We like to eat well and enjoy trying new regional dishes. We didn’t have high hopes for Iceland – we were scared before the trip that it was expensive and there wasn’t much choice of places to eat….
We confirm both of the above statements, but if you get it right it’s worth paying more and eating well. A few words about food in Iceland.
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Food in Iceland
Iceland is a country that you can visit very economically and set yourself up to prepare meals yourself. You can also eat at the few local eateries. We chose something in between – we didn’t want to spend a fortune on food alone, but on the other hand we like to eat something warm and try something local. What did our day look like?
Breakfast – all the accommodations we had offered breakfast on site. Whether it was a hotel, hostel or room in a bungalow, we never went hungry. In hotels and hostels, the selection was more modest, but sufficient – always bread, milk, cold cuts, yogurt, cereal, basic veggies, etc. for breakfast.
For that, we were very positively surprised by the breakfasts in the lodgings: full refrigerators of food were waiting for us, several types of bread, eggs, cold cuts, fish, yogurts (including Skyr, of course), and you could use the kitchen so scrambled eggs or pancakes were not a problem.
Often you could also find coffee makers at our disposal, so really on the rich side ;) Once we ended up worse, where a basket prepared the day before was waiting for us, without the possibility of heating, but there was fruit, which probably cost a fortune ;)
Lunch – generally on the run, on the way. The sandwiches we made in the morning worked well here, or something bought at a gas station or one of the markets (we recommend Bonus stores, which are sufficient to stock up on food). More important than the food itself was for us to always have a thermos full of hot tea on hand.
Lunch/Dinner – madness here :) At the end of the day, once we arrived at our next night’s lodging, we would leave our belongings and, on the advice of our hosts, head to a local pub. For the most part, each offered similar dishes like burgers, pizza, hot sandwiches and, of course, fish.
Depending on the size of the village, there may be only one (literally!) pub available or an entire food court.
There is no shortage of places to eat in the larger towns, or those that are more touristy. There are restaurants (including Italian, Asian), fast food, pubs, cafes – to choose from. Eating late in the evening (after 10 pm), when only drinks and snacks like chips or nuts are served, can be a problem.
In smaller towns, in bars, locals and weary tourists alike gather in the evenings. In high season it can be hard to get a free table, so expect to stand in line for a while (sometimes they assign numbers to those waiting and call you when something becomes vacant).
What can we eat in such places? The standard food already mentioned above, as well as our recommended “soup of the day.” A large pot of soup stands available in the pub, along with bread baked on site. Contrary to appearances, it is possible to eat the soup itself, as they are generally thick creams.
Unfortunately, throughout the trip we missed a greater variety of dishes that we would not taste in Poland. We could buy freshly caught and cooked fish, but it still did not fill the void :)
You can also always get free fresh Icelandic water to drink :)
Real Icelandic food!
Our palates were satisfied halfway through the trip at a pub
, which offers a regional buffet at lunchtime. All dishes are made on site, with fresh ingredients. The pleasant hostess makes sure that nothing is missing and every now and then adds food to keep the platters full.
Comparing to buffets in other countries, this one is very modest, but the food is delicious, and it’s quality not quantity that counts :) Among the dishes, the most noteworthy are the reindeer pullets, lamb stew, grilled vegetables and barley with vegetables.
During our stay, we fell in love with Icelandic Skyr, a local yogurt made from skimmed milk. It is very nutritious and a good source of protein. On store shelves you can get skyr in many flavors (mostly fruit). Well, and that peanut butter…. ;-)
Of other Icelandic delicacies, we also tried shark meat, but we did not like it ;)
Store supplies in Iceland
Stores are pretty well stocked, but forget about the small local stores. The market is dominated by several chain stores (including the aforementioned Bonus, as well as Netto), the size of our discounters. Here you will get baked goods, meat, dairy products, chemicals, cosmetics, etc. Often next to these markets are bakeries, cafes, florists, bookstores, etc. Of course, in the capital there is definitely more choice of stores, there are quite a few well-known sports, furniture, etc. stores.
When it comes to alcohol, as in Scandinavia, there are special stores here where you can buy stronger liquor. You can get weak beer in markets, but if you get the urge for something more, look for the nearest Vínbúðin, which are only open during certain hours (e.g., from 2 to 7 pm). Alcohol is very expensive and local beer does not knock you out – but you have to try it :)
We are curious about what you guys had the opportunity to try in Iceland…. What appealed to you the most?