Deciding on which bar or club to go out to during your stay in Reykjavik can be a difficult choice. In recent years, with the tourism boom, it seems like a new restaurant or bar is opening up every single day. Maybe you are looking for some good, old-fashioned, American comfort food, or maybe going the traditional Icelandic route is your thing. Where does one begin?! Don’t fret! I got your back! I am going to give you some options ranging from the novelty bar experience to the upscale, posh nightclub. Here are the top five clubs and bars in Reykjavik to explore during your next visit.
Best Clubs and Bars In Reykjavik: Lebowski Bar
“Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like your opinion, man.” Jeff Bridges’ role in the Coen Brother’s 1998 comedy cemented him as a cult -classic legend. The movie has a very interesting aesthetic and is infinitely quotable. Lebowski Bar is a fitting homage to the film from which they borrow their name. Located at 20 Laugavegur Street nestled in downtown Reykjavik, Lebowski Bar has been enticing customers for years with their excellent food, unique atmosphere, and cold pints. The menu is the Big Lebowski themed, and the decor of the restaurant is entirely Big Lebowski themed.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a novelty bar. But, there is really nothing wrong with that. Lebowski’s is fully aware of it, and they own it. In my opinion, that is how a novelty bar makes it work; bars like this aren’t afraid to let the world know they are what they are and they don’t try to be anything else besides that. The food prices here are reasonable ( for Icelandic standards), and their burgers are to die for. I would recommend the white Russian and a chicken sandwich.
Best Clubs and Bars In Reykjavik: Islenski Barinn The Icelandic Bar
The Icelandic Bar has changed hands a few times, but it remains true to its roots. In 2009, the bar acted as a safe haven after hundreds of protesters were torn gases into submission. Many of them came to Icelandic Bar to seek refuge, and bar patrons and staff did just that. That is the maxim of this local bar: they look after their own. The bar has changed locations, but the attitude remains. The guests migrated towards the new location, and it is like things never changed (except the menu).
If you are looking for a true Icelandic experience, look no further than Icelandic Bar. The food here ranges from touristy to authentic, even featuring dishes like puffin and reindeer (an important point to make, these are dishes we ate in antiquity. The only reason we still serve them is to remain true to our past). But the touristy dishes include burgers, fries, stews, soups, and succulent lamb. The bar has a truly massive beer menu, featuring some of Iceland’s best brews. Prices here are affordable, again for Iceland, so swing on by for an authentic, decent priced, delicious dinner.
Best Clubs and Bars In Reykjavik: Messin – Splendid Icelandic Seafood
Messin definitely doesn’t cater to the thrifty traveler, as the menu here is probably the most expensive on this list. But, I figured I would give you some options (we can’t all eat burgers all the time, trust me, I have tried and failed). However, if you are looking for a some delicious locally sourced fish look no further. The arctic char here is to die for, the cod is heavenly, and the salmon will knock your socks off. Messin’s specialty is fish, and they hit the mark every time.
Like I previously said, this is definitely in-between casual and fine dining. So remember to treat it as such when you come here. The prices are going to be high (around 40 US dollars for the char), but if you are looking for the best fish in Reykjavik (without entirely breaking the bank), Messin is your best bet. Also, their Skyr pudding is divine. If that craving you have had for fish all day just won’t subside, swing by Messin for a meal that will change your life.
Best After Dinner Spots In Reykjavik: Clubs and Bars
So, let’s say that you have finished dinner. You are full, happy, and you have some extra cash to burn. Which by the way is a real treat in Reykjavik, because nothing here is cheap. You probably want to go out. There is a young, but proud nightlife scene here and there are definitely a lot of options. I am going to give you too that are undoubtedly the most approachable bars and clubs.
A word to the wise though: remember, as I said previously, a night out in Reykjavik can get expensive quick. If you are trying to save money, pre-drink. Pre-drinking (or as they say in the states “pre-gaming”) is drinking before you go to the bar. In other places, like the US for instance, it can be seen as being something that only college kids do. This is not the case here, not only is it a chance to save some money, but it is a chance to spend time with your friends. If you are visiting, and don’t know many people, I would suggest a pub crawl or a beer tour.
Pub crawls, and beer tours take you on a guided tour of some of Reykjavik’s best bars and breweries, while you either take advantage of great deals on alcohol or beers made in the brewery. Also, it is a great way to make friends. If you want to pre-drink, assuming you have a large group of friends, see if your hostel or hotel will accommodate a space. Then just go to a liquor store and buy some booze. This will save you a king’s ransom. Most importantly remember to drink responsibly and have fun.
Kaffibarnin: Reykjavik’s Rumpus Room
Kaffibarnin is a polarizing place. Some locals despise it, some locals adore it, and just about everyone who comes here looking for late night drinks and music visits. This cafe by day, club/bar by night is one of the trendiest locations in Reykjavik. I mean, Damon Albarn (front the massively successful band Blur and the Gorillaz) is hypothesized to be a co-owner, you are going to be in good hands. No other place in Reykjavik optimizes true “nightlife” like Kaffibarnin.
At night Kaffibarnin can be packed to gills with tourists, hipsters, and party-seekers alike. No, seriously. Claustrophobic folks, stay away, this place gets slammed. But, for everyone else, it is a must see. This bar has a ton of history, has an uber friendly staff, and some seriously talented DJs that regularly come through. Dance the night away at Kaffibarnin.
Best Clubs and Bars In Reykjavik: Húrra – Reykjavik’s Jazz and Hip-Hop Spot
Húrra seems to have something for everyone. Monday nights there is always a Jazz jam session taking place, which is a very relaxed chill experience. If you are looking for the best live Jazz music in Reykjavik, this is usually the best spot. Jazz is for relaxing, but on Fridays, you can find a DJ taking the stage to spin 90s hits, throwbacks, and hip-hop. On Fridays, the party doesn’t stop until around 4:00 am Bartenders and servers are friendly and knowledgeable here, and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. If you need to boogie the night away, then put on your dancing shoes, and make your way to Húrra.
Best Clubs and Bars In Reykjavik – Iceland Nightlife
The five locations I mentioned are only a handful of the wonderful establishments in Reykjavik. The sites on this list range from the novelty bar that any tourist can patronize, to the secret local late-night dance spot. My hope is this guide will provide anyone who is visiting Reykjavik a good jumping off point for a great night out on the city. These restaurants and clubs are all relatively affordable, friendly, and most importantly, authentic to Iceland. So, get yourself some delicious food in any one of these cozy restaurants, maybe even try puffin or reindeer, and then go dance the night away!