You are in Iceland, and you just sat down in your comfortable rental car. Ahead are days of unbelievable exploration: Waterfalls, glaciers, black sand beaches, volcanoes and everything there in between. But aren’t you forgetting something? Yup! For every real road trip in Iceland, you need fantastic Icelandic snacks! Something to munch on during your drive and ideas for where to stop and what to eat while getting from one Icelandic town to the next.
I love Iceland, and I have traveled almost anywhere you can think of in my country. Furthermore, I happen to be a huge foodie. I even founded the Reykjavik Food Walk to find an excuse to eat out every day … but that’s another story. I just wanted to share with you a few local recommendations that I hope will come in handy for your Iceland road trip ahead. I highly recommend you to try to cross them all out while you explore!
Icelandic snacks: Skyr!
Until recently one of our best kept secrets. Now, a huge trend all around the world. Many believe that the Icelandic Skyr is one of the reasons Icelanders are very healthy, active and have the long life expectancy. Skyr is a super traditional “yogurt” that is more of cheese than yogurt… although it is best described as such. Many Icelanders eat Skyr every day; it’s accessible in every supermarket in the country and its cheap.
Skyr is super rich in protein and low in carbs and fat. It’s filling and comes with 20+ different flavors. Although it’s best kept cold, it is the perfect icelandic snack to take for day trips. It will be perfectly fine in the car for a few hours. I highly recommend you to try it! You can choose the “original” if you want to taste how the Vikings had it, but my other favorite flavors are strawberry or chocolate/banana!
Icelandic snacks: Pylsa – the Icelandic Hot Dog
Oh yes! Your best friend during any road trip and one of the most famous Icelandic snacks. While restaurants are not too frequent in the midst of the highway, almost every gas station around the country serves the most “traditional” Icelandic fast food, our beloved hot dog. The Pylsa is the most common fast food/street food in Iceland as it is available everywhere.
The Icelandic hot dog is made with lamb meat and usually served with tomato sauce, remoulade, sweet Icelandic mustard, and both raw and deep fried onions. Yummy!
- It has been a national debate for decades if the Icelandic hot dog should rightfully be called Pysla or Pulsa. Which do you think sounds better? You should also ask your hot dog master when you get one for yourself.
Icelandic snacks: Kleina – The real local pastry
I believe most Icelanders would relate to this but Kleina is something I have always loved since I was a child. And of course, it was one of the signatures of my grand-grandmother. Kleina is a deep fried bread of some sort and has through recent years got the name “twisted doughnut” in English.
Kleina is perfect to have in your car whenever you begin to get hungry – or to snack on because … you love food. You can buy bags of Kleina at many supermarkets but preferably you’d like to get them in any local bakery!
Icelandic snacks: Icelandic chocolate & licorice
Icelanders are suckers for sweets … and I don’t think that’s a secret at all. The selection of Icelandic sweets is vast, and if you’re a sweet-tooth like I am, I recommend you to find the nearest Bónus / Krónan or Hagkaup supermarket and go nuts. However, here are a few favorites that I want you to try!
- Icelandic licorice. Any kind does the job. Just make sure that it’s Icelandic. I know a lot of Americans don’t like licorice but I encourage you all to try, as it’s entirely different from what you get elsewhere.
- Icelandic milk chocolate (pro tip: head on over to the baking goods department to find the same quality chocolate in less sexy/commercial packaging, sometimes resulting in 100% lower prices!
- Now on to the exciting part – when we mix chocolate and licorice together! “Þristur” (the original) is a must try, with a mix of hard chocolate, soft chocolate and licorice in the center. Another more recent chocolate bar is “Hitt,” and it’s very similar but also has an additional layer of soft caramel!
Icelandic snacks: Icelandic Ice Cream
And finally, more than anything, we LOVE ice cream.
For most travelers it comes as quite the surprise as if you haven’t noticed – it’s pretty cold all year round. But Icelanders love Ice cream, and if just speaking for myself, I’d choose ice cream over anything else foodie related.
The good news here is that we’ve got tons of new ice cream shops all around the country. And I think it’s perfect to add a few of them to your Iceland road trip itinerary. I’ll only name a handful to keep focus, but if you like the idea of overdosing on gorgeous ice cream in Iceland, please research each area that you’ll be driving around and plan to visit more!
- If in Reykjavik, do not miss “Ísbúð Vesturbæjar.” Ask for the old ice cream and then ask for “Bragðarefur.” You’ll get to choose three types of candies to add the mix. Myself, I always have a size Large and share with my girlfriend. We get strawberries, daim & Þristur. The staff will understand all this …
- Driving south and through Selfoss. I recommend the towns local ice cream shop, “Ísbúð Huppu.” Delicious ice cream, whether you decide to go for standard Ice cream, milkshake or “Bragðarefur” like recommended in Reykjavik. Also, make sure to have the old ice cream!
- Just a little further south and you will find a farm called “Efstidalur.” It’s located straight off from the highway if you are driving the Golden Circle. This cute farm began serving homemade ice cream a few years ago – from inside the barn. Worth the stop!
- If you find yourself all the way in Akureyri in North Iceland. Do not miss out on “Brynja.” All my best childhood memories are made in this tiny little store … the ice cream here is so good that it deserves to be consumed with no dressing or topping. Just plain! – old ice cream, of course.
- Lastly, if you decide to explore the beautiful and remote area of the Westfjords, West Iceland. Make sure to stop at Erpsstaðir on the way. The most beautiful cow farm that so happens to make extraordinary delicious ice cream. Usually, the farm animals are out front and can be fun to pet or play with.
What you should drink in Iceland …
First and foremost, always remember that Icelanders do not buy water. The tap water everywhere in Iceland is not only free but the best water you will find in your life. Not as if that isn’t enough but the water flowing in any river, waterfall or lake is crystal clear and waiting for you to refill your bottles in it. I recommend doing that as it’s also way more fun!
Two recommendations other than water:
- Since I’m writing this in November and I’ve already started singing Christmas songs, I will recommend our most popular/traditional Christmas drink. Note that it is available all year. The product is called “Malt & Appelsín,” and you’ll find it in orange 0,5-liter cans. I will not entertain you with any more details or description because it is both nearly impossible to describe the taste… and it would just sound strange, hah! I hope you get to try it!
- Secondly, the most common Icelandic soda is called “Appelsín.” It’s an Icelandic orange soda. Doesn’t sound the most traditional beverage but has been the go-to soda for Icelanders for million years and counting.
Now, are you ready for your adventure?
You should be able to find most of these items at every gas station around the country. But I highly recommend you to stop in any of the leading grocery stores Bónus / Krónan / Nettó or Hagkaup (cheapest stores in correct order) as there you will find everything at more than 100% better price.
I hope this quick little blog post has been both helpful and fun . Tell us your list of the ultimate Icelandic snacksBack