Gluten-Free Travel Experience: Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland has been on my travel bucket list for some time, and I was lucky enough to travel there recently. My top tips for a gluten-free visit to Iceland:

  1. Pack snacks!! To be honest, I would advise this to anybody travelling to Iceland – not only those who have to follow a restricted diet. Food in Iceland is expensive.
  2. Invest in a translation card explaining your dietary requirements. Particularly if you are going to be travelling away from Reykjavik. In my experience, Icelanders are very knowledgable about veganism but Coeliac disease isn’t super common.
  3. Skyr Skyr Skyr. Skyr is a delicious Icelandic yoghurt which is naturally gluten-free. I ate it for breakfast everyday and it can be bought in most shops throughout Iceland so it’s handy to eat when there are no other GF alternatives.

Trips:

Blue Lagoon – This is a must-visit to anybody travelling to Iceland – a luxorious man-made geothermal spa. The only dining choices are the cafe or the restaurant as there is not much else nearby the Blue Lagoon, and we opted for the cafe. There were no gluten-free lunch choices in the cafe (to be expected), so instead I opted for a tub of fresh fruit and a Skyr banana smoothie. If you are planning to dine in the cafe, I’d definitely advise bringing additional snacks.

Golden Circle – The Golden Circle is a popular sight-seeing route in South Iceland. I was most nervous for not being able to find anything to eat during the 9 hour day trip we took exploring the Golden Circle. For that reason, I came prepared with snacks bought from a 10-11 convenience store, as well as snacks bought from home. However, I was pleasantly surprised. A small rest-stop in Pingvellir National Park offered a gluten-free flapjack (though be suspicious of cross-contamination as it was placed next to vegan cake), the rest-stop at Gulfoss waterfall offered gluten-free Skyr blueberry cheesecake, and the Geyser rest stop offered small selection of gluten-free goodies in a mini supermarket including crisps, rice cakes (plain and chocolate), corn snacks, GF Nature Valley bars and also some dense-looking GF bread. Almost all rest-stops sold Skyr.

Shopping:

10-11 convenience stores – I wasn’t able to find many GF foods here other than Continental Bakeries chocolate rice cakes, packets of Love Corn and of course Skyr.

Bonus supermarket – they had a modest GF section containing mainly products from Semper (a Scandanavian manufacturer of gluten-free foods) including baking mixes, various types of pasta, bread rolls and also some delicious chocolate flavoured wafers. I was also able to find Dolmio cooking sauces which I remembered were GF from home.

Restaurants:

Ostabudin – a tasty fish restaurant where the waiter informed me that most of the mains are GF. I ordered plaice which came served with prawns, new potatoes and vegetables.

Reykjavik Chips – they only sell chips so no need to worry about cross contamination in the fryers. The chips are served with a selection of dips – most of which are GF (I opted for the garlic dip – delicious!). I would especially recommend eating at Reykjavik Chips, it definitely makes for a cheaper evening meal in comparison to the prices elsewhere in Reykjavik.

Kopar – another fish restaurant close to the harbour. They were very happy to accommodate me as a coeliac and offered to alter most of their main dishes so I’d be able to eat them. I ordered the catch of the day (common ling) which came with creamy mashed potatoes and vegetables. They didn’t serve me the fried artichoke due to cross contamination issues. I highly recommend this restaurant, the portion sizes are decent plus they have amazing views over Reykjavik harbour.

To summarise, navigating the gluten-free world in Iceland wasn’t too much of a challenge and it was made a lot easier by friendly waiting staff/chefs who were more than happy to make meal alterations according to my dietary restrictions.

Are you planning on visiting Reykjavik any time soon? Or have you been and had similar or different experiences to me? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Hannah

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