As I mentioned in my previous blog posts, I just went on a 2-week trip to Iceland in September. I feel so grateful to be able to visit such a beautiful place again after my first trip in October 2018. ☺️ Same as last year, I joined a photo tour when traveling in Iceland. So basically, meals are organised by the tour guide. Given that the main focus of the tour is photography, food isn’t such a big deal. When my friends heard that I am going to Iceland, most of their first reactions are “What are you going to eat? There is no vegan food in Iceland!” 😱
Usually, if weather permits, we usually head out before sunrise (around 4:30am), back to hotel for breakfast, and then head out until after sunset (8-9pm). While I was doing research online about vegan food in Iceland, I realised that there isn’t much information regarding vegan food in other parts of Iceland except Reykjavik.
Staying Vegan in a Viking Country
Iceland is a country born of the Viking Age, so it wouldn’t be surprising that most of their food are meat and fish-based. However, traditional viking diet does include certain kinds of fruits and vegetables. What’s more, since the tourist industry of Iceland is exploding, more and more tourists are visiting Iceland each year. In 2018, there are around 2.3 million tourists visiting Iceland. Hence, most restaurants in major tourist spots have vegan options. And even for those restaurants in less famous tourist spots, they are starting to provide vegan foods for tourists.
After traveling there twice, once to the south coast, the other time to the central part (highlands) and northern part, it would be nice for me to share some tips on how I stay vegan while traveling in Iceland. ☺️Some of the photos below are shot on my iPhone, so I apologize for the poor quality. 🙏🏻 But I just didn’t want to take out my camera during breakfast time with my tour mates.
Feel free to check out some of the photos I took during the trip here 🌅
Breakfasts are always provided by the hotels are we are staying at. All of them are buffet style, so it’s very easy to make a filling vegan breakfast out of the choices. I usually had some bread with peanut butter and jam, cereals with plant milk, porridge, vegetables and fruits. A huge breakfast is crucial for me as sometimes we will skip lunch or just pick up something from the gas station (which sadly doesn’t really have any vegan options).
p.s. 1 All the bread I had in Iceland are all SO GOOD! Probably due to the purity of Icelandic water.
p.s. 2 Do you know the tap water in Iceland is totally safe to drink? Read this article from Inspired By Iceland for more information about their Kranavatn Campaign promoting tap water in Iceland.
If you are visiting the highlands (which I highly recommend), Hrauneyjar Highland Center is the perfect place to stay. It’s close to most photo spots, rooms are comfortable, people are super nice and most importantly, breakfast is literally the best one among all the hotels I’ve stayed in Iceland.
Depending on our schedule and weather condition, sometimes we will have picnic-style lunch ordered from the hotel. Sometimes we will just pick up some food at the gas stations, or we will stop by at some restaurants nearby for a meal. As I mentioned before, if we don’t have time or in a rush, we will stop by at gas station for a quick bite. Unfortunately, most gas stations don’t really have vegan options. So I will just have some snacks I brought with me. For this trip, I brought the dehydrated broccoli bites, raw vegan chocolate zucchini bread and my vegan chocolate hazelnut raw granola to keep me fueled 🙆🏻♀️
Look at this decent vegan salad at Hrauneyjar Highland Center 😍 They surely know how to make a vegan salad right 😎 Although I was already having it 3 nights in a row while staying there, I still couldn’t resist ordering it for lunch as they change the ingredients daily and the combination is always amazing 🙌🏻
We stopped by this cute little bistro called Gamli Bistro on our way to Myvatn and I was absolutely in love with this place. This is not a vegan restaurant but they do have 2 vegan options on the menu – Avocado & quinoa salad and Chickpea roast with veggies. I ordered the latter as I was craving for something warm and comforting. This dish doesn’t disappoint, the chickpeas and veggies are roasted to perfection, with olive oil and a hint of cinnamon. I really love how the flavor of cinnamon brought out the freshness of the veggies. 💚
On the last day of our Iceland trip, we stopped by for an early farewell dinner at Kaffi Krús in Selfoss on our way back to Reykjavik. I was so surprised to see so many vegan options on their menu. 🙆🏻♀️ They not only serve vegan burger and pizza, but they also have vegan lasagna (with vegan cheese! 🧀 ) and a raw vegan snicker cake. The interior is super cozy and you feel like you are dining at somebody’s house. 🏠 The Mexican salad can be easily made vegan by ordering without the sour cream and cheese. 🥗
The vegan lasagna was layered with spicy tomato barley and vegetables, topped with vegan cheese and served with vegan garlic bread and salads. I really enjoy this lasagna as I am not a huge fan of mock meat, and I like that they used natural whole food ingredients for the lasagna. 🍝 What a perfect meal to end our amazing Iceland trip to the Highlands ☺️
After a whole day of shooting, dinner is much needed. And after unloading our camera gears in the hotel room, we will head straight to the hotel restaurant for dinner. Some restaurants do both buffet and a la carte, but some only serve a la carte.
