Let’s be honest, Iceland is not known for its delectable cuisine by any means. People visiting Iceland want to see some waterfalls, glaciers, and if they’re lucky, the glorious northern lights.
One of my favorite things about traveling is trying the local food, because every culture has something unique. Iceland is no exception to this rule, there are some very unique items to try. In order to fully experience the Icelandic culture, I’ve rounded up a few that you should include on your trip to Iceland.
Skyr is an dairy product similar to greek yogurt. It’s high in protein and calcium and comes in many flavors. My favorite thing about skyr is that it comes with a mini fold up spoon so you can eat it on the go!
Where to find: anywhere! Gas stations, grocery store, cafes…it will probably be the first thing you notice when you walk off the plane.
This wouldn’t be a proper Iceland recommendation list without mentioning the famous hot dog. Icelanders LOVE their hot dogs, and they have made a special hot dog sauce to go with it. Toppings include raw onions, crispy fried onions, ketchup, special Icelandic hot dog mustard and remoulade. If you want to blend in with the locals, ask for it “eina meö öllu” which means one with everything.
Where to find: Bæjarins Beztu is the most famous hot dog stand at Tryggvatagata 1 in downtown Reykjavik. Most gas stations also have them.
Order the lamb everywhere you go! I know I just said that about the fish, but its true of both. Eat as much lamb and fish as you can while in Iceland. Icelandic lamb roam free on the countryside, eat grass, and are never given hormones – this is the perfect meat! Every time we went to a restaurant, I would order the fish and Bobby would get the lamb so we could try both. We were never disappointed.
Also try: meat soup which is prepared with lamb meat. Its an Icelandic staple, and so wonderful to warm you up on a cold day!
Where to find: I would say lamb is a staple on most restaurant menus. Don’t try to be adventurous and make your own at home… it’s worth tasting from the experts!
As a rule, order the fish everywhere you go. It’s caught fresh daily from the mountain streams or cold Atlantic waters -probably more fresh and delicious than you’ve ever tasted! Fish is always perfectly prepared, not overcooked and with amazing flavors. I recommend the lax (salmon) and salted cod.
Where to find: Pretty much every single restaurant will have fish on their menu!
Obviously, I am going to put ice cream on the list! Iceland’s naturally grass-fed dairy and full-fat goodness makes for amazing ice cream. Trust me, this isn’t your average ice cream.
Where to buy: I’m a fan of good ol gas station soft serve with dark chocolate dip, sometimes I’ll get crazy and have them sprinkle some coconut flakes on it. There are plenty of specialty ice cream shops that make unique flavors and are all delicious as well. Even the ice cream in grocery stores amazing. Basically, you can’t go wrong!
Hákarl + Brennivín
Oh the famous fermented shark and Icelandic schnapps. Every source we read before we visited said that hákarl was the worst thing they had ever tried, but that you should still try it anyway. Our experience with hákarl is opposite of how it usually goes: I hated it and Bobby loved it. I usually like anything that is fermented so I thought this would be easy for me. Wrong. At first, you’re like “ok this is different” and then the more you chew it, the warmer your mouth gets and then you realize it tastes like bleach. To top it off, you take a shot of brennivín which is a schnapps native to Iceland. I get the idea – it warms you up in the middle of the winter…but on this one, I think I’d rather be cold.
(P.s. I still think everyone should try it!)