Cold weather, snowstorms and slippery ice will in no way affect Reykjavik's busy and booming nightlife. Skál!
When you finally find yourself on-board your WOW airplane, slowly sipping some red wine or soda and mentally preparing for your once in a lifetime vacation in Iceland, chances are your plans are exclusively focused on those breathtakingly picturesque landscapes¸ the waterfalls and glaciers vividly depicted in magazines and advertisements.
In addition, you’re probably prepped for, what in your mind is an Arctic snowstorm from the get go, as after all, logic dictates that Iceland is the land of ice, but is it?
Truth be told, winters are cold (and slippery) and Iceland does have a snowstorm every once in a while in addition to a mere five-hour daylight period during the winter season; however this minor setback does in no way, shape or form affect Iceland’s surprisingly busy and booming nightlife, especially in its capital, Reykjavik.
Keeping it real, one would never assume that this capital, with a population of just over 200,000 people would have a thriving nightlife and music scene that could easily compare with much bigger European capitals. There are many elements that make the Reykjavik nightlife, a one of a kind experience, and, if you’re open to it, it’s guaranteed to become an unforgettable part of your Icelandic adventure.
The heavenly demeanor of peace, quiet and an overly laid-back stress free attitude that lingers around the streets of Reykjavik during the day is swiftly replaced by an energized crowd of partygoers looking for fun and willing to make a pact with the devil (or in this case, alcohol). Once the clock strikes midnight, the capital transforms into a party hub catering to a wide variety of tastes and expectations.
It is interesting to point out that Reykjavik’s bars serve numerous purposes … Now you’re probably wondering what that means. Well, during the day they are coffee houses where one can get their much needed morning kick of caffeine or a hot croissant. However, once night hits, they metamorphose into bars flowing with that effortless Icelandic quirkiness.
The majority of the Reykjavik party locations are located on the main street of Laugavegur and its side streets of Bankastræti Street and Austurstræti Street which are well within walking distance (one can usually just go out the front door of one bar, walk 10 meters and be at the doorstep of another). This is also useful knowledge: If you happen to separate from your friends, chances are they could not gotten very far.
We’re glad to share the fact that most of the bars have free entry, which makes bar hopping ever so enjoyable (we all love freebies). There are no clubs as such in Reykjavik. Therefore, if you don’t like the music or scenery in one location, you can simply barhop until you find what suits you.
The bars also have generous opening hours. As a rule, from Sunday to Thursday, they stay open until 1 am and on weekends they are normally open until 3 am or later. This gives you plenty of time to party and mingle with the ever so friendly Icelandic locals. And if you get right in there with them, experience the effects of downing ‘traditional’ topas or opal shots which you most likely regret the following morning …
1. There’s usually no dress code. However bear in mind that locals pay a lot of attention to their looks. If you come with knee high muddy boots after a day of exploring the Icelandic ‘wilderness,’ chances are that you won’t be kicked out, but let’s just say it’s not appreciated.
2. The legal age to drink in Iceland is 20 but most bars have an over 21 policy so be warned!
3. The majority of bars offer happy hour between 5-8 pm, which should greatly be taken advantage of!
To sum up: As a visitor, you need to adjust to Iceland’s differences, and in this case specifically its nightlife. Don’t get us wrong, Reykjavik’s nightlife is one of a kind and absolutely amazing, once you embrace its uniqueness!
Text and photos by Donna Tzaneva
Special thanks to Lebowski Bar and Kiki for allowing us to shoot at their location.