Talking about Icelandic supermarkets and Iceland groceries is not the most exciting subject. However, before our trip to Iceland, we found ourselves doing some research about the prices in the supermarkets in Iceland. We found that we weren’t the only ones wondering and that a lot of people actually ask about the prices of Iceland grocery stores.
It’s an important part of budgeting and given the popularity of camper vans, Airbnb, and camping many people find themselves cooking their own meals to avoid the crazy high costs of food in Iceland. This tourist guide should help save and budget accordingly for shopping in Iceland grocery stores.
A Guide to Icelandic Supermarkets and Iceland Grocery Stores
Icelandic Supermarket Chains To Shop At
There are several different chain markets you can expect to find in Iceland. Here’s a brief overview of the different grocery stores and which are our favorites.
Iceland Grocery Store #1: Bónus
This is the most prominent grocery store in Iceland. They have a number of locations throughout Iceland and you can find a number of them along the ring road. The vast majority of their stores and Iceland markets are in Reykjavik. Bónus is the budget supermarket in Iceland. The shops are the Icelandic equivalent of a Lidl or Aldi. They offer a limited number of products and shy away from name brands.
Despite having a more limited selection they still have more than enough for anyone’s basic needs. Unless you’re a gourmand Bónus will be more than enough for you. This is our pick for the best grocery store in Iceland and is what we always sought out to find.
If you’re having a tough time finding a Bonus just remember their logo is the cartoon pig with a black eye. Don’t ask us why the pig has a black eye. Maybe he got into a fight with another pig.
Iceland Grocery Store #2: Krónan
Krónan is the closest competitor to Bónus. They carry a larger selection of products, more produce, and a number of health food options. Their prices are a close second to Bónus, but we did find Krónan to be slightly higher priced. They do offer a large fresh meat and fish section, but since we eat vegetarian we can’t comment on the prices. This Iceland grocery store does carry specialty food products like organic health food and gluten-free bread.
Their logo is a smiling yellow colored orange. If that’s too confusing it’s like someone painted a yellow smiley on an orange.
Iceland Grocery Store #3: Nettó
Nettó is another cheap shop based in Akureyri and we saw a few other stores throughout Iceland. They sell a wide selection of products including things like clothes and children’s games. If you need a random household item we’d recommend taking a look inside.
For some reason, their logo is a hollow orange apple. If there is a talented graphic artist in need of work, I believe Iceland has some openings!
Iceland Grocery Store #4: Víðir
Víðir is probably the nicest food market in Iceland. The new chain has a number of locations around Reykjavík. They have a nice selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. They also carry a wide range of healthy food and quality products. It is more expensive than the budget supermarkets but carries the best quality of food products in Iceland.
Iceland Grocery Store #5: 10-11
The first time we walked in one of the stores we were just seeking some Nescafe. That was until we saw the price at a staggering $13… Even our favorite addiction of Haribo were $6 a bag. The prices here are obscene and it’s unlikely any locals use the shops if they can avoid it. Our advice is to steer clear of them as they are at least double the standard Icelandic price. Although, we did notice the tour buses conveniently made them their stop…
Iceland Grocery Store #6: Costco
I can not comment on this one. However, it was a pretty big deal when Costco opened a store in Iceland. Even a few locals we talked to were excited about the prospect of the megastore. If you’re already a member we’d suggest giving the store a stop as their memberships are good worldwide.
Where To Buy Food In Iceland?
You shouldn’t expect to find a grocery store in every little town, but the locals do have to eat and most major towns contain some form of a supermarket.
We were able to drive the entirety of the Ring Road and only shopped at Bónus every couple of days. We found an Iceland grocery store in the following towns Stykkishólmur, Akureyri, Egilsstadir, and Reykjavik.
What Are The Food Prices in Iceland Supermarkets?
The food prices in Iceland vary when it comes to products in the markets. We found many food products reasonable and then we’d find produce items like an aubergine (eggplant) for $6. That’s like the cheapest vegetable next to potatoes! Iceland is one of the most expensive countries to live in the world and even the food prices reflect that.
