The 6 Best Things to Eat in Reykjavik, Iceland JetSettingFools.com

The 6 best things to eat in Reykjavik, Iceland (and what it cost!)

Hot dogs, fish, soup, yogurt, tomatoes and orange soda. It doesn’t sound like much, but these are the six best things to eat in Reykjavik, Iceland – especially if you’re visiting Reykjavik on a budget (and, honestly, even if your funds are limitless, these classic Reykjavik food items should be on your must-eat list of Icelandic cuisine).

Due to the isolation and harsh winters of an island nation, the national cuisine in Iceland ranges from fairly basic and expected to creative and downright strange. The remoteness also makes it outrageously expensive, which makes finding cheap places to eat in Reykjavik nearly impossible. We attempted to keep our budget in check and still get a taste of traditional Icelandic food – and we think we succeeded in finding six of the best things to eat in Reykjavik, Iceland (including Reykjavik food prices).

The Six Best Things to Eat in Reykjavik

1. Hot Dogs

The fascination is bewildering, but it’s really no joke: hot dogs are one of the best things to eat in Reykjavik, Iceland. Unlike the hot dogs in America, the links in Iceland are made with a blend of lamb, pork and beef and have natural casings. But, it’s more than just the hot dog that makes it a winner and one of the most popular Icelandic dishes. Specifically, it’s the toppings that take the Icelandic hot dog from ordinary to extraordinary. Ordering a hot dog with ‘The Works’ means it will be covered in ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onions, raw onions and a remoulade sauce, which is a mixture of mayo and sweet relish.

Best Things to Eat in Reykjavik Hot Dogs JetSetting Fools

Recommended Spot: Baejarins Beztu Pylsur (translation: Best Hot Dog in Town). Of all the places to eat in Reykjavik, at the Baejarins Beztu Pylsur stand near downtown Reykjavik, a line of tourists and locals are sure to be found. Even US President Bill Clinton has eaten at Baejarins Beztu {Insert your favorite Bill Clinton hot dog joke here.} Don’t worry if the line looks long; it moves fast. Each hot dog costs about $3 USD – which ranks it as #1 for Cheap Eats Reykjavik. We got two each and called it dinner!

 

2. Fish and Chips

Unlike the odd popularity of hot dogs, it’s easy to understand why Icelandic fish and chips is found on nearly every restaurant menu. The entire country’s population lives on the coast – and fishing is still the number one industry in Iceland. (We even learned from locals that part of the reason Iceland does not want to join the European Union is because they are intent on protecting their fishing industry.) Fish is prepared just about every way imaginable from fresh-out-of-the-sea sushi to savory fish stew to golden fried fish and chips.

Best Things to Eat in Reykjavik Fish and Chips JetSetting Fools

Recommended Spot: For Reykjavik fish and chips, Kaffivagninn was recommended to us by a local and we’re glad we made the extra effort to find it. The restaurant, which is located on the old harbor, was established in 1935 and claims to be the oldest restaurant in Reykjavik. On a cold day, it is quite the walk from downtown Reykjavik, but totally worth it. It’s not considered one of the cheap restaurants in Reykjavik, as it’s a bit on the pricy side at about $19 USD per meal, but the portions are big enough to be shared. The meal comes with three fried filets, three dipping sauces, a pile of fries, soup, side salad, a roll and unlimited hot coffee (which was perfect after walking to the restaurant!).

 

3. Meat Soup

I don’t think there is anything better than a hearty, rich soup on a frigid, overcast day – and Icelandic meat soup fits the bill. A staple of Iceland cuisine, the flavorful stew, which is a concoction of lamb, root vegetables (like potatoes and carrots), rice and herbs, is simply divine. I could have consumed an entire vat of it on my own.

Best Things to Eat in Reykjavik Meat Soup JetSetting Fools

Recommended Spot: Icelandic meat soup is widely available and we are pretty sure it is all amazing. Where we best enjoyed it, however, is in somewhat of an unlikely place, The Geysir Center, located across the street from Strokkur Geyser. We made a stop there on our Golden Circle Tour and wanted something to help warm us up. One portion of the a la carte soup cost an astounding $14.50 USD (did we mention it’s difficult to find cheap food in Iceland?!), but the taste was exceptional – especially as we were standing outside in the cold waiting for Strokkur Geyser to put on its show.

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4. Skyr Yogurt

Skyr Yogurt, which uses Original Icelandic Skyr Cultures and skim milk produced by family-run farmers, is a popular food of Iceland – and unlike any other yogurt I’ve ever tried. It’s thick and creamy, but not heavy and it’s low fat. (Skyr Yogurt is now sold in countries around the world, but eating Iceland local food in Iceland tastes even better!)

