Iceland is known for its incredible natural landscape, but many are not aware that it has a vibrant capital city. Reykjavik is home to some great options for food, shopping, and nightlife.

And since there are no international coffee chains like Starbucks on the island, there are also plenty of amazing local cafés. As a Reykjavik native, I can personally recommend a few of my favorites. 

1. Reykjavik Roasters

A photo posted by Susanna Vento (@susanna_vento) on Mar 15, 2015 at 2:58am PDT

Formerly known as Kaffismiđjan Islands, Reykjavik Roasters has the best-quality coffee you will find in town. Since it opened in 2008, it’s been widely regarded as the best café for its superior coffee and friendly atmosphere. The shop is decorated in a minimal Scandinavia style, except for the bright blue roaster. 

Kárastígur 1, Reykjavík

 2. Café Babalú

A photo posted by Olena - ????? ???????? (@sweetdaisyua) on Dec 30, 2014 at 11:31am PST

Café Babalú is quite possibly my favorite spot in all of Reykjavik. The café sits inside a brightly painted yellow house, which has two floors. On the first you can sit in booths while eating homemade cakes, and then an old winding staircase takes you to the top floor, which is more like an attic. There are bizarre decorations everywhere, and plenty of games to pick up. 

The best part of the little café is the balcony — it’s always a perfect spot to hang out with friends on a warm day.

Plus, the staff is always nice and helpful.

Skólavörđustígur 22

3. Mokka Café

A photo posted by Andy Tye (@andytye) on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:25am PDT

Mokka is the oldest coffee house in Reykjavik, and it served the first espresso on the island. The shop opened in 1958 and has changed very little since then. The little café is filled with a nostalgic atmosphere and is decorated in an art deco style with vintage wood paneling, red carpets, and brown leather booths. 

It’s incredibly tiny, but in the summers they put a few small tables outside. If you’re lucky enough to snag a spot, it’s a perfect place to eat their amazing waffles while people-watching on the busy shopping street.

Skólavörđustígur 3A

4. Kaffitár

A photo posted by Bast Magazine (@bastmagazine) on Nov 6, 2014 at 2:50am PST

Kaffitár is technically a chain coffee shop, and you will find multiple locations scatter all across Reykjavik. But the local chain is credited with being the beginning of the high-quality coffee culture in town.

The café opened in 1990, and the shop became so popular that there are now eight locations around the city (and two in the airport). Kaffitár is pretty much a safe bet wherever you are — the service and coffee quality are always good.

The best location is downtown, on Bankastrćti.

Bankastrćti 8

5. Stofan 

A photo posted by Haaken (@haakenreed) on Apr 6, 2015 at 1:19pm PDT

Stofan translates as “living room” — and the place is decorated like someone's living room. There are huge sofas and lounge chairs scattered across the two floors.

It has a limited coffee selection, but it’s a great place to camp out for a few hours.


BONUS: Puffin Coffee

A photo posted by Olli Keskinen (@ollikeskinen) on Oct 19, 2014 at 10:55am PDT

This isn’t technically a coffee shop; it’s a guy serving coffee from his kitchen window, but it’s another reason why Reykjavik is one of my favorite cities. Sverrir Rolf Sander serves espressos, lattes, iced coffee, and more from his apartment on Baldursgata. He occasionally has baked goods.

The coffee is free, but Sander accepts donations for charity. The store hours are a bit off, though, because they are basically just whenever he happens to be home. For updates on his opening hours, you can follow him on Twitter.

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