10 cafes to get your coffee fix (and more) in Reykjavík

By Mosha Lundström Halbert

Photo: Tides

Take a dive into one of the world’s northernmost cafe cultures

When you consider Iceland’s restricted daylight hours for much of the year, it perhaps makes sense that the country runs not just on geothermal energy, but also, on copious amounts of caffeine. Reykjavík is teeming with cafes offering a mix of strong coffee and charming design-forward ambiance.


Indeed, if you ask the capital’s creative class what their ideal morning looks like, they’ll probably give you an answer that involves a swim at one of the many public pools, a hot and cold plunge circuit and a visit to their preferred cosy cafe.

Here are ten of the best spots to join them in.


Hygge Coffee & Micro Bakery

Hygge is a brand new cafe and micro bakery that takes the concept of creature comforts very seriously indeed. After spending five months developing the right pastry dough, the resulting pistachio croissants and crusty loaves were well worth the wait. If you can't grab a table, their colourful salads and pantry items are ideal for takeaways, while another must-try is the house-made Hygge Kombucha. The sleek space designed by Sara Jónsdóttir is anchored by a travertine counter, 366 Concept oiled oak seating, glistening plexiglass artwork Valtýr Pjetur Daregard and hand-thrown clay lights and lava ceramics by Birgitte Munck Ceramics.

Seljavegur 2, 101 Reykjavík

Hygge Cafe in Reykjavik Iceland

Some of Hygge Coffee & Micro Bakery's beautiful pastries. Photo: Hygge Cafe


Kaffi Ó-le

From the team behind the buzzy brunch spot Brût comes this new cafe concept, which specialises in elevated bites coupled with artful lattes served in glass tumblers. Smear Icelandic butter on their vegan banana bread with reckless abandon and enjoy it with an oat milk cappuccino while you're at it. Try their rich house-batched cold brew made with honey-processed Colombia Aponte beans or indulge in pastries such as pain au chocolat from new bakery Baka Baka. For lunch fare, Kaffi Ó-le has grab-and-go Japanese-style milk bread sandos, from the classic soft-boiled egg and kewpie to a more Icelandic spin with shrimp and dill. And as the afternoon light streams in, the Scandi-chic setting is ideal for espresso martinis.

Hafnastraeti 11, 101 Reykjavík

Kaffi Ó-le

Start with a coffee and end with an espresso martini at Kaffi Ó-le. Photo: Kaffi Ó-le


Kaffihús Vesturbæjar

Iceland’s top actors and artists are prone to mosey on into this westside watering hole and make themselves at home. After all, one of the city’s most beloved pools is across the street. It also helps that this all-day cafe was founded by a trio of old friends and big names: talk show host and former city councilor Gísli Marteinn Baldursson, pro footballer turned entrepreneur Pétur Marteinsson and Play Airlines chairman Einar Örn Ólafsson. In Kaffihús Vesturbæjar, they’ve created a community-led cafe-cum-salon that’s ideal for sipping saucer-sized lattes, noshing on cauliflower soup, salade nicoise or duck confit with homemade jam, and perusing a robust selection of newsy publications and vintage books. Acclaimed designer and part-owner Hálfdán Pedersen handled the wabi sabi decor. Don’t worry if you need more time to tinker away at work or if conversation runs over, come happy hour Kaffihús transforms into quite the ápres scene, complete with quality cocktails.

Melhagi 20, 107 Reykjavík

Kaffihús Vesturbæjar in Reykjavik Iceland

Kaffihús Vesturbæjar is popular with some big names in the Icelandic arts. Photo: Kaffihús Vesturbæjar


Reykjavík Roasters

While this no-nonsense favourite has a few locations and was one of the first to bring high-brow barista culture to town, Reykjavik Roasters' best (and least touristy) outpost is at Ásmundarsalur, a Bauhaus building converted into an exhibition space with great views of the famed Hallgrimskika church. Inside, the well-appointed mid-century seating and blasts of sunshine make prime quarters for meetings and greetings over punchy half whites and glistening pastries.

