counterpart. Also make sure to sample some smoked goose, horse, and cured sheep.
3. Café Loki – Café Loki is quite possibly the most adorable little café in all of Reykjavik. Plus, they have rye bread ice cream! Sound strange? It did to me too, but it was surprisingly amazing and tasted almost like vanilla ice cream with Oreo cookies…this is a must-try food in Reykjavik! While you’re there, make sure to try some of their famous rye bread concoctions! I’d recommend the rye topped with mashed fish (plokkfiskur).
4. Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur –Roughly translated to the “best hot dogs in town,” you have to stop here while you’re wandering through Reykjavik! Icelandic hot dogs are mostly lamb and are topped with ketchup, Icelandic mustard, raw onion, grilled onion, and mayo remoulade…an iconic food in Reykjavik.
5. Stefan B. Chocolatier –If you’re craving some sweetness, swing by this chocolatier for some unique flavors. I tried grape, bubblegum, and strawberry shortcake. If you’re looking for some more typical tastes, check out cookie dough, cranberry, and just plain old chocolate.
6. Kopar – Located on the harbor, not only does Kopar boast delicious rock crab soup and deconstructed cheesecake, but you get some awesome views!
7. Sea Baron – Right down the way from Kopar, Sea Baron is famous for its delicious seafood choices. Bet you couldn’t guess that from the name?
8. Icelandic Bar – You can find a lot of typical Icelandic foods here. Make sure to try the traditional Icelandic meat soup.
Other Icelandic Food to Try
1. Skyr– Skyr is magical and seems to be acceptable to eat at pretty much any time of day. It can be breakfast, a snack, dessert, or even a dipping sauce. I personally loved the strawberry cheesecake flavor, the plain…not so much. It’s kind of similar to yogurt.
2. Puffin – Not trying to introduce any controversial discussions here, but wanted to include on the list as a typical Icelandic dish. It’s often served smoked, but I can’t personally attest to the flavor. I honestly couldn’t because they’re too cute!
3. Langoustine Soup – It’s comparable to lobster bisque, but with a unique Icelandic twist.
4. Fermented Shark – I’m only kind of kidding. Can someone please try this and let me know how it tastes? I’m actually pretty curious.
5. Fresh fish –Chances are good that if you’re eating fish in Reykjavik, it was caught that morning! For your own unique boat to table experience, check out this angling tour. You’ll go out fishing and then return to the harbor to cook your catch!
6. Black licorice—You can find this stuff everywhere, and even as flavoring in a lot of foods. Look on the candy aisle if you want to check it out!
7. Icelandic Beer –Make sure to try out some local beers during your stay. Whether you join a beer tour or go drinking on your own, you’re sure to enjoy yourself!
Food in Reykjavik FYIs
First off, food in Reykjavik is incredibly expensive. Even Subway’s $5 foot longs failed me, and became closer to $10.50 foot long sub of the days. My recommendation is to pack easy snack food in your bag (trail mix, bars, etc). I even brought tea and oatmeal packets for breakfast for most days since I was often on the go by 8:00AM.
Another super important thing to know is that Bonus Supermarket is your best friend for cheap groceries. I grabbed some bread, peanut butter, bananas, and some juice to get me through most lunches. Note that their hours are relatively limited, so make sure to check before you go.
Cheap flights: I’d recommend searching through eDreams.net. They scan tons of different travel discount sites and feature special flight deals. You can typically find good flights on IcelandAir and WOW Air.
Where to Stay in Reykjavik: For higher end hotels, look into Hotel Ódinsvé—the hotel has an awesome location downtown. For a mid-range option, I’d recommend Hotel Frón; this hotel is also centrally located and even has kitchen facilities in the apartments. If you’re looking to avoid hotels and go the hostel route, I recommend checking out Hostelworld – there are plenty of options in Reykjavik! My personal hostel recommendation is Loft Hostel. You have an amazing location in the heart of the city, and I absolutely loved the ambiance of the common area/bar and outside terrace.
I hope this guide to food in Reykjavik was helpful! What other recommendations do you have for travelers to Iceland? Let me know in the comments. And remember, always say yes to skyr!