Ice Cream in Iceland
Updated: Nov 17, 2020
One of the most fun things to learn about Icelanders is that they love eating ice cream. It doesn’t matter what the season, weather or time of day is, most Icelanders will not say no to an ice cream shop visit. In fact, for some locals, their favorite time to buy ice cream is when it starts snowing. Why is this? Well, first of all, dairy in Iceland is of an extremely high quality. Most dairy products sold in Iceland originate here, so when you drink milk or eat yogurt or ice cream, you really are getting a taste of Iceland. Second of all, Icelanders have a sweet tooth. So, if you love a sweet treat, take yourself on a tour of Iceland’s many ice cream shops. A common first date for locals is to buy some ice cream and then drive around whilst eating it. How romantic.
Iceland Ice Cream
There are two main types of ice cream here; gamli and nýi (old and new). The gamli is icy and watery, whereas nýi is creamy. Have a think about which one you’d prefer, or just try both. When it comes to flavors, the most commonly found are chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. But that’s just the tip of a huge iceberg of flavor choices. With so many ice cream shops scattered around the capital, you’ll never get bored of all the options you can try. A favorite flavor among many Icelanders is licorice. There is also a famous sauce known as lúxusdýfa, which is a mixture of chocolate and caramel sauce.
Best Ice Cream in Iceland
Ísbúð Vesturbæjar is considered by some to be the best ice cream shop in Reykjavík, so it’s worth a visit. The ice cream is soft serve, and they have a wide variety of flavors and toppings to choose from, including several different candies. The shop has a funky, American diner vibe. Whatever time you go there, there will probably be a queue, a testament to the shop’s popularity. They also offer a great shake.
If you’re taking the Golden Circle route, a stop at Efstidalur Farm is not to be missed. They make their own organic ice cream using milk from their own cows, and it’s definitely worth a taste. The farm also contains a restaurant and a hotel, in case you decide after eating their ice cream that you don’t want to leave yet.
Whilst you are in Akureyri, take a visit to Brynjuís, a famous ice cream shop that has been using the same recipe for over 80 years. You can even top your ice cream with cookies and berries there. They recently opened a branch in Kópavogur, an area just south of Reykjavík center. One friend told me that, prior to Brynjuís opening their new branch, some people would drive to Akureyri with the explicit intention of purchasing some of their famous ice cream. That’s a five-hour drive. I’m sure those people also stopped to enjoy Akureyri’s beautiful landscape whilst enjoying its frozen treats.
Valdís Ice Cream Iceland
This ice cream is freshly made in store each day. They make Italian style gelato and sorbet rather than using a soft serve machine, and their Turkish Pepper flavor is particularly popular. Their flavors change regularly though; to know for sure what’s on offer that day, you’ll have to take a look at their chalkboard. The ice cream is typically served in a waffle cone and this shop is located near the Reykjavík Maritime Museum. It’s a popular destination for locals to stop at in the evenings.
Other Icelandic Ice Cream in Reykjavík
There are so many ice cream shops in the capital, it’s hard to choose where to recommend. Joylato is a personal favorite; it’s located just down the road from Hallgrímskirkja (the big church in the center of Reykjavík). It has some incredible vegan ice cream options, which use coconut milk rather than cow’s milk, and all of their ice cream is gluten-free. Choose from a range of chocolate and fruit toppings and several different sauces. They also serve hot drinks and have introduced a range of crepes, which can be sweet or savory, vegan or non-vegan.
One shop which has rapidly grown in popularity over the last few years is Ísbúð Huppu. They now have three branches in Reykjavík, including one in Kringlan, the city’s main shopping mall. They mix lúxusdýfa with white chocolate to create a pretty special dip.
The great thing about Iceland’s ice cream shops is that most of them are open until late; 10 or 11 pm on some days. It might seem strange to you just how much the Icelanders love ice cream, particularly when it’s cold and stormy in the winter. But have a think about the foods that are very popular in your country. Your food customs might be just as strange to them as their ice cream custom is to you.
Samuel Hogarth, Reykjavik Cars.