Every time you visit Iceland, you’ll discover something new and enchanting about this place. With thrilling adventurous activities and eye-captivating sightseeing tours, this country offers so much to do and cover through the stay. You can also enjoy going out on the streets for shopping souvenirs and it can even be enjoyable to buy the groceries in Iceland. If you want to buy food for your expedition or camping trips, you can hit the supermarkets as they offer some of the best and native food items that you would love to try. To help you have a wonderful grocery shopping experience, here are few things that you can consider before inching down the road!
The Need for Shopping Groceries in Iceland
For people staying in Iceland for a longer period, buying groceries is a lot cheaper option than having food at a restaurant all nights. The accommodations are quite expensive in the country, and so are the restaurants. Also, even if you’re carrying your own toiletries, you may require a backpack for your camping or trekking session, which means you need to get to a convenient store. There are some places, like hostels and apartments, which allow you to cook your food which helps you to save a lot of money. Groceries help you stay packed while camping in the woodworks or out on a hiking tour. You can halt near a campsite in the landscapes to sustainably cook your food and enjoy a cozy and comforting day.
Grocery Stores Range from Budget-Friendly to Expensive
It is a popular belief among tourists about the groceries being expensive in Iceland, but if you do your homework properly you can find many cheaper options as well. Many supermarket chains in Iceland offer a different variety of food items. Most of them have brands that you might be familiar with. The best place for shopping for groceries is the capital city, Reykjavik as it houses major supermarket chains and grocery stores. You will find grocery stores all around the Ring Road of Iceland, but the grocery stores in the countryside are usually more expensive and have a lot less to offer. It is therefor recommended that you start your trip to Iceland with a trip to the grocery store. You can then the food with you on your trips around Iceland. There is a variety of supermarkets or grocery stores that are characterized based on their pricing. Some are convenient and budget-friendly, whereas some are expensive but offer a great variety of food items. The popular grocery stores or supermarket chains include:
Bonus is one of the most popular grocery stores in Iceland that operates nationwide and offers a great selection of food items. You can find around 30 Bonus stores throughout the country, which are spread across different villages and locations. As per popular belief, Bonus is among the cheapest grocery stores in Iceland due to its limited customer care services, a comparatively smaller operating size, and raw industrial interior. You can identify the Bonus stores with its yellow banner, featuring a chubby piggy bank. The stores are open almost every day of the week and close around 6’o clock at the night.
Netto is another cheap grocery store in Iceland which is based in Reykjavik and Akureyri, and various towns in Iceland. This includes Höfn, Borgarnes, Ísafjörður, Egilsstaðir, and Húsavík. Other than basic food items you can get a variety of different items, including clothes, games, wool, yarn, and toiletries, etc. Netto also has a pretty good healthy section. Some of these Netto stores operate 24×7 which makes them convenient for tourists to get access to some cheap essential items after they arrive to the country.
You can get a large and impressive selection of preservative-free and organic groceries in Kronan grocery stores. Kronan is also considered a low budget grocery store even though it is a little bit expensive than Bonus. But the quality and variety are way ahead in these stores. Kronan offers great options for healthy food items, along with fresh meats. The supermarket chains operate around 20 stores in Iceland and remain open on both weekdays and weekends. Most of the stores are open until 8 or 9 in the evening.
Nóatún was once among the largest grocery chains in Iceland but now operates only one store in Austurver in Reykjavik. Being one of the largest supermarket chains, Noatun is way more expensive than the others mentioned above. But paying more means getting excellent quality, other than buying groceries at Noatun, you can also order comforting warm food. You can avail of such excellent quality services at this grocery store only till 8 p.m.
Hagkaup is a more expensive but still very popular grocery store in Iceland. Some of the Hagkaup stores are open 24 hours a day and the others till midnight, which means you can get easy access to everything, from food to toiletries to clothes at any time during your stay in Iceland. Hagkaup stores are expensive in comparison to other stores but the plus side is that you get everything under one roof. The upscale hypermarket embraces a fancy interior which makes it more like a mall than a convenience store.
It is undoubtedly one of the most expensive grocery stores in Iceland. The store majorly is made for tourists as natives avoid spending too much on regular items. The interior is great at all the 10/11 offering the perfect sense of luxurious and rich appeal. Many tourist bus operators and agencies take the newcomers to these stores as they are fancy and embraces assorted items. Many of the 10/11 stores are open 24 hours and offer different products, ranging from electronics to clothes. The stores are located in the downtown Reykjavik, which means that many travelers wander into them by accident. Tourists with a budgeted trip should try to stay clear of the 10/11 stores.
