A windswept country devoid of trees, where the summers are short and the winters are long and dark — Iceland doesn’t exactly sound like a paradise for culinary travelers. And the truth is, the country has never been thought of as a great foodie destination. For centuries, people had to get by with a limited amount of produce, whatever fish they could pull from the sea, and lamb. Lots of lamb.
But as Iceland has evolved from an isolated island far from the tourist track to a well-connected hotspot for travelers, the food has caught up to modern times.
In fact, in 2017, five Icelandic restaurants made it into the Michelin dining guide, and one — Dill, a forerunner of the New Nordic cuisine movement — even earned a Michelin star. Yet even as it enjoys a creative renaissance, the country’s culinary heart still beats for the classics, whether prepared straight-up or reinvented with a modern twist.
From cosmopolitan Reykjavik to remote mountain towns, destinations across the country serve food that’s rich and hearty, perfectly suited for Iceland’s freezing winters and cool summers. And yes, fish and lamb — so much fish and lamb — still feature prominently.
Here are 14 traditional Icelandic foods every visitor should try.