What to Eat in Iceland (12+ Delicious Foods & Drinks)

The food scene in Iceland is way better than anything you’re imagining. The wonderful variety, flavors, and presentation will delight your senses. Discover what to eat in Iceland with this list of delicious foods and drinks. I also share a couple of local favorites you might want to try if you’re feeling adventurous!

An elegant meal at Héðinn Kitchen & Bar in Reykjavik
An elegant meal at Héðinn Kitchen & Bar (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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1. Icelandic Breakfast

Let’s start with the most important meal of the day. One of my favorite things about staying in a hotel in Nordic countries is the elaborate breakfast buffet, and Iceland is no exception!

At hotels like Berjaya Hotel Reykjavik Marina, you can load up your plate with a hearty selection of breakfast items. Think sausages and bacon, local cheeses, cold cuts, vegetables, fresh-baked pastries, and fruits.

Traditional Icelandic breakfast fare is also available. Look for thick oatmeal (hafragrautur), yogurt (Icelandic skyr) with berries, and bread with butter and jam.

Want to start your day like a true Icelander? Slam a healthy shot of cod liver oil with your morning meal!

Breakfast at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina
Breakfast at Berjaya Hotel Reykjavik Marina (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

2. Hearty Soups

It makes sense that a chilly nation like Iceland would want to warm up with a comforting bowl of hot soup, especially during harsh winters.

You will be delighted to discover the interesting varieties available for your slurping pleasure. Popular options include lobster soup, butternut soup, and lamb stew. Sop it up with traditional Icelandic bread like sourdough or rye.

Icelandic fish stew (Plokkfiskur) is a very, VERY thick soup option. This hearty traditional food is made with white fish, potatoes, onions, flour, milk, and cheese.

Lobster bisque, bread, and wine at Lava Restaurant
My dinner of langoustine soup and brown bread at Lava Restaurant at the Blue Lagoon (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

3. Famous Hot Dogs

Time for something simple but scrumptious — Iceland’s best hot dogs. Baejarins Beztu Pylsur‘s original hot dog stand in the center of Reykjavik has been operating since 1937. Today, there are several locations in the country.

Reykjavik's famous hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Reykjavik’s famous hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

These are not your standard weiners. This elevated fast food is made with a blend of lamb, pork, and beef. Then the Icelandic hot dogs are traditionally topped with ketchup, sweet mustard, remoulade, crispy fried onions, and raw onions.

The popular spot became famous after a visit from U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2004. If you want to dine like a president, order a “Clinton” to get your dog topped with mustard only.

Hot dog holders at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur in Reykjavik
Hot dog holders at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

4. Reykjavik’s Food Hall Meals

What to eat in Iceland when everyone wants something different? Pull up a seat at one of Reykjavik’s many food halls!

With the convenience of a food court but serving high-quality menu items similar to food trucks, these gathering places please all palates. Plus, it’s a fun way to share a table with locals. You’ll find everything from pizza, burgers, and tacos to Vietnamese cuisine, Hawaiian poke, and Icelandic pretzels topped with caraway seeds.

Fish 'N' Chips from one of Reykjavik's food halls
Fish ‘n’ chips at Grandi Food Hall (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

5. Fish and Seafood

In an island nation surrounded by ocean, expect to see a lot of fresh fish and seafood on menus. In fact, there is a holiday celebrating the nation’s fishing industry, Fisherman’s Day in mid-June.

Since I arrived on this proud day, ordering a plate of fish ‘n’ chips made with a local favorite, Atlantic cod, felt fitting at Grandi Food Hall. Crispy and light, the dish was served with Iceland’s version of cocktail sauce, kokteilsósa, made with ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.

Hand Dived Scallops with green apple pearls at OTO Restaurant in Reykjavik, Iceland
Hand-dived scallops with green apple pearls at OTO Restaurant in Reykjavik (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Fish and seafood are ever-present in this remote island nation, from cured salmon at breakfast to Icelandic lobster for dinner. The hand-dived scallops served with fresh green apple and ponzu from Oto Restaurant were not only delicious, but also possibly the prettiest dish I’ve ever been served.