Sel Hotel – Myvatn
I really enjoyed the buffet dinner at Sel Hotel in Myvatn. Obviously, it isn’t a vegan restaurant. But they do have a large selection of vegan options at the buffet table. Vegan options include salads, pickles, bread, soup (they usually serve vegetable soup, but remember to check if there is any cream in the soup), several hot dishes such as falafels, barleys, roasted veggies and potatoes etc. It’s super easy to eat vegan and feel satisfied at buffets.
I know I’ve already featured Hrauneyjar Highland Center in the “Lunch” section, but they made really awesome vegan food. During my 3-day stay at the hotel, I ordered 3 salads and a vegan bean burger. Although they only have one veggie salad on the menu, you can order it without cheese and they will make you a vegan salad depending on what fresh ingredients they have in hand.
You can see from the photos below that they managed to make me variations with different vegetables. And most importantly, they all taste bomb! ☺️The bean burger was nice, but I personally prefer a huge satisfying salad. 🥗
If you are visiting remote places like I do in the highlands of Iceland. Hotels may not have an abundant food choices, let alone vegan options. For example, during the first part of our trip, we are staying at Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort and it’s literally in the middle of nowhere. 😃
You need to pre-order your dinner as they only prepare enough food for the guests who ordered dinner. Also, they don’t even have a dinner menu. In this case, you might need to contact them beforehand to make sure there is something for you. I didn’t expect much regarding dinner. Yet, I feel so surprised and excited when they offer me this platter of vegan dinner, especially after a whole day of road trip and shooting. 🥗
This plate comprised of falafels, vegan sausages, roasted potatoes and salads. It’s so simple, yet so good! Basically everything I need after an exhausting day of adventure. 😎
Vegan Food In Reykjavik
Originated from Nice, France, Emilie and the Cool Kids has 5 franchise branches all over France. In 2017, they even opened their first shop at Reykjavik, Iceland.
Perfect vegan breakfast spot in Reykjavik, Iceland
I arrived in Iceland early in the morning, I was tired and hungry after a 15 hour journey from Hong Kong. Most of the vegan restaurants in Iceland are not opened until noon. So I took out my phone, opened the Guru map app, which by the way is my go-to app while traveling, and check out some of my saved places near my hotel that I can grab a hearty vegan breakfast to properly fuel myself for the start of this amazing journey. 😻
While I was navigating through the app, I saw the name – Emilie and the Cool Kids. It immediately reminds me of all those scrumptious looking vegan pastries I saw on their Instagram. So without a doubt, I decided to go there after checking in at the Storm Hotel by Kea Hotels. 🏡
Once I walked into the shop, I was greeted by the friendly barista. Better still, I was overwhelmed by all those vegan pastries choices. They even have 3 kinds of vegan cinnamon rolls! How am I supposed to choose only 1? 😩
Vegan pastry heaven
Apart from those fluffy looking vegan cinnamon rolls, they also serve vegan scones, muffins, cookies, etc. And if you are looking for something savoury, they do make vegan bagel sandwiches. After struggling to choose from the large selection, I finally settle on an original vegan cinnamon roll, chocolate chip scone and chai latte. ☕️
In case you don’t already know, Icelandic people are obsessed with cats. It’s not rare to see pet cats casually walking at the streets in Iceland, especially in Reykjavik. Kattakaffihúsið is the first ever cat cafe opened in Iceland in 2018 and has since gained more and more popularity among native people, as well as tourists.