Cost: It depends on where it’s purchased, but generally it costs about $2 USD for a small container – making it one of the most inexpensive and healthy things to eat in Reykjavik. 

 

5. Fridheimar tomatoes

Eating fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes in Iceland in the dead of winter was not an experience I had anticipated, but one we were treated to on our Golden Circle Tour. We made a stop at the Fridheimar Greenhouse, which use Iceland’s naturally abundant geothermal resources to grow tomatoes indoors year-round. While wintertime tomatoes are hardly typical Icelandic food, they are certainly part of the innovative Iceland food culture.

Best Things to Eat in Reykjavik Tomatoes off the vine JetSetting Fools

Cost: A cup of deliciously sweet piccolo tomatoes or 6 large tomatoes cost $2.75.

 

6. Egils Appelsin

Egils Appelsin is produced by the mega-beverage company, Olgerdin (the same maker of Gull and Borg microbrew beers that we tried during our trip!). The orange soda has been a popular Icelandic drink since the 1950s. It’s better than Fanta!

Cost: About $2 USD per bottle.

3 Places to Drink Local Beer in Reykjavik, Iceland JetSettingFools.com

3 Places To Drink Local Beer in Reykjavik, Iceland

 

What we didn’t eat in Reykjavik, Iceland

When we researched what to eat in Iceland, we knew we would not venture into the traditional and exotic cuisine of Iceland. In modern times, some of the funky food seemed more like a tourist novelty than a commonplace local meal. While we were intrigued by Iceland’s history of consuming fermented shark, smoked Iceland puffin and boiled sheep’s head, we didn’t find them at all appetizing. Besides, these items are extremely expensive.

Strange Things to Eat in Reykjavik Caviar from a Tube JetSetting Fools

Strolling around the grocery store (one of the best ways to really understand what the locals eat!) revealed some other odd eating habits. Dried fish packaged like chips and licorice were stocked on the shelves. And caviar, which we usually associate with fine dining, came in a tube. Although these items were most certainly popular, we didn’t partake.

 

Icelandic Cuisine Tours

To get a taste of traditional Icelandic dishes and regional specialties with the help of a local guide, join an Icelandic food tour. Combine top sights and Icelandic eats in the Golden Circle Gourmet Food Tasting Tour or take a trip to the countryside to visit local farms and a microbrewery on the West Iceland Food Tour. For a sample of the local cuisine and beer in Reykjavik, join fellow travelers for a Reykjavik food tour: Reykjavik Food Lovers or  Beer and Food Tasting Tour at a local brewery. 

 

The cost of eating in Iceland

As budget travelers, the cost of food is always taken into consideration and calculated. We knew before going that the food prices in Iceland were going to be high, but I’m not sure we were exactly prepared for the exorbitant costs of eating in Reykjavik. We thought we couldn’t go wrong by ordering a pizza for take-away, but we were hit with sticker shock. A large meat pizza cost us $30 USD.

Another mistake we made was our grocery shopping trip. While buying food at the store to cook at our Airbnb apartment was a cost saving measure, buying the food at the 1011 convenience store was not. We went ultra-basic and bought the essentials for filling breakfasts and mid-day snacks.

When on a budget, the Best Things to Eat in Reykjavik are from the store JetSetting Fools

Cost of items purchased at 1011:

  • Six Eggs cost 589 ISK/$4.65 USD – which is 77 cents per egg.
  • One Loaf of Bread (15 slices) cost 539 ISK/$4.25 USD – which is 28 cents per slice.
  • Four Apples cost 709 ISK/$5.60 USD – which is $1.40 per apple.
  • One Danish Loaf (8 pieces) cost 599 ISK/$4.75 USD – which is 60 cents per serving.
  • Cheese (16 slices) cost 722 ISK/$5.70 USD – which is 35 cents per slice.
  • Total shopping bill: 3,158 ISK/$24 USD

Cost of each breakfast in Reykjavik:

  • Egg Sandwich – 1 egg (.77), 2 slices of bread (.56), 1 slice of cheese (.35)
  • Half of an apple (.70)
  • I piece of Danish (.60)
  • Total breakfast cost: $2.98 USD

While I thought the amount we spent on the few items at the store was outrageously high, it was still more cost effective than eating out in Reykjavik – and probably much healthier. Our entire breakfast cost the same as a single hot dog, which would not have been enough to call a meal.

During our short stay in Iceland, we definitely spent more on food than we usually average – and more than we originally budgeted for. The food and drink prices in Iceland were astounding – and finding cheap eats in Reykjavik proved more difficult than we imagined. On top of it all, we made a few mistakes, like shopping at 1011. However, we weren’t prepared to let the coast of eating out in Iceland hinder our experience, so we splurged on meals, like meat soup and fish and chips (as Iceland fish was at the top of our things to eat in Reykjavik list!).

