Whilst Iceland is renowned for its striking scenery, epic waterfalls and mighty volcanoes, this little nation is also fast becoming a destination for the foodies. Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital, is simply brimming with great dishes and world-class chefs. But outside of town, you’ll also find some fantastic eateries that are well-worth stopping for.
So if you’re looking to sample some Nordic cuisine and don’t know where to go, look no further. Handpicked by the locals, here are 10 of the best places to eat in Iceland.
Englendingavik Restaurant, Borgarnes
Offering an inviting and warm atmosphere, Englendingavik Restaurant is located in a secret little cove. Views extend out towards the sea, where you’ll find the surrounding islands and rocks are teaming with birdlife, as well as the odd seal or two.
Try the Icelandic tapas appetisers to start and then take your pick of the delicious array of mains, including mussels, seafood pasta and lamb goulash. Their homemade ice cream is also a fabulous dessert.
For shelter from the breeze, it’s best to take a seat on the terrace extending south of the restaurant. And to make sure you’re not disappointed, be sure to check the opening times. Although this lovely restaurant is open seven days a week in summer, its winter hours vary.
Hotel Budir, Snæfellsnes
Referred to as the ‘Mecca of Icelandic cooking’, Hotel Budir boasts one of the most romantic restaurants in Iceland. Set in the spectacular scenery of the Snaefellsjokull peninsula, just over two hours from Reykjavik, this candlelit eatery features simple white-clothed tables with dark wood chairs. The large windows then draw all your attention to the scenery, with Snaefellsjokull glacier, a lava field and the rugged western coastline to admire.
Known for its lamb and fish dishes, the restaurant’s regionally-inspired menu is seasonal as it sources fresh ingredients directly from the local fishermen and farmers of nearby villages. Expect wild herbs, mushrooms and berries from the surrounding countryside, alongside carefully selected wines.
Slippurinn Eatery, Vestmannaeyjar
Once a machine workshop serving an old shipyard, Slippurinn is now an award-winning eatery whose popularity is spreading far and wide. Set in the Westman Islands, you’ll need to take a 30-minute ferry from the mainland to reach Slippurinn. But from the eye-catching journey to its delicious destination, you can be sure it’ll be worth it.
Serving seasonal local food, Slippurrin combines traditional cooking techniques with sustainable products. The bar also makes its own seasonal cocktails from locally grown ingredients and you can choose from at least 20 Icelandic beers on the drinks menu.
Open every day from May to September, this is one of the most popular restaurants on the south coast of Iceland. So you may want to get booking a table early.
Sudur Vik Restaurant, Vík í Mýrdal
Perched on a hilltop overlooking the town of Vik in southern Iceland, Sudur Vik is a quaint eatery with a very diverse menu. You’ll find everything from snacks to mains and steak sandwiches to Asian cuisine. They also serve delicious cakes, but are best known for their tasty pizzas and locally made ice cream.
A favourite with townsfolk as well as travellers, Sudur Vik offers a great atmosphere. But as it’s a popular choice it’s best to go for dinner early. Or if you’re travelling to Iceland during the high season – book ahead of time.
If you thought Icelandic menus were all fish stews and lamb, you’d be wrong. Offering a wonderful selection of vegetarian, vegan and raw creations, Silva Restaurant is a haven for those skipping out on Iceland’s meatier dishes.
Set in the heart of Eyjafjord rural area, this family-run eatery serves its grub organic and fresh. With soups, pizzas, burgers and desserts on offer, there’s something for everyone. And with stunning mountain views to top it off, you’ll be glad you found this little gem.
Hallormsstadur Hotel, Egilsstaðir
Home to two restaurants, Hallormsstadur Hotel is most famous for its gourmet evening buffets. Served in the Lauf Restaurant, the buffet presents delightful courses of local beef, lamb, seafood and vegetables.
Set in one of the largest nature reserves in Europe, the restaurant is the perfect stop for the tired and hungry who have been out all day exploring. During the day you’ll also find a light lunch menu, alongside coffee and pastries.
Lava Restaurant, Blue Lagoon
Set on the west bank of the famed Blue Lagoon, the Lava Restaurant offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience. It’s built into an 800-year-old cliff and features a natural lava wall, with fantastic views out over the milky-blue lagoon.
Open for lunch and dinner, the menu ranges from light bites to gourmet meals. The chefs here pride themselves on their use of fresh ingredients. So if you’re looking to treat yourself, check out the 4-course tasting menu showcasing the best of Icelandic cuisine.
Humarhofnin Restaurant, Höfn í Hornafirði
Situated by the harbour in the small fishing town of Hofn, Humarhofnin Restaurant is the place to go for langoustine (Norway lobster). Often referred to as the langoustine capital of the north, the fishermen here select their catch on the boat – guaranteeing a better quality.
You can choose to have your local langoustine served whole, just tails, as soup or in baguettes. So whether you like shellfish or not, you’re sure to find at least one tasty dish to your liking.
Akureyri Backpackers, Akureyri
The perfect place to meet other travellers, Akureyri Backpackers has a simple yet tasty menu. If you’re visiting during the week, expect fish, hamburgers or delicious lasagna. Then at the weekend, don’t miss their scrumptious brunch, with eggs, bacon, sausages, potato wedges and pancakes.
If you’re feeling brave, this backpackers also hosts an open mic. So if you play an instrument, can sing or tell jokes, get on up there. Or sit back, and watch the entertainment whilst you eat.
Restaurant Varma, Hveragerði
Nestled on a riverbank amidst the hot springs of Hverageroi, this hotel restaurant offers a tempting array of seasonal, locally grown cuisine. They also know how to make the most of their scenic surrounds, with several of the menu items being cooked in the springs’ hot waters.
The restaurant offers outdoor seating with brilliant views over the Varma River – the restaurant’s namesake. And when you’ve eaten your fill, you can spend your afternoon exploring the picturesque landscape, with fishing, hiking and horseback riding available close by.
Thinking of travelling to Iceland? Take a peek at our range of group tours.