Breakfast in Reykjavík: A Guide for the Early-Morning Traveller

The upside to getting into Reykjavík in summer on an early morning flight is that the sun will already be up, and so it won’t be too hard to find your way around. The downside is that you’ll still need to find breakfast, and there might not be too many places open yet. Here is a list of seven great places to have breakfast in Iceland’s capital city, before 8:00 am.

1. Early in the Morning

Photo: Early in the morning@Facebook. 

By night a wine bar, the aptly-named Early in the Morning retains some of its laid-back, lounge-like character even at the start of the day. Its fixed-price menu includes two slices of sourdough bread, some fruit, and bottomless coffee, tea, and orange juice. Sweet and savoury options are both represented, and the quality of the food is high, just as the quantity is plentiful. As a place that opens early on weekends too, it’s ideal for many travellers arriving downtown and in need of a pick-me-up.

Guests at Reykjavík Residence and Ice Apartments receive vouchers for breakfast as part of the price of their rooms, but it is also open to the public, from 7:00 am to 11:00 am daily.

Opens at: 7:00
Price: $$–$$$ 

2.  Bergsson Mathús

Breakfast, Reykjavik. Travelade/Nina. 

Bergsson Mathús is a vegan-friendly restaurant and bakery, open from 7:00 am daily, with an appealing interior that welcomes the weary traveller. Located by the lake, Tjörnin, it’s a strategic place to start the day if you’re planning to spend some time exploring the city. There are light and substantial dishes, copious amounts of coffee, and the chance to people-watch by the pond, especially in summer when seating includes a couple of outdoor tables.

It’s fairly new to the scene, having opened in 2012. By providing high quality food and a changing menu, with vegetarian and vegan options always available, the owners have crafted a beloved spot at the heart of town. Reducing waste is also a priority: towards the end of the day, they offer a two-for-one deal on takeaway meals, so that there are fewer leftovers.

Opens at: 7:00
Price: $$–$$$

3. Sandholt

Photo: Sandholt@Facebook. 

Sandholt, already one of the best bakeries in town, also serves breakfast from 6:30 to 11:30 every morning. The pastries fill the front counter enticingly, alongside loaves of their famous sourdough bread — the basis for their delightful sandwiches. The adjacent café room is a cosy space decked out with cushions, in case you’re still a little bit asleep when you arrive.

It’s a bakery with a long history, dating back to 1920. Now run by the fourth generation of bakers in the founding family, Sandholt’s mix of innovation and tradition has kept their stock fresh. Driven by the desire to contribute to Iceland’s food culture, they make all their jams and fillings from scratch, and serve a varied menu of breakfast sandwiches and pastries.

Opens at: 6:30
Price: $–$$

4. Reykavík Roasters

Photo: Reykjavik Roasters@Facebook. 

Need fresh coffee first thing in the morning? So does most of the city, which is why the renowned coffee shop Reykjavík Roasters opens early enough to satisfy that craving. From 7:30 every weekday, and 8:00 on weekends, the Kárastígur institution serves up their best roasts — in a variety of forms — and accompanying pastries.

The café, founded in 2008 as Kaffismiðjan, sources their coffee from a number of different countries throughout South and Central America as well as eastern Africa. Their goal is to import ethically produced coffee that respects the environment as well as the workers. Each roast is unique, labelled with the tasting notes as well as country of origin. For those wishing to delve deeper, they also offer workshops on the art of coffee, but if you’re just dropping in to recharge with a coffee and kleina, that’s fine too.

Opens at: 7:30
Price: $–$$

5. Grái kötturinn

Photo: Grái kötturinn@Facebook. 

Grái Kötturinn, a semi-basement café located on the mellow Hverfisgata, has a generous range of breakfast options, but it’s best known as “home of the infamous Truck.” The American-style combo that includes pancakes, toast, bacon, eggs, and fried potatoes is their most popular dish. Along with baking their bread on-site, they also make pancakes, tuna salad, and hummus from scratch.

Grái Kötturinn’s reputation has been built over the years on its foundations as a bohemian café, eclectic and a little bit vintage. Bookshelves along the walls add an extra touch of cosiness to the snug interior. It opens at 7:30 on weekdays, 8:00 on weekends.

Opens at: 7:30 (8:00 on weekends)
Price: $$–$$$

6. Kaffivagninn

Photo: Kaffivagninn@Facebook. 

Although it only opens early on weekdays, the diner-like Kaffivagninn is worth a mention, with interesting views of the harbour and a long history. Nestled in amongst the boats and buildings of Grandi, Kaffivagninn delivers on its promise of coffee from 7:30 Monday to Friday, and from 9:00 on weekends. The breakfast menu ranges from simple toast and oatmeal to omelettes and smoked salmon. There are also gluten and lactose free options, pointed out on the menu.

Founded in 1935 by Bjarni Kristjánsson, to provide a place for fishermen to grab a quick, hearty bite, Kaffivagninn was initially just a small shack on a truck, living up to its name — “coffee-wagon.” It was bought by Guðrún Ingólfsdóttir in the 1950s, and laid claim to many firsts: Guðrún set up the first life preserver station at the waterfront, and owned what was for a long time the area’s only telephone. Kaffivagninn is Reykjavík’s longest-operating restaurant.

Opens at: 7:30 (9:00 on weekends)
Price: $–$$

7. Café Haïti

Photo: Café Haïti@Facebook. 

Café Haïti, a small but charming café situated near the harbour, is one of the earlier options available in town, as it opens at 6:30 on weekdays at 7:00 on weekends. Breakfast options include pancakes, omelettes, and bacon-and-egg ensembles that can set a weary traveller back on their feet for the rest of the day. The warm décor gives it a perpetually summery ambience, a taste of tropical weather no matter the temperature outside.

Opened in 2007, Café Haïti roasts its coffee beans in-house for optimum freshness. The owner, Elda Þórisson-Faurelien, is a long-time coffee aficionado, sourcing beans from her home country of Haïti and transforming them into a range of delicious brews and espresso drinks.

Opens at: 6:30 (7:00 on weekends)
Price: $–$$