Although most experiences for a food lover in Iceland revolve around the capital, Reykjavík, there are a few other places around the island that are worth visiting. With a long history of seafaring, Iceland is naturally a hotspot for finding great seafood, prepared in both traditional and new ways that represent a global mix. You can find a little bit of everything in Iceland and here are our top picks.
This gradually transforming part of Reykjavík used to be a fish-processing area used only by the fishing company HB Grandi that sits close by. Now the fish-storing units have been turned into quality cafés, such as the Coocoo’s Nest, an Italian-style café, Kaffivagnin, a retro coffee shop with a harbor view, and Valdís, one of the best ice cream shops in Reykjavík. You can also find specialty shops, such as Burið Delicatessen, an Icelandic cheese shop, and Matarburið, a specialty meat shop.
A former shabby bus station, Hlemmur Food Hall is now home to a wide variety of food-truck-style offerings in a spacious open-atrium building. In the European-style food hall, you can find coffee at Te og Kaffi, Mexican food at La Poblana, artisanal bread at Brauð & Co., Vietnamese street food at Báhn Mí, and nitrogen-frozen ice cream at Ísleifur Heppni.
It is no surprise that Reykjavík has many incredible restaurants with mouth-watering seafood, as Iceland is a seafaring nation with centuries of practice in cultivating the best preparations. In central Reykjavík, there is a lot for a food lover to enjoy. Fiskmarkaðurinn, which means “The Fish Market,” is housed in one of the area’s oldest buildings and offers all the best Icelandic seafood, including salted cod, Atlantic catfish, salmon, blue ling, langoustine tails, and flounder. There is also Snaps, a French bistro where you can try mussels caught from Breiðafjörður Bay just north of Reykjavík, and Þrír Frakkar, one of the oldest restaurants in town with a long history of being very well received.
In this west residential area of Reykjavík you can find Kaffivest, a cozy place with a rotating menu of local dishes, the eclectic and tiny grocery store called Melabúðin, and Oddsson Bazaar, an Italian menu located inside a trendy design hotel.
This quaint town on the Snæfelsness Peninsula has a few great restaurants specializing in local seafood. Narfeyrarstofa, Plássið, and Sjavarpakkhúsið are all great places to start exploring the local specials, such as mussels straight from the bay.
In this tucked-away town in the Westfjörds of Iceland, food lovers should check out Húsið for local beer and fish soup, Tjöruhúsið for their renowned fish stew, or plokkfiskur, and Gamla Bakarið for an array of desserts.
This is the second-largest town in Iceland after the capital and offers many places for food lovers to explore. Kaffi Kú, located only ten kilometers (6.2 miles) from Akureyri, allows guests to enjoy their meal in a shed while watching cows get milked—quite a farm-fresh experience. Strikið offers great views of the bay, classic cocktails, and classic Icelandic dishes, like lamb and reindeer. At the café Berlin, you can eat breakfast all day in a timber-lined cabin.
In the whale-watching capital of Europe, Húsavík’s quaint backdrop has a surprising amount of options for food lovers for such a tiny place. Café Hvalbakur (whaleback) is operated by the whale-watching company North Sailing, and here you can find homemade pastries and warm drinks for your post-sailing treat. Naustið nearby on the harbor offers excellent fresh fish and vegetables on skewers. Also on the harbor is the classy Fish and Chips, where you can get cod golden-battered to perfection.
This town located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Reykjavík is famous for its numerous geothermal springs. This has made it a sweet spot for huge greenhouses. At the restaurant Varmá, located in the Frost & Fire Hotel, you can taste some of these greenhouse vegetables yourself. Skyrgerðin is also an eclectic, vintage-style café offering delicious, traditional Icelandic dishes and local ingredients.
In this beautiful “capital” of the Eastfjörds, often overlooked as a foodie destination for its lack of a town culture, you can find a number of interesting spots worth visiting. At Salt Bistro you can try an impressive flatbread pizza or a tandoori dish, quite international for the rural area. Also check out Café Nielsen, located in the oldest house in Egilstaðir (a cottage, really) where you can have lobster soup and reindeer.
In this beautifully scenic lake region close to Akureyri in the north, there are many clusters of dining options. In the Vógar area you can find the Vógafjós Cowshed, where you can watch the cows through the windows of this rustic café offering great local dishes, including hamburgers. Also wort visiting is the restaurant Sel, located in the Mývatn Hótel, where you can try freshly caught trout prepared in various ways, as well as the local specialty bread, geysir bread, baked in a special oven container in water close to hot springs.