Eating vegan in Reykjavik, Iceland

Bread and coffee - the lifeblood of jet lagged people

Bread and coffee – the lifeblood of jet lagged people

So, I know we have another half day left in Reykjavik tomorrow, but I thought it was high time to get the word out about Reykjavik. It’s pretty vegan-friendly, people. Since it is a small city, it is easy to keep track of where the veggie restaurants are and intentionally go to those places, but we kept being surprised while walking by random places with vegan options. We will highlight the things we ate and saw in this post.

Sheese is freaking good vegan cheese

I love looking through foreign grocery stores. So many local, accidentally vegan products to find! What I didn’t expect was to find my favorite vegan cheese (made in Europe) in Iceland! I’ve ordered this before in the states from VeganEssentials, but they stopped importing it a few years ago. I’m looking forward to eating lots while we are in Europe. It was moderately priced, too. Similar to what I would pay for vegan cheese in the US, between $4 and $5 dollars.

Where we found the Sheese. This grocery is on Skólavörðustígur, a main pedestrian artery.

After walking Skólavörðustígur, it was time for lunch. Graenn Kostur (“The Green Choice”) is a vegetarian restaurant with a few vegan options that change daily.

Graenn Kostur - vegetarian restaurant

Graenn Kostur – vegetarian restaurant

Our delicious meal of baked eggplant filled with a rice pilaf and covered in sauce.

This was enough for both Dan and me for lunch. It cost 1800 Icelandic Krona, or just under $15. We sat outside, they had free wifi, and a firm grasp on what vegan means. It was perfect.

Then we continued walking down the main tourist drag. At Bankastræti 7, is Hostelling International’s “Loft” location in Reykjavik (can you believe that they have 33 hostels in Iceland?!?). We wouldn’t have even noticed, except the sign below was sitting outside on the street:

Sign outside of Hostelling International

Sign outside of Hostelling International. A vegan wrap and a vegan butternut soup!

Hostelling International Reykjavik – Loft

We didn’t eat there, as we had just eaten, but it was such a nice surprise to see.

The big discount grocery store in Iceland is called BÓNUS. We went in on our first afternoon in Reykjavik to buy supplies to cook dinner. If you want to travel on a budget, cooking for yourself is a big key. We have only been purchasing, maximum, one meal a day. This makes sticking to our budget easy as pie.

Vegan hazelnut – white chocolate duo spread.

I would have killed for this spread, but alas, 4 days in Reykjavik is not long enough to eat the whole thing (without getting very sick), and we aren’t checking any bags on our next flight. So that is a sad Molly.

Dinner and a malt beverage

Dinner and a malt beverage

But the meal above cost about $2.50 per person, per meal, and we each got 3 dinners out of it. It was a half kilo of pasta, potatoes, chickpeas, mushrooms, spinach, and a jar of tomato sauce. Filling, healthy, tasty, and cheap! And that malt drink? That is most certainly Dan’s. That brand has existed for 100 years and is brewed right in Reykjavik. We saw the brewery. Also, we learned something interesting. Real adult beverages (pretty much anything with an alcohol percentage over 3%) can only be sold in state-owned liquor stores or bars in Iceland. Try as we might to find a liquor store, we could not. So Dan never got to taste anything other than Iceland-made light beers. Womp womp.

C is for Cookie

C is for Cookie

Happy Cow made mention of a coffee spot with vegan cake, and between Dan’s insane jet lag and my constant need for vegan cake, we thought we would stop by. Unfortunately for us, we got there at 6:10pm, and C is for Cookie closes at 6. Woops! But it did look like a very adorable coffee shop, in a super cute neighborhood on the top of a small hill.

Today, we were walking around the port area of Reykjavik and I spied an ice cream place with a cute sign.


Can you find the word vegan?

Can you find the word vegan?

They had two flavors marked with the (v), so we ordered a scoop of each! I double checked with someone working there, and the cones are not vegan, so we had the sorbet in a cup.

Pineapple on top and strawberry/raspberry on the bottom

This was super tasty on a warm and sunny Reykjavik day. It was sorbet, not ice cream, but it was super smooth and creamy and I highly recommend it.

Then we continued our walk and we spied 2 veggie-friendly places on our way to our lunch spot.

Health food store, Heilsuhusid, on Laugavegur the main pedestrian drag.

Gló Restaurant. A healthy restaurant chain with vegan and raw options

After walking for hours and taking in Reykjavik on another beautiful day (have we been lucky or what?), we finally made it to our lunch destination, the vegetarian restaurant Gardurinn, or Ecstasy’s Heart Garden in English.


Also located right downtown, this restaurant has a set menu each day, one soup and one main. Not all of the food is vegan, so the day before we made a point to go by the restaurant and look over the menu for the week to check on the vegan-ness of the options for the rest of our stay. As it turns out, the entire rest of the week is vegan.

Carrot loaf with rice and a salad

Portuguese white cabbage soup with bread and hummus

We got a small soup and small entree combo for 1750 Icelandic Krona, or about $14.50. They were super tasty. The carrot loaf was made up of veggies, nuts and rice, with a tomato topping. This was a delicious, affordable, and well balanced meal.

a “snickers” for dessert

The same might not be able to be said about dessert – this raw dessert cost us about $4.50 – but it was worth it.

Then we went to a museum and walked some more. I had seen on signs all around the city advertising ice cream bars and cones a packaged cone called “Rice”. I had been searching for it to see if it was perhaps rice milk based and possibly vegan, when after 3 days of searching I finally found it in the oldest part of town in a grocery store. The best we could decipher, it was vegan. I even asked a checkout guy to help, but there is no Icelandic on the label! He read the Swedish the best he could (it had been a few years for him since he last spoke it, but all Icelanders learn a Scandinavian language in school), and everything he said indicated to me that the “Rice” cones were dairy-free, soy-free, and vegan. So Dan and I each had to have one! Can you sense my excitement?

Vegan ice cream cones. Happy day!


They were as sweet as can be, and about $5 a piece, but totally worth it.

So, in conclusion, being vegan in Reykjavik is totally doable. There is tofu in the discount grocery store, veggie restaurants serving up delectable vegan meals, and ice cream cones in the corner market. If only it wasn’t dark and cold 8 months out of the year! But, seriously, do not let concerns about eating vegan keep you from seeing all that Iceland has to offer. With a little preparation and planning it is easy to eat vegan and stick to a budget in Reykjavik.

Iceland: The Golden Circle

Molly and I wasted no time diving into Reykjavik and the surrounding countryside after a very uncomfortable and sleepless flight on Iceland Air.  We booked our tour through iCHighland and set out in a 16 passenger van (filled only by Molly, myself and three other Americans) on the highly recommended ‘Golden Circle’ tour.  iCHighland offers tours for around 10 USD cheaper than its competitors and other tours we encountered filled entire charter buses. Contrary to my initial misconceptions of the ‘Golden Circle Tour’ being a Chinese food entree, it is in fact a guided tour of some of Iceland’s most beautiful sights within a few hours’ drive from Reykjavik.

One of the many highlights of the tour was a stop at Golden Falls (if you are working on your Icelandic – ‘Gullfoss’).

Golden Falls – Gullfoss

With an average flow rate of 140 cubic meters per second (which from the looks of it, is a lot) it is an impressive sight to behold.  Such power churned up a chilly mist that helped to cool off an uncharacteristically hot and sunny 70 degree day.  The falls are made all the more impressive by the abundance of mountains that surround the site, containing immense glacier formations.


Golden Circle – Glaciers

If glaciers don’t float your boat, perhaps geysers launching boiling water into unpredictable winds will do the trick.  The famed and reliable Strokkur geyser (which erupts regularly every 4-8 minutes) was a sight to behold and bephotoed.  I can confirm that the small dots at the bottom of this photo are in fact people.


Golden Circle, Strokkur Geyser – Who put all of these sights so close together??

Departing the geysers, we ventured to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Þingvellir.  I Þlan to incorÞorate more ‘Þ’ characters into future Þosts. (If you are playing at home, the ‘Þ’ is actually pronounced ‘th’.)  I now understand why UNESCO made this worthy selection.


Golden Circle – Þingvellir

In addition to being the sight of the first parliament in the history of man, Þingvellir is the home to naturally filtered glacier water with a clarity and cleanliness that would embarrass your kitchen sink.


Golden Circle – Þingvellir (Yes, our feet are submerged in this photo)

Clean water and a monumental achievements of the human race are both great things.  However, continental plates are much bigger and it just so happens that the split between the Eurasian plate and North American plate run right through the middle of Þingvellir, and are moving apart at a rate of 2 cm per year.


Golden Circle – Þingvellir (Eurasian and North American plate divide)

In closing, Iceland and its sights are built to last.  Mountains, continental plates, and great plains with hardly a tree in sight.  On our tour we visited a half dozen other sights along the way and each would easily be a  ‘crown jewel’ of tourism if located in most any other city or town worldwide.  The fact that so many of these sights exist so close together is astonishing.  The Golden Circle tour is a must if you find yourself in Iceland, even if it is at the top of your daily budget.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when Molly will break down some of the best vegan food options in Reykjavik!


Golden Circle – Molly with Alaskan Lupine flowers that grow all over the countryside