Your guide to the very best breakfast in Reykjavik. The day depends on you, so you better get something good inside!
Nothing sets you up for the day quite like a good breakfast. While on a working day you might be satisfied with a quick coffee on the go or a snatched slice of toast, when you’re on holiday you have the luxury of time. Spend some of it enjoying a leisurely start to the day and treat yourself to a delicious breakfast. We hope you’ll try some of our suggestions for the best breakfast around the city and the capital region. Some are local places, other tourist haunts, but they all have one thing in common: good food. So, if you need to know where to refuel your tummy for the day, try one of our suggestions for the best breakfast in Reykjavik.
One of the great joys of travel is to try new cuisines and in Iceland, that begins with breakfast. You must try skyr. This creamy white substance is akin to Greek yogurt, though it’s actually classified as a fresh sour-milk cheese. Icelanders have been eating it since the Middle Ages – the proof’s in the sagas.
These days, you’ll find it on the supermarket shelves of Western Europe but there’s nothing quite like trying it on home turf. Try it with fresh berries, sweetened with honey if you really must. You’ll find it in every hotel buffet and also in pots at the store. While you’re hogging the breakfast buffet, try the really thin, almost paper-like crispbreads with cream cheese or butter – they’re yummy and very light if you’re thinking of popping a packet in your suitcase to take home with you.
When you’re looking for breakfast places in Reykjavik, there’s plenty of choices. The oldest restaurant in Iceland seems like a good place to begin. Kaffivaggninn first opened its doors in 1935, starting life as a food truck before moving to permanent premises in the 1950s. Popular with fishermen thanks to its quayside location on Grandagarður, it seems only fitting to try the smoked salmon, though its breakfast menu also includes oatmeal porridge and omelets.
Another of the best spots for breakfast in Reykjavik is Bergsson Mathús. Opened in 2012, its communal tables are popular with locals and visitors alike. The emphasis is on the use of fresh ingredients and there are menu options for vegans and vegetarians as well. The signature Bergsson Breakfast is a feast of yogurt with muesli and berry compote, a soft boiled egg, prosciutto, cheese, salad, fruits, hummus, sourdough bread and orange juice. Vegans will be salivating at the thought of chia porridge with berry compote, avocado, salad, fruits, hummus, baked beans, fried potatoes, baked cauliflower, sourdough bread and grilled vegetables.
An influx of visitors from North America has spurned a number of openings to cater to those tastes. If you’re seeking an American breakfast in Reykjavik, then head The Laundromat Café, recently reopened. It does a mean stack of pancakes with maple syrup. If you’re really hungry, then order their dirty brunch plate brimming with sausages, bacon, scrambled egg, butter-fried potatoes and cheese, followed by Greek yoghurt and berries and yet more pancakes. You know, there is a time to be healthy and a time when only a stack of pancakes will do. You’re on holiday. Who’s going to know?
The Coocoo’s Nest, opened in 2013, is another favorite for those keen on American-style breakfasts. The brunch menu has a distinctly American flavor, with items such as Green Eggs and Ham, Eggs Florentine and of course maple syrup pancakes. Chef and artist Lucas Keller draws his inspiration from his home state of California, as well as Italy, while his wife Iris Ann is from Reykjavik and brings a dash of Iceland to the mix.
Grái Kötturinn (The Grey Cat) serves up delicious North American fare too, with an extensive selection of bagels topped with everything from cream cheese to traditional salmon. Their menu also includes American pancakes and eggs and bacon. If you have the appetite, they can be combined into one big plate named The Truck.
As a pub and live music venue, Prikið stays open late into the night, and as it manages to open for the bleary-eyed at 8 in the morning, it’s no surprise that one of its most popular plates is dubbed the Hangover Killer. As the menu proclaims: “Hangovers be done – we make them and we break them”. And if you can’t drag yourself out of bed at such an early hour, then the good news is that breakfast is served all day.
For anyone travelling from the UK, an English breakfast is hard to resist. No matter how hard we try to embrace the continental breakfast, put a typically English spread in front of us and we’ll be happy all day long. If nothing will do except an English breakfast in Reykjavik, try The Laundromat Café, Prikið or Grái Kötturinn – they’re not all about the pancakes!
There’s a growing awareness that those with specific dietary needs need to be catered for. In Reykjavik, grab a gluten-free breakfast at healthy eating hub Gló. Its Fákafen 11 branch opens early and their various bowls will set you up for the day.
If you’re in a rush to begin exploring Reykjavik, then a visit to one of the city’s bakeries for breakfast on the go might be in order. These will also come in handy if you’re self-catering and want to pick up the makings of a takeaway breakfast from the bakery nearest to your rental.
One of the biggest names in the capital is Brauð & Co which has multiple branches scattered throughout the city. They serve a good variety of pastries and baked goods, including cinnamon rolls, croissants and rye bread muffins, as well as their signature rugbrauð, a dense Danish-style bread. Competitor Sandholt gives Brauð & Co a run for its money, with a decent selection of bread, cakes and pastries perfect for breakfast.