One of the first things I consider while traveling abroad is food. Having many dietary restrictions has made certain countries difficult to travel to, Yet other countries can have a multitude of options. Eating gluten-free in Iceland had a couple of challenges, but nothing that should deter someone from visiting!
Thankfully, gluten-free options ARE increasing in countries around the world. Not only are there more options, but they also taste a LOT better.
Does anyone remember back in 2012 when the majority of gluten-free breads tasted like cardboard? Y-U-C-K! Knowing some restaurants and stores accommodate dietary restrictions can truly make or break a trip for many travelers.
Thankfully there are not only gluten-free options, but many have lactose-free and vegan options too! Keep scrolling to see the top 5 gluten-free restaurants that I ate at while exploring Iceland.
I was a little nervous before arriving in Iceland when it came to my dietary restrictions. Happily can report that there ARE gluten-free options in Iceland. I had the best lemon curd macaron, oat milk latte, and Lebanon/Moroccan-influenced dinner while visiting. Continue to scroll to see where you can find each of these treats and dishes!
Both “Icelandic Lamb” (yum!) and “For the Vegans” soups are perfect after a day full of driving or a chilly day visiting Iceland’s waterfalls! The flavor profile for each of these is delectable and full of delicious spices. As someone who is not a big soup eater in general, I would happily sip these soups a couple of times a week! Additionally, the herbal tea pairs nicely with the soups.
Note: They also sell Artic Macarons here that are all gluten-free! Some of the flavors I would have never thought of putting together. Each flavor being very unique made the box of 6 a little more fun!
Located in one of the oldest buildings in Husavik is Salka! The menu has a couple of different gluten-free options. We went with the freshly caught fish of the day with potatoes and vegetables. The dish was very light, yet filling. This meal was a little more expensive (around $40 USD) due to it being right off the boat! A big win for Salka is that they have gluten-free desserts. The photo below shows some of the BEST sorbet I have ever tasted (and they give you a lot).
Do you love lemon curd? Do you love pink? Do you love unicorns? If yes (or even no), this is the place for you! I have never had a lemon macaron that was so good. We started to drive down the road and it was saddening that we didn’t purchase about 50 more. Also, pretty sure I tried to find a way to get them sent back to the U.S. because of the cravings!
Conveniently tucked on the main road of Reykjavik is Sandholt Bakery & Eatery. If you enjoy savory meals, the shakshuka with eggs and Italian sausage is a must! The menu lists that it normally has a side of bread. However, I politely asked for a different side to accommodate my dietary needs.
There are many delicious sandwiches on Sandholt’s menu too! This is noted because having a creative mindset at restaurants can increase the availability of different options. By creative, I mean that an increasing amount of restaurants offer gluten-free bread or lettuce wrap options. If the options aren’t notated on the menu, kindly ask your server if they have gluten-free options. Alternatively, eating the sandwich without the bread is an option to create a simple modified version.
We visited Sandholt two mornings in a row because of their menu and service. The atmosphere is lively, and a fun place to have a coffee before exploring town. For all the sweets lovers out there, the macarons and fresh pies will have you drooling! In the photo below it is clear how much we enjoyed these treats and did not skimp out.
They say to save the best for last… for the ultimate food lovers, stop looking and reserve a table. Visiting this restaurant is already a must for any future trips I may go on to Iceland. Sumac’s menu is inspired by Middle Eastern and North African regions. The flavor profile of the menu here will make your mouth melt. From the moment you walk through the door, you are immersed in an intimate atmosphere and welcoming staff.
My friend and I both mentioned that we were gluten-free while ordering appetizers. Our waitress gave us her top recommendations and knew what exactly was included with each dish to meet those dietary needs.
I do want to note that this was our final night, so we decided to go all in with wine, appetizers, main courses, and dessert. Being a typically fast eater, that was not the case for this night. Each bite made both of us speechless by how incredible and powerful each one was.
Short answer: For the most part, yes.
Not sure about you, but I spend a large amount of time researching destinations. My primary research includes what I can eat (and what active activities there are to do). We did a bit of research in each of the towns we traveled to beforehand. Thankfully, we were able to find gluten-free options throughout Iceland.
Please be mindful and respectful of the employees and staff at each of the establishments. Occasionally there may be language barriers or confusion, but when we treat others with respect, we often get that in return.
The leading grocery stores around Iceland are Bonus, Netto, and Kronan. There are gluten-free options at each of these stores, and some are marked in English too!
Equally important, if you are traveling during the summer, keep an eye on the time… it is easy to drive around at 1 am and think it is the afternoon still due to the sun not setting. Most of these grocery stores are open from 10 am-8 pm.
Important Tip: Gluten-free in Icelandic is “glutenlaus” and in Swedish it’s “glutenfritt”. This was super helpful while reading the ingredients on the packaging!