Cafe with a good cause
This cafe is not just another cat cafe with cats for people to pet while they are enjoying their coffee. They collaborate with a local animal shelter Villikettir and host homeless cats from them which local people can adopt.
Consistent with its animal-loving theme, the entire cafe serve only vegan food, which makes it one of my favorite vegan food place in Iceland. 😻Most importantly, you got to enjoy those delicious vegan food with the accompany of those lovely cats! 😸What more could you ask for?
Cozy cafe, perfect hangout spot
The interior design is very girlish, with pink and floral elements all over the cafe. It’s like a dream house for every little girl. The day I visited Kattakaffihúsið was rainy and cold. And once I stepped into the place, I immediately felt warm and cozy.
Although I have already had a huge breakfast at my hotel. I couldn’t resist to order a freshly toasted vegan grill cheese and a slice of that yummy looking vegan chocolate raspberry cake! 🍰 Seriously, look at the photo, who can resist it?😆 They even use sourdough bread from Brauð & co, which you can read more in the following paragraph.
Brauð & co one of my favorite bakeries in Reykjavik. 🍞 They are super popular for their cinnamon roll. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to try one of them as they are not vegan. I saw on their Facebook that they used to make vegan cinnamon rolls, but not anymore. 😔
Fortunately, you can still try their amazing baked goods such as sourdough loaf, Danish rye bread and pretzels. They also stock Kombucha Iceland, which I really love and have to get it everytime I saw them. Ginger and original flavors are my favs! 💕
We went to Jörgensen Kitchen & Bar on the first night of our Iceland tour. This restaurant is a slightly high-end restaurant with outstanding interior design, professional staff and an extensive menu. There are two main vegan options – Vegan burger and vegan risotto. You can also customize the salad by ordering it without cheese and ask for balsamic dressing in order to make it vegan.
The staff is knowledgable and knows clearly about the definition of vegan. I would highly recommend you to visit this restaurant in Iceland if you are going with non-vegan friends ☺️
Here are some other places or vegan groceries that I also love in Iceland and I think it will be worth mentioning here in case you are heading to this magical place soon 😘
Omnom Chocolate is an Iceland based artisan chocolate maker. One of their founder used to be a chef. As he is familiar with the flavors of dark chocolate, he then decided to open Omnom chocolate in Reykjavik, Iceland. They are also the first one in Iceland making bean-to-bar chocolate, which means they are responsible for all sorting, roasting and grounding the beans to create delicious artisan chocolate bars. 🍫
Iceland people love their sweets, especially chocolate. By love, I mean obsessed 😝You can see this from the massive amount/ variety of chocolates available at supermarkets and souvenir shops.
The best chocolate bar in Iceland
One brand of chocolate I really love, in particular, is Omnom Chocolate. Although not all of their chocolates are vegan, they do have 4 kinds of dark chocolate bars that are vegan and completely delicious. 😘I personally love the Peru 100% and Nicaragua 73% chocolate bars. One point to note is that they use single origin cacao beans and organic ingredients whenever possible.
If you are looking for some non-touristy thing to do in Reykjavik, you can join their factory tour. During the tour, you will be able to see chocolate-making process bars, and it also includes a tasting section at the end of the tour.
Lovely people at their factory store
I didn’t join the tour when I visited Reykjavik. But I did visited their factory store. Their shop manager, Kyle, was super nice and friendly. He did not only introduce different chocolate bars to me, he even chatted with me for a while. After knowing that I am also a tea-lover, he brewed some oolong tea and invited me to try out some of his “huge” tea collection he had at the shop. 🍵
I just LOVE meeting and chatting with people from different parts of the world, learning about their culture and how they think about Hong Kong.
Most people will only think of Brauð & co when it comes to bakery in Reykjavik. But for me, Brikk Bakery is my top 1 bakery in Reykjavik. I stumbled across their newly opened branch while I was strolling around the old harbour. Attracted by the minimalistic design of the bakery and the smell of freshly baked bread, I decided to walk in and see what do they have to offer.
The Mýrargötu branch is more like a bakery cafe, with one side displaying their baked goods, and the other side being a dining area. They offer light meals such as toasts, soup and salads etc on their menu. However, since I was not in the mood of food, I carefully examined their bakery collection.