Japanese and Peruvian fusion cuisine at Monkeys in Reykjavik, Iceland
Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine at Monkeys Food & Wine in Reykjavik (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

6. International and Fusion Cuisine

What surprised me most was not the traditional Icelandic cuisine but the abundance of innovative international and fusion cuisine in Iceland!

The shockingly good fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine at Monkeys Food & Wine is just one example. Think tuna tartare with crispy plantains served alongside cod in sweet miso.

Meanwhile, I felt like I was in a fine-dining restaurant in France at Héðinn Kitchen & Bar, which is billed as Icelandic fusion cuisine. We were served an elegant meal of grilled beef tenderloin with fresh peppercorns, black garlic, and port sauce. (Photo at the top of the page.)

Italian-Japanese fusion at OTO Restaurant in Iceland
Italian-Japanese fusion at OTO Restaurant (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

7. Icelandic Charcuterie

Sky Lagoon luxury geothermal spa’s Smakk Bar offers travelers the opportunity to try lots of traditional Icelandic dishes at once with charcuterie-style platters meant for sharing. The Sky Platter presents a bit of everything: local blue cheese, Icelandic gruyere, wild goose pâté with red onion jam, and cured reindeer meat. Also on the platter, Gravlax is a sweet and salty cured salmon beloved by Icelanders.

Icelandic charcuterie board at Sky Lagoon's Smakk Bar with cheeses, sourdough bread, smoked salmon, reindeer meat, and blueberry Happy Marriage Cake
Icelandic charcuterie board at Sky Lagoon’s Smakk Bar with cheeses, sourdough bread, smoked salmon, reindeer meat, and blueberry Happy Marriage Cake (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

8. Happy Marriage Cake

Iceland’s Happy Marriage Cake is traditionally made with rhubarb but is sometimes served with other seasonal fruits like blueberries. Some say this dessert was named because it represents the harmonious combination of tart fruit with sweet cake. Meanwhile, others claim that baking this cake will lead to happy matrimony. Either way, I fell in love with this not-to-sweet treat.

Sheman ar Slippbarinn at Hotel Reykjavík Marina
SheMan Cocktail at Slippbarinn at Hotel Reykjavík Marina (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

9. Craft Cocktails

Craft cocktails are a big deal in Iceland. That’s partially because beer was outlawed in this country until 1989! All alcoholic beverages were banned in 1915 during a period of prohibition. However, wine was made legal in 1922, and liquor followed suit in 1935. Breweries and specialty beers have grown in popularity since then, but you’ll find extensive lists of creative cocktails on many restaurant and bar menus.

Look for innovative 1990s-themed cocktails at Slippbarinn. This hip bar is located inside the Hotel Reykjavik Marina and attracts both locals and travelers.

Stawberry sorbet Champagne cocktail at Monkeys in Reykjavik, Iceland
Berry sorbet Champagne cocktail at Monkeys in Reykjavik (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Even if you don’t dine at Monkeys Food & Wine during your Iceland vacation, make sure to stop by to appreciate their innovative décor and drink one of their signature drinks. I had a delightful concoction made with berry sorbet and sparkling wine that you could sip as an apéritif or order for dessert.

Ice cream flavors at Efstidalur in the Golden Circle
Icelandic ice cream flavors at Efstidalur in the Golden Circle (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

10. Ice Cream

What to eat in Iceland for dessert? In a country called Iceland, you know there has to be some tasty ice cream. I mean, it’s half the name!

It may seem unnecessary to eat a frosty dessert when the temperatures rarely climb above 70° F. But believe me, you’ll want to indulge in a scoop or two (or more).

Favorite Icelandic flavors are caramel or licorice. Try blueberry made with local fruits, too.

OmNom Ice Cream Chocolate in Reykjavik's Grandi neighborhood
OmNom Ice Cream Chocolate in Reykjavik’s Grandi neighborhood (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

In Reykjavik, head to OmNom for memorable ice cream. They offer some cute sundaes shaped like animals, such as an octopus, panda, or unicorn. All toppings, ice creams, and sauces are made in-house. Purchase their chocolate bars as a sweet memento of Iceland.

