This blog post is dedicated to the best coffee shops we’ve personally tried in and around Reykjavík. After all, an adventurous day out should always begin with the right caffeinated motivation.
At Hidden Iceland, we love coffee! There’s no doubt about it. In fact, one of the founders (me) started out as a coffee shop barista many moons ago. So we definitely appreciate a well-made cup of coffee. It would seem most of Iceland does too, being the 3rd largest coffee consumers per capita in the world.
This short list of the best coffee shops (which will be updated the more places we test out…tough job, I know), covers a few of our favorite spots within Reykjavík and a few out of it too. Some of the countries best sights are within a day trip from Reykjavík, so adding a few coffee shops outside the city is likely just as important. In fact, within a 3-hour drive of Reykjavík you can make it to the Golden Circle, hike on a glacier and walk deep into a lava cave. Not all at the same time, of course.
The places below are chosen for their taste but also their coziness and uniqueness. From drinking coffee inside a tomato greenhouse to cozying up to the resident cat in a converted school bus, this list has a few unique options for sure.
BEST COFFEE SHOPS IN REYKJAVÍK
Café Ó-Le (Downtown Reykjavík)
Café Ó-le is the newest member of the specialty coffee scene in Reykjavík, and a truly welcome one. With their specialty coffee and delicious pastries, it’s quickly become a new favorite for us. It’s also ideally located right in the heart of the shopping area of downtown Reykjavík, close to the harbor. Top tip, their almond croissants are some of the best in town!
Hygge Coffee & Micro Bakery (downtown Reykjavík)
Hygge Coffee & Micro Bakery is one of the latest additions to the coffee scene in downtown Reykjavík, located in the heart of West Town in the same building as Héðinn Restaurant. Here you can grab a cup of your favorite coffee drink alongside pastries baked on site, most notably a selection of vegan pastries which are a rare find, as well as toasted sandwiches and soups for a light lunch. On a sunny day, their outside seating area is bursting with sunlight, so a great spot to sit down for a cuppa!
Reykjavík Roasters (Downtown Reykjavík)
For pure taste, this coffee shop is one of Iceland’s best. If you have half a day to spare in Reykjavík, then make sure to pop in and sample the goods. Seriously, I have never seen a coffee so carefully crafted. From the meticulous measurement of the coffee grains using a tiny scale, to the precise temperature of the milk, it is no surprise that I can virtually guarantee a perfect coffee here.
The best word to describe the staff at Reykjavík Roasters is ‘professional’. It’s clear they care about their craft very much. You can really taste the difference when this level of passion is added to each brew. The café itself has a minimalist, almost hipster vibe with great music (often played on a rustic record player). The 3 cafés dotted around the central area of Reykjavík are a welcome relief after climbing to the top of the Hallgrímskirkja church or walking the length of the Laugavegur shopping strip looking for the best souvenir.
Klambrar Bistro (Hlíðar, Reykjavík)
This Bistro is a Norwegian style café hidden inside the uniquely designed Kjarvalsstaðir Art Museum. This isolated café is right at the edge of a tranquil, open park where the locals are found walking their dogs and playing Frisbee golf.
Sitting outside with a fantastic coffee watching some of the local kids play in the park is surprisingly relaxing. The large windows inside give you just as great a view on the chillier days. Make sure to try their vegan chicken waffle if you get a chance too. All their meals are inspired by Scandinavian cuisine and all ingredients are sourced with this in mind. Think delicious cakes, smorrebrod and heartwarming soups. Once you are done with your lunch, then be sure to take in the impressive Art Museum honoring one of Iceland’s most revered artists and then wander around the park.
Kaffihús Vesturbæjar (Vesturbær, Reykjavík)
I would cautiously suggest that this café is the most likely to be filled with locals, rather than tourists. It’s away from the main tourist streets of Reykjavík. Actually, most people will stumble across this café if visiting one of our favorite local geothermal pools or on their way to the solitary Grótta Lighthouse on the western tip of the peninsula.
The lighthouse is on the north-west side of the city (a great Northern Lights location, FYI). It’s nearby to the city center, but if you’re aiming for evening star gazing then a car is generally preferred. Rather than going to this café just to try the coffee (though it is worth it for that reason alone), I would recommend making it part of your day out as you wander along the coastline. The food is also incredible. My personal favorite is Eggs Benedict and Carrot Cake with a well-made Latte. The menu changes regularly though, so it’s always a pleasant surprise to learn about a new dish when you arrive. Cosied up in this well lit café while watching the locals and the bustle of ‘West Town’ outside is all part of the charm.
Mikki Refur (downtown Reykjavík)
This is one of the newest coffee shops in Reykjavík. Later in the day, it doubles up as a trendy bar with some great wine selections. It’s very bold to try and open any new business in the middle of the global pandemic, so they are worth giving a little love right from the start.
Thankfully, even after such a short time, the reputation of the coffee being brewed in this quaint little café made us check it out. Trust us when we say, it didn’t disappoint. For pure coffee lovers, wanting a great coffee with no fuss, then this is the place for you. They are newly opened so things are changing quickly. They now do heart-warming soup, as of yesterday! Located on Hverfisgata (downtown), this is the perfect spot to stop in if you are in shopping mode that day. They also sell great wine too if you are in no hurry to get to the next place.
BEST COFFEE SHOPS OUTSIDE OF REYKJAVÍK
I was very tempted to stop short and only include the Reykjavík coffee stops. But then I thought, how often do coffee shops outside of Reykjavík get the same love? Not enough, in my opinion. So, below are some of our favorite spots that we do our best to stop at on some of our day trips out of the city.
Skool Beans (Vik, south coast of Iceland)
This unique little café is a converted American school bus that was previously repurposed as a glacier guiding vehicle. Just as it lost its thirst for adventure, Holly, the owner, rescued it from the scrap heap and turned it into south Iceland’s first micro-roaster and tea lab.
All coffee beans are roasted by her in the village. The owner, Holly, has also become something of a magician when it comes to coming up with new recipes for hot chocolate too, so don’t only fixate on the admittedly brilliantly roasted coffee. This little café is bursting with charm, except for part owner, Jeffarious Edward the first (resident cat), who will do his best to ignore you while you yearn for some of his attention in front of the fireplace.
Hidden Iceland stops in here on many of our private trips along the south coast or on our 2-day tour if daylight allows. We always recommend it if you are self-driving. Holly’s coffee shop has only been open since summer 2020 and yet, her menu has expanded to include various coffee beans, hot chocolates, exotic teas and delicious bagels with many toppings to boot. Many people order to-go on their south coast journey, but I prefer to relax a little in front of the open fire while I warm my toes on the colder days. Plus, Holly is always up for a chat when it isn’t too busy.
Friðheimar Tomato Farm & Horse Stables (Reykholt, Golden Circle)
Have you ever had a coffee surrounded by 21 ft high tomato plants and buzzing bees…in the middle of winter…in Iceland…powered by the heat of a volcano? I didn’t think so. Friðheimar is an absolute must when you are visiting the Golden Circle in Iceland.
It has predominantly tomato-based lunches (tomato soup, mozzarella pizza, ravioli pasta etc.) are worth the visit alone. But add in the prospect of a tomato-based coffee (yes, you read that right) and it’ll become the highlight of your day. They do, of course, have normal flavored coffee for those reading this, who don’t like the idea of their coffee taking on a slightly different aroma. For the brave ones, I actually do recommend trying it. As they say, when in Rome…or in this case, when in a geothermal greenhouse. After lunch, make sure to walk around the greenhouse and pop over to the horse stables to say hello to the friendly Icelandic horse (just don’t call them ponies).
Hidden Iceland includes this restaurant on our Golden Circle: Platinum tour and on our Golden Circle with Northern Lights private tour.
Narfeyrastofa Restaurant (Stykkishólmur, Snaefellsnes Peninsula)
This café / restaurant is the furthest away from Reykjavík on this list, located north of Reykjavík within the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Make sure to dedicate a full day, or more, to this excursion, as Snaefellsnes has far more than just this sleepy little fishing village to visit.
This restaurant is as Icelandic as it comes with its sheep wool coverings and traditional style. Many of the locals will grab a sociable coffee in here before the busy lunch and dinner rush begins. I, personally, recommend grabbing lunch along with your coffee here. The coffee is well-made, and the setting is warm and comfortable. You’ll find yourself wanting to hang around long after you get to the bottom of your cup under the inviting hanging lights. The staff are also knowledgeable and friendly. If you intend to have lunch (recommended), then take your time to study then menu. You’ll likely notice that most of the meals are sourced right around the corner in neighboring farms and harbors.
Hidden Iceland visit Narfeyrastofa on our Snaefellsnes Peninsula day tour as well as on many overnight northern lights private tours.
Why we make sure that coffee is part of our tours
Hidden Iceland’s tours are personalized, adventurous and, as we always say, run the way we would want to take our friends and family around Iceland. That obviously means stopping at the best spots, finding some hidden gems, and adding in a bit of adventure. But we are also acutely aware that it’s not a race, too. Not everyone wants to cram in as much as possible to each day. A time to reflect and unwind is just as important as taking that perfect picture. And, considering my Dad drinks coffee like water and my Mum consumes tea like it’s about to go unfashionable, I think it’s safe to say that there should always be at least one coffee stop throughout the day. Not to mention, most of our guides enjoy a tasty brew as well. We’ve got to keep our staff happy too, after all.
Best coffee shops in Reykjavík & Surrounding Areas
So there you have it. This short list is just some of our favorite spots. It is by no means exhaustive, so if you can think of any other places worthy of our attention, then please mention it in the comments below. Let’s just say it won’t take much to convince us to go and try out a new coffee shop.
Stay safe and stay caffeinated!
Hi, I am Ryan Connolly; Co-Founder and Marketing Manager of Hidden Iceland.
I’ve guided in multiple countries around the world and stepped foot on all 7 continents. My passion for the outdoors, science, nature, glaciers and volcanoes has led me to study and write about Iceland. I have been interviewed in Forbes, Condé Nast Traveller and Travel Pulse on various subjects.