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Travelling with Food Allergies in Reykjavik

Travelling with Food Allergies in Reykjavik

Eating in Iceland with Food Allergies

This Christmas my husband and I went to visit my parents in Canada; we decided to fly there with Icelandair and take advantage of the extended stop over on our way back (read about my experience flying Icelandair.)

After only two days in Iceland, I can quickly tell you that I am in love with the country! The people are so nice, the landscape is out of this world beautiful, everything is so stylish, and the food is scrumptious! I was a little worried about the trip because I had no idea what the food situation would be like there, what oil they use, and how they would react to my food allergies. Let me just say that I ate very well 🙂 

My Food Allergies in Reykjavik

Everyone was very accommodating about my food  allergies in Reykjavik and made me feel very safe in their hands. For some, it was the first time they heard about anaphylaxis and seen an allergy card, for others it was nothing out of the ordinary. We ate at three restaurants, had breakfast from a bakery, grabbed a latte at a local coffee shop, and bought snacks at a grocery store. Here is a brief outline of our culinary experience!

Kaffi Felagid

Day 1: Caffein recharge

Before we could start wandering the city of Reykjavik we needed a little caffeine boost. We both had lattées, and they hit the spot. But I have to say the lattée we had at the airport from Joe & The Juice woke my tastes buds up like for real and was uber yums (could be that it was 7 am)!

Ostabudin

Day 1: Lunch

The first day we wandered the town of Reykjavik and saw this restaurant and thought it was too cute! When lunch time rolled around, we looked at other places, but our hearts and tummies took us back to Ostabudin. The lunch menu is very simple with only five dishes on offer. I had the fish of the day but was not able to have any of the sides that came with it. Instead, they made me other sides and a salad. I had so much food!

I presented my allergy card, and they were able to make me something special without hesitation. It was so great to see a restaurant take my allergies seriously and present me with something so thoughtful to eat.

The food and service were both fantastic and both get a 5/5

Satt at the Icelander Natura Hotel 

Day 1: Dinner/Room Service

After a long day of wandering Reykjavik and floating in the hot springs at Fontana, our jet lag got the best of us and we decided to try our luck at the hotel. Room service always makes me nervous and is a tricky thing to do with food allergies. Instead, I went to the restaurant and spoke directly to them about my allergies. It was there I learned that the primary oil used in Iceland is sunflower oil (allergen). I wasn’t able to eat most of the items on the menu, so they made me a mixed salad with approved veggies and chicken.

Again, a restaurant that was so accommodating and it was an opportunity to educated the waitress on food allergies.

The food was good and gets a 3/5, the service was super and gets a 5/5

Eating in Iceland with Food Allergies

Sandholt

Day 2: Breakfast

Rarely do I eat anything from a bakery and the same applied here. My husband had a sandwich, which was delightful. I tried Skyr an Icelandic yogurt that is similar to Greek yogurt, only it’s a little smoother and is full of protein. I had the girls behind the counter help translate the ingredients because I never eat anything without being 100% sure it is allergen free. They also made a good lattĂ©e ;).

Bonus

Day 2: Trip to the supermarket for hiking snacks

We saw a ton of Bonus stores and just had to check them out. It had a selection of imported foods with English packaging, which was very helpful for reading ingredients, and a selection of Icelandic foods. I was able to get a fair amount of snacks that I had eaten in the past and were allergen safe. I wanted to be double sure everything we picked would be ok because we would be hiking and sightseeing, which is a terrible time and place to have an allergic reaction.

OLD ICELAND 

Day 2: Dinner

This place was fantastic! It is very tiny, so I recommend making a reservation. We found it when we were wandering Reykjavik, and it looked nice and cozy. The menu has a fair amount of choices. Once again I chose the fish of the day. When I spoke to the waiter about my allergies, he reassured me that the chef would be very careful, and he had seen an allergy card before. The food took a little longer to come out because they had to use a clean space; I have no problem waiting for something like this!

They did something similar to the other restaurant where I had a different set of sides. My husband ordered the same dish as me, and he also got an allergy free one, this is the first time this has happened. On top of the delicious meal, they had dessert I could eat! A delicious crĂšme brulĂ©e that we shared. I couldn’t eat the garnishes, so they put them on a separate plate for my hubby to enjoy!

The food was yum-o-la and gets a 4.5/5, the service was superb and gets 5/5

Final thoughts

Overall eating with food allergies in Reykjavik was a great experience. Everyone we encountered was so nice and made sure that I felt safe in their restaurant. I would recommend all the places we ate. Also, make sure to bring an allergy card with you because not everyone knows the severity of food allergies and it is up to you to advocate and educate.

PS. I seldom take pictures of food at restaurants, so I have no evidence of what I ate. 🙁 I do this because I want to enjoy the experience of the food and company without the distraction of technology.

