Iceland is known for geysers, waterfalls, and super expensive food. While it’s true that some things in Iceland are expensive, food is a surprisingly great place to save money – if you know where to look. Things become increasingly expensive as you venture further outside of the city, but at least in Reykjavik there are plenty of affordable food options.
On my very first day in Reykjavik, I went on a walking tour of the city. The woman running the tour gave us all the insider tips on where to find cheap eats in Reykjavik. The tips that she shared saved us a mini-fortune on food, and we ate really well.
The best thing about food in Iceland is that the cheaper foods are the ones that many of us non-locals are more accustomed too. The restaurants in the main square of Reykjavik make a big spectacle of serving things like puffin and whale, and they charge a lot for these dishes. While I totally respect different preferences, I was happier having food options that were more familiar.
Here’s Where to Find Cheap Restaurants and Food in Reykjavik!
My trip to Iceland was a little bit before I started blogging, so I’ll just be upfront in saying that I don’t have any good photos of the food. The café in the cover photo is not actually cheap, just adorable (thus why I have a photo). It’s called Kaffislippur, and if you want a great cup of coffee and a delicious dessert, it’s right be the harbour. Cute, but not cheap. Now, onwards to budget meals!
The University of Iceland Cafeteria
This was the best meal that I ate in Iceland. This tip came from the tour guide. The University of Iceland is walking distance from Reykjavik’s downtown, at the far end of a small lake which the locals refer to as “The Pond.” It’s right next to National Museum of Iceland, so this is where I had lunch on a day where I was using the Reykjavik City Card to visit this and other museums.
The campus is small, so the cafeteria is easy to find. There’s the massive, main building of the University, and the cafeteria is in a smaller building off to the right. The daily specials are written on a chalk board, and you can add a drink to your order. The specials change every day, and one of the staff told me that there are always a few different options. I paid 830 ISK for a hot lunch which included chilli, pasta, bread, and a salad. It was enormous, delicious, and worked out to around $10 CAD with the exchange rate. (Prices from 2016)
Pizzeria on Austurstræti
When I arrived back from an incredible afternoon exploring Videy Island, I was hungry and ready to eat. This was the day that I really got a good look at the restaurants in the more tourist-oriented area of Reykjavik. It took a bit of circling, but eventually we found Pizzeria just off Ingólfur Square.
Had I known how incredible the pizza was going to taste, I would have taken a photo before cutting the first slice. It was the perfect place for an inexpensive dinner out, at $15 CAD for a pizza shared between two people. It’s not that unreasonably priced if you want a pizza all to yourself, either.
Having a hotdog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is a thing in Reykjavik, and you can’t leave without trying one. The stand opened in 1937 and has been visited by the likes of Bill Clinton, Kim Kardashian, and Metallica. Every one agrees, these are the best hot dogs in the world. This was the first hot dog that I ever tried. Not just in Iceland, in my entire life.
A hot dog costs about 350 ISK. Bring cash! Credit is not accepted.
The Best Grocery Store in Iceland – Bonus Supermarket
The “food is expensive in Iceland” mantra sounds like a mistake when you see the prices in Bonus Supermarket. It was one of the cheapest grocery stores I’ve ever been in, and they have everything you could possibly want.
Everywhere that we ate out during our four days in Reykjavik is listed right here in this blog post. I think that food is a great area to keep costs low when you’re travelling, so we bought groceries at Bonus Supermarket and made our own food the rest of the trip.