Iceland is a beautiful location with breathtaking sites such as Reykjavik, Blue Lagoon, Black Sand Beach, Golden Circle, South Shore, and more. While you may be a little hesitant to travel to Iceland with food allergies, you’ll be happy to learn that they have come a long way when it comes to providing safer options for people with food allergies. In this blog post, you’ll learn more about navigating Iceland with food allergies so you can travel confidently and make lifelong memories. Get ready to take in the stunning waterfalls, Northern lights, glaciers, and more, and check this beautiful country off your bucket list!
Popular Sites to Visit When Traveling to Iceland
Iceland is a country known for its breathtaking natural landscapes. There are a vast amount of popular sites and tourist attractions that you will definitely want to add to your must-see list. This post is going to focus on arriving in Reykjavik and exploring the surrounding areas, but there is so much more to Iceland. Not to mention, there are such friendly people!
Reykjavik is the capital city of Iceland and is a vibrant, charming destination that blends modern amenities with unique cultural experiences. With the colorful houses of the Old Harbor area, the Hallgrimskirkja Church, and the bustling downtown area, the nightlife is exciting, the shopping is amazing, and the food is delicious.
Blue Lagoon is another iconic Icelandic destination. This geothermal spa is located in a lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The milky blue waters are rich in minerals, offering visitors a rejuvenating, spa-like experience. Plus, the volcanic scenery surrounding it is stunning. Now there are other thermal spas, like the Sky Lagoon near Reykjavik, but at the time of writing this post, it does have an age limit, whereas Blue Lagoon is family-friendly.
Black Sand Beach
If you travel to Iceland, you have to check out Black Sand Beach (AKA, Reynisfjara) on the Southern Coast. This beach is known for its black volcanic sands, towering basalt sea stacks, and powerful waves that crash against the shore. The views on Black Sand Beach is a surreal experience, especially for those who adore nature.
The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is another popular tourist attraction in Iceland that includes some of Iceland’s most amazing natural wonders. The three main attractions are the Gullfoss waterfall, the hot springs of Geysir, and Thingvellir National Park.
Last but certainly not least is the South Shore of Iceland. With towering glaciers, rugged cliffs, and cascading waterfalls, the breathtaking views are endless. Explore the shore by hiking or ice climbing to take in the sites.
Navigating Iceland With Food Allergies
Reykjavik, Iceland, has come a long way when it comes to food allergies and providing safer options for visitors. When traveling with food allergies, I always recommend taking your food allergy chef cards to help you communicate your unique needs with restaurants and chefs. You can read more about using food allergy chef cards in this blog post. You can also find food allergy chef cards written in Icelandic translation here.
Some restaurants and cafes will be understanding of food allergies and others may not be as experienced with your specific needs. It’s always best to remember to be your own advocate.
Food Labeling Laws In Iceland
When traveling with food allergies in Iceland, it’s important to know their unique laws around food labeling, especially when navigating food allergies. There are Icelandic regulations on certain ingredients, additives, and labeling that follow the EU directives for the most part.
While Iceland is not a part of the EU, they do follow similar knowledge and labeling in restaurants for food allergies. English is commonly spoken, making it easier to communicate your allergies, specific needs, and questions.
Something to keep in mind is that anything not local to Iceland will be imported in. This is why food tends to be more expensive in Iceland. Not only is some of the food imported to Iceland, but per their nutritional labeling standards, any imported food must be re-labeled.
In Iceland, a food package that is retail-sized must include the:
- Origin of the product.
- Name of the manufacturer.
- Packer or importer.
- Net weight or volume.
- Last recommended date of consumption.
- Storage instructions if perishable.
The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority also promotes the safety and quality of food with the consumer’s protection at the forefront. They determine the control of food that is imported and exported into the country.
What Can You Not Bring Into Iceland
When traveling to Iceland, there are a few types of products and foods that you are not allowed to bring into the country with you. This is good to keep in mind as you pack any food to bring with you.
These items include:
- Uncooked meat and various meat products such as dried meat, uncooked smoked ham, bacon, saddle of pork, smoked uncooked sausages such as salami, uncooked poultry, etc.
- Meat and meat products must be fully cooked in order to be allowed into Iceland.
- Uncooked milk.
- Uncooked eggs.
Exploring the Local Cuisine of Iceland
When traveling with food allergies in Iceland, it’s important to know the intricacies of the local cuisine. This will help you remain diligent in your planning and mindful of your restaurant, activities, and transportation choices.
Authentic Icelandic food contains a lot of shellfish, fish, lamb, dairy, potatoes, bread, and meat.
Dairy is used frequently as well, but dairy-free options are available. There are even dedicated vegan restaurants, especially in Reykjavik.
Gluten-free options can be found, along with attention to more allergies in Reykjavik.
Peanuts are mainly found in the cooking oil, but tree nuts can be found more abundantly in dishes like salads.
Allergies like soy and egg can be removed for simple dishes upon request, but be cautious of sauces with soy.
Iceland works with simple ingredients in a lot of restaurants, which allows changes to be made or a simple dish to be created depending on your food allergies. These adjustments and substitutions depend on the restaurant and chef specifically, so again, it’s important to reach out ahead of time to verify what you can and can’t ask for.
You can expect a lot of stews in the winter to keep you warm, Iceland’s famous hot dogs, fresh fish, meat options, and more.
Iceland also offers an array of unique cuisines, which may not be for everyone. Puffin and shark are two big unique cuisines in Iceland that often stop people in their tracks. If you do not feel comfortable entering a restaurant with those items on the menu due to a personal choice, it is crucial that you do your research ahead of time.
However, it is good to keep in mind that a specific item could be a limited-time special, whereas it may not be shown on their online menu. You can always reach out and ask the restaurant to confirm what the specials are on the dates of your travel. I can also help you with all of this with my Restaurant Research service.
Traveling with Food Allergies in Iceland
If you are doing day trips away from Reykjavik, you should be prepared and pack a lunch and snacks, even if you have a restaurant plan. This will help you feel assured that you have a safe meal option just in case your plan falls through or you can’t find a safe meal option. Plus, traffic, weather, or other events can cause you to not end up somewhere on time, or to get stuck, so safe snacks are a must.
Traveling with Food Allergies in Reykjavik
When you arrive in Iceland, Reykjavik is likely going to be the hub where you will depart for most of your day trips if you want to be close to more restaurant options. As mentioned, there are a variety of dairy-free, gluten-free, and additional options available for those with food allergies.
There are a lot of great grocery stores in Reykjavik that you can shop at for food options to take back to your accommodation or to pack with you for a day trip. You’ll even find the dubbed “largest vegan grocery store in the world,” called Vegan Budin.
Traveling with Food Allergies in Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon is such a popular destination on arrival or departure day. With the volcanic scenery, vast lava field, and the geothermal spa-like waters, this is a place most travelers want to make a stop at.
Blue Lagoon is the best option for families with young kids since the Sky Lagoon is for those ages 12 and up, as it’s currently written. At this time, the grab-and-go options are very limited and not recommended for food allergies.
However, the sit-down restaurants at the Blue Lagoon can provide menu accommodations depending on what your food allergies are and what you are able to eat. Be sure to do your research and get in contact with the restaurant during your planning phase.
Can I Stay Away From Reykjavik With Food Allergies?
Staying away from Reykjavik with food allergies is possible, but if you go this route, it is best to confirm with the hotel that they can safely provide all meals for you.
The better route would be picking an accommodation with a kitchen and bringing safe groceries with you. However, if you choose a more intimate accommodation, you should consider how remote it is and the distance from hospitals or medical attention. Of course the hope is you will never need it, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
If you are ready to plan your trip to Iceland with a Food Allergy Travel Agent, you can visit my contact page to set up that call. I’d love to help you plan your Icelandic getaway!