Your guide to Icelandic cuisine.
A quick Google search of traditional Icelandic food brings up some interesting cuisine, including fermented shark and dried fish. But today’s Iceland offers so much more, including fresh, locally sourced ingredients and an array of palate-pleasing options.
When you travel to Iceland, you’ll find that fish, famous Icelandic lamb and skyr (Icelandic yogurt) are prevalent on many menus. Iceland, as an island in the Atlantic, has no shortage of seafood, which is generally the country’s main staple. It’s consumed by the average Icelander two times a week and most restaurants proudly offer a “fish of the day.”
Travelers from Iceland with @bonschro and @ihviiimattvincent by @swim_brandt_swim, 2021.
Along with fish, many traditional Icelandic meals are meat-based because of the lack of farmable land in the past. The Iceland of today, however, has all the modern conveniences you’d expect, with a bustling culinary scene that has something for everyone, including vegans and vegetarians!
Here are some must-try Icelandic food options when you travel to Reykjavik, the country’s capital and largest city, and the Golden Circle, a 186-mile route to the three most popular natural attractions in Iceland: The Great Geysir, Gullfoss Waterfall and Thingvellir National Park.
Where to eat in Reykjavik
Fiskmarkaðurinn (Fish Market)
The Fish Market is popular among locals and tourists with its legendary Icelandic seafood and Asian influence. It was founded in 2007 by Hrefna Sætran (the master chef) and Ágúst Reynisson (the master waiter) and is located in one of Reykjavik’s oldest buildings. Their original dishes use only the freshest ingredients from local farmers and fishermen.
Reykjavík Street Food
Reykjavík Street Food is a fast-food restaurant that serves traditional Icelandic dishes, fish and chips, and a selection of noodle soups. If you want traditional Icelandic cuisine without paying restaurant prices, this is the place for you.
Budget-Friendly Reykjavik Restaurants
Baejarins Beztu Pylsur – This famous hot dog stand offers delicious hot dogs for around $4 USD.
Noodle Station – Warm up with freshly made soup for $7-$14 USD.
Sægreifinn (The Sea Baron) – This bright green fisherman’s hut down by the old harbor dates back to the 1920s. The original owner is still cooking up smoked eel, boiled fish and world-famous lobster soup, which was featured in the New York Times. Most meals are around $20 USD.
Reykjavik Cafés and Bakeries
Café Rosenberg (Stofan Café) – With a cozy, welcoming atmosphere, this is the perfect place to stop for coffee and a pastry while planning your next adventure.
Mokka Kaffi – This is one of Reykjavik’s oldest cafes. Be sure to try the delicious Icelandic waffles.
Brauð og Co. – Known as the Cinnamon Bun Bakery, this iconic, colorful building is a favorite tourist stop. It’s also the perfect place for an Instagram photo.
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Cuisine along the Golden Circle
Héraðsskólinn Restaurant and Bistro – Located in Laugarvatn, halfway between Thingvellir National Park and the Geysir, this restaurant has an eclectic menu with everything from trout to reindeer.
Drumboddstaðir (Drumbó) – Drumbó is in the heart of the Golden Circle on the banks of the Hvítá River. This is the starting point for white water river rafting and the ideal place to enjoy BBQ and beer.
Kaffi Krús – Located in Selfoss, Kaffi Krús serves amazing pizza, pasta and burgers. Their portions are generous and their cakes are to die for.
Restaurant Þrastarlundur – This restaurant is next to the river Sog, about five minutes from Kerið. They serve traditional dishes like meat soup and Icelandic lamb, as well late-night pizza and a special weekend brunch. They also have groceries and a selection of breads and cheeses you can take with you.
Skyrgerðin – Named after Iceland’s famous skyr yogurt, this restaurant is located in Hveragerði’s former skyr factory. They have a large selection of meals to choose from, many of which feature their iconic house-made skyr yogurt.
Pack your appetite
Eating in Iceland will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of your trip whether you're traveling in summer or winter. Modern Icelandic food honors the country’s past but also updates it with welcomed twists. Be sure to try some Icelandic seafood while you’re visiting, as well as the legendary lamb. After that, it’s up to you what adventures you want to take—culinary or otherwise.