Kvösin is a supermarket situated in downtown Reykjavik and open till 11 p.m. The Kvosin are comparatively cheaper than 10/11 stores in terms of most products. Though how expensive it may be, you can still get great deals on some meals throughout the day. You can get fancy fresh fruits and vegetables here and if you’re coming from an exhaustive expedition or trekking tour, you can head to this store to get some quality food.
You Get Sustainable Sourced Groceries
As tourism is the major source of income in Iceland, the authorities are working in collaboration with the natives and tourists for sustainable development. Nature is the primary selling factor of Iceland to the rest of the world; the country is increasingly showing concern for the origin of the food products. Most Icelandic groceries are sourced from sustainable resources, using legal and ethical practices. A large portion of the fruits and vegetables are grown in local greenhouses powered by the geothermal energy available in abundance in Iceland. The meat is also raised under natural conditions throughout summer to avoid keeping the animals outdoors in harsh winter.
Iceland also witnesses a large number of its population preaching veganism and vegetarianism, which means you get plenty of food items that are vegetable-based and vegan at major locations in the country. The country also observes a meat-free holiday, so if you’re a religious meat-eater, plan your day accordingly and store enough grocery for you prior. The staff and sales associates in Iceland understand English, which means you can ask them to translate the ingredients and read out the product if needed, because if something is looking like pork that doesn’t mean it is pork. Be informative in what you’re picking at a grocery store and always ask for help if and when needed.
Few Things to Keep in Mind While Out on Grocery Shopping
You’re out in an all-new place and shopping for essentials, which means you need to be very careful when picking out the items. There is a list of things you should keep in mind before going out for grocery shopping, which includes:
- Reading the label or ingredients is the most important thing you should practice before putting any food item in your cart. Remember, you won’t get the same brand or food item as in your home country, which means the ingredients and composition may differ. There might be things that you’re allergic to or is new to you, so take help from the staff or sales associated to get a fair knowledge about everything you’re about to eat.
- While saving your pocket, do not miss out on trying the local delicacies. Iceland has great native food rich with different kinds of meats and vegetables, so do try out new things and tastes to have a holistic experience of the magical country.
- All places or stores in Iceland accept Visa debit or credit cards.
- If you’re shopping for camping or hiking food, pick food that is cheaper, convenient, and can be stored for a longer time.
- Carry snacks when traveling around Iceland. Tis is an easy and pocket-friendly way to save a lot of money since snacks out in the countryside is much more expensive than if you buy it in the grocery stores in Reykjavik. You can get some high-protein and high-energy munchies, like chocolates, candies, chips, and bars, to help you keep going during trekking, hiking, or cycling tour.
- If possible, carry a battery-operated boiler or kettle which can help you cook the food or heat it while you’re camping or hiking in different remote areas. You can easily get easy-to-cook food from any supermarket and using your kettle/boiler cook it.
- When traveling outside the city or major towns, do not forget to carry along a grocery’s map to find yourself a store anywhere near you.
- Do not forget to explore local shops and small businesses in Iceland. These shops are mostly preferred by the natives as they have authentic Icelandic things that are worth trying and exploring. By shopping from them you can help the small businesses thrive and experience the rawness of the place.
- Do not travel empty stomach, especially in winter, to remain within the budget as it may cause you several other problems. In winter, your body consumes more energy and that requirement can only be fulfilled if you eat on time and have a proper diet.
- Along with the map, do not forget to check for the operating time of these grocery stores. Not all stores around Iceland are open 24×7.
- It is recommended that you bring a shopping bag while going out for buying groceries. If you forget yours, all major supermarkets and stores offer sustainably sourced bags for groceries.
Iceland is a magical and mysterious country with beautiful natural surroundings and people. You can spend some exciting and unforgettable days in nature’s lap by admiring some breath-taking creations. Due to the increasing number of tourists over the years and limited employment opportunities, things are pretty expensive in Iceland. But in the whole process of maintaining your budget throughout the trip, do not forget to enjoy the scenic beauty of the place. What’s important is to enjoy and create memories in this wonderland and for that, you need to come prepared with your homework. Research about everything beforehand to avoid last-minute hitches and pre-book everything in advance to avoid spending. Iceland is a great country that makes your soul happy and peaceful, so enjoy every bit of it!