On their display rack, I spotted some sourdough loaves. The crust look decent with open crumbs. “I might need some bread for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow before my early flight to Copenhagen.” I convinced myself to purchase half a loaf of seeded sourdough.
After getting back to the hotel, I sliced some of the bread, and generously smeared some turmeric hummus I bought at Bonus, a discount supermarket in Reykjavik. I also topped the toasts with some avocado and tofu. 🥑 Hummus and sourdough bread are the perfect combination for a light, cheap and nutritious protein-filled vegan meal, especially when you are traveling in expensive places like Iceland.
Previously named Kárastígur, Reykjavík Roasters is inarguably one of the best café in Reykjavík. They have 3 locations in Reykjavík, with one branch just around the corner of the infamous Hallgrímskirkja church, and just 1-min walk from the famous Brauð & co. My favorite branch is the one just opposite to the hotel I stayed at on the second night – Klettur Hotel. The reason why I love this branch is that not only is it less crowded, it’s also more spacious and more comfortable if you want to spend some time relaxing, reading a book or working on your computer. 📚
Apart from their coffee, which is undoubtedly their specialty, they also serve other beverages for non-coffee lovers, such as chai latte, hot chocolate, and even kombucha on tap. If you fancy a light meal, you are in luck, they serve tasty vegan food such as avocado toast or toasts with hummus. 🥑🍞
Vegan Groceries At The Supermarket
Visiting the supermarkets is one of my favorite and usually my first thing to do when arrived at a new city. Even though I am not in need of groceries, I still like to see what vegan options they have to offer. 😝
Yosa is a brand under Finnish largest food corporation Fazer. They produce different kinds of dairy alternative products based on oat milk, such as oat milk yogurt, crème fraîche, oat “cream” for cooking, vegan “cheese’ spread, oat block (tofu alternative) etc. I tried their vegan greek yogurt last year when I visited Iceland and has missed this so much ever since. The texture and flavors of their products are just on point! 😚
They seem to sell this all over Nordic countries as I saw them everywhere in Copenhagen as well. I would highly recommend you to try if you see them. My personal favorite is the vegan greek yogurt and unsweetened coffee flavored oat drink ☕️
Vegan Food At Keflavik Airport
I know I always talk about how easy it is to travel as a vegan. But a coin has 2 sides. True, you can always prepare your own food while you are flying. However, things don’t always go as planned. Therefore, it’s always good to know that you can buy something last minute before rushing off to your flight at the airport.
For my previous trip and this trip, both of my departure flights are super early in the morning (think 8am flight 😴), which means I need to bring my breakfast with me. Last year, I couldn’t find much vegan options are the airport except fruit cups. 😒But this year, since I always arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before departure time, I got plenty of time to shop around.
Mathús – House of Food
I went to Mathús and while I was exploring the grab-and-go section, I discovered a number of items with those lovely green stickers on them indicating “vegan”! 😍Obviously, the price wasn’t cheap given that it’s inside the airport. However, I ain’t complaining at all as all those vegan options look so tempting and delicious. After stumbling for a while, I finally decided to get the vegan oumph salad and chocolate overnight oats.
What is Oumph?
Oumph is Swedish vegan meat alternative brand that is very popular in Iceland. Most vegan and non-vegan restaurants in Iceland use oumph in their dishes to replace meat. Oumph is made from soya protein, so it’s also gluten-free. If the place that you are staying have a kitchen, you can also purchase them from most supermarkets in Iceland and cook it yourself.
Phewww! I know this article is super long, so I really appreciate if you go this far! 😘 I hope this blog post is of some help for your upcoming Iceland travel. It’s also very encouraging and exciting to see how fast the vegan scene is growing in Iceland compared to merely a year ago!😌 Not only in Reykjavik, but also in more remote places and non-touristy spots. Increasing number of places are catering to all types of vegan travelers. ✈️ And let me tell you, while food is definitely not the selling point of Iceland, Icelandic people surely know how to cook and most of the food I taste there is exceptionally tasty, especially the bread! 🥖 🍞
Feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email if you have any more questions. 🙏🏻