A Foodie’s Journey Through Iceland’s Local Delicacies

Iceland offers more than glaciers and waterfalls (although those are truly remarkable). This volcanic island nation showcases a captivating food culture influenced by its climate and resilient inhabitants. Yes, I’m referring to puffin (no need to fret; we’ll touch on that), along with seafood comforting soups and delightful fermented delicacies.

Let’s dive into the scene to familiarize ourselves with the traditional delicacies and take day tours from Reykjavik to discover the country’s beauty.  

Ready to treat your taste buds and experience Iceland? Let’s start this journey!

Reykjavik’s Hot Dog (or Pylsur)

Are you a fan of hot dogs? For over six decades, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur in Reykjavik has served Icelandic hot dogs made from a special blend of beef, lamb, and pork.

Want the whole experience? Order “eina með öllu” (with everything) and enjoy a delicious explosion of flavors: crunchy fried onions, tangy raw onions, sweet mustard, and a creamy remoulade sauce.

This legendary stand isn’t just a tourist trap – it’s a local favorite, incredibly late at night after a few drinks. To become a pro, get two dogs because one just won’t cut it! Also, remember to bring some bills to speed things up and avoid holding up the line.


This delicious dairy snack combines the smoothness of yogurt with the consistency of cottage cheese. Made from skim milk and good bacteria, Skyr has a texture. Typically enjoyed with a spoonful of cream and tangy berry preserves, its taste falls between Greek yogurt and creme fraiche. While some prefer it slightly sweetened, many Icelanders relish Skyr in its form.


Icelandic cuisine loves its lamb! You’ll find lamb on menus nationwide, from slow-cooked stews with root vegetables to flavorful roasts with spiced gravy.

Fine dining spots like KOL showcase lamb sophisticatedly, like roasted sirloin served with fancy Hasselback potatoes, baked oyster mushrooms, and a surprising touch of pickled blueberries.

But if you’re looking for a classic Icelandic experience, head to a casual eatery like Íslenski Barinn. Their hearty lamb shank is sure to satisfy.

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Ice Cream and Cheese

Reykjavik boasts delicious ice cream shops! Trendy Valdis and classic Ísbúðin Laugalæk have flavors for everyone, from classics to adventurous options like Turkish pepper and licorice. For a unique Icelandic experience, try Cafe Loki. This quirky spot combines a bistro and coffee shop, offering rye bread ice cream alongside their famous rye bread. Vegan options are available, too, with Hafís serving delicious dairy-free flavors like caramel.

Fermented Shark, Known as Hákarl

Although fermented shark meat is a delicacy, locals tend to enjoy it on rare occasions rather than make it a regular meal. It holds more significance than being a daily staple. During winters in Iceland, preserving food was crucial for survival. Fermentation was a preservation method, with sharks being just one of the foods preserved in this way.

Fortunately, modern techniques involving vinegar and other ingredients have replaced the practice of soaking sharks in urine. When trying fermented shark at a restaurant, it’s often served with a shot of brennivín, a type of schnapps that helps mask its flavor and aroma.

Icelandic Rye Bread

Icelanders hold rye bread or rúgbrauð in high regard. This bread can be enjoyed with toppings, butter, and gourmet salts. However, Icelanders have their way of preparing it by burying it near a hot spring! This special cooking method results in sweet bread that resembles cake in texture. However, it takes a day to bake, and people from around travel to taste this delicacy. 


Fish has been a staple on dinner tables for generations, prepared in stewed or boiled forms, providing consistent sustenance for the locals. In the past, hearty fish dishes such as plokkfiskur were crucial for surviving the winters. While times have changed, seafood continues to play a role in cuisine.

The waters surrounding Iceland have long been abundant with fish, supporting the food supply and serving as a vital export that has helped the country recover from economic challenges. Cod, salmon, and haddock are commonly found, with langoustines being a favorite among residents. Reykjavik is a haven for seafood enthusiasts! Whether dining at eateries like Slippbarrinn, enjoying fish paired with rye bread or shopping at stores offering Harðfiskur (wind-dried cod or haddock jerky), fish dishes are easily found throughout the city.


Hangikjöt, a Christmas specialty, is made of smoked lamb. It is usually boiled and enjoyed with potatoes, peas, and flatbread. Sometimes, Icelanders smoked the meat using animal dung as firewood was scarce. Although this practice is no longer used today, hangikjöt remains a treat for tourists.


Snúður represents Iceland’s version of the timeless cinnamon roll featuring rich chocolate icing and an oversized airy dough. Although its precise beginnings remain uncertain, it probably has ties to the region. These delectable treats are beloved by both locals and tourists alike.

Looking for something? Stop by Sandholt for some pastries and coffee. Check out Bernhoftsbakari, a well-known bakery with a long history of making fresh bread and other goodies.


Svið is a delicacy created for those who appreciate strong flavors. A sheep’s head is split open, cleaned, and simmered until tender. This daring dish is accompanied by mashed vegetables and a delightful rhubarb jelly to enhance the head meat’s mutton flavor and diverse textures.

Svið, much like hangikjöt, is a dish enjoyed seasonally. It holds a place during Þorrablót, the celebration from mid-January to mid-February. While Þorrablót originated as a tribute to the Norse god Thor, nowadays, it can range from events with entertainment to gatherings with family and friends. If you are in Iceland during this period, watch for svið on the dining options!


Iceland’s unique dishes, like hangikjöt and skyr, showcase a blend of heritage and creativity. Exploring these flavors can delight food enthusiasts. Whether you’re intrigued by the tradition of fermented shark or drawn to the simplicity of lamb soup, Iceland promises a journey like no other. So get ready with your curiosity and appetite – there’s a world of delicacies waiting for you in Iceland!

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