I’m often contacted by worried travelers that have read that supermarkets are scarce and difficult to find in Iceland. The truth is that there are a lot of supermarkets spread around the country but they are not all created equal. Reykjavík has a pretty good selection of supermarkets in all price ranges (well, cheap isn’t really a price range we are familiar with but cheap for Iceland is a range we know) but once you drive out of the city the options are somewhat lacking.
There are obviously more supermarkets and convenient stores available around the country but these are the main ones – listing everyone would be too time consuming and this has already taken a while. Below the map you will find a short explanation of each chain and if you follow the links you will find the opening hours.
View Grocery stores in Iceland in a larger map
Bónus is probably the best known budget store in Iceland and it’s usually considered the cheapest. The interiors are quite spartan and the selection not great but it should fulfill your basic food needs. This is where the boyfriend and I usually do our shopping for the home.
Budget brand: Euroshopper
Like Bónus, Krónan is a budget store and is usually considered among the cheapest. The Krónan stores are usually a bit bigger than Bónus and have a bigger selection – especially when it comes to fresh meat and fish. They have a considerably big health section that will serve many people with dietary restrictions well (no gluten, no preservatives etc. ).
Budget brand: First price
Nettó is a budget shop that started in Akureyri and has now opened up quite a lot of shops around the country. It’s on the cheaper end of the spectrum and sells all kinds of other stuff like yarn and board games.
Budget brands: X-tra and Coop
Víðir is a relatively new chain of stores in Reykjavík and the surrounding areas that offers fresher fruit and vegetables than most of the other stores and a wide range of healthier options. It’s a bit more expensive than the budget stores but still reasonable considering the quality. By far my favorite store.
Hagkaup probably comes closest to being a hypermarket like you can find in many countries around us. It offers everything from food to cosmetics and home appliances. It’s also one of the best places to buy lopi if you can’t go to the Álafoss outlet or run out of lopi in the middle of the night since some of their stores are open 24/7. Food is expensive-ish – other things are mid-range.
I want to say that 10-11 is the most expensive store in Iceland but I don’t have anything except my feeling to back it up so I won’t. It’s all over the place, even in Keflavík Airport, and it’s the kind of place where you pick something up if you don’t have time to go somewhere else but you don’t do your shopping there. You will notice when you go in there that the snack shelves take over most of their stores and most of them are open 24/7.
When you leave Reykjavík you will notice that you will see more and more supermarkets that start with the word Samkaup and less and less of the bigger budget supermarkets like Bónus and Krónan. They are considerably more expensive than the bigger stores.
Samkaup Strax is Samkaup Úrval’s little sister. Both stores are a part of the same company that also owns Nettó, Krambúð and Kjörbúðin and it’s probably somewhere in between in prices. Most people that live in towns that only offer these stores will drive to a bigger supermarket to do their bulk purchase because it’s that much more cheaper.
Kjörbúðinis a chain of grocery stores around the country. It’s not to be found in Reykjavík or other bigger towns, so they seem to focus on small or medium sized towns. The store owners claim to have made a survey for the townspeople all around the Icelandic countryside and, based on the survey, made up this chain to meet the needs and wishes of the customers. I have no idea if they succeeded, but in any case, they get a point for trying.
Those of you who have already visited Iceland might know Krambúð, a small grocery store open 24/7 on Skólavörðustígur close to Hallgrímskirkja. It’s one of the stores that is small and rather expensive, but is a lifesaver when you find yourself in need of something after the opening hours of the cheaper stores. Now they have three more stores around the country. The one in Reykjavík and Reykjanesbær are open 24/7 and the other two also have long opening hours.
Iceland is not just the name of our beloved country, but also a supermarket. Yes, this can be quite confusing, especially when that supermarket is located in Iceland. Iceland – the supermarket – has three stores, two in Reykjavík (both in the Breiðholt neighborhood) and one in Kópavogur. Prices are higher than those in Bónus or Krónan, but they have similar selection and are open 24/7. Their main attraction might be the huge pick and mix candy station, with a 50% discount during the weekend. It’s some kind of a cultural experience to witness the wave of candy craved kids (and grown ups) sweep over these stations on Saturdays (the designated “nammidagur” (candy day) in Iceland).
I have to admit that I’ve never been into a Kjarval store and know very little about them. So little, in fact, that I almost forgot them on this list. They are only in the south of the country and on their website they say they focus on products from the area and keeping the prices down. They were also the first store out of all of the ones mentioned in this post to have their website also in English, but now some others have followed their lead.
Melabúðin, Sunnubúðin, Pétursbúð and Kjötborg are all reminders of a different time when little corner shops were owned by people and not corporations. They all have their unique charm, personal service and above average prices but it doesn’t matter because you feel like you are supporting an endangered specie. Somebody made a marvelous little documentary about Kjötborg that you should definitely check out.
Nóatún used to be a chain but now there is only one store left, in Austurver in Reykjavík. It’s like the Rolls Royce of Reykjavík supermarkets when it comes to prices but with a homely corner store feel. They have hot food that you can buy by weight at noon which is surprisingly cheap but the rest is a bit pricey. Also have all kinds of gourmet sauces and spices and meat and fish counter where you can by fresh meat and fish by the kilo.
Fjarðarkaup is some kind of a smallish hypermarket, quite similar to Hagkaup. They sell almost everything! Unlike Hagkaup, this is not a chain, but a single family owned store in Hafnarfjörður.
This post and map were last updated on June 23rd 2017