BEST CHEAP EATS IN REYKJAVIK
22 spots to find cheap and delicious food in notoriously expensive Reykjavík
I’m a huge fan of Iceland for families. The country packs a huge amount of adventure and awe-inspiring scenery into an area equal to the size of Ohio. But I’ll be the first to admit that it’s darn expensive. For example, data from Statistics Iceland reveals that food and non-alcoholic beverages on average are 56% more expensive than elsewhere in Europe.
It’s a combination of factors. Iceland sits a snowball’s throw from the Arctic Circle. Despite embracing greenhouse farming, the typical growing season here is short. By some estimates, Icelanders import about 35% of their food. Of course, there’s an added transportation cost for delivering food to such a remote locale. And unlike most U.S. states, Iceland has a 11% VAT tax - or sales tax - on food items.
So this isn’t the country where I’d suggest that your family splurge on a five-star dinner. But you do have to eat, so choose cheap and tasty! Here are 22 spots in Reykjavík where you won’t have to spend the kids’ college fund to eat well.
KidTripster Tip: Before you go, download the app called Coupon for restaurant discounts in Iceland.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (Tryggvagata 1) literally translates to “the best hot dogs in town,” a big claim for this 81-year-old hot dog stand. When you go, try the lamb dog loaded with all the condiments. And be prepared to wait in a line that sometimes stretches down the block. We liked these dogs so much, we ate here twice!
KidTripster Tip: Make sure you’re dressed for the weather. There are only outdoor picnic tables at this stand.
Icelandic Street Food (Lækjargata 8 and Laugavegur 85) is fast food - Icelandic style. Think fish stew, lamb soup, and happy marriage cakes (yes, that’s their name) which are like rolled crêpes.
KidTripster Tip: Three store fronts away, you’ll find sister shop Icelandic Deli (Lækjargata 4) with all-you-can-eat waffles, cinnamon rolls as big as your head, other bakery items, and good coffee This spot is open early for breakfast.
Svarta Kaffið (Laugavegur 54) serves hearty soups in fresh bread bowls. It’s the perfect lunch on a chilly afternoon.
Gló (Laugavegur 20b) sells delectable veggies bowls and lettuce wraps stuffed with all sorts of goodness.
At Reykjavík Chips (Vitastígur), they just do French fries. These fries are meant to be snacked on as you walk the city. You have ten dipping sauces to choose from.
Sweets & Coffee
Brauð & Co. Bakery (four locations in Reykjavík) is your go-to spot for morning cinnamon rolls. Bernhoftsbakari (Klapparstígur 3), Iceland’s first and oldest bakery, is the ideal place to pick up pastries, donuts, and pretzels for the road. C is for Cookie’s (Týsgata) name implies that it’s all about the cookies, but I’d say the C should stand for top-notch coffee. Another spot for a good cup of joe is Cafe Haiti (Geirsgata 5C) which also serves breakfast plus an unusual mix of Haitian and Icelandic lunch and dinner specials. Joylato (Njálsgata 1) is your dessert spot for both ice cream and gelato including non-dairy options. It’s wacky - they use liquid nitrogen to flash freeze the ingredients before your eyes.
For our suggested itinerary for Iceland from one to seven nights in length, check here.
Note: We tacked a free stopover in Iceland onto a trip to Ireland. We booked the tickets on Icelandair through a KidTripster partner called AirTreks. Each ticket was $450 cheaper than booking directly through the airline! If you book through this link, KidTripster gets some coffee money from AirTreks at no additional cost to you. Thanks in advance for your support!
Editor Shellie Bailey-Shah enjoys eating her way through a new city just as much as seeing it.