For many people, an important question to get answered before coming to Iceland is how much is a pint or how much is a beer? There are several alternatives and the price will also depend on whether you are thinking of traditional beers with alcohol or non-alcoholic ones, which have been gaining in popularity globally and even more so in Iceland. The main reasons why beer and alcohol in general is expensive in Iceland are high taxes and state monopoly on selling beer in retail. Let us take a closer look at prices of beers in bars and restaurants, shops and the Duty Free store at the airport. Be aware that the inflation in Iceland just went over 10%, so the prices might have changed when you read this from their current level in March 2023. Today Iceland celebrates Beer Day, as 34 years ago ban on beer in the country was lifted by the government.
Price Range of Beer in Bars and Restaurants
A small lager beer (0.33 L) on draft at a restaurant in Iceland will typically cost around 1100 ISK (7 EUR/8 USD) while a large beer could cost around 1500 ISK (10 EUR/10 USD)
On happy hour, the price may be down to around 1000 ISK (6 EUR/7 USD) for a large beer.
Prices in Vínbúðin (The State Monopoly Stores)
The cheapest 33 cl beer in Vínbúðin costs 189 ISK (Martens Ultra) and the cheapest half litre beer is Karpackie Pils from Poland for 308 ISK (2 EUR/2 USD). Better known brands like Tuborg Grön 50 cl cost 355 ISK and a Heineken of the same size costs 469 ISK and Carlsberg 429 ISK.
Prices at the Duty Free Store at Keflavík Airport
The DutyFree store at Keflavík Airport is the place where you can get alcohol cheapest in Iceland, at least legally. A 6-pack of small (33 cl) Carlsberg lager costs 1499 ISK (10 EUR/10 USD) and Icelandic lager Egils Lite costs the same per litre but is sold in 12-packs for 2999 ISK (20 EUR/21 USD). A far better beer than both of these is Kaldi from the first Icelandic micro-brewery, which costs 3199 (21 EUR/22 USD) for ten 33 cl cans.
Prices in Grocery Stores
The beer sold in grocery stores in Iceland is without alcohol (or maximum 2.25%) which makes it exempt from the heavy taxation on alcoholic drinks. Therefore (and due to bigger competition), the prices are much lower. Through the years, several attempts have been made to legalise the sale of alcoholic beverages in grocery stores in Iceland, but those have all failed to date, as there has never been a majority for it in parliament.
Among the best non-alcoholic beers are Ylfa from Borg brugghús and Bríó de Janeiro (available in summer), these cost around 300 ISK (2 EUR/2 USD) for a small can (0.33 cl). The cheapest non-alcoholic beer is Thule 0.5 L from Bónus for 109 ISK (1 EUR/1 USD).
Alcohol Tax in Iceland
The tax on alcohol in Iceland is high in global comparison and has been increasing. The tax in 2023 is as follows:
- Beer – 142.15 ISK (0.93 EUR/0.98 USD) per cl
- Wine – 129.5 ISK (0.85 EUR/0.89 USD) per cl
- Strong liquor – 175.25 (1.14 EUR/1.21 USD) per cl
Icelandic Beers and Breweries
The variety of Icelandic beers has exploded in the past 10-15 years, since the first microbrewery opened in North Iceland in 2006. Kaldi is brewed in Árskógssandur, a small village close to Akureyri and today they offer brewery tours, operate beer baths in Árskógssandur and a bar in Reykjavík. Brewery tours are available for 2500 ISK per person.
Gæðingur in Kópavogur in the capital area runs brewery tours by request for 3500 ISK with a minimum of five participants. They opened the first Icelandic craft beer bar, called Microbar Reykjavík downtown.
Ölvisholt was founded in 2007 near Selfoss in South Iceland. They also offer brewery tours with beer tasting for 3500 ISK per person.
Dokkan brugghús in Ísafjörður started in 2018 and the main ingredient is spring water from the mountains in the Westfjords, filtered through 14 million years old lava beds. They have a small bar on location where you can taste the different types of beer.
Beljandi brewery and bar is located in Breiðdalsvík in East Iceland. It usually offers 4 to 5 beers at a time. It is mostly sold on location but also in several places in the east in the summer and can be found in Reykjavík and Akureyri from time to time.
The best known Icelandic lager beers are Egils Gull, Thule and Víking gylltur.
- See also our detailed coverage of the best breweries in Iceland
To sum up, here are the main points:
- The cheapest beer you can get in Iceland is in the duty free store on arrival or departure
- Unless you are looking for non-alcoholic beers, then the cheapest would be a Thule in Bónus for 109 ISK (1 EUR/1 USD)
- Common price for a large beer (0.5 L) in a bar or restaurant is 1500 ISK and for a small beer (0.33 L) 1100 ISK
- In the state monopoly stores (Vínbúðin), the cheapest 0.5 L beer costs 308 ISK while popular brands are priced as follows:
- Tuborg lager (0.5 L) 355 ISK (2 EUR/2 USD)
- Heineken (0.5 L) 469 ISK (3 EUR/3 USD)
- Carlsberg (0.5 L) 429 ISK (3 EUR/3 USD)
- Guinness (0.44 L) 469 ISK (3 EUR/3 USD)
Too many choices? Get familiar with the beer scene in Iceland by joining a guided tour in Reykjavík: