While you may not expect it, you can get a pretty fabulous cup of coffee in Reykjavik. There’s certainly no shortage of great cafés in our capital city. With so many options in such a small city, it may be hard to decide where to get your daily dose of caffeine. The first thing you may notice when walking around in Reykjavik, is that you will not come across large international chains, like Starbucks. Ok, I know, with Starbucks on every block of most towns and cities, is this even possible? While you may be hankering for a Venti Caramel Frappuccino, 2 pumps of pumpkin spice, 1 extra shot, and extra whip – this means that you will only experience authentic Icelandic coffee drinking – which is the best in the world (in our opinion). To make your life just a little bit easier, I have put together a list of my favorite cozy cafés the next time you find yourself in our charming city.
The first one on the list is Stofan café. This friendly and welcoming place is located in the center of Reykjavik in a historic brick building. Stofan is known for having the best hot chocolate in town and freshly home baked cakes to die for. The café is one of the biggest you will find in downtown Reykjavik and has two floors. When I think of Stofan I tend to think of it as two different cafés. Upstairs is where you would want to take your coffee break of the day, sit down and relax. If you are looking for some place to go out on a weekday with a group of friends, downstairs of Stofan is the place to be. Happy hours is between 17:00 and 20:00 every day and each week they throw a „boardgame Monday“ night where you can either bring your own games or share the ones already at the café. Prepare yourself for some retro fun of playing board games and drinking Icelandic beer. One piece of advice – don‘t walk past this place that would be a mistake!
Mokka café has been an Icelandic classic since 1958. Still run by the same family that opened it, it is one of Reykjavik’s oldest cafés. Walking into this small café located on Skolavordustigur is like stepping back to the 1950s, since the décor at Mokka has mostly remained the same since it opened. One thing that frequently changes is the art on the wall which is created by local artist that you can admire and buy. The café was the first one to install an espresso machine and also the first café to serve espresso, cappuccino, and café latte in Iceland. This retro vibe café has no music, no Wi-Fi and the seats are usually filled with local and loyal customers. At Mokka café you should simply go to drink coffee, talk, read or eat the best waffles in Iceland with jam and whipped cream.
I am going to be honest with you. Café Loki is a tourist-oriented spot. The reason I want to include this cute little café is that it has one of the best views in Reykjavik, great menu packed with local Icelandic delicacy and good prices! The Café is located directly across from Hallgrimskirkja which means that you can enjoy this stunning building inside a warm house while drinking your coffee. If you are coming to Iceland two things should be on your culinary bucket list and you can try both at Café Loki. One is the fermented shark – but prepare yourself, it’s an acquired taste! It is, however, all a part of the Icelandic experience (you can’t, for example, call yourself an if you have not been so brave to try the fermented shark). The other dish (and one of the reasons I would go to café Loki) is their delicious “Plokkfiskur”. “Plokkfiskur” is made from haddock, potatoes, white sauce and onion. You can’t go wrong with this one!
Reykjavik Roasters is the perfect place for the coffee enthusiasts. It is said to serve the best coffee in Reykjavik and I agree. The café imports their own beans, roast them themselves and finally brew them for you to enjoy. Reykjavik roasters are open at two locations in downtown Reykjavik and the décor is very modern. You will definitely notice that the loyal customer includes a mix of young professionals and local hipsters. This café is all about the experience of getting a great cup of coffee. I recommend that you invest in a bag of fresh roasted beans to take home as a souvenir, it is just that good!
The next one on the list is a relatively new one. The first ever Cat Café opened in Reykjavik a year ago and Reykjavik has not been the same ever since. You see, the people of Reykjavik LOVE cats. To prove that point we have a Facebook page called “Spottaði kött” or “Spotted a cat” where people post random pictures of cats they spot all over the city. This café was just what the city was missing, so as soon as new governmental regulations allowed restaurant owners in Iceland to decide for themselves whether animals were allowed in their establishments or not, the owners decided to jump at the opportunity. Finally, a small, pink and furry coffee house that serves delicious coffee and vegan pastries or sandwiches opened. The cat Café is located on Bergstadarstraeti street just a few steps away from Skolavordustigur street. The owners work with a local shelter to help find permanent homes for adult cats. Guests at the café will always be greeted by three homeless cats that they will hopefully get to know, fall in love with an eventually take home with them. It is the purrrfect café for cat lovers.
It is time to tell you about my absolute favorite café called Kaffibrennslan. This place, for me, is the definition of cozy. It is located on Laugarvegur street, which is the main walking street in Reykjavik. This is my go-to place whether I need a place to work, study, meet up with friends or even go out for a beer. The place is relatively small but has two floors. My favorite spot is upstairs near the window overlooking Laugarvegur street. That way I can sit, relax and watch the lively street and people walking outside. The atmosphere inside the café is very relaxed and people are there just to enjoy each other’s company.
Not far from the city center on top of Oskjuhlid sits Perlan. Perlan is where beauty meets function as a glass dome sits atop the city’s water reservoirs in six huge tanks, each with the capacity to hold over 4 million liters (1 million gallons) of geothermal hot water. Inside the dome, between the hot-water tanks, is a spacious atrium where various exhibitions and events are held. The best thing about Perlan is their coffee house which is situated on the top floor under the glass dome. While you sit and sip your coffee you will be able to enjoy a 360° view of Reykjavik! There is even a viewing platform which is perfect for those sunny and still days, then you should definitely enjoy your coffee outside!
This would not be a complete list if it did not include some vegetarian and vegan friendly options! Café Vinyl offers one of the best vegan menus in Reykjavik. My go-to would be the Alan vegan salat or the Oumph sandwich, it is amazing. I almost feel like I can’t call this place a café because it is also a restaurant, a record shop and at night it turns into a bar. Stepping into Café Vinyl is like stepping into a hip record store, full of vintage records, school house furniture, DIY art, and Reykjavík’s cool-crowd. This is the place you go to and spend hours chilling with your friend while enjoying some delicious coffee, food and good music.
Situated in the always trendy Vesturbær neighborhood in West Reykjavík, Kaffihús Vesturbæjar is a perfect stop after a dip in the Vesturbæjar Swimmingpool, which is situated right across the street. It’s a popular hipster’s hang-out that brags about their “sickeningly good” coffee. They’ve got a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, that varies from day to day and posted on their chalkboard. It’s friendly atmosphere and good service makes it a local favorite. So, if you want to explore something else then just downtown Reykjavik – this surely is the coffee house for you.