Traveling to Iceland with food allergies can be a daunting idea, but it is entirely possible to stay safe and enjoy your time on the island. Our family has anaphylactic allergies to eggs, peanuts, and all nuts, and my husband has a non-celiac gluten intolerance. Though he wasn’t on this trip with us, I’m always looking out for the prevalence of gluten free options in case we travel to Iceland together in the future.
Here’s all my learnings and recommendations for traveling in Iceland with food allergies. Check out our full guide on planning an epic family trip to Iceland.
How Well are Food Allergies Understood in Iceland?
We spent all of our time in and around Reykjavik, where the majority of Iceland’s population lives and where most visitors base themselves.
I found that restaurant staff were happy to help when I asked about ingredients, but generally were not super knowledgable about cross contamination or allergies in general.
Where to Eat in Reykjavik, Iceland with Food Allergies
We ate at several restaurants in just a few days in Reykjavik, and luckily we had no issues with any of our allergens!
This Indian restaurant was cute inside and offered both dine in and takeaway options. It was right across the street from our Airbnb, so we opted for takeaway, and everyone loved all our choices – even the kids! They were able to do the biryani without cashews for my son, and even though they are present in the kitchen, we did not have any reactions from cross-contamination.
Reykjavik Fish Restaurant
Reykjavik is known for its fish and chips, and we knew we’d want to try this casual dish during our trip. On our first night, we stopped at Reykjavik Fish Restaurant, though there are lots of options. The seafood soup was delicious, and though James didn’t love the fish, it and the chips were safe for him to eat. Gluten free visitors would have a hard time at any fish and chips joint, as most have a very limited menu and the breaded fish will be a no-go.
I know, I know. Domino’s in Iceland?!? Yep, Domino’s in Iceland. Domino’s is one of the restaurants that we can find in a lot of international destinations, but which we always have to check the ingredients. In Mexico, for example, Domino’s uses eggs in their crust. However, to our delight, they do not use eggs in Iceland.
Though most Domino’s in the US are strictly takeout restaurants, the one in Reykjavik has a small eat-in area with a stunning view. Consider eating in or taking your pizza across the street along the waterfront for an even better vista.
Eldur og Is – Ice Cream and Crepes
This ice cream parlor, at the entrance of the Rainbow Street leading up to Hallgrimskirkja church, was by far the most helpful with respect to allergies.
Ice cream is a tricky affair with both egg and nut allergies, and the staff at Eldur og Is were phenomenal. When I explained our allergens, they took our order and then brought out a new, unopened container of ice cream and fresh scoops to prevent any cross-contamination. I had hoped for a fresh scoop, but never would have thought to ask for a new container of ice cream.
I was grateful and so appreciative of their kindness and willingness to keep my son safe and healthy. I highly recommend the shop if you’re traveling in Iceland with food allergies.
Le KocK – Burgers and Fries
We visited Le KocK for lunch one afternoon, and the burgers did not disappoint! The staff was good about confirming the safety for our allergens, and the kids loved that there were GI Joes and other small toys to keep them entertained while we were waiting for our food.
This is not health food, but it is good, greasy comfort food. Be prepared for a long-ish wait, but for great food and a funky atmosphere.
Visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland with Food Allergies
One of the hardest places for us to manage with food allergies was the Blue Lagoon. We landed and went immediately to the Blue Lagoon, before we even got to our Airbnb. Many people choose to visit the Blue Lagoon on their way to or from the airport because it is somewhat outside of Reykjavik itself on the way to the airport.
Because of that, we were tired and hungry, and I was looking forward to a nice warm soak and some good food. The Blue Lagoon has several eating options, ranging from super casual cafes to a very upscale restaurant.
With two young kids, I focused on the casual options, but I found that there was very little that my food allergic kid both could and would eat. The items that were safe (like smoked salmon) weren’t appealing to him, and I couldn’t confirm if the bread had eggs in it so we had to pass on all the sandwich options that he would have been willing to eat.
