Image Credit: Louis Hansel
Nestled in the heart of southern Iceland, the Golden Circle route is a bucket-list journey renowned for its unparalleled natural attractions, from the sprouting Geysir to the awe-inspiring Gullfoss waterfall and the picturesque Thingvellir National Park. But beyond these geological wonders, the Golden Circle hides a secret: a culinary scene as diverse and spectacular as its landscapes. It's a place where traditional Icelandic fare meets modern gastronomy, where every dining establishment, from the rustic family-owned farm to the chic, upscale restaurant, tells a story of Iceland's rich culinary heritage.
Prepare to embark on an epicurean journey that parallels the majesty of the Golden Circle's natural attractions. As you traverse this iconic route, you'll discover that each stop is not only a visual treat but a gastronomic delight as well. Imagine indulging in a meal made from the freshest local produce, served with a backdrop of stunning Icelandic scenery. From eateries boasting home-cooked meals that comfort the soul, to luxury dining spots that offer a feast for the senses, the Golden Circle has something for every palate and preference. Tie your bib, brace your taste buds, and get ready to embark on a culinary adventure that you'll remember as fondly as the spellbinding landscapes.
Efsti-Dalur II: Farm Fresh Delights
A visit to the Golden Circle wouldn't be complete without experiencing the hearty, homegrown meals of Efsti-Dalur II. A family-run farm that has opened its doors to visitors, Efsti-Dalur II allows you to sample authentic Icelandic cuisine at its freshest. Imagine biting into a juicy burger made from local beef or lamb, the meat bursting with flavors perfected by the harsh but nurturing Icelandic climate. The delicious aroma of home-cooked food fills the air, making your mouth water even before you take the first bite.
But Efsti-Dalur II isn't just about the savory. It also offers a sweet retreat in the form of homemade ice cream, churned from the fresh milk of the farm's cows. Every spoonful of this creamy delight is a testament to the farm's dedication to quality and tradition. As you sit there, savoring your meal while overlooking the beautiful farm, you're not just eating food—you're experiencing a slice of true Icelandic life.
Fridheimar: The Tomato Place
When you think of Iceland, tomatoes might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But a visit to Fridheimar will change that. This family-owned tomato farm and restaurant is a surprising green oasis in the middle of Iceland's rugged landscapes, basking in the warmth of a geothermal heated greenhouse. The air is sweet with the smell of ripe tomatoes, growing in abundance all around you.
At Fridheimar, the humble tomato is transformed into a variety of mouthwatering dishes that form an unlikely but delicious feast. Their famous tomato soup, paired with fresh-baked bread, is a comforting treat that will warm you from the inside out. For those with an adventurous palate, the tomato beer or tomato ice cream offers a unique taste that's both strange and delightful. A meal at Fridheimar isn't just about filling your stomach—it's about celebrating the magic that happens when Icelandic ingenuity meets nature's bounty.
Mika Restaurant: The Chocolate and Lobster Spot
Nestled between the towns of Selfoss and Hella on the Golden Circle route, Mika Restaurant is an enchanting locale that embodies the vibrant soul of Icelandic cuisine. Renowned for its deliciously fresh lobsters and homemade chocolates, Mika offers a harmonious blend of the sea's bounty and the earth's sweet gifts.
Imagine savoring the subtle, buttery taste of fresh Icelandic lobster, cooked to perfection and complemented by sides that bring out the richness of the sea. And as the savory notes fade, you're greeted by the sweet temptation of Mika's homemade chocolates. Crafted with love and skill, each piece of chocolate is a delightful burst of flavor that dances on your palate. A visit to Mika Restaurant offers not just a meal, but an engaging cultural experience that brings you closer to Iceland's unique culinary heritage.
Hotel Geysir: Eat With a Nice View
At Hotel Geysir, your dining experience comes with a complimentary side of extraordinary views. Situated near the famous Geysir hot spring, this hotel's restaurant serves a feast for both the eyes and the palate. As you enjoy a variety of dishes, from traditional Icelandic cuisine to modern international favorites, the sight of the magnificent Geysir offers a mesmerizing backdrop.
Dig into succulent Icelandic meats like mountain lamb and Arctic char, each bite more flavorful than the last, as you marvel at the raw power of nature displayed by the Geysir. The combination of the high-quality food and the stunning views make every meal here an event to remember. At Hotel Geysir, the dining experience perfectly encapsulates the magic of the Golden Circle – spectacular beauty complemented by exquisite taste.
