There are plenty of farms in Iceland that have opened their doors, or at least their stable doors, to visitors. It is easy to meet farmers or at least friendly workhands as you do. Here, I will list ten farms that I believe foreigners would enjoy visiting, starting with those that are on the Golden Circle Route, close to Reykajvik city, and ending in the North of Iceland, at the farm that used to belong to my grandfather. This is by no means a finite list of farms that you could visit and I encourage you to visit as many as possible, especially if you have children in tow.
This is my personal favourite tourist stop and that is why it is at the top of my list. Twice a year, I spend about a week in a summerhouse which is very close to all the stops of the Golden Circle route and every time I visit Efstidalur at least once, usually more often since we tend to allow our five year old to dictate the day‘s plan when we are in a summerhouse. Her perfect day begins with oatmeal that she makes herself, then she will watch cartoons for an hour and play in the sandbox in the garden.
After this, it is time for an excursion, perhaps to the swimming pool at Fludir...and on the way back we obviously need ice cream. Her favourite place for ice cream is “the place with the cows and their calves“. That is the beauty of Efstidalur, they set up an ice cream store inside the barn with windows so you can watch the cows while you eat their produce. It is very hipstery, and they have small information signs all around that explain the milking and ice-cream making process. Their flavours change constantly and I personally like their fruity gelato, but their normal ice cream is also delicious.
The best thing about this place is the chance to take incredibly cute photos of kids eating ice-cream with young calves in the background. Upstairs, they have a restaurant that offers hamburgers – which I feel is a bit more morose but still a unique place to eat (not recommended for carnivores that are traveling with vegans or vegetarians). They also offer horse-riding tours and operate a bed and breakfast.
Fridheimar farm is already pretty famous, they grow tomatoes all year round and they have become a popular culinary stop on the Golden Circle route. As a travel agent, I have suggested this as a lunch stop for hundreds of tourists. Their tomato soup is famous locally and for those of you that do not truly appreciate tomato soup, they also offer ravioli, chicken, pork, lamb and lobster variations of their soup. And for those of you that really like tomatoes, try the tomato ice cream. Icelanders enjoy boasting about how these tomatoes are far superior to those that grow elsewhere, in what would traditionally seem like better conditions to grow tomatoes.
While this is certainly a matter of taste as well as national pride, it is interesting to see tomato vines growing indoors and if the farmer, Knútur, is around, he will greet you with a smile and happily explain the entire process. Of course, this experience is even more bizarre in wintertime when it is dark and snowy outside. I would say that justifies drinking at least one bloody mary alongside the soup.
In my opinion, this is the most exciting new stop to include on a Golden Circle day This farm is situated in Fludir, the same town as Fridheimar, and their specialisation is mushrooms and peppers. These are the mushrooms that you will most probably buy if you do your grocery shopping in Reykjavik. I love mushrooms and am a loyal customer, purchasing two or three boxes each week. I intend to visit their Farmer‘s bistro next summer since I would like to taste their mushroom soup.
So far visitors seem happy with this addition to our bistro scene. They make very tasty pepper-schnapps from red peppers, and have horses outside their restaurant which makes this the perfect place to stop if you really want a selfie with an Icelandic horse but don‘t especially want to go horse-riding.
I suppose this is a petting zoo rather than a farm, but it looks like a traditional farm complete with turf-roofs. You can meet all sorts of animals and let your children play with bunnies which, I am sure we can all agree, is great fun. There are many animals here, more than I expected, ranging from traditional farm animals such as pigs and hens to exotic birds such as parrots. Some of these animals are local, others are obviously imported, and they often have kittens roaming the grounds too. It is clear which animals you are allowed to pet and hold, so you should be able to navigate the exhibition without much help from the staff.
You can easily view all the animals in about an hour but if the weather is nice, you can also spend some time outside where they have a playground for kids to climb in fake castles, play on slides and run around in cars like the Flintstones. This is an especially family-friendly stop.
I sincerely hope that a cream-enthusiast will happen across this article and decide to visit this creamery. What I love about it is how specific the exhibition is, the creamery was built in 1904 and here you can learn exactly how Icelandic dairy farmers made cream, butter and cheese between 1905 and 1952. The equipment that was once used here is still intact and on display.
There is something so deliciously local about this slightly random exhibition that I hope all my readers decide to visit this and then, for the rest of their visit, truly enjoy and appreciate Icelandic cream. I would suggest you visit this creamery before one of the three ice cream making farms I have chosen for this list so you have a better understanding of the history of cream making in Iceland.
Here you will find further information about restored houses in Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri that you can visit to gain an insight into life around the turn of the last century.
Erpsstaðir was one of the first dairy farms to sell ice cream directly from their farm. Their ice cream is truly a local delicacy, and many Icelanders make sure to stop there if they are heading in that general direction. They call their ice cream kjaftæði which is a funny play on words in Icelandic, literally it means „mouth – wonderful“ but translates badly to „bullshit“. Then again, I suppose that is also a funny name for ice cream. It is very creamy and made on the grounds.
Here, you can see the entire process, the cows themselves along with where the farmers make ice cream, traditional skyr, and two types of cheese. These farmers state clearly how they source all their ingredients which is great for anyone that is interested in sustainable and eco-friendly production. Just to be clear, this is also a fun stop for regular families that aren‘t sustainability nerds and just like ice cream.
I have visited this farm in the springtime for the past three years. They can accommodate large groups such as local kindergartens, and have a large stable with plenty of animals which you are allowed to hold and take pictures with. The springtime is obviously the best time to get photos of foals, lambs, kittens and puppies. They have a fun outdoors playground as well and an area where you can barbeque hotdogs when you are hungry. The surrounding farmland is both picturesque and calm.
Foodies can request cooking classes where they spend the day foraging on this farmland and then cook with the farmers, using local produce. I would recommend this to anyone truly interested in Icelandic cuisine or even just the Icelandic way of life. These sheep farmers are breaching out into tourism and now have a campsite on their farmland, as well as a small restaurant. This is the perfect place to stop on a calm day and enjoy being close to nature, surrounded by animals and to meet local farmers.
By now I am sure you have realised that I love ice cream and think that any time you pass a dairy farm or creamery you should stop and eat some local ice cream. I am sure your children agree with me. This farm is close to Akureyri, the capital of North Iceland, and has offered what they call "Farmhouse ice cream" since 2006. They have about 25 types of ice cream at each time, many of which are the classics such as vanilla and chocolate but some are very strange such as "garlic ice cream" or extremely local such as "hundasúra" ice cream, the plant hundasúra can be found outdoors in Iceland and is called "sheep‘s sorrell" in English, it tastes sour.
The farmers at Holtsel mostly use natural ingredients and also produce yoghurt, and skyr. They grow vegetables and corn on their grounds as well. They have approximately 125 cows and their hens roam the grounds. There is a small shop that sells meat, and textiles from surrounding farms. They even have a funny dog – what more could you wish for?
This is a family-run farm that has recently opened up its doors to the public, it is proving popular with locals as well as tourists. They are opening a small museum that is dedicated to the Icelandic sheep. The husband is a farmer and the wife is a textile designer, and their children work on the farm too. You can visit the farm and welcome to play with their farm animals and if the mood strikes, buy some jumpers that the Mrs. designed.
They have a happy mix of horses, pigs, hens, sheep, goats, rabbits and even a dove which used to be a carrier pigeon but got lost and was adopted by the farmers. This dove is called Dora the Explorer. After playing with the farm animals, your children can also jump up and down for a while on one of their trampolines, a great outlet for youthful exuberance. If you just want to buy local design, you can visit their shop, Gjóska, at Skólavörðustígur in downtown Reykjavik, her work is inspired by the Northern lights and volcanic eruptions.
In all honesty, I am incredibly biased since I spent weeks at a time at this farm as a child. I spent most of the time wandering around outside or reading books since there wasn‘t much else to do, my grandfather didn‘t have a TV and my mobile phone had no reception. Thanks to nostalgia, I believe that these were some of the best days of my life. The birdlife in the North of Iceland is incredible, and you can find all sorts of birds here including the arctic tern and the eider duck. You can go for a long walk and find many different species of birds on the farmland.
My grandfather was an eiderdown farmer, and we would go to the island where the birds nest to pick the eiderdown for duvets. On a side note, I think an eiderdown duvet would be a great souvenir to bring home from Iceland, it will keep you warm during the night and is much more original than a magnet for your fridge. We also used to hunt seals in nets but I would rather recommend you spend your time there observing the seals and the birdlife, walking by the sea and talking to the farmers that used to be my grandfather‘s neighbours, truly lovely people. We were all delighted when they bought his farm and I sincerely hope that you make your way so far North to visit them and their horses and enjoy the solitude at Hafnir.