Efstidalur is a great place to stop for a frozen treat during a tour of Iceland’s Golden Circle. This farm hotel is home to darling cows who produce some incredibly good ice cream.

Gullfoss Falls in Iceland
Yes! You can and should drink the water in Iceland! (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

11. Icelandic Water

Don’t bother buying bottled water in Iceland. Bring a refillable water bottle and fill ‘er up before heading out to explore.

Iceland offers some of the purest water in the world, straight from the tap. Most of the drinking water comes directly from the country’s many natural springs. It really does taste better, too. It has a clean, almost sweet flavor.

Icelandic sea salt and lava salt makes a great souvenir from Reykjavik
Icelandic sea salt and lava salt make a great souvenir from Iceland (Photo credit: piolka, Depositphotos.com)

12. Sea Salt

In the Land of Fire and Ice, there are a lot of geothermal hot springs, making it a prolific producer of salts. Iceland’s lava salt purportedly improves bone health, aids digestion, and decreases inflammation.

Pick up some salts to take home. I like the salt I purchased in Iceland so much that I’ve added this Icelandic Salt Sampler by Saltverk to my gift ideas for travel lovers!

Fermented shark (Hakarl) hanging to dry in Iceland
Fermented shark (Hakarl) hanging to dry in Iceland (Photo credit: Skaldis, Depositphotos.com)

Traditional Icelandic Foods to Try

Here are a few more traditional foods that are part of Icelandic culture. I didn’t feel I could list these among the delicious foods in Iceland, but you may want to give them a try. Who knows? Maybe you’ll love them!

Fermented Shark

If you’re feeling adventurous, try Hákarl, or fermented shark meat. It is made from rotten Greenland shark, which is cured with a fermentation process and then hung to air dry. Iceland’s national dish can be found in markets throughout the year, but it is traditionally served during the Icelandic Midwinter Festival.

For those who have a hankering to give Hakarl a taste, head to The Icelandic Bar (Islenski Barinn) in Reykjavik. An order comes with six pieces to share with your travel mates (or hog for yourself?!). Hakarl is typically eaten with alcohol, so get a shot to wash it down.

Icelanders love salted licorice
Icelanders love salted licorice (Photo credit: Teka77, Depositphotos.com)

Salted and Chocolate-Coated Licorice

Licorice lovers will be in heaven in Iceland. Depending on your taste buds, you might quite enjoy the country’s candy of choice: salted licorice. I, however, figured I dislike black licorice enough on its own, much less with a coating of NaCL. (I did give it a go, and I was right.)

Chocolate-coated licorice is also beloved in Iceland. Although I didn’t try it, this sweet sounds much more palatable than the salty option.

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Sky Lagoon view
Sky Lagoon geothermal pool in Iceland (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Explore More

From FlyOver Iceland and Reykjavik’s famous Rainbow Street to an indoor Lava Show, discover the best things to do in Reykjavik.

Iceland is famous for its geothermal pools heated by volcanic activity. But which is best? Read this analysis of Sky Lagoon vs. Blue Lagoon to find out.

Reykjavik is one of the world’s best white Christmas destinations. Discover why!

Hungry for more good food? Enjoy the best pancake houses in the Netherlands.

Delicious Things to Eat in Iceland

Save These Icelandic Foods

For future trips, be sure to keep this list of what to eat in Iceland. Just pin the image above to Pinterest. Go ahead and follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Which of these things to eat in Iceland sounds most delicious to you? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: Pursuit Collection hosted many (but not all) of my experiences and meals in Iceland. I did not receive any monetary compensation related to this article about what to eat in Iceland. Regardless of who’s paying, I always share the truth with readers.

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  1. I find it so interesting to read the different foods that people have in different parts of the world. It is so much fun exploring food!

  2. Wow! It seems like there’s so many great, different things to try there! Pretty amazing! I’d love to go one day!