Let’s Party! The Ultimate Guide to Iceland’s Nightlife

Iceland may be a small country, but Iceland's nightlife is far from being small! Here are the best options to go out and party the night away!

image of reykjavik nightlife and the hallsgrimskirkja all light up

blog authorBy Johanna Sigurðardóttir shield verificationVerified Expert

    Your days will be filled with adventure when visiting Iceland, exploring the island, marveling at all the incredible sights, and taking part in all sorts of exciting activities. But don’t wear yourself out too much because irrespective of how cold it may become, Iceland’s nightlife is hot, hot, hot!

    If you enjoy going out for a few drinks with friends or dancing the night away at a popular club, read on. We give you the lowdown on partying here on the island.

    Does Iceland Have a Good Nightlife?

    This all depends on where you find yourself in the country. If you’re in a small village somewhere in a remote region of the island, you might still be able to find a local bar where you can enjoy a few cold ones with the locals, but you shouldn’t expect venues that will enable “big night outs”.

    If you want to party or go clubbing, you’ll need to go to the bigger cities. Should you be looking for the ultimate night out, we will always recommend the capital city. Reykjavik comes alive at night and the Reykjavik clubs are some of the best on the island.

    Iceland nightlife

    Is it Safe to Go Out Partying in Iceland?

    Iceland has officially claimed the title of ‘safest country in the world’ yet again (we’ve won this annual title year after year going on two decades now). So, whether you’re road tripping, going shopping, or going out, you can rest assured that you’re in the safest place in the world to do so.

    Just keep in mind that, like anywhere else in the world, people who get extremely intoxicated are prone to cause trouble. Although the odds of this posing any serious threat to you and your safety is next to nothing, we still advise that you remain vigilant to not end up caught in the middle of a bad situation such as a bar fight amongst other patrons.

    What Makes the Nightlife in Reykjavik so Great?

    As the capital city of the country, it stands to reason that it would be the hub of the Iceland’s nightlife, but this is not the only reason why partying in Reykjavik is so great. Here are a few other reasons why a night out in Reykjavik is such a good idea:

    • When night falls, there’s a palpable buzz and energy in the air that almost screams, “Let’s go!”.
    • There are a wide variety of places to choose from. Whether a restaurant, a bar, or a club - you will find the perfect place that suits your idea of a night out on the town.
    • Reykjavik might be our biggest city, but it’s still small enough that you can walk from one venue to the other.
    • You will find a place that’s open and ready to party irrespective of the time you choose to go out. In fact, some places only really get going from around 2 in the morning.

    Reykjavik club partying

    Is There a Dress Code for the Clubs in Iceland?

    Icelanders definitely take things up a notch when it comes to getting dressed for the club. Even if the club doesn’t follow a very strict dress code which means you’ll get chucked out if it’s violated, you definitely will get some stares if you are perceived to be underdressed for the occasion.

    Just to give you an idea; it really isn’t strange to find guys in suits in the clubs here in Iceland. You can still dress relatively casually, but this means nice pants with a blazer. Pitching up in a hoodie or t-shirt is definitely not going to fly.  

    What’s the Age Limit of Icelandic Clubs?

    Since the legal drinking age is 20 here in Iceland, most clubs also have an age limit of 20 years. Always remember to bring a form of identification that clearly states your date of birth when going out. Icelanders don’t mess around with these things, and most venues will check ID.

    There might be a few venues that only check the IDs of those they feel unsure of, but, once again, if you’re one of these younger-looking individuals without any official documentation on you, you’ll be left out in the cold (quite literally).

    Iceland legal drinking age

    Helpful Tips for Partying in Iceland

    If you intend to go out during your trip to Iceland, the following tips will help you have a safe and memorable evening:

    Pre-game Your Night’s Out

    Nights out can become extremely expensive here. Just take a look at some of the drink prices here, and you might, ironically, need a stiff one for the shock. This is why prefer to pre-game their night’s out and start the evening off with drinks at home or with friends.

    Download Appy Hour

    Another way to save money is by downloading the Appy Hour app. This app will let you know exactly where and when all the happy hours in the city/town are.

