Every square inch of Iceland is a perfect image worthy of a #nofilter. But beyond the fosses (waterfalls), active volcanoes and Game Of Thrones-esque landscapes, it’s easy to forget Iceland’s extremely unique food scene. Buy your airplane ticket to “The Land of Fire & Ice” quickly before it becomes too touristy, and feast like a Viking via these 10 best Icelandic food experiences.
1. Bake Bread in an Active Geyser
Hverabrauð, or Geysir bread, is a traditional Icelandic rye bread that is deliciously dense and sweet. Hverabrauð literally means “hot spring bread,” and is baked by burying it in caskets under the ground near a hot spring. Temperatures below the ground can get as high as 212 °F, and there is nothing like pulling a steaming container from the ground and inhaling the smell of freshly-baked bread.
Iceland is filled with hot-springs and geysers, and the Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Baths offers a bakery tour. And after filling yourself with Geysir bread, be sure to relax in the bright-blue otherworldly baths.
2. Dare to Eat Minke Whale Kebabs
It’s difficult to recommend this given 1) my love for whales and 2) several whales are endangered species. However, Iceland does have many fishing regulations, and the minke whale has never been considered endangered, so this is definitely an ultimate bucket list item for the adventurous at heart.
A tender, red meat best had rare, many compare Minke Whale with beef. The most popular place in Iceland to try Minke Whale Kebabs is The Sea Baron restaurant in Reykjavik, the capital. A charming, bright blue building by the sea, The Sea Baron is recommended by many locals for fresh seafood in a cozy atmosphere. If Minke Whale kebabs sounds too daring, The Sea Baron is renowned for its lobster bisque and other fish kebabs.
3. Chill on an Arctic Farm with “Angel’s Herb” Ice Cream
By far my favorite memory in Iceland was eating at the Vogafjos Cowshed Café in Northern Iceland. For a landscape that sounds so snowy and harsh, Iceland has plenty of farms. The Vogafjos Café is set on a family-run sheep and cattle farm, with a stunning view of Lake Myvatn and rugged mountains and flowing, grassy fields. The best time to visit is during sunset, where the entire farm is covered with a golden-pink glow.
On the way into the Café, we passed the cowshed where both adult cows and adorable calves were resting. Everything on the menu, from the mozzarella to the salad cheese, was made from the milk of these cows. We had the most delicious ice cream ever. It was thick, creamy, and freshly made. Their flavors include Angelica, a medicinal herb the Vikings once used as currency.
4. Pay Thousands of Dollars to Go Salmon Fishing
One of the most famous places to catch salmon is the Laxa river in Northern Iceland, near the city of Akureyri. You can catch salmon that are over 20 lbs. The catch (no pun intended)? To stay at a fishing lodge costs around $6000 a week.
If you get tired of wading around cold, crystal waters in a barren lava-field landscape dotted with lichen, there are several salmon recipes to try with the gigantic salmon found in Laxa. A popular Icelandic delicacy is Graflax, or fresh salmon cured with spices.
5. Try Smoked Puffin with Berry Sauce
Iceland sure is a unique country, and it may be uncomfortable to think about people eating puffins, those adorable seabirds that can be found as stuffed-animal pillows in every aquarium gift store. But bear in mind that in order to survive the remoteness, Icelandic people in the olden days had to rely on eating such food. There are tons of puffins around Iceland, dotting the seaside cliffs with black and orange. And the meat, which tastes like just another bird, is a traditional local delicacy.
Puffin is often prepared smoked, and a great place to try it is Fiskmarkadurinn, a highly-rated restaurant in downtown Reykjavik.
6. Sip Beer While Floating in a Sulfuric Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is where Pinterest dreams come true, and it’s one of the most iconic places to visit in Iceland. The milky blue waters look completely out of our world, and the geothermal baths help restore warmth and energy after a chilly day adventuring.
While many complain that the Blue Lagoon has become to touristy compared to the (many) other baths in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon definitely gets an A+ for amenities. After rubbing some silica mud on your face, float towards the bar in the middle of the lagoon and grab a beer to enjoy while soaking in the steam and stunning landscape.
7. Warm Up with Tea Made from Volcanic Herbs on the Ring Road
I am one of those people obsessed with tea, and possibly the most unique tea I have had has been from Iceland. The herbs they use are picked directly from lava fields, and add a wonderful, earthy mix.
While you can always pick up packets of volcanic tea herbs in downtown Reykjavik or the gift shops at the airport, the best place to have it is in a cute cup in one of the roadside stops along the Ring Road, after being drenched by an Icelandic waterfall or two.
8. Sample Kleina and Pastries in Reykjavik’s Oldest Bakery
The pastries and cakes in Europe are amazing in general, but Iceland particularly has a delicious variety of breads and jams, influenced by Danish cuisine. Icing and glazes are super popular, and since the cute town of Reykjavik feels like Christmas-time the entire year, the sugary goodness of the local bakeries are enhanced even more.
Bernhoftsbakari is the oldest bakery in Reykjavik, situated on the adorable residential street of Bergstaðastræti. Filled with bright pink and yellow pastries with a plethora of fillings, the bakery also offers kleina, a traditional fried, diamond-shaped doughnut.
9. Relax with Creamy Cheese and Red Currants in a Cute Café
Iceland has a ton of cheeses in every restaurant, and it seems like there is a particular affinity for soft, creamy cheeses. One of the best places to buy cheese is in Burid.
However, a unique way to taste creamy cheese is to have it fried. Since berries are popular in Iceland, the cute, cozy restaurant Ostabudin serves fried, creamy cheese with a lip-smacking red currant sauce. The white cheese and red dots of currants also help create an aesthetically pleasing, Instagram-worthy #foodpic.
10. Fuel Up with Skyr on a Glacier Hike
Finally, nothing symbolizes Iceland more than the popular yogurt, Skyr. A very soft, sweet cheese, Skyr can be found everywhere in Iceland and other parts of Europe, in a ton of different flavors. Skyr has been in Iceland since medieval times, and has enormous health benefits.
Because of the energy packed into Skyr, it is a great snack to have before going on the many glacier hikes throughout the country. In the arctic desert in the northern part of the country, there are several surprisingly excellently-furnished cabins with well-stocked kitchens and soft beds to rest one. Warm up there, and eat some delicious blueberry or vanilla Skyr before trekking on to your next adventure in this stunning country.