Just like with food, we weren’t going to forego the experience of having a few local beers! Click here to read about what we drank (and how much we spent!) at the bars!

 

Top Tips for your Trip to Iceland

Where To Stay

During our visit to Reykjavik, we stayed in this awesome Airbnb Apartment. ( Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) We have found that staying in apartments is often less expensive than hotel rooms – with the added benefit of a kitchen and, usually, more space. Reykjavik holiday apartments can also be searched on FlipKey (which is part of TripAdvisor) or on VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner

However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many Reykjavik hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) for your upcoming trip: Kvosin Downtown Hotel, Canopy by Hilton and Hotel Lotus Reykjavik.  Or, find a deal on a hotel room by bidding on Priceline

Budget travelers may want to look at these Reykjavik hostels: Reykjavik Downtown Hostel, Loft Hostel and Falkinn Guesthouse. Travelers can also stay with locals for free with Couchsurfing. 

 

Flights to Iceland

Our preferred method of getting anywhere is by flying (we are JetSetting Fools, after all!). However, due to our unique circumstances (flight benefits earned from years of service with a major airline), we rarely buy airline tickets. That being said, when we do need to purchase plane tickets, we start our search for the best deals on airline tickets on Skyscanner or Flight Hub.

 

Before You Go

  • Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for the city. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia and Skechers. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
  • We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos photos (that can later be beautifully compiled into a travel photo book). We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
  • It’s easy to get turned around or lost in any new city! Be sure to have a good map and/or guidebook prior to arriving.  
  • We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.

Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for our complete packing list and other travel resources!

 

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We want to know: What do you think are the best things to eat in Reykjavik, Iceland? What would you add to our list? What do you think of the price of food in Iceland? Did you splurge or go budget? Tell us in the comments!

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9 thoughts on “The 6 best things to eat in Reykjavik, Iceland (and what it cost!)

  1. Debbie

    Thanks for the tips on where to shop. My husband and I just booked our trip for September. We are considering to rent a van/camper for the week! Can’t wait!

    • Sounds like a fantastic way to see Iceland – and a wonderful time of year, too! Enjoy your trip – oh, and if you drink alcohol, buy it on arrival at the airport in the duty free shop ~ cheapest place in town! 😉

  2. keith rhodes

    My wife and I spent 4 days there in the beginning of Dec, 2016 WOW, what a trip we had!! The people were great, food was very good and Iceland was a very beautiful place. We had the hot dogs(very good and not expensive at all) fish and chips and the yogurt. The place is a little pricey but well worth it. We also had chicken wings and they were pretty darn good. We found out that the best thing to do is wait until you are in the airport to buy your gifts and such before heading home. Much cheaper and the same items you find in town. We stayed at the Grand Hotel and it was very nice with a great breakfast.. Did the Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle tour and saw the geysers. And saw the Northern Lights. Made some new friends. I would like to go back in the summer months, rent a camper and drive the Island. Have to put that on my bucket list….Oh yeah, the locals told us to buy groceries at Bonus. much less expensive.

    • Hi Keith – Thanks for the great comment and tips! We, too, loved Iceland in the wintertime…and now want to go back in the summer! We think renting a camper and touring the island would be a great way to see it! Great tip on buying gifts at the airport – since we are full-time travelers (and, thus, carry everything we own), we never buy gifts, so we didn’t know the tip about buying gifts at the airport. If/when we go back, we’ll definitely do our grocery shoppping at Bonus! What did you think of the Blue Lagoon? We skipped it in favor of the local thermal spas – and have heard differing opinions; curious to know yours. Cheers!

  3. D

    Hey guys, if you ever go again, try doing your grocery shopping at Bonus – they are better priced (altho they are obviously still going to be expensive to you, esp as you’re working in $) but they are better than 10/11 who are more of a convenience store like 7/11. There is one on the main shopping street, Laugavegur, and if you head out towards the Harbour and beyond (towards the Whales of Iceland exhibition centre) – there is a much larger Bonus and also a Kronan which i think is a little more pricey, but nice as a treat.

    • Thanks for the tip! Great info!! Yes, I think shopping at Bonus would have been much more economical – and if we had been there longer than 4 days, we would have made the effort to find it, for sure.

  4. I’m glad you’ve written your last two posts, brings a new perspective. You guys travel much as we do and while we enjoy going out and living it up on occasion we also have to keep the price of basics down. That may not be the case if someone is on a two week vacation but as full time travellers I now know that Iceland would not be a place that we would ever use as a base for any lengthy amount of time.

    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Absolutely not as a base! However the landscape is incredible (possibly even more so outside of winter) and the people are fantastic. Also, if traveling to/from North America and Europe, Iceland Air allows free stopovers for up to 5 days.

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