? ? About the pics… sorry for the quality they were taken with my iPhone. For more pictures you can subscribe to my Instagram @allergy_girl_eats

View Comments (15)
  • I’m traveling to Iceland at the end of June and have some anxiety about my allergies (sesame and flax seeds). After reading about your experiences, I am more comfortable exploring different foods. I will definitely be using an allergy card. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Hi Zora,
      I am so happy to hear that you are feeling less worried. Sesame is my worst allergen (airborne), so I totally understand. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there wasn’t any sesame at the restaurants we chose. The allergy card will be really helpful in your travels because food allergies are still relatively uncommon there (at least in my experience). They are all really open and helpful with food allergies. I even had someone translate ingredients for me. I hope you have a great time in Iceland! I love it there 😀
      Cheers,
      Kortney

  • Hi there! I have a severe soy/nut allergy leading to anaphylaxis and lifelong intolerance to any gluten/dairy.. would I have a lot of difficulty eating in Iceland?

    • Hi Jupers,

      I also have a soy/nut allergy and had no problem dealing with them in Iceland. I have been twice and both times had a good experience. I even went to a coffee shop that made sure everything was super clean and no cross contamination with soy milk. As to your gluten/dairy intolerance I can’t say for sure how that would be – however this is something people are more aware of than food allergies. I generally do not eat many wheat products when away just in case of cross contact, so I can say it is possible to eat pretty well without them.

      If you go to a grocery store while there and load up on safe foods I think you should be ok. I would think about staying in a place with a kitchen so you can prepare some of your meals. And carry an allergy card with you – this is very important.

      I would love to hear if you decide to go to Iceland.

      Best,
      Kortney

  • Thank you so much for the lovely advice! I feel calmer about traveling to Iceland this April with a soy and nut allergy. It is not as severe as your’s but more of an intolerance but I do not want to be sick while we have such a short time to experience this wonderful city.

    • I’m glad to hear you are feeling better about your travels. I went to OSTABUDIN for a second time and although they have nuts in the kitchen they were extremely diligent in preparing a safe meal. Have so much fun in Icleand!

  • I am enjoying reading your blog. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

    When traveling to Iceland, in what language was your allergy card printed? If it was in Icelandic, how did you get it translated?

    Thank you!

    • Hi, I had my card in English. Everyone there spoke perfect English. I actually didn’t meet anyone who couldn’t speak it. The people working at the both the grocery store and a local cafe were also helpful enough to translate ingredient lists for me. Food allergies are not very common in Iceland, but all the people I met were very interested in learning more and making sure I was able to eat safely.
      Hope you have a wonderful time in Iceland!
      -Kortney

  • Hi!
    I just booked my trip to Iceland and I couldn’t sleep worrying about my sons allergies!! He’s afraid to go. He has peanut and tree nut allergies. Tree nuts are very scary for us!!
    Where do I get an allergy card and do I need to translate it to English? Also, how do I shop without knowing the language with the ingredients?
    Thanks!!

    • Hi! I traveled in April and found food to eat with a Soy and Nut intolerance. Everyone speaks English and all menus come in English. I google translated some ingredients before I left so I would know what they were on packaged food. Most places will be knowledgeable and considerate of his allergies and if not they probably won’t mind if you have to leave. It is very casual in Iceland. Two places I loved: Joylato (a gluten free, soy free, nut free option ice cream place) and Vegamot (need a reservation, very accommodating and has lots of healthy items). I wanted to try the Nepalese Kitchen because I heard they are allergy conscious but they were closed for vacation. Be aware that sunflower oil is popular there so I don’t know if that will be a problem. Or if he can’t be around people eating granola or nut bars, tell people or your tour guide if you go on any bus tours.

      • Hi Liz, I’m so glad to hear that you had a safe journey to Iceland and that your experience was very similar to mine. Makes me love the country even more! I will need to check out Vegamot next time! Cheers, Kortney

    • Hi Lisa,

      I have those allergies as well and found that they are very manageable in Iceland. My experience was very similar to Liz. Everyone I spoke to about my allergies were extremely friendly and helpful. If they didn’t know much about allergies they were certainly open to learning more – this happened a lot at cafes where they served soy milk and I needed to be sure there is no cross contamination.

      You can get an allergy card here: https://www.allergytranslation.com or check out this post where I give a couple of free options : https://thezestfull.com/allergy-card/

      I used an English card and everyone I met spoke English. If you are buying groceries most of the packaging is in the original language of where it is from (lots of imported food). I had someone translate a few things for me and also looked things up on my phone.

      If you are touring around in more remote areas I would suggest bringing foods you know are safe for your son, better to be safe and have a piece of mind (I actually brought snacks all the way from home for these journeys or ate whole foods like fruit and yogurt).

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Cheers,
      Kortney

      • Gosh, that’s so great to hear!! Thanks so much for this information. I’m getting the cards and also packing a ton of food for the flight. I am so glad I found your blog. I’m hesitant to travel because of my son’s allergies.

        Thanks again!


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