Traditional Icelandic food?


I’m really excited for my trip to Iceland and I love tasting the traditional cuisines of each place I visit, does anyone have any recommendations? I heard that Icelanders also eat sharks, is there any place where we can taste that??


Hey Mita! Traditional Icelandic food includes many tasty delicacies like smoked lamb (Hangikjöt), lamb soup (Kjötsúpa), Salted cod (Saltfiskur) and dried fish (harðfiskur). You can get these treats in any supermarket, but you can also have them served in many nice restaurants across the country. Here’s a nice little article called The world’s most disgusting Icelandic food. It really tells you all you need to know, although I can’t get my head around why the author chose such an unfitting title (shame on her), because the food listed there is actually quite yummy! I can understand why some people might not like the fermented shark, though. Perhaps it’s best you just go to Reykjavík’s flea market, Kolaportið, and ask the fish mongers for a small taste before you buy it in bulk :slight_smile:


Hi Magnus! This is very exciting to read, not quite sure yet how I would be able to pronounce this well enough to order them in restaurants but at least now I know what to ask for ha! :smile: I did not know that the fish mongers would let us have a taste before we buy them! Thank you!


Hi Mita,

If you have an adventurous palette, you will love Iceland. The shark you are referring to is fermented Greenlandic shark; in Icelandic, its called kæstur hákarl. It is readily available in shops and supermarkets, usually cubed in a clear vacuum bag. You can also try it in some restaurants and cafes, which is probably more recommended as I can almost guarantee that one cube will be enough for you for a lifetime. Cafe Lóki, right by the big church Hallgrímskirkja, serves it alongside many other Icelandic dishes; so does Islenski Barinn and the more upmarket Þrír Frakkar.

As Iceland developed as a fishing and farming nation, its best dishes reflect that. The sheep in Iceland season themselves by grazing on Icelandic thyme, meaning the lamb dishes are some of the best in the world, especially the lamb soup. By the harbour downtown, there are many fish restaurants where you can enjoy the fresh catch of the day. All in all, the vast majority of restaurants in Reykjavik have excellent quality food, with fresh ingredients and creative combinations.

Hope that helps,


Hi @Richard_Chapman thank you for this! Do you by any chance know if we are allowed to bring the fermented shark in our luggage since it is packed in a vacuum bag? And I appreciate the restaurant recommendations! Will definitely check Cafe Loki out on my trip to Hallgrimskirkja :sunny:


Hi Mita! - I think you can even buy shark at the airport so you can put it in hand luggage!


The shark tastes pretty bad, and most Icelanders don’t eat it. They’ve probably tried it at some point (I’ve tried it a few times, maybe 3 times or so) - but it’s not something that is eaten regularly. So it’s only traditional in the sense that it has been served for hundreds of years, but is no longer commonly eaten.

Traditional food that is still common and locals eat regularly includes the dried fish, kleinur (Icelandic doughnut), herring, rye bread, flat bread (flatkaka), leaf bread (laufabrauð), smoked salmon, salted cod, smoked lamb, seafood soups and meat soups. And of course skyr.

Icelandic cuisine has developed quickly in the past few years, and a lot of Icelandic ingredients, such as herbs, berries or even seaweed, are being introduced into lamb and fish dishes. One dish that oddly no-one here has mentioned is the dairy product skyr, that’s actually a type of cheese but similar to yoghurt in taste and texture. This is offered in almost every single restaurant in Iceland as a dessert option, sometimes with berries or with chocolate or ice-cream or caramel or in a cake form or maybe even warm… the options are endless :slight_smile:

If you want to try some traditional Icelandic food, but with a modern twist (and more interestingly prepared!) then I recommend checking out the restaurant Matur & Drykkur.

Don’t miss out on all the interesting and delightful Icelandic (modern) cuisine with traditional ingredients! :smiley:


Hi @Unnur_Helga thank you for this! Good to know that they are safe to bring in the luggage, wouldn’t want to get stopped in the airport :smiley:


Lol, watch out, though, you have to buy it after security! They won’t let you through there with it!


Ha! Good to know this beforehand!! Thank you again for the pointers :smiley: