Our Guide to the Nightlife of Reykjavik
Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, is known for its stunning landscapes, geothermal pools and luxury spas, and the beautiful northern lights of course. However, there's another side to this vibrant city that shouldn't be overlooked - its colorful nightlife. Reykjavik boasts a thriving party scene with an array of bars, clubs, and live music venues, making it the perfect destination for those who love to let loose and have a good time. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the bars, clubs, and party scene in Reykjavik and give you some tips on how to make the most of your night out.
A few words on safety
While Iceland is considered the safest country in the world, safety and precautions are always advisable when out on the town. This is especially true for women who are advised to not leave their drinks unattended when out late at clubs or bars. Crime rate in Iceland is very low but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen and we’d like to err on the safe side. That said, Reykjavik has been named the safest city in the world for women traveling aloneLink opens in a new tab so depending on where you’re coming from, you may feel a new sense of freedom roaming around Reykjavik. It’s also an undeniable plus that during peak summer, it doesn’t really get dark.
The bottom line is just to use common sense. Don’t leave your wallet unattended in the club and lock your rental car if you park downtown but that’s pretty much it.
Bars in Reykjavik
Reykjavik has a plethora of bars to suit any taste, each with its own unique atmosphere and vibe. Whether you're looking for a cozy pub, a trendy cocktail bar, or a lively sports bar, you'll find it here. Here are a few of our top picks.
This small, sophisticated and cozy wine bar is a favorite for the globetrotting wine connoisseur. The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable, matching the detailed décor and artwork of this perfect corner bar. Its location by the recently renovated and charming Óðinstorg square just off Skólavörðustígur is perfect on milder days when you can sit outside. If it gets chilly you can always get a blanket and a heat lamp because there’s no such thing as bad weather in Iceland, just bad gear.
Bottom line: Perfect start of a great evening
Address: Týsgata 8, 101 Reykjavik
Slippbarinn is a trendy cocktail bar located in the heart of Reykjavik's harbor district. This sleek and stylish bar has a modern and sophisticated atmosphere, with a menu full of creative cocktails that are as beautiful as they are delicious. They also have a great selection of wines and beers, as well as a small but tasty menu of bar bites.
Bottom line: Great food, great cocktails
Address: Mýrargata 2, 101 Reykjavik
If you're looking for an authentic party experience in downtown Reykjavik, Kaffibarinn is your legendary and obligatory stop. Situated right next to the old prison in downtown Reykjavik, just off the rainbow part of Skólavörðustígur, it has a fun but laid-back atmosphere with a great selection of drinks, and a trendy clientele. It’s eclectic, quirky and usually crammed from wall to wall when the party really gets going and its usually open very late. Thankfully they have an outdoor area for the overflow of partygoers.
Bottom line: Perfect place to end the night
Address: Bergstaðastræti 1, 101 Reykjavik
If you're a beer lover, you can't miss Microbar. This cozy spot is on Laugavegur shopping street and well worth a visit. The bar has a great selection of craft beers and highlights local brews. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, and the staff are knowledgeable and passionate about beer. Try the tasting menu for a real craft beer experience.
Bottom line: Beer lovers be here
Address: Laugarvegur 86, 101 Reykjavík
Veður means “weather” which is a very appropriate name for a bar in Reykjavik. But that’s not all. Bar in Iceland is “bar” and with the definite article it’s “barinn”. Veður bar is therefore always referred to in Icelandic as Veðurbarinn which coincidentally also means “weather-beaten”. The name is as clever as the place and this bar is usually packed with locals. Try to grab a seat by the window and watch the night unfold before your eyes in this prime location.
Bottom line: Perfect location, great atmosphere
Address: Klapparstígur 33, 101, 101 Reykjavík
Website: Veður is too cool to have a website
If you're a fan of the cult classic film "The Big Lebowski," then you'll love Lebowski Bar. If you’ve never heard of The Big Lebowski, you’ll probably still love this place. This fun and quirky bar is dedicated to all things related to the film, with decor and memorabilia inspired by the movie. But it's not just the ambiance that makes this spot worth visiting - they also have a great selection of cocktails and local beers, as well as a tasty menu of burgers and fries.
Bottom line: One for the fun-loving bunch
Address: Laugavegur 20a, 101 Reykjavík
Clubs in Reykjavik
Reykjavik may be a small city, but it's not lacking in nightlife options, especially when it comes to clubs. From intimate venues to larger dance clubs, there's something for every type of party-goer. Here’s a handful of clubs and spots for proper dancing in Reykjavik.
Named after its premier address, Bankastræti 5, this club is located in the beating heart of the city. Fun fact, Bankastræti is the most expensive street in the Icelandic version of Monopoly. And B5 is a club for those who primarily want to dance. Forget having an intimate conversation in here, this is where conversations come to die but the music lives on and so does the dancing. Grab a cocktail and prepare to burn some calories.
Bottom line: Dance galore!
