Reykjavik nightlife on a budget

High taxes mean alcohol’s expensive in Iceland, so a night out can get pricey. On average, you’re looking at £8.50 for a half a litre of beer and roughly £4.94 for a shot of spirit. You can see how experiencing Reykjavik nightlife could quickly rack up quite a bar bill. However, if you want to indulge in a few alcoholic beverages, there are ways to avoid blowing your budget and still having a good time.

Reykjavik’s locals kickstart their nights out with a few drinks at home and don’t usually go out much before midnight. If you want to do the same, then don’t bother popping into the local shop, as alcohol isn’t sold in supermarkets in Iceland.

Instead, you’ll have to go to one of the Vínbúdin. These are alcohol shops run by the government. There are 13 branches all around Reykjavik, but their opening hours are limited. You can also pick up Duty-Free alcohol once you arrive at Reykjavik Airport and take it to your accommodation.

If you prefer going out earlier in the evenings, look out for bars offering happy hours (which are usually longer than an hour) and drinks specials. It’s common for bars to offer half-price drinks or two for one deals.

Drinks deals in Reykjavik

A few places boast lower prices. Reykjavik has a couple of luxury hostels with their own bars, which are perfect if you’re travelling on a budget. Bankastræti’s Loft Hostel has a bar with great views from its terrace, and their drinks are fabulous value for money, with extra discounts during happy hour.

Kex Hostel on Skúlagata also has its own gastropub. This venue first started life as a biscuit factory, and now it’s a fabulous bar decorated to look just like an old-fashioned American diner. It overlooks Mount Esja, so be sure to take your camera, as the views are stunning.

Here you can sample authentic Icelandic beers and taste a selection of delicious bar snacks. The bacon wrapped dates are a firm favourite with diners. Sometimes they even host jazz nights showcasing the talents of local musicians.

Lækjargata’s Ölsmiðjan is another fantastic option. It has a laid-back feel, cheap drinks, and a soundtrack blaring soul and Motown hits.

Cocktail bars in Reykjavik

If you’re looking to splash out on a special occasion, perhaps a trip to a cocktail bar is in order.

Visit Reykjavik’s first cocktail bar and head over to Slippbarinn. Located in the Old Harbour area of the city, you can try one of the many uniquely crafted cocktails from their menu.

Alternatively, head for Gallery Bar and grab a tasty tipple or two. Chill out by the fire and relax on one of their luxurious red leather chairs as you sip on one of their handcrafted cocktails; it’s a great way to relax at the end of the day. Here you’ll also find plenty of framed sketches showcasing one of Iceland’s most renowned painter’s, Jóhannes Kjarval.

Whichever of these bars in Reykjavik you choose to visit, you’re sure to enjoy a night you’ll never forget.