We had to settle on lots of snacks, like packaged chips. It was a very disappointing and stressful “meal.” The staff at the cafe were not particularly helpful, either.
If you have food allergies and you’re visiting the Blue Lagoon, I recommend eating at one of the nicer restaurants and calling ahead, or bringing your own snacks.
Grocery Shopping with Food Allergies in Iceland
In addition to eating out, we made a few meals in our Airbnb apartment (mostly breakfasts). There were some allergy-safe items for my son, mostly things like yogurt, packaged cereals, and French bread. French bread has been a nice hack for us…in any country we have been to, we have not had issues with French bread. Its ingredients are only flour, water, yeast, and salt, and so even when the majority of bread in a country may contain eggs, French bread does not.
He did not love his breakfast options, but we made it through. I leaned a lot on Google Translate (more on this below!) to understand the ingredients and how the food was processed.
Iceland leans heavily on seafood, so seafood and shellfish allergic travelers will need to take extra care in grocery stores and restaurants to ensure their safety.
How to Prepare for Traveling in Iceland with Food Allergies
I have a few tried-and-true things I do when traveling internationally with my food allergic child.
Download Google Translate
Google Translate is a free app that anyone with food allergies needs to have. It allows you to download any language to your phone, so that you can translate in real time even if you don’t have a cell or wifi connection available.
I especially like the feature where you can point your phone’s camera at text (like on food packaging) and it will overlay the photo with translated text. This is super helpful in grocery stores when you’re trying to discern what is safe and what ingredients a product contains.
Professionally Translated Allergy Cards
I bought Equal Eats allergy cards in multiple languages before our trip. For Iceland, I had read that many restaurant staff are native Russian speakers, so I actually bought the cards in Russian and Icelandic.
What I love about the Equal Eats cards is that they have tons of allergens available and the cards are professionally translated. They have English on one side and your chosen language on the other, so it’s easy to keep track of which card you need.
You can buy cards with multiple allergens combined in one (like all nuts) or you can buy separate cards. I have the tree nuts / peanuts card, the egg card, and the gluten card in various languages.
I did the print at home version, where you get a digital file that you can print. I printed it in color, double-sided, and then I laminated the cards with this laminator so that they stayed in good shape throughout our travels. You can also purchase the physical cards to be mailed to you if you don’t have access to a printer and laminator.
Emergency Medicines and Doctor’s Note
I travel with 2 sets of epi pens and Benadryl in a carrying case, along with a letter from our doctor in case I get any questions in airports or at major attractions. To get the letter, I just contacted my son’s allergist and requested a note I could carry during our travels. They were happy to provide one that contained my son’s name, allergies, and the medications and dosage he carries.
For Benadryl, I have carried it in 2 forms – liquid and chewable tablet. When I carry the liquid form, I pre-measure it and keep 2 plastic vials of it with me, labeled in Sharpie. I use these vials – they come in a pack of 12, so I measure them out ahead of time and can grab and go as needed.
However, I worried about the liquids and airports, so I switched to chewable tablets whenever possible. That way, I don’t have to worry about leaking, the liquids being tossed out at the airport, or having to prove what it is.
Of all the countries we’ve visited, Iceland ranks in the middle on ease of traveling with food allergies. It wasn’t particularly easy, but it wasn’t nearly as difficult as Israel or Egypt. Preparing ahead of time with Google Translate, my allergy cards, and sufficient quantities of our medicines gave me peace of mind.
If I were to do this trip again, I would research what to do if we did have a medical emergency. In retrospect, it feels irresponsible to not know where the closest hospital is or how we would get home if we needed to be evacuated. Though we have not purchased it in the past, I’m actively looking into a travel insurance package that will cover all our travel for a year and provide support if we have any major medical issues abroad.
Are you thinking of traveling to Iceland with food allergies? What preparations will you take to make sure you have a magical time?