Sarah takes on Iceland: My top five cafés in Reykjavík

Most people like to get to know a new city by exploring its museums and historical sites. I, on the other hand, will spend all day hopping from café to café. You could call it an obsession. With all of this newfound knowledge to share, I’ve compiled a list of my absolute favorites in Reykjavik.

Café Babalú

This coffee shop is like your funky aunt who wears bohemian cat dresses but serves a mean cup of Joe. You feel like you’re walking into a vintage shop, adorned with prayer flags, comic book figurines, and potted plants. Eclectic, to say the least. Café Babalú also offers a moderate size chalkboard menu, with plenty of options to please the vegetarians (yay me!). But you can’t leave without trying one of their giant chocolate chip cookies. Ooey, gooey perfection in your mouth. Café Babalú also boasts one of the best tea selections in town, so escape the winter cold and cozy up on one of their vintage couches (that might have come from you aunt’s last garage sale).

Grái Kötturinn

Walking into this intimate café feels like stumbling upon a hole in the wall operation. This is the perfect spot to bring your most intellectual friends and share conversations about human rights and how to save the universe. The dim lighting, generously sized bookshelves, and walls adorned with modern art all create a you-would-find-this-in-your-local-university-town vibe. But rather ironically, they don’t have Wi-Fi—even more incentive to discuss lofty topics with your peers. You’ll pay a little bit more for your coffee here, but you can taste every extra penny. Or Krona, I should say.

Stofan Café

You’ll wander up a small flight of stairs to find what looks like the inside of a rustic, cozy home. This is the perfect place to come with a crew of people or study group, as their ample seating ranges from couches and coffee tables to dining room tables. I think it’s the mecca of new friendship meet-ups, because I always overhear very cordial get-to-know you conversations amongst various accents (ß good to note for your next first date). There is a full bar downstairs, so Stofan’s vibe changes around early evening from casual coffee shop to lively meeting place. Win, win!

Kaffibrennslan

This two-story café has a sweet spot in my heart. Their coffee was the first thing I drank upon my arrival in Reykjavik and hence saved me from my jet lag. I am forever indebted. But even more than serving a great brew, Kaffibrennslan feels like a modern cabin on the inside, with bright cream walls, exposed beams, and rustic lamps. Feast on one of their chocolate croissants by a window seat and watch the snow fall onto the cobble stone streets. Magical, I’m telling ya. Perfect for your mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

Kaffi Vínyl

Vínyl is more of a food café than sole coffee shop, but I’m adding it to the list because I love the vibe here. You could easily sit here for hours with just a coffee, but they also offer a bomb dig all vegan menu. And speaking of the coffee, Vínyl allows you to choose oat, soy, coconut or almond milk with your coffee. Hippies of the city rejoice! Vínyl attracts the hippest of the hip, as they bump records all day and put on live music at night. I’ve sat here and Shazamed songs on my phone for two hours before—no shame. The light and airy atmosphere, big street view windows, and records on display make this café a must try when you’re visiting the country of Indie Music.

Sarah takes on Iceland

This post is a part of a series of posts where Sarah, our 23-year-old Coloradan blog-helping-elf, shares her findings during her 5-week stay in Reykjavík. Before Sarah joined us here in Reykjavík she spent a year in New Zealand where she got a taste for the sweet life of travel. After Reykjavík she’s headed south again to spend a year in Australia.

Read more of Sarah Takes on Iceland here.

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7 thoughts on “Sarah takes on Iceland: My top five cafés in Reykjavík”

  1. Kathi says:

    What a cozy looking list!! Is Kaffibrennslan in the building where Hemmi & Valdi used to be? I had such great times in that bar in 2010 and was sad to find out in 2015 when I visited again, that it had closed… Nice to see there is something new in the house 🙂

    1. mm Auður says:

      Yes, it’s the same building. I also miss Hemmi&Valdi – was one of my favorites.

  2. Jo says:

    Just found Vinyl – food is excellent and it’s a brilliant place to sit and listen to the music and soak up the cool vibe.
    Loving this Iceland trip xx

    1. mm Auður says:

      Glad you’re enjoying Reykjavík 🙂

  3. David says:

    Can’t wait to visit some of these Cafes & bars when we arrive in April. Are any highlighted during the walking tour we are taking?

  4. Jennifer says:

    Do any cafes in Iceland serve decaf coffee?

    1. mm Auður says:

      Yes, I know Te og Kaffi has decaf at least – I’m not sure you’ll get it at the specialty coffee shops though.

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