When you visit Iceland for the first time, you’ll notice that Icelanders have some fun and unique traditions. Some may make perfect sense, like leaving babies outdoors in their prams to sleep in winter (acclimatising to the cold). Other cultural characteristics may surprise you, like that fact that, no matter the weather or season, Icelanders love ice cream.
You’re about to learn all about ice cream in Iceland. You’ll be given some recommendations of famous (literally, famous) ice cream vendors, both in Reykjavík and elsewhere. To embark on your ice cream tasting road trip, you’ll need a rental car. Hire yours at Reykjavik Cars.
The Phenomenon of Ice Cream in Iceland
A popular evening activity for locals is to hop in their car and drive to get some ice cream. They’ll then find a lookout spot and eat their ice cream while enjoying the scenery. Again, it doesn’t matter if it’s deep winter, raining heavily or warm and sunny; it’s always time for ice cream.
There are two main types of ice cream in Iceland: “gamli” and “nýi” (old and new). The gamli style is said to be watery, with a lighter taste, and dates back decades. The nýi style, which most outlets serve now, is creamier. Whichever you decide to go for, both have a massive range of flavours to choose from.
The great thing about ice cream in Iceland—and dairy products in general—is that all dairy is sourced here. No dairy is imported, and so you can be sure the milk that made your ice cream came from nearby.
Where to buy Ice Cream in Iceland
Icelandic ice cream shops offer a host of flavours, many of which you might not have tried before. Liquorice flavoured ice cream is a traditional offering. Finally, while it’s perfectly fine to have ice cream by itself, many outlets offer the option of adding toppings. This can range from Oreo pieces, to nuts and fruit, to candy of all sorts.
It won’t be difficult to find ice cream in Reykjavík and Iceland, as there are literally specialised shops everywhere. If you’re in a rush, you can find it at almost all:
- Gas Stations
However, specialised ice cream vendors are very popular, to the point that they have an almost constant queue. Here are some of the most famous shops.
Where to Find the Best Ice Cream in Iceland
Valdis ice cream parlour is probably the best-known of the ice cream Reykjavík options. With very creative flavours, and cup and cone options, it’s the ideal place to head for dessert. It’s located near to the harbour, so you can grab some ice cream and take a walk by the ocean.
As with most ice cream shops in Reykjavík, vegan options are available. You can’t miss the shop from outside, with its brightly-coloured exterior and cartoon-style sign.
When it comes to providing a range of options, no ice cream shop in Iceland offers more than Ísbúð. Their giant counter is filled with a variety of toppings, sauces, and of course, ice cream flavours. You could eat here every day for a year and still find a new combination to try.
Ísbúð Vesturbæjar is just as famous for its milkshakes as its ice creams. In both cases, the portions are large and reasonably priced. They serve the traditional style gamli ice cream, and are easily found in western Reykjavík, known as Vesturbæjar. Ísbúð is, in fact, a chain, so you’ll find a few of their branches spread around.
Eldur og Ís
Ideally located in the heart of downtown, Eldur og Ís is the perfect place to stop for a snack. It’s only a short walk from the famous Hallgrímskirkja church that everyone wants to see. Additionally, unlike some of the ice cream shops in Reykjavík, it has plenty of seating space indoors.
As well as providing as range of ice cream flavours, Eldur og Ís also specialises in crepes. You can fill your crepe with ice cream, fruit, chocolate spread, or a number of other options. The portions are massive, so you may not be able to finish one each if you head there after dinner in Reykjavik.
Brynjuís is regarded by many as having the best ice cream in Iceland. The locals say that whenever they visit Akureyri in the north, they have to go to this ice cream vendor. It has been around since 1939, and still sticks to serving the gamli style ice cream. Syrups, sauces and other toppings are on offer as always, but many like to eat this ice cream plain.
Akureyri, while a big town by Iceland standards, is fairly small. Brynja shop should be easy to spot; just look for the building with big ice cream cones painted on it. The company recently opened a second branch in the capital city, so you now have two location options!
If you want to buy ice cream somewhere remote, head to Erpsstaðir. The owners of this farm make their own dairy products from their cows, including ice cream, cheese and skyr. Go here if you want a taste of rural Iceland life. If you want to get your hands on real homemade ice cream, this is the place.
Erpsstaðir Creamery is located just under two hours north of Reykjavík, close to the beginning of the Westfjords.
A spoon of simple joy
So now you see, ice cream in Reykjavik and Iceland is a serious subject. Most of the locals eat it regularly, hence the need for so many shops. See how many flavours you can try on your ice cream tour of the country. Hop in your rental and travel the land of fire and ice (cream).