Iceland can get expensive. While there are a ton of great restaurants you should definitely try, it‘s hard to eat out all the time. So you‘ll need to go to the supermarket to gather supplies for your meals. There are several grocery shopping options in the capital area, so we put together a guide to our grocery stores and supermarkets.
One thing to remember: different stores stock different items. As annoying as it sounds, you may have to venture to multiple stores to acquire all the ingredients for a specific dish.
What is the cheapest supermarket in Iceland? Where is the biggest variety? Which supermarkets can you find outside of Reykjavík? We answer these questions in our guide to supermarkets in Reykjavík and the rest of Iceland below.
Let‘s start with everyone‘s favourite pink pig and big yellow bag, the trademarks of the most affordable and most widespread supermarket in Iceland. If you are travelling around in the countryside, chances are this is the only store available to buy supplies. Bónus has the lowest prices out of the big three chains. The selection is not the biggest – you may have a choice of 3-4 brands of sliced bread, whatever vegetables are in season, and the discount store brands, such as Euro Shopper, instead of higher-end brands – but it makes up for it in savings. Bónus has repeatedly come out on top in price surveys as the cheapest supermarket in Iceland.
Bónus used to irk customers with its limited hours – it would close at 18:00 most weekdays! Now most stores in the capital have extended their hours to be open 10:00-20:00. The Bónus stores in the countryside, however, may still have limited hours. If you are unsure whether or not the store is a Bónus, look for the bright pink, dazed-looking pig mascot.
Our favourite Bónus: There are some charming Bónus grocery stores around Iceland, for instance, the one in Ísafjörður in the West Fjords. But our choice in the capital area is Bónus in Skeifan. It is one of the biggest and has a relatively good selection. The biggest Bónus stores are in Holtagarðar in Reykjavík, Kauptún in Garðabær and Smárinn in Kópavogur in the capital area.
Bónus is the biggest supermarket chain in Iceland and has stores in e.g. Selfoss, Akureyri, the Westman Islands and Borgarnes.
Krónan may lack the loveable mascot that Bónus boasts, but the stores pack way more into its aisles. Still technically a budget/discount store, Krónan‘s prices are slightly higher than Bónus‘s. But you will find a wider variety of items in the Krónan. The store also stocks far more European and American brands than its competitor.
This is a safe, middle-of-the-road store. You can usually find all you need in one go, and, although the bill will be a little higher than at Bónus, the products are generally higher-end and – dare I say – fresher. The layout of the stores also gives it a less crowded feeling compared to the narrow aisles of some of the smaller Bónus stores. Krónan also generally opens earlier and closes later than its discount neighbour.
Our favourite Krónan: It‘s hard to find a Krónan outside of the capital area but it opened a store in Akureyri in North Iceland in 2022. The best one for us is situated in Grandi, right next to the Whale Museum.
Not to be confused with the Danish and German stores with the same name, Nettó is a higher-end grocery store in Iceland. Its prices are some of the highest in the supermarket chains. The selection is not that much different from the Krónan, although Nettó has a wide variety of health foods – something some of the other chains lack.
Nettó is a great place for ingredients – but not the main dish. For instance, it might be better to buy meat or fish at a different store, while you would come to Nettó for a specific sauce, cream, or additional sides. There is a Nettó in the Grandi area very close to Krónan that is open 24/7 – one of the few grocery stores that stay open so late. You can usually find teenagers in here late on weekends stocking up on candy.
Our favourite Nettó: Unlike Krónan, you can find some Nettós scattered around Iceland outside of the capital area. But our favourite location is located in Mosfellsbær, about 15 minutes outside Reykjavík.
Hagkaup gives the impression of being a smaller American supermarket, where you can go to get almost anything. Of course, as I mentioned at the beginning, it is almost impossible to get everything you need in one go. But some Hagkaup stores, such as the one in Skeifan, are also open 24 hours. They have clothes, toys, books, food, and so much more. Most Hagkaup stores also have a bakery inside, so you can buy fresh bread and pastries.
Hagkaup is also pretty limited to the capital area. Their prices are higher, closer to Nettós than the Bónus discount store prices. But Hagkaup has one thing the other chains don‘t have: celebrations of other countries’ foods. Twice a year, they host Danish Days and American Days. For these weeks, they will stock a ton of Danish and American brands and foods, respectively. Hagkaup, more than most chains, brings in these outside brands much to the delight of the locals, who can‘t normally get their hands on things flavoured like buffalo chicken.
Our favourite Hagkaup: The locations in Skeifan and in Kringlan have the biggest selection of items, so we recommend making the trip out to one of these.
Melabúðin is one of the last independent grocery stores (non-chain) in Reykjavík. This means that its prices are some of the highest in the city. So if you are looking for fruits and vegetables or pasta, you might be better served going to Bónus or Krónan. However, Melabúðin carries many things that the other stores don‘t. Ingredients for different ethnic dishes, hard-to-find spices, and other miscellaneous items can be found in the cramped and cosy aisles.
Situated in Vesturbær next to Vesturbæjarlaug swimming pool, Melabúðin also serves fresh fish and meat – some of the best in the city. You can find snails and other delicacies in the store, although you may have to hunt. This is also one of the few places you can find svið, the infamous boiled sheep‘s head! It is the local market. So if you can afford it, we recommend shopping here to support the local business.
There is only one Melabúðin, so of course, it is our favourite.
10-11 and Krambúðin
These are almost identical convenience stores. The prices are higher than in grocery stores, so we don‘t recommend doing your general shopping here. However, if you need a bag of chips or soda pop, some toothpaste or a banana, the 10-11 and Krambúðin stores are all over the capital area and usually open late.
Throughout the city, you can also find speciality stores. Euro Market, located near Hlemmur Square, specializes in Polish brands. There are several Vietnam markets, including one downtown on Laugavegur and another near Laugardalur, that sell Asian foods. In Skeifan, you can also find Vegan búðin, a store that, as the name suggests, sells all kinds of vegan food. In Kópavogur, you will find City Market, a store that sells Mediterranean and Asian foods. And, if you can find it – it is hidden away in the outskirts of Hlemmur – Blóm í eggi is a Mexican and Latin American store.
The Big Bulk
In recent years, Iceland opened up a Costco, an American superstore that specializes in selling bulk items. If you can‘t find it, Costco probably has it. And while Costco may undercut the prices of its competitors, you have to have a membership to shop there. The variety of foods now available has delighted many Icelanders, but mostly those who own cars. Costco is located next to the IKEA in Garðabær, which is a 15-20 minute drive from the city centre.