The Land of Fire and Ice is a feast for the senses. While my sharpest memories are of Iceland’s dramatic sights—the glittering glaciers, jagged lava flows, and teeming waterfalls formed over millennia—the country leaves an impression on your tastebuds, too, with its fresh fish, hearty soups, creamy skyr, and salty licorice.
Few travel to Iceland specifically for the food, yet this sustainability-focused land of fishers and farmers has much to appeal to the foodie traveler. Reykjavik offers travelers a glimpse into the country’s traditional and contemporary culinary sides; here’s where to start with three days.
Icelandic weather is ever-changeable. Be prepared for any and all conditions.
If you only have time for one thing, make it Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, the city’s much-loved hot dog stand.
After starting your day with a strong coffee from local favorite Reykjavik Roasters, hit the streets on a food walking tour that combines sightseeing and eating. Sample Icelandic cheeses, lamb, and homemade ice cream in between stops at landmarks like Hallgrímskirkja, Harpa concert hall, and Parliament House.
Splurge on dinner at one of Reykjavik’s best restaurants, such as Dill for elevated “new Nordic” cuisine or Grillmarkaðurinn for traditional steak. Alternatively, for a more low-key evening, enjoy dinner with a local family in their home.
Start your day with a relaxing soak at the thermal pools at Laugardalur. In the afternoon, learn all about Iceland’s fascinating history of beer (which was banned from 1915 to 1989) on a tour at a local craft brewery—or opt for an experience that will take you to a few of Reykjavik’s best craft beer bars. If beer is not your thing, consider a visit to Öldur, the country’s only meadery, or Eimverk, the country’s only whisky distillery.
Soak up the day’s excesses with a visit to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, Iceland’s best-loved hot dog stand, which has been serving up lamb hot dogs since 1937. Be sure to ask for your dog ein með öllu (“with everything”).
On your last day, delve deeper into Iceland’s culinary heritage. Embark on a sea angling tour, where you can catch your own lunch; learn how Icelanders grow fresh vegetables during the long dark winters with a visit to Friðheimar farm; or taste bread made with geothermal energy at Laugarvatn Fontana. The greenhouse and bakery are around 80 minutes east of Reykjavik and can be visited as part of a Golden Circle tour from the city.
Spend your final night in Reykjavik like a true Icelander by going on a runtur (“pub crawl”) downtown. Don’t leave the country without trying its signature distilled beverage: Brennivín, which loosely (and appropriately) translates to “burning wine” and is also known as “black death.”