Reykjavik by Food - City exploration

Reykjavík buildings
Reykjavík Reykjavík

People say that Iceland is not known for its cuisine. The most famous restaurant in Reykajvik is a hot-dog stand and we have all heard about the (in)famous food Iceland has to offer, be it rotten shark, pickled sheep's head or ram's testicles paté. Most of Iceland‘s traditional food is pickled, smoked or salted using old preservation methods and today´s taste buds are not used to such strong tastes. Let's explore Reykjavik by food...

Bæjarins bestu pylsur hot dog stand
Bæjarins bestu pylsur

Today the climate in Iceland is quite cold, but research indicates that before the middle ages it was much milder and many cereals like barley and oats could be grown successfully. Iceland was even producing salt by boiling sea water and then exporting salted fish to the merchants of Bergen in Norway. But after the coming of the little ice age in the middle ages the climate became too cold to grow cereals and farmers had to rely on importing cereal from abroad which was very expensive. At the same time five centuries of overgrazing in this fragile environment had led to a shortage of firewood and salt production became nearly impossible. Icelanders started to preserve meat and fish in fermented whey, a old Scandinavian method which has since disappeared.

Old Scandinavia
Old Scandinavia

These frantic attempts to preserve food must be understood as a struggle to survive the new harsh winters. Iceland suddenly had a very short period of production, just three months of summer to produce, store and keep over nine months of winter food. Hence why traditional Icelandic food rates calorific content more highly than taste!

Nowadays things are very different and Icelandic chefs focus on fresh produce, rather than age-old preserving traditions. Lamb meat is the pride of the nation and is world known for its quality, the result of a summer of free roaming in the unspoilt Icelandic countryside. Reykjavik is currently thriving with culinary creativity and food related events, for instance the food and fun festival that took place a few weeks ago.

Svið sheep head traditional Icelandic dish
Svið - a traditional Icelandic dish

Explore the city, its food and restaurants and at the same time learn about Icelandic culinary traditions. The Reykjavik by food tour takes you around the streets and in to restaurants for taste of some of our delicious and bizarre traditional Icelandic food. While going between places, your host will introduce you to Icelandic traditions and customs in food and point out different restaurants for you to try.

About the Author

IMG Staff Writer

IMG Staff Writer

An anonymous but well informed member of our team that enjoys sharing their knowledge of Iceland & Greenland’s stunning nature.

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