CultureRestaurantsWhy does Iceland not have McDonald's?
The Surprising Reason why Iceland does not have Mcdonalds
Go Car Rental Iceland travel writer Leah BIlquist
By Leah BIlquistJun 4, 2024 • 5 min read

Why does Iceland not have McDonald's?

Why is there no McDonald's in Iceland? Did you know that one of the only countries not to have one is Iceland? What makes McDonald's so popular and how did they gain their top spot in the fast food world?

Did somebody say, McDonald's? This popular fast food burger joint has become a household name throughout the world. It is also the go-to for travelers who are visiting from other countries that want a familiar place to grab some grub. With over 38,000 locations in over 100 countries, it is no wonder why it has become a staple.

But did you know that Iceland does not have any Mcdonald's?

They are one of the few countries that do not. Let’s find out why and also learn about how McDonald gained a top spot in the fast food world.

Before McDonald' was an actual location it was a burger stand., Dick and Maurice "Mac" McDonald, who were two brothers, opened the stand in 1940 as "McDonald's Bar-B-Q."

The joint then closed and the first McDonald’s storefront opened up on April 15, 1955. In the California town of San Bernardino. The menu only consisted of nine items that were much cheaper than they are now.

This included hamburgers for fifteen cents, cheeseburgers for nineteen cents, and drinks, such as coffee, Coca-Cola, and Orangeade for ten cents. A much more affordable option than some of the current 2022 prices.

Savor the Classic Taste of a Juicy, Beefy McDonald's Burger

Today, the menu at McDonald’s has over one hundred items for you to choose from. From salty fries to golden fish sandwiches Let’s not forget about their McFlurries either, a delicious ice cream that is blended with candy.

So how popular is McDonald's? Very! There was data released in 2021 that estimated about 4,500 burgers are served every minute at McDonald's worldwide. That means 6.48 million are served every day, totaling 2.36 billion a year. Some reports even have the number higher, near 50 million per day. Either way, it just proves the point of how many people eat at this fast food establishment.

Why did Iceland opt out of McDonald's?

They didn’t entirely. There was once a McDonald's restaurant in Reykjavik back in 1993. If you had a Rental Car in Iceland at that time, you might have driven past it. It is said that the prime minister of Iceland at this time, Davíð Oddsson, became the first Icelandic customer to order the Big Mac.

Which is McDonald’s famous burger consisting of two beef patties, "special sauce", shredded iceberg lettuce, American cheese slices, sliced dill pickles, and minced onions. Served between the infamous sesame seed bun.

In the Reykjavik location, the meat was initially coming from local Icelandic farms, but the meat shortage changed this. The menu items were then shipped from Germany, which came with heavy import taxes during the crisis.

This caused the menu items to skyrocket to 20% more than usual. Iceland actually had the highest-priced Big Mac in the whole world in the year of 2009. The restaurant then closed down in 2009 due to the financial crash that happened in 2008.

On the last day that McDonald’s was open, Icelanders crowded the restaurant for one last time. More than 10,000 burgers were sold that day.


They tried to revive the restaurant under a new name in late 2009, Metro. They used local ingredients instead of imported ones. The company was then sold in 2010, later resulting in bankruptcy.

Metro is still operating in Iceland today. They sell hamburgers and fries similar to McDonald’s, including a copycat version of the Big Mac. Other items include chicken nuggets, onion rings, and mozzarella sticks.

Metro burgers in Iceland

We eat locally

Icelanders preferred to eat locally than to get the big named chain back up and running in Iceland. They instead supported the popular Hambórgarabúllan and other local burger joints. Hamborgarabúllan, also known as Tommi’s Burger Joint’ is a favorite for locals and travelers too.

They offer some appetizing burgers that visitors rave about. The “Tommis’ Classic '' is a 120g beef patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.

The Steak Burger is a crowd favorite, too. A luxurious 140g patty made from the roughly minced tenderloin, rib-eye, and rump steak with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup mustard, and mayonnaise. Don’t forget your side of fries either!

If you still miss Mcdonald's we have a solution for you!

Check out the exhibition at Snotra House in Þykkvibær, South Iceland. They have preserved a 12-year-old Big Mac as a historical artifact.

It is said that the Big Mac was bought on October 30, 2009, by a Hjortur Smaraso. Which was the day Mcdonald’s closed its locations. He kept the burger and fries in a plastic bag for three years after hearing rumors of McDonald's never decaying.

It is rumored that the burger is still showing no signs of decomposition, which is quite impressive since it is ten years past its expiration date.

The last mcdonald burger and fries in Iceland

While McDonald’s may be a go-to option for tourists visiting other countries, it shouldn’t be. Take some time to try traditional Icelandic food or get a delicious burger at a local spot. Either way, Iceland has some mouth-watering food options for you to explore.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is McDonald's coming back to Iceland?

There was a rumor in 2019 that McDonald's was coming back to Iceland. But since then it was said that this is completely false. As of 2023, there are no plans for McDonalds to make a comeback in the country.

Why is there no Starbucks in Iceland?

This is due to Iceland being a smaller country. The residents prefer to support local coffee shops. They even have two big cafe chains, Kaffitár and Te og Kaffi to help fill your caffeine fix.

Which countries have banned Mcdonald's?

There are ten countries that have banned Mcdonald's. Bermuda, Iran, Macedonia, Yemen, Montenegro, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, and of course, Iceland. Reasons range from banning large corporations to health issues with McDonald’s ingredients.

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