It can be tough going out for a night on the town when you are traveling. Nothing is worse than going out with high expectations of obtaining the local experience, only to find yourself in a tourist trap with overpriced drinks. Going out in Iceland is no exception, it can be tough. But, if you are in Reykjavik, are a night owl and looking for a good time, then you have come to the right spot! I am going to give some pro tips on how to enjoy Reykjavik’s nightlife.
The time before going out is sacred. The pre-drink. The pre-game. Whatever you call it, it is a time to relax, imbibe a little, and get ready for a long night. I know that in the States you guys go out much earlier than we do here in Iceland. Often, Americans (and others for that matter) go out way too early in the night! Here in Reykjavik, we don’t start hitting the bars until around 12pm. This may help to explain why if you have ever gone out in Reykjavik at 9pm expecting the party to be starting and it is a proverbial ghost town. But, how are you supposed to pre-drink in a city where you are a stranger. Two pro-tips: go on a beer tour (or pub crawl), or use an app to find happy hours across the city.
Beer tours and pub crawls are the number one way to meet other travelers visiting who are in the same boat as you. I know you guys want to come to one of our legendary Icelandic pre-drink parties. But that is going to be a tall order unless you make friends throughout the day (not impossible, but can be hard). Link up with one of the many pub crawls or beer tours and get tipsy while you make some new friends.
If you are already with a group and you would rather keep the festivities contained to your circle then download the free Appy hour app. This app will provide you with a list of all the bars and pubs offering happy hour specials throughout the city! A great way to save some money and check out some new bars. Also, if you are really tight on cash, you can go to a liquor store and start the pre-drinks your hostel or hotel. Never a bad option.
Going Out in Reykjavik
There are a few things to keep in mind when going out in Reykjavik. While we may be a small city, we know how to have a good time. That being said, we don’t take ourselves to seriously. You will be hard pressed to find any establishment with a strict dress code. We like to be comfortable, and life is too short to make someone wear a button up if they don’t want to. Don’t worry about any super rigid dress codes during your night out. Just make sure you look nice, and you will be fine. Leave your dirty boots and jackets at home.
Also, you will be happy to hear entry fees for bars don’t really exist here. Unless you are going to see live music, you won’t have to pay a cover charge to get in. I can’t stand visiting a new city, trying to go out with a group of friends, only to have security to tell us we need to pay to get in. It really kills the buzz. We have tons of live music options here, so rest easy knowing that if you are paying to get into a restaurant or bar it is to support local music.
Best Days To Go Out In Reykjavik
Knowing what each day has to offer regarding clubs, bars, and live music is essential. This isn’t New York City, so you have to plan a bit. The best nights to see live music don’t always match up with the best nights to go out to a club.
Live music is usually best enjoyed on Thursdays. Music can be heard spilling out all throughout Laugavegur street on Thursday nights. I think going to hear local bands and artists is the best way to get a feel for a city. Who knows, you may even hear the next Björk on your night out. Icelanders are very creative and artistic people, and it shows in our music. So, keep your Thursday evenings open to enjoy a pint (or five) of cold beer while you enjoy some live music.
If you are more into the big night out, the kind of night you won’t forget, then Fridays and Saturdays are your best bet. Again, Laugavegur street is going to be your best bet regarding finding a bumping club or lively bar. Just stroll down the street and look for anything that catches your eye. Remember though (especially our American friends) that things kick off later here in Iceland. Early for most Icelandic people is 1 or 2 AM and things don’t die down until 4 or 5 AM.
Last Little Tips and Tricks for Reykjavik Nightlife
Last few things. Iceland has no Uber. I know, I know, we are so behind in the times. If you have had your fill of the night, or you have met your Icelandic prince or princess charming and want to head home, merely flag a cab or wait in the taxi line. They will get you back safe and sound.
Also, always keep your wits about you. Iceland has been rated as one of the safest countries in the world for a while now, but fate has a way of not caring about rankings or lists. Be aware of your surroundings and drink responsibility.
Last pro tip. Let’s say, hypothetically, you drank too much. It happens. Maybe you have some extra cash and a morning to kill following your big night out. This is the perfect excuse to go and visit a geothermal hot spring or heat lagoon. There are plenty of local spots, but I recommend the Blue Lagoon just outside Reykjavik. Plop those sunglasses on, take a few ibuprofen, and relax. The healing blue mineral waters will help you remember what happened last night.
These are but a few of the tips for going out and enjoying the nightlife in Reykjavik. Stay tuned for a complete list of the top bars and clubs to visit during your next trip to Reykjavik!