Talking about Icelandic supermarkets and Iceland grocery stores 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 many people actually ask about the prices of Iceland grocery stores.
It’s an important part of budgeting for Iceland. Given the popularity of Iceland camper vans, Airbnb, and camping, many people find themselves cooking their own meals to avoid the crazy high food costs in Iceland. This tourist guide should help save and budget accordingly for shopping in Iceland grocery stores.
A Guide to 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 and our personal favorite. They have several locations throughout Iceland, and you can find several along the ring road. The vast majority of their stores and Iceland markets are in Reykjavik.
Bónus is a 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 have always sought to find.
If you’re having a tough time finding a Bonus, just remember their logo is the cartoon pig with a black eye (recently changed so that many of the pigs don’t sport a black ring around their eye anymore). 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 several healthy 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 mostly vegetarian, we can’t comment on the prices. This Iceland grocery store carries specialty 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 recommend looking 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 several 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 Iceland supermarkets but carries the best quality of food products in Iceland.
Iceland Grocery Store #5: 10-11
The first time we walked into 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 was $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 as they are at least double the standard Icelandic price. Although, we did notice the tour buses conveniently made their stop…
Iceland Grocery Store #6: Costco
I can not comment on this one. However, it was a 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 an Iceland 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 an Iceland Grocery Store?
The food prices in Iceland vary regarding 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 world’s most expensive countries, 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. We made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch as a budget-saving strategy. (What American doesn’t love that?) For snacks, we ate apples and peanuts, always solid options that are healthy and keep you full.
What to Budget For Food in Iceland
We ate very modestly and completely vegetarian while cooking our own meals in Iceland. However, in 10 days of camping, we spent $225 on food (2017 prices). That’s just over $11 a day in food per person.
Update: On our 2023 Iceland trip we ate a bit more luxuriously and even got meat for a few meals. We spent 59,777 ISK, or $447 for 14 days in the campervan. Inflation man.
It would be easy to spend more on food; I suppose we could have spent a little 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-$20 a day per person, as it’s always better to come in under budget than over! The main takeaway is, you can eat affordably in Iceland.
Our Tips for Saving on Iceland Grocery Shopping
Pick and Choose Vegetables
Some vegetables are affordable, while others are just ridiculous. Fresh produce, in general, is high, but it can be worth it. 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 most of its produce, so the best prices come from 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 $10-12.
Because we had lots of Iceland hikes planned, we picked up plenty of protein bars and quick snacks in Iceland for just a couple hundred kroner a piece.
Bring The Right Stuff From Home
This is really geared for campers and those doing the Ring Road. However, bringing the right products from home can save you a buck and make your trip much more enjoyable.
- AeroPress: 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. The quick-cooking food is unnecessary unless you plan a multi-day hike. 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 set is an excellent 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 backpacking stove can make life much more comfortable. 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 $15-20 a meal. The limited food products they carry are generally double the standard price in Iceland. Avoid!
Don’t Miss the Iceland Regional Specialties
You don’t have to eat out to enjoy local food when you travel. One of our favorite things is picking specialty products in countries and then cooking them on our own.
Our two favorite products we found in Iceland were skyr and smoked char. Smoked char 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! You don’t have to search for hotels or deal with expensive restaurants in Iceland.
Plus, you sleep in nature and still use a heater if you wish! If you want to travel with a Happy Campers van as 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 the 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 the high season, but it is also summer in Iceland when you will find the most pleasant temperatures.
It’s also when you will experience the most amount of daylight and get the most out 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 to Iceland is during the fall months. It’s September and October when 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.
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 up 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). ATMs 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 a 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.
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Find Cheap Flights: Sign up for Going (formerly Scotts Cheap Flights) to get notified when prices get low.
- Book a Rental Car: We use Discover Car to book all our rental cars! You can also read our top tips for renting a car abroad here.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.