What to eat in Reykjavik: 12 must-try local delights

From traditional lobster soup to quality lamb and delicious desserts, this guide explores what to eat in Reykjavik, so you can enjoy authentic meals.

Before visiting the city of Reykjavik, it is important to create a list of the major landmarks worth seeing and the best family-friendly activities in the region. Along the way, you're also going to want to build up an idea of what to eat in Reykjavik, especially if you're interested in fully embracing Icelandic food culture and trying the local foods.

Are you looking for a quick bite to eat in between visiting the main attractions? Do you need food suggestions for a romantic night out? Maybe you'd like to try a food tour and get a better sense of what the locals really eat. This guide will answer key questions, like what food is Reykjavik known for, and what are the must-eat dishes in the city?

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1. Try quality Icelandic lamb

Lamb is one of the most important and popular food products in Icelandic cuisine. It is the meat that is traditionally served with Christmas dinner in the country, and the quality of lamb meat is a point of pride for local residents.

How to eat the best lamb in Reykjavik?

You can sample lamb and other foods, served tapas-style and cooked by the chefs at the Bryggjan Brugghús restaurant as part of a beer tasting and tapas-style local cuisine tour.

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2. Have ástarpungar for dessert

Ástarpungar, or love balls, are sweet, deep-fried balls of dough. They are similar to donut balls and also have a resemblance to another Icelandic dessert, kleinur. The balls can be eaten on their own or with ice cream, and they are often served with coffee.

How to eat the best ástarpungar in Reykjavik?

If you book Blue Lagoon admission with transfers and select the premium option, you'll get a reservation at the Lava Restaurant, which serves ástarpungar with salted caramel, mango chocolate mousse, and vanilla ice cream.

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3. Broaden your horizons with fermented shark

Fermented shark is an Icelandic delicacy and one of the nation's most divisive foods, especially among visitors. Nevertheless, if you're looking to fully embrace local food in Reykjavik during your stay, it is worth trying the dish.

How to eat the best fermented shark in Reykjavik?

The Icelandic food tour is a great way to try a piece of fermented shark without the risk of going hungry if you don't like the taste. Experiment with fermented shark, safe in the knowledge there will be plenty of other foods to try.

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4. Drink some authentic brennivín

Widely regarded as the signature distilled drink in Reykjavik, brennivín is a clear spirit with notes of rye bread. It is often served as a shot, but can be used as an alternative to gin in a number of common cocktails. It is also the traditional accompaniment to fermented shark.

How to drink the best brennivín in Reykjavik?

Why not make the most of your day with the Eimverk Distillery tour with tasting? You'll get to try Víti Brennivín and learn about Iceland's spirit-making traditions.

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5. Sample Icelandic horse meat

Horse meat is a famous food in Iceland and has been popular since the 1800s. Horse meat can be prepared in a number of ways, but it is often boiled or used for sausages. The horses that are bred for meat consumption are untamed, unlike horses used for riding.

How to eat the best horse meat in Reykjavik?

You'll have the opportunity to try a horse meat dish as part of the evening Icelandic food and drink tour, where you can also get to know the city and some of its best restaurants and pubs.

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6. Try some local craft beers

Craft beers have become especially popular in Reykjavik in the 21st century. These beers are typically brewed by independent companies and place an emphasis on new flavors and brewing techniques that break from tradition.

How to drink the best craft beer in Reykjavik?

One of the stops on the Reykjavik microbrewery and distillery tour is the Malbygg Microbrewery. This is a trendy, modern craft microbrewery that has been brewing since 2018.

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7. Barbecue some freshly caught fish

Reykjavik is a coastal city with a strong fishing culture, and this means fresh fish forms a major part of local food culture. You can eat as the locals do by taking some time to catch your own fish and then barbecue whatever you find.

How to eat the best fresh fish in Reykjavik?

The sea fishing gourmet experience allows you to catch your own cod, haddock, catfish, or mackerel. Anything you catch will be barbecued on board, ensuring there is plenty of food to eat.

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8. Enjoy some of the local schnapps

Schnapps is something of an umbrella term describing a number of strong spirits. While schnapps drinks enjoyed in many European countries are fruit-flavored and sweet tasting, it is not uncommon for schnapps in Reykjavik to be unsweetened. However, a wide variety of options exist.

How to drink the best schnapps in Reykjavik?

Book yourself onto the beer and booze tour for a great chance to try up to five different schnapps varieties.

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9. Give authentic skyr a try

One of the key features of Icelandic cuisine is the abundance of dairy foods. A great example of this — and a common suggestion for what to eat in Reykjavik during a visit — is skyr. Put simply, this is a yogurt-like cheese substance that is eaten with a spoon. It has a slightly sour flavor.

How to eat the best skyr in Reykjavik?

Skyr is widely available from restaurants in Reykjavik city center and can even be found in some of the most common tourist attractions, so you should have no problem finding it.

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10. Knock back an Arctic Crowberry drink

Arctic Crowberry is the signature drink served at the Magic Ice Bar in Reykjavik. A sweet, alcoholic beverage, it is uniquely served in a glass that is made out of pure ice.

How to eat the best Arctic Crowberry in Reykjavik?

Book a time to go to the Magic Ice Bar and the drink will be included in the price. You'll also have the chance to explore the attraction itself, which is full of unique ice sculptures.

11. Indulge in some lobster soup

Traditional lobster soup combines the meaty texture of lobster with a slightly sweet broth. In many cases, this dish will also include roasted vegetables, and the meal is perfect for keeping warm in the colder winter months.

How to eat the best lobster soup in Reykjavik?

As part of the Foodie Adventure walking tour, you'll have a chance to eat a dish that has been described as the "best lobster soup in the world". Try it yourself and see if you agree.

12. Treat yourself to some plokkfiskur

One of the must-eat foods for visitors looking to sample authentic cuisine is plokkfiskur, which is a kind of fish stew. The dish is made by mashing fish and combining it with potatoes and béchamel sauce.

How to eat the best plokkfiskur in Reykjavik?

The restaurant at Perlan serves authentic plokkfiskur. The fish stew is made from cod, and the meal at Perlan is served with baked rye bread and butter.

FAQs

What are the must-try traditional dishes in Reykjavik?

If you're looking for what to eat in Reykjavik and want to stay in the general direction of traditional local foods, some of the most popular dishes include lamb, lobster soup, skyr, fresh haddock, and a fish stew called plokkfiskur.

What are the best food tours in Reykjavik?

The Evening Icelandic Food and Drink Tour, the Beer Tasting and Tapas-Style Local Cuisine Tour, and the 3-Hour Foodie Adventure Walking Tour are among the best food tours in the city. These will allow you to sample popular meat dishes, eat local cheeses, and try some traditional Icelandic soups and desserts.

What are the top local food markets in Reykjavik to visit?

Hlemmur Food Hall offers some of the best local foods and was inspired by large food markets in Europe. Smaller food markets can also be found in and around the city, especially during the summer.

What is the best time of year to visit Reykjavik for food lovers?

Fresh fish is caught all year round in Iceland and forms a key part of Icelandic cuisine, along with other items that are available throughout the year, such as lamb and dairy. It should be noted that a popular food festival is held annually in February and March — the Reykjavík Food and Fun Festival.

How much should I budget for food in Reykjavik?

It is fairly common for meals in restaurants in the city to cost in the region of 2,500 ISK per person, but this can easily increase to in excess of 6,000 ISK if you order more expensive dishes or eat at high-class restaurants. These prices also exclude the more expensive alcoholic drinks, like wine.