Address: Bankastræti 5, 101 Reykjavik
Húrra is a popular nightclub located in the heart of downtown Reykjavik. This lively spot is not for the faint of heart but has a great, albeit slightly grunge, atmosphere, with a mix of locals and tourists dancing the night away to live music and DJ sets. They also have a great selection of beers and will keep you dancing until the wee hours of the morning.
Bottom line: Live music and dancing
Address: Tryggvagata 22, 101 Reykjavik
Kiki Queer Bar
Kiki Queer Bar is a popular spot among the LGBTQ+ community in Reykjavik. This fun and vibrant club has a welcoming atmosphere, with a mix of locals and tourists enjoying the live performances and drag shows. They also have a great selection of drinks, including creative cocktails and local beers.
Bottom line: Come as you are
Address: Laugavegur 22, 101 Reykjavik
Photo courtesy of photographer @asgeir.martins
Events and music venues
Reykjavik is known for its vibrant arts and music scene, and there are plenty of event and music venues throughout the city where you can experience the best of Icelandic culture. From small intimate clubs to large-scale arenas, there's something for everyone. Here are some of the best event and music venues in Reykjavik:
Harpa Concert Hall: One of Reykjavik's most iconic landmarks, Harpa is a state-of-the-art concert hall located on the waterfront in the downtown harbor. With its stunning glass facade and impressive acoustics, it's the perfect place to catch a classical concert, jazz performance, or other cultural event.
Kex Hostel: This trendy hostel is also home to one of Reykjavik's coolest music venues. Kex regularly hosts live music events, DJ nights, jazz festivals and other cultural events in its industrial-chic space.
Laugardalshöll: This large-scale arena is centrally located in Reykjavik and is the city's premier venue for major concerts and events. With a seating capacity of over 11,000, it has hosted some of the biggest names in music, from Björk to Metallica.
Gaukurinn: This LGBTQ-friendly club is a popular spot for live music, drag shows, and other cultural events. With its inclusive atmosphere and diverse lineup of performers, it's a great place to experience the vibrant and eclectic arts scene in Reykjavik.
These are just a few of the many event and music venues in Reykjavik. Whether you're looking for classical music, indie rock, or experimental jazz, there's something for everyone in this dynamic and creative city. So why not check out what’s on offer on Iceland’s most popular ticket website www.tix.is and try a show or concert during your visit to experience the best of Reykjavik's cultural scene?
Pro tips for your night out in Reykjavik
For first-time tourists visiting Reykjavik, it might help to keep a few things in mind when exploring the city's nightlife scene.
Plan ahead: Reykjavik can get very busy on weekends, so it's a good idea to plan your night out in advance if you’ve got your mind set on certain things. Make reservations at restaurants if you’ve got something specific in mind and consider buying tickets to events ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
Don’t plan ahead: The best night on the town in Reykjavik is the unplanned one. This nighttime adventure is best exercised in the historic city center as you can wander between the numerous bars and clubs for days without repetition. Live in the now and see what the night brings.
Dress for the weather: Iceland has a much milder climate than most people realize but it can still turn cold and rainy, even in the summer months. Look at the forecast and plan accordingly. Make sure to bring warm clothing so you're comfortable walking between the bars and clubs and enjoying the lively atmosphere out on the street.
Be respectful: Icelanders are friendly and welcoming people, but it's important to be respectful of their culture and customs. Avoid loud and disruptive behavior, and be mindful of the local laws and regulations.
Use public transportation: Reykjavik is a small city, and most bars and clubs are within comfortable walking distance of each other. However, if you're planning to venture further out or have had a few too many drinks, consider using public transportation or a taxi to get around. If you have a rental car, it goes without saying that drinking and driving is illegal in Iceland as elsewhere but perhaps even stricter than one might expect. Don’t drink any alcohol at all before driving.
Try the local drinks: Iceland has a rich tradition of brewing and distilling, and there are plenty of local drinks to try. Be sure to sample some of the local beers, spirits, and liqueurs while you're out on the town.
Reykjavik nightlife on a budget
Reykjavik can be an expensive city, but there are still ways to enjoy the nightlife on a budget. Here are a few tips for partying in Reykjavik without breaking the bank.
Start early: Many bars in Reykjavik offer happy hour specials and discounts on drinks earlier in the evening. If you start your night out a bit earlier, you can take advantage of these deals and save some money.
Look for free events: Reykjavik has a vibrant music and arts scene, and there are often free concerts, exhibitions, and other events happening around the city. Check local listings and event calendars to see what's happening during your visit.
Pre-game: Drinking at bars and clubs in Reykjavik can be expensive, so consider pre-gaming with some drinks at your hotel or hostel before heading out for the night. Just be sure to drink responsibly and know your limits.
Take advantage of student discounts: If you're a student, be sure to bring your student ID with you when you go out. Many bars and clubs in Reykjavik offer discounts for students.
Visit the local breweries: Iceland has a thriving craft beer scene, and many local breweries offer tastings and tours for a reasonable price. Check out places like Ölgerðin Brewery or Kaldi Brewery to sample some of the local brews.
Have fun, drink responsibly, make the most of the endless daylight in summer, embrace the dark in winter and make all the friends you can. This is after all a very friendly and safe town!