Looking for some cheap eats recommendations for Iceland? I’ve got some great ideas for you!
Iceland is known for it’s majestic waterfalls, gargantuan glaciers, volcanic eruptions, and dramatic landscapes. And although cuisine isn’t on the top of the list of what Iceland is known for, there are some really delicious and interesting foods to eat in Iceland!
And while it’s very true that food is pretty expensive in Iceland, there are a lot of ways to eat well for cheap. Trying new food is one of the best parts of traveling, isn’t it?
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What to Eat in Iceland for Cheap
In this article, we’ll go over some of the best foods to eat in Iceland if you’re on a budget, top restaurants to eat at, and a place or two that’s definitely worth the splurge!
Cheap Eats in Iceland From Grocery Stores
If you’re going to eat inexpensively in Iceland, you really have eat mostly groceries. This is not a bad thing though! There were a lot of unique, interesting, and delicious things to eat in Iceland groceries stores that didn’t cost a lot of money.
There are 2 main grocery stores in Iceland that I’d recommend: Netto and Bonus.
Bonus is the cheapest grocery store around, and would be similar to Aldi in the United States (a super budget grocery store). There was less selection here, but for sure the best prices.
Netto is a mid-range grocery store with decent prices and a wide selection of foods to buy. By far, Netto had the best pastries, and especially the best pastries of all the grocery stores we visited.
Smoked lamb on flatbread with butter is a common and classic Icelandic meal, so we definitely had to try it! Matthew liked the smoked lamb, but it was a little strong for my tastes. We ate it with Icelandic butter and Flatkaka, an Icelandic rye flatbread that looks a bit like a burnt tortilla. The bread had a strong taste, but the butter was really delicious.
This particular meal is a good one, and relatively inexpensive one, to try from the grocery store to try a very traditional Iceland meal. (But you can also choose from other cuts of deli meats and other styles of flatbread, too)
Skyr yogurt is Icelandic style yogurt, and every yogurt in the stores was Skyr style. I would say the texture and flavor were very similar to Greek yogurt.
We tried several brands and flavors and they all were good, but the creme brulée flavor was probably my favorite. You can also find a variety of yogurts in every gas station, though its cheaper at the grocery store.
We ate a ton of yogurt in Iceland – this is a great, cheap food to eat here!
Other Cheap Foods We Ate From Grocery Stores
Other things we picked up from the grocery store were fruit (mainly apples), crusty bread, potato salad, and pastries. We had a lot of great but simple meals that involved an apple, a yogurt, and a slice of crusty bread and butter.
When considering what to eat in Iceland for cheap, we have to talk about pastries! To start, I had no idea that Iceland had many incredibly delicious pastries! We loved sampling as many as we could and they were definitely some of the best food to eat in Iceland.
The nice thing is that grocery store pastries were both delicious and also generally very reasonably priced. We also got some affordable pastries at a couple local bakeries, and overall, felt like this was a great cheap food to eat in Iceland.
Note: Many of these pastries are similar to other pastries in Denmark or Scandinavia. For a long time, Iceland was a Danish territory, and Danish influence continues to this day in Iceland (for example, in school, children all learn Danish as their first foreign language).
Let’s start with the best. The serbokud vinarbraud was easily our top favorite pastry, and one of the best cheap foods to eat in Iceland. It’s a custard-filled puff pastry with a little drizzle glaze on top! It kind of looked like a flower and it was fantastically delicious. We ate these several times, and each time my stomach was so happy. (Cost: $1.72)
We stopped in a bakery in Egilsstaðir and asked the baker what of the many delicious looking pastries were the most Icelandic.
She pointed to the Astapungar and the Vínarbrauð, so we got one of both! I loved the Astapungar – a slightly sweet, raisin-studded, deep-fried ball of dough. The inside reminded me of an old-fashioned donut, while the outside was golden brown, a little crunchy, and flavorful. (Cost: $1.18)
This was a slightly different version of our favorite Serbokud Vínarbrauð (above). The pastry layers here were just a little bit thicker and the filling was more in the middle. The glaze was also just a little bit thicker. Different, but still absolutely delicious! (Cost: $2.50, but big enough that Matthew and I shared it)
I didn’t grab this one until the very end of our trip, which was a shame – I definitely would have eaten more of these! Ostastykki were chewy, savory, cheesy pastries – almost like a cheesy bun. This was a good savory option to balance out all the sweet things we were trying. (Cost: $2.76)
Kleinur (kleina, for singular) were the most ubiquitous type of Icelandic pastry we saw – they were sold in grocery stores, gas stations, bakeries – everywhere. These twisted Icelandic donuts again have strong roots in Scandinavia, and are usually deep-fried and are very, very lightly sweetened.
Two Bakeries to Consider Stopping at:
Fellabakarí, in the town of Egilsstaðir (Address: Lagarfell 4, 700 Egilsstaðir) – this is where we bought the astapungar and vinarbraud, above.
Braud Bakery, in Reykjavik (Address: 16 Frakkastígur, 101 Reykjavík) – this bakery had more inventive flavors and combinations and was a little bit more money, but was very yummy.
Okay, I have to highlight a few unique and fairly cheap candies we tried in Iceland. (Yes, clearly I have a sweet tooth!) These could be found in gas stations or in grocery stores.
Sirius Brand Black Licorice Chocolate
Icelanders LOVE black licorice. They particularly love putting their licorice in chocolate. We were recommended the Sirius brand as the best type of chocolate licorice and I can confirm that it was delicious! We tried several brands of chocolate licorice and this one was for sure the best. I’m not usually a licorice girl, but I actually really enjoyed this brand and flavor.
While there are many chocolate flavors in the Sirius brand, the one in the picture above is the chocolate licorice kind, so look for that packaging. You should definitely at least try it! (This also makes a really good, cheap souvenir gift to bring home for family and friends).
Daim and Knatter Candies
Daim was a very common type of candy in Iceland – we saw it in just about every gas station and grocery store. It’s essentially chocolate covered toffee and is delicious!
Knatter are chewy candies with a very similar texture to Skittles, but they are blueberry and raspberry flavored. I thought the flavor on these were very good.
>>Still trying to nail down your Iceland itinerary? Check out my detailed 7 Day Ring Road itinerary here!
What to Eat in Iceland from Restaurants That’s Cheap
Hot dogs are very popular with Icelanders! What makes Icelandic hot dogs unique is they are made with lamb meat. You can get them from many different restaurants or stands, but you can also get them in gas stations. The most famous spot is Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, a little stand in Reykjavik.
Besides the lamb in the hot dogs, Icelandic hot dogs are unique for their toppings: crispy onions, fresh onions, mustard, and remoulade. The remoulade was a nice surprise – it’s a mayo base but it has additional flavorings, often pickles. I also heard it compared to a tartar sauce. Also,, they put all the “toppings” into the bun first. The hot dog itself sits on top of the condiments, bare.
I’m not a big hot dog person, but even for me they weren’t bad! Matthew liked them quite a bit. This is one of the best cheap foods to eat in Iceland because they only cost a few dollars, are easy to find, are a locally beloved food, and work great for visiting Iceland on a budget.
Also known as just simply “meat stew” (because there’s just not hardly any other meats produced in Iceland). The stew is fairly brothy and more like a soup, but you know, tomato – tomahto. I really liked it! The lamb was really tender and flavorful, and the other carrots and vegetables accompanied the lamb very well.
Lamb stew is incredibly ubiquitous and is an Iceland staple – if you want to try the local cuisine, definitely get you some lamb stew!
We ate our lamb stew at Sköleolfsstaeir, a little restaurant and campground near Stuðlagil. One bowl of soup cost over $20, so we had them split it up into two bowls and we shared it, which actually was still a good amount of soup to eat.
Later, we supplemented with some of our crusty bread in our campervan. This still made this meal a pretty cheap meal in Iceland.
Hakarl, or Fermented Shark
Look, is this delicious? No, not even close. Should you still try it? Absolutely! This is one of those old time traditional foods that no one in Iceland really eats anymore, except during a festival in January where everyone eats traditional foods like fermented shark and boiled sheep’s head.
We ate fermented shark at Cafe Loki in Reykjavik. It’s a little cafe just across the street from the cathedral. It seemed a little touristy – when we were there the only people who came in were Americans – but it got the job done. We went in for the fermented shark only, but also got a side of buttered rye bread to help wash it down.
The fermented shark was an experience. The smell was awful, probably the worst part of the whole thing. It smells like harsh chemicals (which makes sense as it is preserved with ammonia).
The taste was pretty fishy, and the texture was really chewy, with randomly extra tough parts occasionally. Honestly, the first taste in my mouth wasn’t as bad as the smell beforehand.
