Reykjavík is known as a party town. If you didn‘t know it, now you do. If you are in the city during the weekend, be prepared. Icelanders know how to have a good time. Here are some of our favourite spots to enjoy Reykjavík nightlife.
Reykjavík Bars and Clubs
A Reykjavík institution, Gaukurinn is the go-to dive bar. Here you can get affordable beer and spirits. But people love Gaukurinn because of the atmosphere. Half the city has belted out their favourite jam at Tuesday night karaoke. The bar regularly hosts concerts, drag shows, and burlesque. Gaukurinn has also been at the forefront of gender equality and has gender-neutral bathrooms. For a lively night out, Gaukurinn should be at the top of everyone‘s list.
Röntgen is the best place to end the night. It is one of the most popular bars in town, especially for the younger crowd. There may be a long line to get in on a late Friday or Saturday night – but that is because Röntgen is where the party is. They always have a solid selection of beer and wine available but also under-the-radar great cocktails – not to mention fantastic DJs and atmosphere – it is THE bar to let your hair down, dance, and maybe even meet someone.
Pablo Discobar is all sparkles and good times. Although it specialises in cocktails, it is much, much more. The groovy music, the lights and the ambience attempt to recreate the disco era of the 70s, with all the glitter you can handle. Located in the heart of downtown right on Ingólfur Square, Pablo Discobar is usually bumping late at night. Bring your dancing shoes – or, if you are feeling like it‘s your night to shine, why not book the karaoke room for a riotous good time?!
In the same cluster of buildings as Gaukurinn is one of the longest-lasting nightclubs in Reykjavík. While other bars and clubs have shut their doors after only a few years in operation, Paloma, founded in 2013, is still going strong. Drinking is secondary to dancing here. It‘s one of the best spots to dance to almost every kind of music, but it has a strong affinity for reggae music. It is open until around 4:30 AM on the weekends, so make sure to swing by!
Kíkí Queer Bar
Karaoke, Drag Shows, and dance parties. Reykjavík‘s best (and only) queer bar has something for everyone, and it is guaranteed to be a great time. Smaller than some of the other clubs, Kíkí can fill up fast and things can get cosy fast. While most clubs take themselves seriously with electronic music, bottle service, and an atmosphere for young people to go wild, Kíkí lets loose in a more easy-going way. Just wait until the whole bar belts out the words to Whitney Houston‘s „I Wanna Dance with Somebody.“ You may even hear some Disney or show tunes while on the dance floor. This bar is the safest bet for a lot of fun.
Den Danske Kro (The Danish Bar)
Any hard feelings Icelanders might have towards the Danes disappear when they walk through the doors of the lively Danish Bar, Den Danske Kro. If you are less in the mood to dance or be blasted away by loud music, friendly locals often pack into this bar for a raucous night without the drama of a club. Happy hour every day from 16-19, dart boards, live music, and some of the best bartenders – not to mention an ambience that makes the bar feel timeless and familiar – keep people coming back and becoming regulars.
During the day, Prikið serves delicious food – burgers and chicken, as well as other local plates. But the establishment moonlights as an awesome late-night bar and club. Described as the home of Reykjavík hip hop, Prikið brings in some of the city‘s best DJs and bumps some of the best Icelandic rap (as well as other types of music) so that the dance floor fills up and the innocent chicken joint transforms into a wild party. Make sure to check out their events calendar to even catch some live hip hop!
Where to grab a bite on a night out in Reykjavík?
After a night of drinking, you probably want to scarf something down. Luckily, a handful of places stay open late enough to serve the party crowd. From hotdogs to sandwiches to gyros, we‘ve got you covered:
Everyone knows Mandi. When everything is closed, Mandi will be there for you with affordable and simple Middle Eastern food. Open until 5:30 a.m. on the weekends, you can get your falafel or shawarma fix to fill your booze-filled belly.
The burger place Smass can be found downtown in the building once occupied by the beloved Nonnabiti, which closed its doors and moved to the suburbs. But like Nonnabiti, Smass stays open until the wee hours of the morning so that drunk partygoers can grab some grub. Delicious burgers and fries are their mainstay, but you can also get a fried chicken sandwich or wings.
With Nonnabiti out of sight, the best late-night sandwich place is Hlöllabátar. Situated on Ingólfur Square, this chain has some great submarine sandwich options that are bound to satisfy. They even have a convenient walk-up window so you can get your food on the go.
Next door to Hlöllabátaar is Pítubarinn, capitalising on a different kind of sandwich – the pita. With pitas filled with chicken, lamb, or falafel, it is hard to go wrong with any of these starchy options – whatever you choose will soak up the beer and give you enough energy to get yourself home!
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Maybe you don‘t need a whole meal and just need a quick and tasty snack to keep you going. Well, Iceland is famous for its hotdogs, and no hotdog place is as famous as Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. Located behind Kolaportið Flea Market, this little hotdog stand may have a line of people waiting. But there is a reason its name translates as The City‘s Best Hotdog!
Read our guide to fast food in Reykjavík.