With Iceland being a modern European economy, there was one major thing we noticed was missing after covering hundreds of miles on our road trip through the south of Iceland.
We did not see a single McDonald’s!
Yeah I know, if you are eating McDonald’s while traveling you are missing out on the cultural immersion element of traveling.
I don’t care!
I love McDonald’s, and you can have both anyways.
Why is there no McDonalds in Iceland?
It defies belief that a modern economy could avoid McDonald’s creeping in right? I mean even communist Asian countries have McDonald’s.
And your assumption would be correct. There were multiple restaurants in Iceland up until the financial crisis hit.
This led to steep increases in the cost of imports for the isolated island nation after the value of the local currency fell off a cliff.
With local produce being insufficient to support the ingredients required for the menu it became uneconomical to keep the doors open.
The final restaurant closed in 2009.
Unusual McDonald’s Memorabilia
In one of the most bizarre examples of consumer collectibles I have ever heard of, the last burger ever sold in an Iceland McDonalds is on display at the Bus Hostel in Reykjavik.
Even stranger is that the burger is still in excellent condition ten years on.
Maybe not that surprising for anyone who has seen Supersize Me.
If I knew this prior to my visit I would have definitely gone to see it!! So I will pencil that in for the next trip.
Nerdy I know…. But hey, I have also watched The Founder four or five times.
What I would really like to know is what they did with this big M? Would make a great addition to my backyard (if I had one).
Will McDonald’s Return to Iceland?
In 2018 an article by the New York Post reported on the return of financial prosperity to the country.
A small line at the end of the article sparked a lot of interest and hinted at the return of the global restaurant chain:
“Ten years later, after its white-hot recovery from its financial collapse, the nation of 340,000 is poised to see the Golden Arches rise again at several locations.”
This has since been confirmed as completely false and there are no immediate plans to re-enter the Iceland market.
Whether this is good or bad news depends entirely on the individual.
Why Do I Even Care?
As I mentioned at the top of this article, I love Maccas (or Mickey Ds for you American folk) and have ever since I was a kid.
I restrict myself to two or three visits a month back home, but when traveling it can be a quick and easy option when on the move.
This may sound odd to some, but while the menu is similar all over the world the taste and quality can be vastly different.
Europe has the best tasting McDonalds that I have had in the world (Spain in particular) so I always make a point of trying it in a new country if I have the chance.
With three meals a day you still have plenty of others to sample the local cuisine…. I certainly don’t live on the stuff.
Fast Food Alternatives
In the major centers, we found KFC and Subway to be the international chains that were most common.
We visited both out of convenience late at night when there were not many other options.
There is also a local burger chain calls Hambórgarabúllan. We did not have a chance to try this but will definitely look out for it next time.
Of course, no one visits Iceland to go to a McDonald’s restaurant. But it’s one of those things that are familiar no matter where you go.
This will not be the case if you visit Rejkjavic, or do the full loop around the Ring Road. Not a single one.
Perhaps most of you wouldn’t even notice…. But I did, and if you have read this far you probably did too.