If driving along Iceland’s Golden Circle route before the sun has lit up the scenic surroundings, you’ll likely see a magical glow off in the distance. The warm light looks like an oasis beckoning you, especially on those cold winter days. If you were to seek out that light source, you’ll be standing in front of Fridheimar Greenhouse – one of our favorite places in Iceland.
It should be noted that narrowing down the top places in Iceland is like trying to pick a favorite child. So, this is quite a bold statement. But, trust me. A visit to the Friðheimar Greenhouse and Restaurant is like stumbling upon a warm refuge after a long day … and your grandma just happens to be there with a giant hug and an amazingly fresh lunch ready for you to enjoy. A few hours here is basically a spa day for your soul – and belly (especially if you’re a veggie lover).
But, before I dive into why you should definitely add this unique Iceland greenhouse dining experience to your Golden Circle explorations, let’s get one thing clear: this is not just a review, it’s a love story.
Falling in Love with Friðheimar Greenhouse
While our technological advancements and the use of international SIM cards have vastly improved the ease of our travel adventures, we weren’t always so on point. Five years ago, we went on our first international trip and decided to go all out with a two-week campervan road trip all around Iceland. It was just us, the open road, and … a map. No phone data. No GPS. No Google Translate.
During trip planning, I had read a blog post about an amazing place in the Golden Circle area where you got to gorge on bread and tomato soup in a warm, beautiful greenhouse filled with tomatoes. As someone who eats plant-based meals 95% of the time, craves fresh veggies, and loves any unique travel experience, this was my dream lunch spot. (Especially since we had blown our budget on the campervan rental and were living off of peanut butter and jellies or gas station food). I NEEDED to visit!
While the Fridheimar Greenhouse and Restaurant is not difficult to find whatsoever, the instructions I had written down to get there were awful. We spent HOURS driving around looking for it our first full day in Iceland, only to finally give up. However, I couldn’t stop dreaming of this magical experience. So, the next day, we asked a local who drew directions on our map and we were finally able to find it.
Please know I’m not being remotely dramatic when I say there were TEARS OF JOY when we pulled up. And I could barely contain myself as we enthusiastically sampled the tomato soup buffet. It was the most wonderful dining experience of my life, and well deserved for our perseverance.
Needless to say, when we had the opportunity to re-visit Iceland for an extended trip this winter, I was ecstatic. While Buddy was gushing over the chance to see frozen waterfalls and aurora, a smile crept over my face and he knew my first thought was how wonderful a visit to Friðheimar would be on a cold December day. Oh yes, it was wonderful indeed!
What Makes this Iceland Greenhouse So Special: Fridheimar’s Natural Approach to Growing Tomatoes
When you work WITH nature, instead of against it, magical things happen. This is very evident at Friðheimar Greenhouse when you taste their delicious dishes and products made from tomatoes grown with loving care.
During our most recent visit, we were given a short tour of this unique Iceland greenhouse and were told all about their environmentally-friendly process. Green energy and natural pest control are key in their nature-focused approach and it is truly beautiful to see how they work hand-in-hand with the natural resources available to create a sustainable process.
Putting the Green in Greenhouse
Hot water from their own nearby hot spring is pumped into Fridheimar and used to increase the temperature, which is facilitated by high-tech computer programs. Bees fly around pollinating the plants and ‘good flies’ are used to attack any bad pests. The plants are also watered with the same pure glacier water Icelanders drink every day – making the tomatoes (which are 90% water) extra crisp! Carbon dioxide is even collected locally from natural steam and used to improve photosynthesis.
Although the greenhouse uses as much electricity as a town of 3,000 people (hence the dramatic glow scene from far away), Iceland luckily has abundant hydroelectricity and geothermal power plants. And the greenhouse even has its own weather station to make sure they only use as much electricity as needed, powering off when enough sun is available.
All 10,000+ plants are tended to weekly all year round – giving special attention to make sure to plant, trim, pick, and remove just at the right time to give them the chance to grow as many beautiful, juicy tomatoes as possible. The greenhouse grows multiple varieties of tomatoes, including plum and Piccolo. Many are packaged up and sold in local grocery stores the same day – in sustainable, plant-based packaging, of course. Annual production is about 300 tons – ~18% of Iceland’s total tomato market.
However, any tomatoes that are not pretty enough for grocery sales (scratches or other marks) are used for their famous soup, other dishes, and products. This includes the unpopular green tomato which makes a great ingredient for sauces (as we learned first-hand). Love this no-waste approach to allow Icelanders and visitors to enjoy fresh veggies!
They have certainly gotten the tomato-growing process down to a very precise science that was a joy to learn about, see first-hand, and taste.
Deliciously Fresh Fridheimar Greenhouse Restaurant
When we visited Fridheimar on our first trip to Iceland it was still very much a hidden gem, with the restaurant only opening in 2012. Now, with their visitor count almost tripling over that time, it is much less of a secret. While many tourists are drawn to the Instragrammable nature of this unique dining experience, it would be a tragedy to come here just to photograph it and not take some camera-free time to enjoy the beautiful offerings the restaurant and bar have available.
While many dishes are tomato-themed, there is something here for everyone, including meat and seafood options.
A Great Vegetarian Iceland Option: Friðheimar’s Tomato Soup Buffet
Of course, the tomato soup buffet is the most popular and famous option at Fridheimar Greenhouse. While any tomato lover will likely love it, this is an especially fantastic special dining experience for vegan or vegetarian Iceland visitors – since many other restaurants focus on fish and meat.
For under US$20, you have access to the delicious soup, a variety of freshly baked breads, and are also given sour cream, butter, and a fantastic cucumber salsa. Coffee, tea, and water are also included. There is also fresh basil at each table with scissors for you to cut some up for your soup! (They’ve really thought of everything).
The tomato soup buffet is the perfect affordable, body-warming option on a cold day in Iceland. But, there is really no bad time of year for this fresh, veggie-focused meal! And there are other meal options as well.
Other Dining & Drink Options
While the tomato soup buffet at Friðheimar Greenhouse is definitely filling, the restaurant does have many other options. A popular addition to the classic tomato soup buffet are the soup sticks! There are four options: vegetable, cheese, chicken, or seafood. Buddy raved about the well-seasoned chicken and I really loved the fresh seafood mix. You can also order fresh pasta or mussels. A three-course meal is available as well.
For drinks, there are about a dozen creative options, from tomato-infused coffee drinks to cocktails. Even a beer made with tomatoes and a shot of Icelandic birch liquor served in a hollowed-out tomato! The cute little bar area has other drink options as well.
However, the desserts are the real star of the show. If I spent the last five years dreaming of eating tomato soup in Friðheimar’s warm, glowing restaurant; I’ll spend the next five dreaming of eating their cheesecake dessert!
The cheesecake came in an adorable little pot and was topped with a jam made of green-tomato, cinnamon, and lime. They also offer tomato ice cream and green-tomato apple pie.
Tips for Visiting Friðheimar Greenhouse in South Iceland
Plan Ahead & Make Reservations
Lunch is served every day among the tomato plants from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. As mentioned, this magical Iceland greenhouse has gotten quite popular. Making a reservation is highly recommended by calling (+354) 486 8894 or sending an email. For groups, they do offer tours, but each guest is still given an overview of what happens behind-the-scenes in the greenhouse.
Get Tomato Goodies To-Go
We aren’t souvenir people. Most of them seem like such a waste to us, but edible souvenirs are the exception. Instead of giving someone a plastic, space-collector, we much prefer giving them a literal taste of the place we visited. And Fridheimar Greenhouse has one of the best little shops for getting souvenirs from Iceland. You can even bring home a bottle of their famous tomato soup! For others like us who don’t like the hassle of extra weight in their bags or having to ship something back, they even have an online store with international shipping.
Say Hi to the Horses
When you visit Friðheimar, you will likely notice the horses on the property. It is a wonderful chance to get an up-close view of these majestic Icelandic horses. However, it is best not to touch them or get to close, and definitely do not feed them.
In summer, Friðheimar puts on a horse show called “A Meeting with the Icelandic Horse” from 1 May to 30 September for groups of fifteen or more. Afterward, visitors can enjoy a hot drink in the stable, take photos, and meet the riders as well as the horses.
Check Out the Golden Circle
Visiting Friðheimar Greenhouse puts you on the Golden Circle route, so you may as well at least pop by a few of the iconic destinations – like the erupting Geysir hot spring area (~20 mins. away), the enormous, thundering Gulfoss waterfall (~30 mins. away), and/or Þingvallir National Park’s iconic tectonic rift (~60 mins. away). Faxi waterfall is also just a few minutes up the road and you’ll also pass Kerið Crater about 30 minutes before Friðheimar if coming from South Iceland.
Regardless of if you are looking for a special place to eat lunch in the Golden Circle or want a delicious vegetarian Iceland meal, don’t miss the chance to experience Friðheimar Greenhouse and their phenomenal offerings.
If you love all things unique and nature-inspired like we do, it is sure to fill your heart, soul, and tummy up with plenty of tomato-flavored joy!
Want more ideas for things to do in Iceland? Click here.
Special thanks to Friðheimar Greenhouse for hosting us on our winter visit to their restaurant and giving us a tour of their greenhouse operations. We were very excited to work with them on a full-length feature of everything they have to offer. As always, all opinions are our own.