    The Early Bird Gets… Empty Venues

    As we already mentioned earlier, most places only really get going around 2 in the morning. This might be too late in your opinion, but we really don’t recommend even attempting a proper night out before midnight – you are likely to be the only person in the bar or the club.

    Don’t Try to Wrangle Your Way Onto the VIP List

    In Iceland, these lists are set in stone, and no amount of smooth talking on the night will get you through the VIP door. If you have not made prior arrangements or someone else got your name on the list, standing in the VIP queue to try your luck will only waste your time, and you’ll have to queue all over again in the queue you were supposed to be in in the first place.

    Iceland night party

    Keep Those Cravings Under Control

    It is illegal to smoke inside the clubs. Irrespective of how bad the cravings get or how bad the weather is outside, you’ll need to exit the building for those smoke breaks. Any attempt to secretly smoke inside will only lead to fines or getting kicked out of the venue.

    The 10 Best Dance Clubs in Iceland

    It’s no secret that Icelanders like to party, and the sheer abundance of dance clubs stands as proof of this. The following are our top picks for an amazing night out:

    1. Austur

    Austur is the biggest, baddest, and oldest nightclub in Reykjavik, and there are several good reasons why they have been open for this long. Sporting two big bars, a large dancefloor, and VIP tables (if you have the dough), this club is the clear winner here.

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    A post shared by Austur (@austurclub)

    2. Pablo Discobar

    This is an acquired taste and a dance club that will transport you to a completely different place on the globe. The theme is Caribbean and the atmosphere matches it to the tee. Pablo Discobar is one of the Reykjavik clubs that serves up a mean couple of food items as well as an amazing experience.

    3. Gaukurinn

    If you are looking for live rock bands, this dive bar-looking place is going to fit you like a hand in a glove. Standing as a beacon of hope for the revival of the live band scene, Gaukurinn is the perfect place to have that authentic live band experience.

    4. Kaffibarinn

    Even though the name might suggest otherwise, Kaffibarinn serves more than only coffee drinks. Here, you can enjoy a wide range of tasty drinks, as well as the amazing dancefloor the bar transforms into at night. Definitely a must-visit.

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    A post shared by Kaffibarinn (@kaffibarinn)

    5. Auto

    You can never go wrong with the classics, which is why Auto has been established in an old parking garage. This provides the awesome underground feeling as the neon lights and smoke machines pulsate with the heavy bass from the DJ booths.

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    A post shared by AUTO (@auto.nightclub)

    6. Kiki Queer Bar

    If you want to dance, we strongly recommend shaking your buttocks at the Kiki Queer Bar. Even though the bar has a niche target audience, they don’t turn anyone away and everyone is welcome! Hands down one of the best clubs in Reykjavik if you are solely interested in dancing.

    7. Paloma

    This club is the best if you want to dance on a dance floor that resembles a Viking ship. Celebrating 10 years of awesome beats, the dancefloor at Paloma is pulsating with both international and local DJs that serve only the best of the best.

    8. Hurra

    Hurra is another live band establishment with a great hipster vibe. The bands are giving 100% up until midnight when the place switches to a pure dance club. After that, the lights are dim and the music is high, and the drink selection is top-notch.

    9. B5 Bar

    If you are out to go clubbing in style, B5 Bar is at the top of the clubs in Reykjavik, as it is well-known for enforcing a strict dress code. The queue to get in quickly get long after midnight, so make sure to get there in time to show off your groovy style.

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    A post shared by b5 (@b5_reykjavik)

    10.  Prikid

    Last, but not least, the popular dance club Prikid (Prikið) serves the absolute best of 90’s hip-hop. The place can make you feel like you’re in a movie, as the club is often packed, and people are dancing on every possible surface in the club.

    The Iceland Nightlife; Where the Party Doesn’t Stop Till the Next Morning

    As you can see, Icelanders know how to party and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to do so during your trip to the island.

    Not only will you find a wide variety of options when going out, but a night out can start early in the evening with dinner, and then drinks before hitting the clubs, and only end when the smell of freshly baked bread starts wafting through the air the next morning. Just remember to follow our tips and advice to ensure that it’s a night out that you’ll never forget (all for the right reasons).

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