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Food in Iceland – Iceland with Kids

So airfare to Iceland can be surprisingly cheap. Lodging can be very reasonable, especially if you’re willing to use Airbnb. But everything else is really expensive. Hopefully, you won’t need to buy clothes while you’re here, or a camera. But you will need to buy food.

As a very general rule of thumb, expect to pay about twice as much for food as you would at home. But there are some exceptions to this rule, so let’s take a look.

Quick service food in Iceland – no special kid’s menu

There are lots of restaurants in Iceland that serve a “fast food” type menu. Hot dogs, hamburgers, fish and chips, and ham and cheese sandwiches are the standards here. You’ll find places like this in many gas stations, and in most towns and villages.

For me, the price shock was the highest at these types of places. Hot dogs seem okay, but everything else is just plain expensive. Here are a couple of menus from our travels:

menu crop

Sorry for the terrible quality– I’ll look for a better one! This is from a place in Selfoss. Pylsa is hot dog, so your basic hot dog costs 420 krona, or about $3.40. The next listings are hamburgers with various toppings, which start at $7.60 and go up from there. That’s just for the sandwich.

Here’s a more typical example of what you will find outside of town, as you drive along Ring Road:

menu2 (1 of 1)

Here you have similar choices, except that there are no hot dogs, which were the least expensive option. Your cheeseburger meal costs about $12.75, though it includes fries and a drink. And if you want 4 of them, the cost for each one goes down to about $9.60. A fish and chips meal costs almost $17. The food will be fine, but it won’t be anything memorable.

Full service food in Iceland – some with kid’s menus

Full service restaurants have had the lowest price shock for me. We had a nice dinner at Fakasel, the Icelandic Horse Park, after a horse show. Take a look at the entree prices:

fakasel2

Note that the fish and chips is not even a dollar more than our quick service fish and chips, and it includes more fish and a salad.  The full menu is here. Cheeseburgers start at 2,290 krona, which is about $4 more than the quick service version. Again, it should be much higher quality.

But look at the children’s menu. For about $8 you’re getting a very nice kid’s meal. This seems to be a theme with kids in Iceland: Many tours are discounted or free for children, and the children’s menus seem to be the best deal around.

Now, you certainly can find much much more expensive restaurants, and they may or may not have a kid’s menu. But find one that does and your family’s meal will only be expensive, not outrageous. Remember that tax is built into the price, and there’s generally no tipping.

Update: We spent some time one day wandering around Reykjavik taking pictures of children’s menus. Check out what we found in one of our Live Updates: Children’s menus in Reykjavik. (It’s the second part of that post.)

Buffets in Iceland – take the kids!

Buffets continue the trend of more reasonable prices and great deals for kids. We had a buffet lunch at Café Nielsen; note that the buffet is only an option for lunch, and not for dinner. The all you can eat price was 2,100 krona ($17) for adults 14 and over, 1,050 krona ($8.50) for kids 7-13, and FREE for kids 6 and under. 2,100 is the exact same price as fish and chips from our quick service place above. But here, we had a salad bar, vegetable soup, and 3 entrees to choose from: pasta with salmon in a cream sauce, Indian chick pea balls, and chicken legs in a slightly spicy barbecue sauce, plus bread and butter.

An even better deal was a lunch we had at Tjöruhúsið in Ísafjörður in the Westfjords. All kids under 14 eat free at what we think is one of the best restaurants in Iceland. This is just one of the dishes they brought to our table:

amazing fish

Free for kids up to 13 seems to be the exception. But many buffets seem to have similar pricing , where they are free for little kids and half price for older children. You can see a list of some of the Reykjavik buffets that offer discounts for kids here: “Eating Out: Free Food for Kids!“.

Grocery stores in Iceland

Of course, cooking for yourself will always be less expensive. If you don’t have a kitchen, you can always buy bread, sliced cheese, or peanut butter and jelly. (Most stores will only have small containers of peanut butter.) Some larger grocery stores will have baby carrots, and most will have apples or bananas. Prices here will be higher than at home, but nothing is too painful. For example:

Bread: $3.50 for a loaf
Peanut butter: $3 for 12 ounces
Apples: $2 a pound
Bananas: $1.50 a pound

If you’re going to eat soon after your grocery store, trip, Kronan (one of the chains, which is also our favorite) has a warm ready-to-eat whole chicken deal:

chicken (1 of 1)

That’s a whole chicken plus a 2 liter of soda for 1,499 krona, or about $12.

With a kitchen, things open up even more. Here are some cheap options:

Pasta: $1.50 for a large box
Eggs: $6 a dozen
Frozen pizzas: $4 or $5 each. (These are small, 7 or 8 inches, so you will need a few!)
Apples: $2 a pound
Bananas: $1.50 a pound
Frozen chicken legs: $2.50 a pound

The word for chicken in Icelandic is “kjúklingur”; the beginning of that looks enough like “cluck” that I find it easy to remember. (Am I just weird?) Here’s what the frozen chicken legs look like:

frozenchicken (1 of 1)

And some $4 pizzas:

frozenpizza (1 of 1)

Surprisingly, lamb is much more expensive, given that there are more than twice as many sheep as people in Iceland. You’ll pay $8 – $10 a pound for most lamb meat. Beef is also expensive.

Note that you will need to pay for your plastic shopping bags in Iceland. Almost all places will charge you 20 krona, though a few charge 25. That’s about 20 cents. You’ll need to estimate how many you need, and tell the cashier so they can charge you for them.

Grocery store brands and hours in Iceland

We drove from from the Westman Islands to Vik, and arrived on a Saturday evening around 6:30 PM. Unfortunately, the grocery store closes on Saturday at 6, is closed all day Sunday, and doesn’t open again until 10 AM Monday.

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Kronan and Bonus have the largest sized grocery stores in Iceland. Kronan is found only in and around Reykjavik, though you will also find Bonus stores in Akureyri, Egilsstaðir, and even Ísafjörður. Outside of those areas, you’ll find a Netto, Kjarval (in the south) or something from Samkaup (which actually owns Netto too.)

There are two types of Samkaup stores: Samkaup Strax and Samkaup Úrval. Strax means fast or immediate, and these are going to be smaller convenience-type stores. Úrval means … well, I have no idea. Maybe selection? These Úrval stores won’t be as big as a Bonus or a Kronan, but they will be a little bigger than a Strax store.

Hours will also vary with size. Some Bonus stores in Reykjavik and Akureyri are open 24 hours; some Samkaup Strax stores are closed on Sundays and may close at 6 PM on weekdays.

That’s what we’ve found so far. Restaurants or buffets with children’s menus or prices can be a good deal, and the grocery store has some very reasonable options for feeding your family. Let us know what you think, or any questions you may have!


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Food in Iceland – Iceland with Kids was last modified: January 2nd, 2017 by Eric