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How expensive to dine in Iceland?

For a nice dinner at a nice restaurant in Iceland you will have to dig pretty deep into your wallet or purse. PIC ChrisGoldNY

For a nice dinner at a nice restaurant in Iceland you will have to dig pretty deep into your wallet or purse. PIC ChrisGoldNY

It would seem that one of the major concerns of any individual or family going to Iceland is the cost of food and eating in general. Most Iceland forums across the board are inundated with questions about this basic thing and understandably so. So, let us be frank.

FOOD IS VERY EXPENSIVE IN ICELAND NO MATTER WHAT!!!

Food is expensive to buy in the supermarkets. Food is expensive to buy in burger joints and roadside diners and food is very expensive in restaurants wherever you go. Indeed, in one crummy roadside stop in South Iceland you can buy the basic soup of the day and eat among the truckers for approximately 2.200 ISK ( 14€/19$ ). Disgusting price at any level.

Let´s play with a few examples so you get a better picture of what we´re talking about:

  • Suppose you want to drive around Iceland of a week with a family of four and cook your own dinner wherever possible. You are on vacation so you don´t want to skimp too much on enjoying nice food. You go to Bonus or Kronan, the least expensive supermarkets in the country, and shop what you need with crackers and cheese thrown in for good measure. For a not-obese family of four expect to fork out no less than 35.000 ISK ( 220€/280$ ) for the absolute basics. Bring along four cheap bottles of wine bought locally and the tab rises immediately to 45.000 ISK ( 280€/370$ ). Mind you, this is cheap food, no extras and a conservative calculation.
  • Suppose you go all out over a weekend or so with a friend in Reykjavik city and you don´t think twice about dining at restaurants the whole time. Sure, there are different places to choose from but for lunch or dinner above the basic pizza, subway, kebab or Chinese you will be very lucky to find anything decent under 3.000 ISK ( 19€ /24$ ). More realistically, expect a bill of around 8.000 to 12.000 ISK ( 50 – 75€ / 64-98$ ) for a nice two-course menu at more decent restaurants in town with perhaps a glass of basic wine or beer.
  • Some think prices in restaurants in smaller villages far away from the capital must be a cheaper than in the capital but this is not the case. You see, in smaller places there is little or no competition and restaurateurs blatantly charge pretty much whatever they want. They know the tourists have few other options. All part of the tourist gold rush taking place here.
  • Keep in mind, should you wish to buy your own food, there is massive price difference between stores here. The least expensive stores in Iceland are: Kronan, Bonus, Netto and Fjardarkaup. Three of which are widely found around the country. Most expensive stores are Hagkaup, 10-11 and Samkaup. These are found in bigger towns. Price difference between those options are measured in thousands of local kronas.

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