A guide to Reykjavik’s nightlife

A guide to Reykjavik’s nightlife

Iceland’s capital might be small, but its personality packs a HUGE punch. Reykjavik has a strong nightlife scene, and the city’s streets are packed with buzzy pubs, bars and clubs. What makes it extra special? The Icelanders themselves. The locals are so lively, they’ve got their own ritual called Rúntur – which translates to ‘round tour’ – a tradition that was started to pass the long, winter nights and endless summer days. Today, it’s basically a massive bar crawl that’s all about meeting new faces and soaking up the buzz. When in Rome, right? From cosy breweries to quirky clubs, here are the best spots for a night out in Reykjavik…   

Good to know   

Before we get into it, here’s some useful info on drinking in Iceland. Most things are on the pricier side here and alcohol’s no exception. The locals keep the costs down by pre-drinking at home before hitting the town around midnight, which means the clubs aren’t in full swing until between one and four in the morning. Pubs and bars are still lively earlier in the evening, though, especially as this is when you’ll find the happy hours are on. Keep reading to find where does them and when.  

Sweet Pig (Sæta Svínið)  

Happy hour? Between 3-6pm 

Just round the corner from Reyjkavik’s harbour, this red clapboard pub’s a great place to start off the sesh. Like most things in this city, the Sweet Pig’s got a quirky twist – there’s a strong pig theme going on inside, from cartoons and pictures to pig-shaped glasses and life-size statues. Pick from the long list of cocktails or order a whole boot of Viking lager, then sit back, relax and find the weirdest thing you can see on the walls. You’ll be there for a while.   


Happy hour? Sadly not 🙁   

In Reykjavik’s centre, Lemmy’s got a converted chapel vibe with that grungy, arty aesthetic nailed down. There’s a mix of graffiti and classical paintings that just make sense, and the stained-glass windows and wooden beams really tie it all together. Rock music coming from the speakers set the scene, and you can often catch gigs here, too. With a great selection of beers, retro arcade games and band merch to rifle through, it’s perfect for reliving your teen angst phase. 


Happy hour? 11am-8pm! 🙂  

At nine-hours long, Bravó’s got the longest happy hour in Reykjavik, so it’s not hard to see why it’s a go-to for tourists and the locals. There’s no chance of missing it either, as you can spot the rainbow-coloured cladding from the other end of Laugavegur Street. It’s got some delish craft beers on tap, a DJ later in the evening and stays open until 1am.   


Happy hour? 7-9pm  

This no-frills building might not look like much from the outside, but it’s got that rough-and-ready rizz that’s seriously endearing on the inside. Gaukurinn’s a super inclusive bar and venue that operates a strict come-as-you-are policy. Anything from drag shows or comedy nights to an Icelandic death metal band could be on when you walk in.  


Happy hour? 3-6pm  

You’ll find this taproom near Hverfisgata, a couple of streets over from Hallgrímskirkja (the big church at the top of the hill). If you’re into your crafties, coming here is non-negotiable – it’s Iceland’s OG craft beer bar, serving the goods straight from the Gaedingur Brewery. Pick a pint from the chalkboard or settle in for the afternoon with a five or 10-beer tasting board. And if you’re feeling brave, try a glass of brennivín, AKA black death, Iceland’s signature spirit… good luck.  

Lebowski Bar 

Happy hour? 4-7pm  

This one’s a little niche, but those who get it, get it. If you haven’t seen the cult-classic film The Big Lebowski, prepare to be confused, because the whole bar is dedicated to Dude, the main character. It goes hard on the kitschy, American-diner theme, with jukeboxes and neon lights, plus a bowling lane on the wall. Stop by at happy hour and double up on White Russians – Dude’s go-to cocktail, ofc – or stick around for the DJ playing 80s hits. 


Happy hour? 4-7pm  

Down the side of Rainbow Street, this iconic bar gets a lot of airtime for its London Underground sign and connection to Blur and Gorillaz frontman, Damon Albarn. He only part-owned the place for a little while, but the celeb status stuck and it’s still one of the most popular bars in Reykjavik. It’s all mood lighting and low-key looks inside, and it tends to get busy later in the evening once the chilled-out beats start flowing from the decks.  


Happy hour? 1-8pm 

This bar and club’s giving Viking barn dance and we’re here for it. It’s near the harbour and is full of character, from its corrugated-iron walls to the vaulted wooden beams inside. Plus, it’s one of those places where you only come for one casual drink and then next thing you know, you’re two-stepping to techno until 4.30 in the morning.  

Pablo Discobar 

Happy hour? 4-6pm  

It’s disco. It’s Latin. It’s velvet, glitter and clashing prints. The brief? More is more. There’s a lot to unpack here, but the so-tacky-its-chic situation in Pablo Discobar just works – even the fun but slightly questionable name. Put on your going-out garms, grab a marg and get ready to dance all night long in this lively club in downtown Reykjavik.  


If you’re ready to live like a local and Rúntur the night away, check out our Iceland deals 

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Author: Daisy Colley

Last updated: 15/04/2024