Lindin Restaurant: Fancy Food in Nature
Tucked away in the scenic town of Laugarvatn, Lindin Restaurant is a gem that offers a blend of fine dining and breathtaking views. The combination of elegant food and raw, untouched nature makes this restaurant a must-visit for any food enthusiast on the Golden Circle route.
At Lindin, every dish is a masterpiece of flavors, textures, and colors, prepared with attention to detail that you can taste in every bite. The menu boasts a variety of delicacies, including locally sourced lamb and Arctic char, masterfully prepared and beautifully presented. As you relish your meal, you can gaze out at the serene beauty of Lake Laugarvatn, making your dining experience a treat for all senses. At Lindin, you get more than just a meal; you get a culinary journey that's as unforgettable as the landscapes that surround it.
Kaffi Klettur: Good Homely Food
Tucked away in the busy streets of Reykjavik, Kaffi Klettur invites you to take a step back and enjoy the comforting embrace of homely food. This family-owned café has been serving traditional Icelandic meals for years, creating a sense of nostalgia and warmth that resonates with every visitor who walks through its doors.
At Kaffi Klettur, the recipes are passed down through generations, each dish capturing the essence of traditional Icelandic home cooking. One must-try is the 'Kjötsúpa', a rich, savory lamb soup that Icelanders turn to for comfort during the long, cold winters. You can also indulge in 'Plokkfiskur', a hearty fish stew served with homemade rye bread, another staple in Icelandic homes. But don't forget to leave room for dessert! Kaffi Klettur is known for its 'Vinarterta', a multi-layered cake that is a staple during Icelandic festivities. Dining at Kaffi Klettur is more than just a meal; it's like being welcomed into an Icelandic home and sharing in their culinary traditions.
The Golden Circle is much more than just beautiful sights. It's also a journey of taste, where every stop offers a unique food experience. From the farm-fresh meals of Efsti-Dalur II to the unusual tomato dishes at Fridheimar, from the culture-rich dining at Mika Restaurant and Hotel Geysir to the hidden treasures at Lindin Restaurant and Kaffi Klettur, you'll find amazing food in every corner of the Golden Circle. Each meal tells a story about Iceland, its people, and its love for good, fresh food.
So, as you plan your trip around the Golden Circle, remember to also plan your meals. Take your taste buds on an adventure and try the different foods you can find. Whether you're looking for a hearty meal to fill your belly or a fancy dish that looks like art, you'll find it in the Golden Circle. Enjoy the view, enjoy the food, and enjoy the journey. After all, a good trip is made of good memories, and what better way to make memories than with delicious food in a beautiful place?
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are reservations needed for restaurants in the Golden Circle?
Ans: While it depends on the restaurant, it is generally a good idea to make a reservation to ensure you get a spot, especially during the peak travel season. Some places, like Fridheimar, are particularly popular and can get fully booked.
Q: What kind of atmosphere can I expect in Golden Circle restaurants?
Ans: The atmosphere varies widely from restaurant to restaurant. You'll find everything from casual and homey atmospheres in places like Kaffi Klettur, to more upscale dining at Lindin Restaurant. Many spots also provide stunning views of Iceland's natural landscapes.
Q: Do the restaurants in the Golden Circle accommodate dietary restrictions?
Ans: Most restaurants in the Golden Circle are accommodating to various dietary restrictions, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free diets. It's always best to check in advance by looking at online menus or contacting the restaurant directly.
Q: What types of food can I expect to find in the Golden Circle?
Ans: In the Golden Circle, you can expect a wide range of foods, from traditional Icelandic dishes to international cuisine. Seafood, lamb, local vegetables, and dairy products are commonly used ingredients. There are also unique culinary experiences, such as tomato-based dishes at Fridheimar.
Q: What are some must-visit food places in the Golden Circle?
Ans: Some must-visit food places include Efsti-Dalur II for its farm-fresh meals, Fridheimar for its tomato-based dishes, Mika Restaurant for a blend of seafood and chocolates, Hotel Geysir for a dining experience with a view, Lindin Restaurant for fine dining amidst nature, and Kaffi Klettur for good homely food.
Q: What traditional Icelandic foods should I try in the Golden Circle?
Ans: Traditional Icelandic foods you should try include lamb or beef dishes, fresh seafood like Arctic char or lobster, hearty soups, homemade bread, and unique desserts such as Skyr brûlée.