Updated: Sep 22
You may consider ice cream to be a summery snack. Something to cool you down and satisfy the sweet tooth on a hot day. However Icelandic people enjoy ice cream whatever the weather. Even in an icy gale with snow drifts on the streets, you will notice that Reykjavik’s ice cream parlors are open for business. Incongruous perhaps but true Icelanders don’t let a little cold deprive them of their favorite cone.
You might be dubious about ordering ice cream in a snowstorm but we recommend that you go with it. Give it a whirl and you’ll likely find yourself tucking into salted licorice soft serve in no time. Here is our essential guide to Icelandic Ice cream and where to find the very best of it.
Iceland Ice Cream: Flavours and styles
Some might say that eating ice cream in Iceland has been elevated to a culinary art form. There are just so many choices of flavor and style. First up you will need to select your type of ice cream. You might go for a classic Italian-style gelato or a soft-serve waffle cone. Alternatively, there will be several vegan options open to you made with coconut milk or almond. Then there is the famous cultured Skyr ice cream. This is the Icelandic equivalent of frozen yogurt.
Next comes the fun part. Dressing your ice cream choice. Starting with the foundations you could go for a classic wafer ice cream or a more edgy waffle cone. Others might prefer to sidestep the cone altogether and opt for a dish or a paper pot.
When it comes to flavors you can get pretty much anything under the Midnight Sun. And more besides. There are all the flavors that you might expect from the top ice cream parlors in the world here. In addition you will find some more unusual flavors to suit the particular Icelandic taste buds. These mainly revolve around the sweet and salty flavor of licorice. This might be quite unusual for some but in Iceland licorice is extremely popular. You will find it in all kinds of forms including smothered in chocolate.
After this things get interesting. Reykjavik’s ice cream shops have sprinkles galore. Think freeze-dried berries, Daim pieces or nóa kropp, and all types of crunches and puffs. Then there are syrups and flavored caramel sauces to drizzle on. If you opt for soft serve you might choose to dip your ice cream into white chocolate or milk chocolate. This forms a crisp layer of chocolate that is very satisfying to bite through.
The final nuance of ice cream culture comes in the form of a flurry. This directly translates as a Tastefox. No one is really sure why but it doesn’t really matter. Once you’re tucking in you’ll have forgotten all about it. So a Tastefox is a soft-serve ice cream flurried together with several different flavor combinations. Any ice cream shop worth a lick will have its own special offers. But you can also go off-piste and invent your own concoctions. Enjoy yourself!
Where to eat ice cream in Reykjavik
This is one of the most popular and prolific ice-cream emporiums in all of Iceland. And with good reason! Isbúð Vesturbæjar delivers scoop after scoop of consistently delicious desserts. It is one of our favorites too. It makes the perfect introduction to Icelandic ice cream if you are ready to be spoilt for choice. As well as soft serve they whizz up delectable ice cream shakes. This is where to come for sprinkles, sauces, and swirls galore.
Huppa Ice Cream
If you are an old hand at gelato and feel like giving the Tastefox a whirl make a date here. Huppa does hands down the best flurries in town. The choice of flavor combinations might well blow your mind. But don’t rush it. Cast your eye over a smorgasbord of multi-colored ingredients and contemplate. If inspiration doesn’t hit then there are several tried and tested combinations your server will recommend.
Valdis Ice Cream
This one is a relative newcomer to the Reykjavik ice cream scene. But it has made a pretty big splash in a short time. Valdis is where to come for some serious taste sensations. They serve a fabulous mix of fascinatingly different flavors. How about black pepper or pear with licorice dust? Come here with a sense of adventure and plenty of space to sample a few of the more unusual flavors.
Ice cream beyond Reykjavik
The Icelandic obsession with ice cream isn’t just a Reykjavik thing. Beyond the capital, in rural Iceland, there are many ice cream shops to help fuel your adventures. Some are even tacked on to dairy farms so you go right to the source! If you are hiring a camper to explore beyond Reykjavik here are a couple of our favorites. Efstidalur and Brunhóll both make great stops on the Golden Circle route.
If you are off on a road trip to the Snæfellsnes Peninsular then definitely schedule a stop at Erpsstaðir. As well as great ice cream they sell excellent skyr and chilled sweet treats. Consider stocking up your rental motorhome fridge for later. You’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the views with an ice cream in hand. Just like the locals!