4 reasons to visit IKEA in Iceland that have nothing to do with furniture

Disclaimer: Due to the current blogging climate and the whole discussion about influencer marketing I feel I need to inform you that this post is not sponsored by IKEA nor is it written in collaboration with them. We weren’t slipped any flatpack furniture under the table or bribed with Swedish meatballs.

In March 2016 I bought my first home. When I was single I was always traveling so it didn’t make much sense to buy a place (not to mention the fact that I didn’t have the money) and when my husband and I started living together he already had an apartment that I moved into. So I had never gone through the process of looking, making an offer and all that.

Buying your first home is a big deal. You’ve probably never spent so much money on anything in your life and after you wait in suspense while the bank decides whether or not you’re worthy of a mortgage you basically sign away your life for amounts that you have no idea whether you’ll ever be able to pay back. You hope and pray you didn’t buy the cat in the sack and you sweat profusely when the first bills start pouring in with the mail. Local tax, heating bills – what the heck, you have to pay for the toilet to flush?

Thankfully, after a while, it all becomes normal and paying bills that you don’t really understand becomes as natural to you as brushing your teeth. You start feeling comfortable and you forget that it’s not enough to just buy a place – you have to maintain it and fix things that break too. Which is how I’ve now, after two years of first-time-homeowner-honeymoon bliss, found myself in the middle of time-consuming renovations that are somewhat testing my patience. I mean, when will the dust settle? No really –  I’m not asking for a friend!

What nobody tells you is how often you have to go IKEA when you buy a new place or when you’re renovating it. I used to love IKEA, going there was a treat I’d save for an afternoon with my mom or a favorite gal-pal, but for the past few weeks I’ve been going there multiple times a week. Some days even multiple times a day! There is such a thing as too much IKEA in one’s life!

On the upside, for you at least, when you visit a place often enough you start noticing things that you never noticed before. Like reasons why someone visiting Iceland should consider adding IKEA to their list. I know it may sound like a strange suggestion but just hear me out.

1) The IKEA restaurant

The IKEA restaurant is one the most affordable place for food in the greater capital area. It’s also family friendly and offers a surprising variety. They usually always have a couple of dishes of the month and they put special emphasis on Icelandic lamb which is often expensive in the restaurants around town. Of course, the IKEA restaurant is more like a canteen than a fine dining experience but often the food is pretty decent.

If you want to try something seasonal, like the smoked lamb before Christmas or the Þorri treats (traditional food eaten from the middle of January till the middle of February) IKEA will almost certainly be the most affordable place to try these things.

The husband and I had some business in IKEA recently and we started our visit with a breakfast their restaurant (which opens earlier than the store). Two bread rolls with cheese, ham and jam plus a warm drink of choice was just under 500 ISK and there were quite a few people there taking advantage of that.

If the food is not a good enough incentive – IKEA sells alcohol with their food at a price which is hard to beat in any other restaurant in Iceland. I mean some lamb and a small bottle of red – what more can you ask for?

2) The IKEA bakery

IKEA in Iceland has a bakery instore where they make traditional treats like Kleinur and Ástarpungar from scratch. Both of those are beloved by Icelanders and we hardly ever go to IKEA without grabbing a bag to take home.They also bake their own sourdough bread and other treats and like everything else in their store, it’s relatively cheap.

Now, you have to remember that when I say relatively cheap I, of course, mean cheap for Icelandic standards. Icelandic standards and rest-of-the-world standards are two quite different things.

3) Småland

I don’t know how to put this delicately. Your kids are lovely. They’re the apple of your eye, the reason you live and the best thing that has ever happened to you. But sometimes, when you’ve been in confined spaces like a rental car or a hotel room with them for too long, you just need some mommy time (or daddy time – you know what I mean).

Although it may not be exactly the romantic break you were hoping for, you can drop the kiddos off at the Småland kid’s corner in IKEA while you and your significant other enjoy a civilized grown-up meal (with cheap wine) at the IKEA restaurant. You gain a bit of your sanity back and they get to play with fun locals in a magical Swedish designed fun zone ( which means it’s both safe and sensible). Everybody wins!

Småland welcomes children from the age of 3 to 7.

4) The cheapest hot dog in Iceland at the IKEA bistro

I know what you’re thinking – IKEA has a restaurant, bakery AND a bistro? Yes, yes they do. Although I’m not sure a bistro is necessarily the word I’d use for it. At the bistro, you’ll find the cheapest hot dogs in Iceland (everybody loves a good hot dog) but a combo of a  hot dog and a tiny (strangely cute) bottle of coke go for 195 ISK. That’s under 2 dollars, ya’ll.

Although they don’t quite compare to Bæjarnis beztu (they serve a different brand of hot dogs) they have all the normal Icelandic hot dog condiments like the delicious fried onion and remoulade. And when they’re that cheap you can totally afford a second helping.

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11 thoughts on “4 reasons to visit IKEA in Iceland that have nothing to do with furniture”

  1. D says:

    Well i clearly need to spend a day at Ikea whenever i get a chance to come back to Iceland – just for the kleinur 😀

  2. Kathy T says:

    This may seem like a silly question, but do they serve the swedish meatballs at this location? We are planning a trip in September and this might be a fun stop to see how it compares with the one in Seattle.

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Yes, it’s IKEA – of course they have Swedish meatballs 🙂

  3. Kathleen says:

    Hahahahaha – when the Ikea in the Washington, DC area first opened in the early 90s my (half Icelandic) dad deeeefinitely used it as free child care for me and my brother while he went to have a coffee in the restaurant. So it really makes me laugh to see you suggest the same thing!
    When I lived in France I was quite homesick and one branch of my university campus was near an Ikea – so I would go to the restaurant sometimes when I needed a pick-me-up. I guess all those years of going to Ikea’s ballroom (before the days when it was called Smaland) meant that it does feel a bit like home to me.

  4. Tracy says:

    Good intel – thank you!
    By the way, your adorable hubby is flashing a backwards peace sign that was used (and still is by many) as an insult. I learned by accidentally offending someone myself and now I keep it palm out 🙂 Mind you, Churchill used it to signify “victory” but he was also exploiting the double entendre to stick it to the enemy. Many are loose with this sign and don’t realize that other cultures and generations still have an assigned meaning that is different from most intentions.
    Anyhow, that note is just an aside. I’ve been following you for a long time and love what you’re doing.
    Best wishes!

    1. mm Ásta - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Haha, I’m sure Hrannar didn’t mean to be offensive, he’s such a nice warm guy! We are glad you enjoy the blog!

  5. Ian Cochrane says:

    Haha. Enjoyed your post.
    Don’t think I’d travel there all the way from Downunder to visit Ikea though, meatballs or no meatballs. Although…. maybe a grown-up glass of cheap white wine may be worth considering.

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      I’m not suggesting you come to Iceland for IKEA but if you’re on a budget the prices of the food are hard to beat.

  6. Marianne says:

    About the what you call inverted peace sign: it isn’t but that’s how lots of people, especially non-Europeans ( and especially us Australians) show the number two on their fingers, ie the forefinger and the middle finger (you then add the ringfinger for the number three. Just saying…. 🙂

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Yes, that’s actually what he was doing – demonstrating that 2 hot dogs is the way to go 🙂

  7. Julian Green says:

    Wow, beautifully written! You really put your heart into your ‘travel experiences’ & your writing.
    We are planning a trip in September and this might be a fun stop to see how it compares with the one in Seattle.

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