Something about eating peanut butter out of a squeezable container made so much sense. Highly recommend grabbing that and rice cakes for an easy and tasty snack!
The traditional lamb soups are gluten-free and have a savory flavor, with vegetables and rice! Always be sure to politely ask the restaurant staff if there is gluten in their version. Being someone who doesn’t typically enjoy soup, this one changed my opinion!
One of the best parts of Iceland is the options of accommodations for all types of travelers. There are hotels with restaurants, Airbnb with kitchens, or camper vans with stove tops, fridges, and utensils!
If you do like more of that nomadic travel, renting a vehicle is a wonderful way to see the entire island. As someone who lives a part-time van life, I chose Happy Campers for a camper rental and could not recommend them more!
Important tip: Not all roads are suitable for all vehicles. When reserving a vehicle, pay attention to 4WD capabilities, and if the vehicle is allowed on any F-Roads. Different rental companies will have different restrictions/policies, please follow company guidelines appropriately.
Most airlines have included snacks which typically consist of either pretzels or crackers. Not great for gluten-free individuals! I typically fly with these healthy snacks to ensure I have something to eat during the flight:
🌟 Jerky🌟 Healthy protein bars🌟 Dried fruits🌟 Raw nuts
Some of my favorite brands are Epic Jerky, RXBAR, GoMacro Bar, ALOHA Bars, and unsalted or unsweetened nuts. For the dried fruits I look for brands that have one ingredient, aka the fruit itself.
Pro-Tip: Pack items like oatmeal, gluten-free bread, gluten-free backpacking meals, or gluten-free crackers in your bag so there are options at your ready! Since we did a lot of hiking, having easy meals to put together was important to us.
As an avid backpacker/hiker, the cleanest and tastiest gluten-free meal options that I have tried are Heather’s Choice and Good To-Go brands. These meals can be purchased from the company website, Amazon, or REI.
🌟 Each restaurant we went to had English-speaking employees. Ask the staff kindly if there are gluten-free options, OR if there are any modifications they can do!🌟 Gluten-free items were not more expensive choices.🌟 Paying in local currency in 2023 was a cheaper option!
Driving Road 1 in 7 days was a few days too short. To spend more time at each location and limit daily driving, I would recommend at least 11 days or more.
For itinerary help, I used Wanderlog to plan the itinerary for time distance analysis! Iceland is one of the most breathtaking countries I have been to. Ensuring we could see everything took a lot of planning. Wanderlog additionally has pre-built itineraries for each city if that is easier.
We recommend driving the ring road (Road 1) for at least 11 days or more. We spent a lot of time driving, but also made a lot of pitstops to hike, explore, take photos, and more! On our timeline, we would spend up to 7 hours driving. Driving the ring road would have been even better if we could have had extra time to go up to the fjords.
Many options along Route 1 are easily accessible for all types of individuals. As someone who has disabilities, there weren’t any places that I felt I could not see or visit. Many of the waterfalls, lagoons, shopping centers, and towns, are very friendly for all visitors.
If you can’t drive, there are also options for transportation. Everywhere we stopped in our campervan, commonly had tour busses parked there too. Many of these tourists from these buses were staying local in Reykjavik and would be able to experience more of Iceland this way.
Last, but not least here are some of our favorite stops along the trip:🌟 Sky Lagoon – Ritual Experience🌟 Godafoss Falls🌟 Walking the town of Reykjavik (Lots of tourist shops!)🌟 Akureyri Botanical Garden (There is coffee and wine inside for purchase with a beautiful atmosphere)🌟 Silfra Snorkel Experience (We recommend using Dive.IS for this experience! The staff is extremely knowledgeable and you have the option to get shuttled to the destination or meet them there.)🌟 If you enjoy hiking, the AllTrails app has many options for hikes at all different lengths. There is also an option to download the hike prior, this is a great safety tip to ensure that you have a map available if you lose service or wifi.
Overall, eating gluten-free in Iceland was absolutely possible and worth the visit. There were many lactose-free and vegan options around the country as well if there are any other dietary restrictions.
However, when I go back to Iceland I will pack more gluten-free options in my luggage. Packing gluten-free options that don’t upset your stomach or make you sick will ensure a sense of safety and comfort.
Lastly, there is no reason to be embarrassed about any dietary restrictions that you may have. Being your own advocate is one of the most important things.
Caitlin is an adventure seeker, van dweller, avid hiker & backpacker, dog lover, with a hint of coffee obsession, Army Veteran, and based out of the beautiful PNW! She’s on a journey of helping fellow outdoor lovers to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, not let disabilities define us, and ways to be mindful. She runs the Mindful PNW Travels blog.