Freyjugata 41, 101 Reykjavík

Reykjavík Roasters

Reykjavík Roasters has locations across the city. Photo: Reykjavík Roasters/ AsmundarsalurMatur&Mood-Mstudioreykjavik


Te & Kaffi

In a country free from Starbucks and other big brand coffee joints, Te & Kaffi takes the cake, if you will, for the best and most reliable cafe chain. A family run business since 1984, its eight darkly-clad locations are conveniently dotted around the capital. Besides its flavorful coffee and tea lattes, visitors can indulge in an Oreo frappuccino or strawberry hibiscus smoothie. It’s also one of the few places in town that serves cold brew.

Multiple locations

Te & Kaffi

Te & Kaffi is one of Iceland's most reliable coffee chains. Photo: Te & Kaffi


Mokka Kaffi

Since 1958, locals and visitors have long held a soft spot (and sweet tooth) for Mokka’s classic waffles. But what keeps people flocking to this central institution, are the cafe's carefully-considered micro roasts and rotating curation of Icelandic artists. As the first place to install an espresso machine in the city, the quiet and low-lot space also attracts true aficionados who come for the doppio shot, which is pungent to say the least and appropriately served in retro brown cups.

Skólavörðustígur 3A, 101 Reykjavík


Kaktus Espressobar

True to its name, this succulent-strewn downtown spot feels like its decor was collected rather than designed, with shaker-style chairs, swirling stools for socialising and tapered candlelight galore. Kaktus is owned and run by two friends who share a love for assertive Italian coffee and simplified snacks such as tuna salad, toast (available with vegan or regular butter and cheese) and fully-loaded coconut oil oats. Steal a seat by the window and nurture a creamy cortado.

Vitastígur 12, 101 Reykjavík

Kaktus Espressobar is Reykjavik Iceland

There's nothing prickly about the welcome at Kaktus Espressobar. Photo: Kaktus Espressobar


Baka Baka

If pastries are your thing, you’ll be spoiled for choice at Reykjavik’s newest bakery Baka Baka. With its prime location off Laugavegur high street, it’s a bustling spot that can barely roll its carmelised cardamon danishes fast enough. Our recommendation: arrive early to beat the crowds and set up camp over simple but strong coffee and a savoury broccoli mascarpone galette. Then treat yourself to their signature bubbling Brooklyn-style pizza for lunch. And don’t forget to grab a loaf of the best sourdough in town on the way out.

Bankastræti 2 101, 101 Reykjavík


Mikki Refur

This moody, mustard-painted cafe and wine bar was born of a passion for natural vino and craft coffee shared by friends and co-owners Halldór Laxness Halldórsson and Ben Boorman. An all-day spot, Mikki gets the details right on its breakfast (best enjoyed with a dirty chai), lunch and evening service, which will keep you there all day in order to try their expert wine pairings with oysters, fried chicken and charcuterie. The design is the vision of local design studio Teiknistofan Stika, with walls painted by acclaimed Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson.

Hverfisgata 18, 101 Reykjavík

Mikki Refur

The mustard-coloured walls of Mikki Refur. Photo: Mikki Refur


Tides Café

For those needing well-appointed environs to savour the day and/or work away, this plush option with cerulean booths and sunlight aplenty fits the bill. It doesn’t hurt that it’s located within the sprawling Edition Hotel, Iceland’s most ambitious accommodation option to date, with views of the sea and the neighboring Harpa concert hall. Rise and grinders will appreciate Tides' 6am opening hours as much as the Reykjavík Roasters java, gingerbread hot chocolate and healthy smoothies – the carrot, orange and sea buckthorn berry blend is particularly recommended. For more traditional fare, there is freshly baked dense rye bread and kleinur, a fried sweetbread best dipped in hot coffee.

Austurbakki 2, 101 Reykjavík


Tides is awash with sleek design touches. Photo: Tides