However, the aftertaste gets you again with a fishy, chemically smell – but I took a big swig of water and a bite of the delicious rye bread we got and that helped immensely.
Also, thankfully fermented shark is presented as a small serving – we got one order and it came out with 4 bite-sized pieces, so we both only had to eat two small pieces each.
The fermented shark was not on the menu by itself, so we just asked for it as it on it’s own (which we shared), and the total with the rye bread came out to just under $7. Not bad for a unique experience.
Langoustines are very similar to lobster, but are much smaller. As there are no lobsters to be found in Iceland, langoustines are often just called lobster on the menu. You can find langoustine on the menu in many spots around Iceland, but the south-east part of the country is where they are most famous and common.
We went to Ishusið Pizzeria in Höfn (a city in the southeast) for their langoustine pizza. We got this recommendation from a local, so we were certain it was going to be good! While I don’t love all seafood, I adored the langoustine pizza! It was absolutely incredible. The one we got had a garlic sauce, tomatoes, mushrooms, langoustines, and pesto.
If you are anywhere in the area, it’s totally worth a stop in Höfn just for this pizza. We also got fish and chips and breadsticks from Ishusið. Everything was delicious – definitely the best meal we ate in Iceland. 10/10 would recommend this restaurant.
This was not at all an inexpensive meal in Iceland – I think our total came out to $80+, but it was so worth it.
Reykjavik Food Tour
An excellent way to try a lot of Icelandic food on a budget is actually to go on a food tour! Here, you’ll go with a local guide and a small group to a bunch of different local Reykjavik restaurants, trying 8+ traditional Icelandic dishes.
The guide is fun and personable, telling stories and interesting anecdotes, as well as history and culture about Iceland, Reykjavik, and Icelandic food. The food is all delicious – making the whole experience a fantastic value.
We’ve done different food tours in many countries we’ve visited and always had a great time. Need to read some reviews? Check out the other 5000+ five star reviews here
Our Hack to Enjoying Quick, Hot, and Cheap Meals in Iceland
When we visited Iceland, we rented a campervan and campervaned our way around the Ring Road. Because of this, we had access to a little electric cooler and a cookstove, where we could prepare meals.
>>Check out my ultimate guide to doing an Iceland campervan trip here!
However, we knew that we were going to want to spend our time in Iceland exploring the epic landscapes around the country, and not cooking dinner.
So, we brought several freeze-dried meal pouches with us from the United States. This was an amazing hack and worked incredibly well – we loved that we could just heat some water really quick, pour it in the pouch, and then have an actually pretty delicious, hot meal in 5 minutes.
We also threw a few boxes of granola bars and protein bars in our suitcase, which was helpful, but the main time, effort, and money-saving hack for meals in Iceland is to bring the freeze-dried pouches!
Other Funky Iceland Foods You Could Try
A limited number of permits are given out each year to hunt the wild reindeer (all reindeer in Iceland are wild). However, if you see reindeer on the menu in a restaurant, it likely has been imported from Norway. I’ve been told that Icelandic reindeer is delicious though!
Boiled sheep’s head
If you want to try another old, traditional Icelandic dish, boiled sheep’s head is a classically old traditional food!
Cheap Things to Drink in Iceland
We kept our drinks really simple when we were in Iceland. These were our two beverages for the entire trip:
Skyr Yogurt Drinks
Matthew loves drinkable yogurt and so we picked up several of these from the grocery store. They were creamy and flavorful!
And THE Best Drink in Iceland… Tap Water
In Iceland, you can and should drink tap water everywhere – it’s very safe and incredibly crisp and delicious, since it essentially comes straight from the glacier. We filled our water bottles from the bathroom faucet so many times and it was amazing.
The best place to drink the water in Iceland, though, is on top of a glacier! On our 5 hour glacier hike, we went high up enough on the icefall that we actually laid down and drank straight from a little glacier stream on the ice.
Final Thoughts on Best Foods to Eat in Iceland for Cheap
I hope that gives you some good ideas for what to eat on your trip to Iceland! There are so many fantastic things to eat and drink, and you can absolutely still indulge in some delicious Icelandic cuisine on a budget.
- Our Top 8 Bucket List Spots in Iceland
- Our Iceland Budget: How to Take a Budget Trip to Iceland
- 14 Gorgeous Iceland Waterfalls to See