You can still get by on a budget, but it will be limited. We found products like milk, bread, rice, frozen vegetables, and apples to not be ridiculous. As a budget saving strategy, we made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. (What American doesn’t love that?) For snacks, we ate apples and peanuts, always solid options that are healthy and keep you full.
Average Food Costs
|Rice (kg)||$3.50||Apples (kg)||$3.25|
|Eggs (12)||$6.00||Bananas (kg)||$2.50|
|Cheese (kg)||$16.00||Onion (kg)||$1.50|
|Chicken (kg)||$20.00||Lettuce (kg)||$3.00|
*For those who do not know, 1 kg = 2.2 lbs
What to Budget For Food in Iceland
We ate modestly and completely vegetarian while we were cooking our own meals in Iceland. However, in 10 days of camping, we spent $225 on food. That’s just over $11 a day in food per person. It would be easy to spend more on food and I suppose we could have spent a tad bit less. We never went hungry and had plenty of snacks throughout the day. If you’re trying to work out a budget it would be safe to budget $15 a day, as it’s always better to come in under budget than over!
Our Tips for Saving on Grocery Shopping in Iceland
Pick and Choose Vegetables
Some vegetables are affordable while others are just ridiculous. Fresh produce, in general, is high. That being said the basic staples are within anyone’s budget. Things like tomatoes, apples, and potatoes were cheap. Our saving grace for greens came in the form of frozen vegetables. They aren’t great and we usually avoid them when cooking at home; however, Iceland doesn’t grow almost any of their own produce so the best prices come in the form of frozen foods.
Forget the Ready Made Food in Icelandic Supermarkets
When we’re on the road we love to pick up ready-made food at grocery stores. It’s usually a cheap and healthy way to eat lunch. However, in Iceland we found the ready-made options to be expensive or downright bad. Expect a white bread sandwich with a hefty serving of mayo to cost between $8-$9.
Bring The Right Stuff From Home
This is really geared for campers and those doing the Ring Road. However, if you bring the right products from home it can save you a buck and make your trip much more enjoyable.
- French Press/ Coffee Brewer: Cutting back on needless costs like coffee is an easy way to save a budget especially in a place like Iceland. I’d also suggest picking up a bag of your favorite brew as it will be cheaper than in Iceland. (*Full disclosure: We are coffee addicts)
- Leave the freeze-dried food at home. Unless you plan on doing a multi-day hike the quick cooking food is totally unnecessary. I’ve seen a few people recommend bringing the stuff, don’t do it.
- If you plan to camp or use a campervan make sure to bring a multi functional camping set. Although our van came with some cooking equipment it is a little limited by itself. It doesn’t hurt to pick up something like this this set is an awesome choice.
- If you can we recommend carrying a jet boil for both campers and those in a campervan. While our van came with one burner having an additional burner can make life much easier. Like cooking breakfast and coffee in the morning!
Avoid Gas Station Food
Be warned gas stations are expensive in Iceland! That extends beyond the whopping gas prices ($8/gallon)! We’ve seen a hot dog or cheeseburger meal in a gas station go for $15 a meal. The limited food products that they do carry are generally double the standard price in Iceland. Avoid!
Don’t Miss the Iceland Regional Specialties
When you travel you don’t have to eat out to enjoy local food. One of our favorite things to do is pick specialty products in countries then cook it on our own. Our two favorite products we found in Iceland were skyr and smoked charr. Smoked charr is similar to salmon, but way better and it’s worth the high cost.
Plan Your Trip to Iceland
Book a camper!
A campervan is the best way to get around Iceland on a budget. While a camper is slightly more expensive than a car, you can sleep and cook in it! Meaning you don’t have to search for any hotels or deal with expensive restaurants in Iceland. Plus you get to sleep in nature every night and still use a heater if you wish! If you want to travel with a Happy Campers van like we did (and you should they are the BEST!) make sure to read our full review. You can easily book using this link, but make sure to book well in advance during high season.
When is the Best Time to Visit Iceland?
