When you think of Iceland, you probably don’t think of fast food. Traditional Icelandic cuisine includes eclectic dishes. You may have heard about fermented shark and a thick yogurt called Skyr – a bit different to the McDonald’s and Taco Bell you may be used to at home!
However, there are some fast food chains in Iceland. You’ll be able to grab some food on the go from one of these establishments as a handy option for a quick bite to eat while exploring the fascinating island of Iceland. Let’s explore which fast food chains you’ll be able to find in Iceland.
Is Fast Food Popular in Iceland?
You may be wondering whether Icelanders eat fast food or not. There are actually a lot of popular options for fast food in Iceland, including hot dogs, burgers, fish and chips, tacos and pizzas. The street food scene in Iceland is buzzing, with plenty of trendy street food restaurants in Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavík to choose from.
These fast food and street food establishments serve similar fast food options that you’ll be used to at home. However, they'll also serve Icelandic alternatives to explore. For example, fish is a hugely popular food in this island nation. As a staple of traditional Icelandic cuisine, you’ll find a whole range of fish dishes available in fast food outlets in Iceland. The most typical ones are fish or seafood soup, and fish and chips made from fresh Icelandic cod.
Lamb is another popular option for fast food in Iceland. It is usually served as a wrap with salad and sauces in ‘flatkala’: a traditional Icelandic flatbread. Skyr coleslaw is a popular sauce for wraps and chips. For vegetarians and vegans, fear not! You’ll also find falafel options available.
Fast Food Chains in Iceland
So, which fast food chains can you find in Iceland? Let’s take a look through some of the most popular American restaurants in Iceland, including Taco Bell, Domino’s and KFC. Most of these chains you’ll find in the capital city, which is home to over 60% of the country’s population. Here’s our guide to fast food in Reykjavík.
Taco Bell in Iceland
When you’re in the mood for some tacos, burritos or nachos, you can head to Taco Bell in Iceland. There are two Taco Bell restaurants close to Reykjavík, one about 15 minutes drive from Reykjavík along Route 40 towards the South. The other is about 15 minutes in the other direction, heading towards the North along Route 49.
Subway in Iceland
When it comes to fast food in Iceland, one of the healthier options is a sandwich. If you’re craving your favorite sub, you’ll be happy to know that you can eat at Subway in Iceland. With a dozen locations in and around the capital city, Subway is a handy option for your trip to Reykjavík.
Domino’s in Iceland
Ready for pizza night? Domino’s can be found throughout Reykjavík, so you won’t have to go without pizza during your trip to the Land of Ice and Fire! There are around 20 Domino’s locations in Iceland.
KFC in Iceland
In the mood for a boneless banquet? There are several KFC locations in Iceland, including in and around Reykjavík. Some close to Keflavik Airport and even one in the town of Selfoss. You’ll come to that one as you head along the famous Route 1 (Iceland’s Ring Road) towards Southern Iceland.
TGI Friday’s in Iceland
You’ll find one TGI Friday’s restaurant in Iceland, perfect if you’re looking for American food in Iceland. The TGI Friday’s is located around 15 minutes drive from the center of Reykjavík along Route 41 to the South.
Is Starbucks in Iceland?
There are no Starbucks in Iceland. Although you can still enjoy a delicious coffee at the Icelandic chain Te & Kaffi, located in and around Reykjavík.
The story of McDonald’s in Iceland
You may be wondering why the most popular fast food food chain of all, the global giant McDonald’s, hasn’t been mentioned so far on this list of Reykjavik restaurants serving American food in Iceland. So, does Iceland have McDonald’s?
It might surprise you to learn that there are actually no McDonald’s in Iceland! That’s right – you won’t be able to taste a Big Mac on these shores. McDonald’s did actually exist in Iceland once, but it’s no longer here. Let’s explore the interesting story of McDonald’s in Iceland.
Why Did McDonald’s Leave Iceland?
In 1993, McDonald’s opened in Reykjavík, with three outlets across the capital. Meat for the burgers was initially sourced from local Icelandic farms. However, there was a meat shortage in Iceland, which meant the produce then had to be imported with huge import taxes.
This increase in costs at the time of the global financial crisis in 2008 caused McDonald’s food to cost up to 20% more than pre-crisis. With prices too high to turn a profit, McDonald’s closed all of its restaurants in Iceland in 2009.
Is McDonald’s Banned in Iceland?
McDonald’s isn’t banned in Iceland; it’s just not as popular with the locals as it is in other countries around the world. When McDonald’s opened in Iceland, many locals boycotted the global chain in favor of the already well-established local burger chain, Hamborgarabúllan, also known as ‘Tommi’s burger joint’.
Fast food in Iceland is a popular dining option, particularly among younger people. Still, the McDonald’s in Iceland just couldn't survive. The McDonald’s chain in Iceland actually converted to an Icelandic burger joint called Metro.
Metro in Iceland
Despite the lack of an Iceland McDonald’s, there are plenty of brilliant burgers in Reykjavík to sample! Metro is the successor of McDonald’s in Iceland. It serves some of the classic McDonald’s menu items, such as fries, hamburgers, chicken nuggets and mozzarella sticks.
Metro uses cheaper, locally sourced ingredients for their food and their menu is translated into Icelandic language. With two locations around Reykjavík, Metro is a great option for fast food in Iceland when you’re in the mood for a burger.
How Expensive is Fast Food in Iceland?
Food in Iceland can be expensive due to the high living standards and costs associated with importing many food items. And that is important to consider if you plan on visiting the island. However, fast food is a more budget-friendly option for your trip to Iceland. There's a range of global fast food and local street food outlets to choose from.
A burger combo meal at the McDonald’s equivalent will cost around 2000 ISK or $14 USD. If you’re looking for a traditional Icelandic hot dog, it will only set you back about 500 ISK or $3.50 USD. A more extravagant hot dog with different ingredients and toppings combined with a soda costs around 1500 ISK or $10.50 USD.
Explore Iceland’s Food Scene For Yourself
Whether you’re intrigued about sampling some local Icelandic fast food, want to take a trip to a familiar fast food chain, or explore the healthier organic food options in Iceland, you can be sure that there’s something in this fascinating country that you’ll enjoy eating! With a whole range of options, foodies are well catered for in Iceland.
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