Most will want to have a drink or two whilst on holiday, and the go-to for the majority is usually a delicious beer (especially some of these new craft beers). But with Iceland having a bit of a reputation when it comes to being pretty pricey, the big question remains; how much is a beer in Iceland?
In this article, we will not only tackle Iceland beer prices but also discuss what affects the overall price of alcohol in Iceland and give you some helpful tips when it comes to drinking on a budget.
Factors That Affect the Price of Beer in Iceland
Yes, beer is indeed more expensive in Iceland than in the rest of the EU, but this is due to certain factors:
Extremely High Alcohol Taxes
Alcohol is taxed heavily here in Iceland. In fact, in 2023, taxes were raised yet again to 25%, which was a 150% increase from what the taxes used to be.
Iceland is an Island
Although we have exceptional beers and other alcohol that are locally manufactured, Iceland is still an island, and anything not locally manufactured needs to be imported. When one considers importation tax, transport costs, etc. it’s understandable that this also hikes up prices.
There is a State Monopoly on Beer Sales
You can only buy alcoholic beverages from our state-run liquor stores called Vinbudin here in Iceland. This is a two-edged sword because many believe the reason why the quality of alcoholic beverages is so high, and issues with alcoholism are kept down, is because of the control the state has over sales.
At the same time, any monopoly will allow someone to also make prices whatever they feel like. Although we generally believe that our state looks out for the people of the country, they do have the final say when it comes to the beer price in Iceland and this is part of the reason prices are so high.
The Type of Beer
Just like anywhere else in the world, not all cost of beer in Iceland are equal. Except for different beer brands and makes charging different prices, craft beers also tend to be more expensive since they make use of exclusive ingredients and more hands-on methods.
Location, location, location!
This doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that Iceland is an island. We’re referring to where you are on the island. There are many places in Iceland that are very remote, and getting products there will take quite a bit of effort – both in labor and transport. For this reason, you might see an increase in price.
Average Price of Beer in Iceland
If you want to start planning your beer budget, you can use the following as general guidelines for the beer cost in Iceland:
- A bottle of beer at Vinbudin (33 cl) = $3.50 / €3.20/ ISK 477.80
- A can of beer at Vinbudin (33 cl) = $2.50 / €2.30 / ISK 341.30
- A draft of beer at Vinbudin (50 cl) = $3.50 / €3.20 / ISK 477.80
- A draft beer bought in a restaurant (50 cl) = $11 / €10.10 / ISK1501.70
- A can of beer bought in a restaurant (33 cl) = $8 / €7.30 / ISK 1092.10
- A beer bought in a bar (50 cl) = $10 / €9.20 / ISK1365.10
- A beer bought at a grocery store (33 cl, but please note that these are incredibly light beers with an extremely low alcohol content of 2% or less and real beer can only be bought at Vinbudin) = $2 / €1.90 / ISK 273.10
Tips for Saving Money on Beer in Iceland
You may not be able to do much about the alcohol prices in Iceland, but the following helpful tips will help you save on your drinking budget:
Buy the majority of your beer from grocery stores or Vinbudin (depending on your preferred alcohol content) instead of at bars and restaurants.
Go on a brewery tour. These tours will not only give you a glimpse into what it takes to make some of the local favorites, but the price usually includes a few tasters.
Do like the locals and pregame before going out. That way you’ll be indulging in your cheaper grocery store or Vinbudin beers rather than splurging on the beers at the bar/club/etc
This is also the reason why the bars and clubs are pretty empty till at least midnight, when they start moving downtown from their homes or their friends’ places.
Take note and take advantage of happy hour specials at a few local spots in your area. If you ever find yourself in the capital city of Reykjavík (also the capital of the nightlife here on the island), download the Reykjavík Appy Hour app, which will notify you about the latest specials.
Keep an eye out for posters, social media ads, etc. mentioning discounts and promotions at one of our local hangouts or Vinbudin stores.
If you’re looking for a local beer to drink either during your trip to the island or to take home with you, we recommend that you make your purchases at the Duty-Free at Keflavik Airport. The tax relief you get there is a welcome breather for any budget.
If you’re on a tight budget, keep a lookout, or stick to ordering Egils, Kaldi, Thule, or Viking beer here on the island (these are some of our cheapest beers).
Now that you’ve got the lowdown on Iceland’s alcohol prices and have a few of our nifty insider tips and tricks, you’re ready to start planning that beer budget.
If you are planning on renting a car in Reykjavík and doing a few day trips or a proper road trip around the island, we highly recommend that you make a few stops to support our local breweries here in Iceland and try out some of the exceptional brews we have here.
You can even make your beer dreams come true and take a relaxing soak at one of our beer spas here on the island – yes, that means chilling in a bath full of beer as well as having drinking beer on tap! But wherever your beer fantasies take you, by using this article as a guide, you’ll be able to responsibly indulge on a budget.