In my opinion, the best times to visit Iceland are June, July, September, October, and December – but it all depends on what you want! June-August is high season, but it is also summer in Iceland and when you will find the most pleasant temperatures. It’s also when you will experience the most amount of daylight and get the most of our of your trip. December is great because it is winter, you stand a strong chance of seeing the Northern Lights, it’s low season, and the temperatures haven’t gone to complete freezing yet.
However my personal favorite time to travel Iceland is during the fall months. It’s during September and October where you will see the leaves change vibrant colors around the country. Temperatures are still mild, and tourism is slowing down. You can see the full month by month breakdown for Iceland travel here.
Things to do in Iceland
There are literally so many things to do in Iceland I could write a book about it. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of time so I’m showing you the ultimate Iceland bucket list here. Some things that are a must do are go to an Iceland swimming pool, soak in a natural hot spring, stand under a waterfall, and see the Northern Lights.
Photography Gear for Iceland
A high-quality camera is an important packing item for Iceland if you want some great shots while on your vacation. We travel with our Fujifilm Camera and 200mm telephoto lens. Drones have sort of taken Iceland by storm, and can capture fantastic footage as well. We had our DJI Mavic in Iceland, but make sure to use your drone responsibly as many locals are getting increasingly annoyed at the sight of them.
Whatever you do do not forget a tripod for Iceland – especially if you plan on photographing the Northern Lights. You’ll need one for the long exposures.
Is Iceland Expensive?
Iceland is mega expensive. One of the most expensive countries in the entire world actually. Make sure that you plan accordingly and in line with your budget. It’s certainly possible to do Iceland on a budget of less than $100 if you are camping, cooking all your own basic meals, and traveling by public transport or score a good deal on a rental. The good news is that nature is free, and you’ll be able to see Iceland’s beauty without paying for it. So yes – it’s completely doable to have an affordable Iceland vacation.
If you plan on drinking be sure to pick yo duty free alcohol before you leave the airport. A pint of beer can easily run you $15-$20!
Helpful Iceland Travel Tips
- Icelanders speak Icelandic, but every single person I came across spoke English.
- The local currency is the Icelandic króna (ISK). ATM’s are found throughout the country
- Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world; however, it’s always important to use common sense when walking alone at night.
- Tipping is not customary in Iceland.
- Iceland has strong internet infrastructure and you should be able to easily stay connected.
- To feel more at home we use Airbnb you can check out some tips and read more about getting an Airbnb coupon code here. Or just take this coupon for your first stay!
- Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend Lonely Planet to get you through those wireless nights.
What to Pack for Iceland
Nothing will ruin your Iceland honeymoon more than getting hurt and not having insurance. We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen in a foreign country and it’s best to be prepared. World Nomads provides good short term coverage.
You’re going to need something to carry your belongings in while you’re traveling around the world. Even if you’re not doing extensive hikes you need at least something small for day trips. My favorite daypacks are from Camelbak. You can see all our other backpack recommendations below:
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun when you’re traveling. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses, but they do make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones.
I ALWAYS have a down jacket with me when I’m traveling in the winter, fall, or even spring. They aren’t just good for hikes, but doing anything outside.
Down jackets pack up light and small so there is no reason NOT to have one in your bag. Seriously it could save your life in a bad situation. We wrote a whole post on our favorites (hint –Feathered Friends, Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Hooded Jacket, Patagonia Down Sweater, REI Coop Down Jacket)
Goretex Rain Jacket
We’re building up a collection of shell jackets. We always carry one in our pack and they’ve come in handy many times. Weather around the world can be iffy in October, so it’s best to be prepared. They are lightweight, durable, packable, waterproof, and windproof and really a great travel rain jacket. We have a bunch of different shell jackets after several years, but my favorite right now is from Arc’teryx.
Any jacket can do the job, but the top dollar ones will hold up and really help in inclement weather.
I love real books, but for traveling it can be easier to carry a lighter and more compact item like a Kindle. Plus, then you can download new books on the go!
Please consider purchasing a travel water bottle before your trip! We hate to see one time use plastic bottles ending up in the ocean. The tap water is so good here – seriously please don’t be one of those tourists that buys plastic water bottles. It’s a waste of money and plastic!
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- The Best Time to Visit Iceland (2020) • Month by Month Breakdown
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