Going out and getting horribly trashed at the weekend is more fun in Reykjavík than almost anywhere else and one of the top things to do in Iceland – at least the once!
And if that’s not your cup of G&T, then it’s also quite amusing to watch all the other fine folk and/or idiots having fun.
How safe you feel among the madness probably depends on where you’re from. If, for example, your usual nights out are sometimes marred by 'chavs', then you will probably find Reykjavík a breath of fresh air. If, on the other hand, you are more used to sipping wine on verandas, then some downtown establishments might prove challengingly ‘colourful’ for you.
This Icelandic airline doesn’t recommend you start a fight (why on earth would we?), but it is possible you will see other people engaged in one. Despite the dangers of unbridled funseeking, your chances of getting attacked, robbed or murdered are very low compared to most other cities. The most serious crime you are likely to encounter is somebody barging past you without saying excuse me or sorry.
But that’s not a crime in Iceland. In fact, it’s an important cultural trait. After half an hour of being pushed around like a pinball you too will probably grow a pair (of elbows) and start using them in the way Reykjavík bars were designed for. That is to say in an unspoken and unacknowledged version of: “There isn’t a lot of space here and I don’t want to spill my beer as I manoeuvre past you, so I’m going to force you out of the way. I, in turn, will not be offended when you do the same to me”.
The legal drinking age in Iceland is 20, but don’t expect to see many people of any age out in the bars before midnight, or even later. Or, to put it another way, a cosy drinking atmosphere can be found all evening, every evening – but the party night craziness takes place exclusively in the wee-smalls, and only at the weekend (and before public holidays).
The reason Reykjavík manages to squeeze so much fun into such a small – perfectly walkable – area is that most places have multi purposes. Cafés and restaurants become bars at night, which then become clubs even later on. The idea of letting a city centre café lay empty on a Saturday night is as alien here as the concept of not having the most sought after nightclub open for coffee on a Tuesday morning. What a waste of potential that would be! There are, of course, exceptions; but they only really serve to prove the rule, as the saying goes.
If memory serves, there are more than one hundred (but less than two hundred) watering holes in this small city. That’s a lot. Here is a tiny selection of our favourites, with click-through articles/reviews slowly being added:
And for loads of useful and fun stuff from our friends at Reykjavík Friend, click the here for the Reykjavik Nightlife Guide!