What are some top elements of an unforgettable road trip? We’d say incredible scenery, a suitable vehicle, decent music and good company. That’s easy to get in Iceland, but we shouldn’t forget that every successful road trip also needs fuel – both for the people and the car carrying them.
The good news is that you can pick up some delicious road trip snacks along the way. Many petrol stations have a grocery section and there are numerous roadside supermarkets. Don’t worry- their bright colors make them easy to spot even if it’s your first time in the area.
Two of the most affordable are the chains Krónan, with its distinctive yellow livery, and Bónus – look out for its logo, the pink pig.
So, instead of stocking up on your usual snacks before you leave home, why not pick up something typically Icelandic once you get here?
Get yourself sorted with one of our rental cars and set off for the road trip adventure of a lifetime. Here are our picks for the best road trip snacks in Iceland to take with you and where to find them.
Top Icelandic Road Trip Snacks
Individual tubs of Skyr might not be your first thought when it comes to road trip snacks, but they make a great on-the-go breakfast while you’re on the road.
If you’ve hauled yourself out of bed early on the promise of a decent weather forecast and have just seen a spectacular sunrise over the Icelandic countryside, you might be feeling a little peckish. Skyr’s a healthy and nutritious option, with the bonus that it tastes delicious. But what is it?
Skyr’s sometimes described as yogurt. While it is just as creamy, it’s not the same. For a start, it’s thicker than some types of yogurt, as it takes four units of milk to create one unit. It’s also packed full of protein and relies on traditional Icelandic skyr cultures, making it less tart than some low-fat yogurt.
You won’t know if you like Skyr or not until you try it – but be warned, once you do, there’s a good chance you’ll be obsessed with it.
It’s easy to find in Icelandic supermarkets, so pull into the car park of your nearest branch of Bónus or Krónan and stock up. Purists might opt for the natural version, but we think the fruit-flavored pots are even tastier.
Admittedly, this one’s not for everyone, but you should taste it at least once. After all, what’s travel about if it’s not the opportunity to try new things?
Harðfiskur is a great idea if you’re looking for healthy road trip snacks that are convenient to eat on the go. It’s dried fish that’s eaten straight from the bag and it’s a popular choice with Icelanders, so you’ll be chowing down like a real local.
Harðfiskur is as easy to come by in gas stations as a bag of chips, making this one of the best snacks to bring on a road trip. You’ll find a number of options because several types of fish dry well enough to make it – these include cod, haddock, catfish and Arctic char.
If you really want to know exactly which one you’re eating, learn some Icelandic names. Ýsa, for instance, is haddock, while steinbítur is catfish.
It might take a bit of experimentation to settle on the kind of harðfiskur you like best. For example, Haddock has a milder flavor than catfish. Some people find harðfiskur more palatable when spread with a little butter – much like crispbreads.
If that’s the case, why not keep a knife handy and have yourself a mini picnic in the car?
Licorice is a firm favorite with Icelanders, but to understand why you need to know a bit about the country’s history.
At times, when importing certain foodstuffs was banned, the only sweets you could get your hands on were pieces of licorice. The secret to its success is glycyrrhizin, found in licorice root, which nutritionists have estimated is at least fifty times sweeter than sugar.
Licorice is also a crowd-pleaser when it comes to road trip snacks for kids. Not only is it sweet but it also comes in a of variety of flavors; you’ll also find licorice with marzipan or even with salt.
The ultimate is called Þristur – it’s a yummy treat with chopped up pieces of licorice encased in milk chocolate. Look for Sambó's yellow and red bag. If you develop a taste for it, you can also pick it up at the airport to munch on the plane.
Icelanders also love to eat ice cream, and of course, that too comes with the option of being sprinkled with bits of licorice. Take a break from the driving and stop off at Brynja in Akureyri.
This is one of the country’s most popular and historic ice cream parlors as it has been around for decades. They make their ice cream from milk and it’s the perfect place to stretch your legs.
A packet of biscuits is portable and will stave off hunger pangs until your next meal.
One of Iceland’s oldest is Matarkex. This iconic brand is a fairly basic biscuit, but dunked in a mug of coffee, spread with jam, layered with sliced cheese or simply eaten by itself, there’s nothing more Icelandic in the biscuit world.
Switch it up with Mjólkurkex, another bestseller. Luckily for you, they are available in any supermarket.
Sometimes you need something a little more substantial, and a hot meal is just the ticket. But what if you’re hungry and your overnight stop is still some way away?
You don’t need to stop for a time-consuming meal if you need to press on, as it’s easy to find a hot snack that you can take back to the car. Try a few (or all) of these.
Iceland’s favorite fast food is the hot dog. They’re such a big deal there’s even an ongoing argument about the name: pylsa, or pulsa, counter those who disagree. You can pick up hot dogs in gas stations and convenience stores across the country.
One famous hot dog stand in Reykjavik, Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, opened in 1937 and has even served its lamb-based snack to US president Bill Clinton and reality TV star Kim Kardashian.
You’ll have to park around the corner and should expect a long line at this spot, but we promise you it’s worth the wait.
Another popular option for hot food on the go is some hearty soup. Iceland’s signature version is made with lamb, potatoes and vegetables such as carrots.
It’s ideal on cold days, when you need something to warm you up after a chilly hike, and it’s filling enough to stand as a replacement for lunch. Head into a gas station, such as N1, and you should find it.
Jökulsárlón’s food trucks
If you find yourself at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon – and you should! – you’ll be delighted to know there are a couple of excellent food trucks at the opposite side of the car park to the lagoon.
One is Nailed It; they’ll cook you a chunky piece of battered Atlantic cod to order and accompany it with a generous serving of chips. As their name suggests, they really do nail it in the food category.
Next door, Heimahumar specializes in local langoustines. From their truck, you can get your hands on a delicious lobster roll crammed with succulent chopped langoustine, crispy onions and a tangy rémoulade sauce.
They also offer lobster bisque soup, packaged up in a cup so you can take it back to the car if you want to.
The bakery at Borganes
Geirabakarí Kaffihús also deserves a special mention, not just for its tasty soup but also its array of pastries (perhaps try a cinnamon roll known as kanilsnúður) and sandwiches.
Though the fjordside location of this bakery and café demands your attention, there’s nothing to stop you from grabbing some provisions for take away if you need to get moving.
If you think the place looks familiar, you’d be right: it doubled as the pizzeria in the Ben Stiller movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Conveniently delicious road trip snacks!
If all this food talk has you yearning for an Icelandic adventure, then it’s time to sort out your rental car and get those plans underway. Now you can cross off shopping for road trip snacks from your list of things to do – at least until you arrive.