Happy Hour | Reykjavik's Cheapest Bars

Godkendt ekspert

Happy Hour | Reykjavik's Cheapest BarsReykjavik is a city with its heart and liver in the right place, boasting over fifty bars that proudly discount their tipple with daily Happy Hours. Read on to discover all the greatest and cheapest spots for wetting your whistle during your stay in Iceland’s capital city. 

Alcohol, enjoyed by humans and animals alike since the Neolithic period, enjoyed by yours truly since long before my soggy brain can recall. It is the drug of choice, the pinnacle of mankind’s genius, a means of escape, and a battle cry for the degenerate and the divine. It is a sweet friend, a confidante, a lovemaker; my own personal tenderness for it is so rich, full of soul and high-percentage spirit that, without it, I can only picture myself lost, alone and, dare I say it, stone-cold sober. 

Visitors looking to have their hand held through Iceland's ethanol wonderland will appreciate the help provided at the locally hosted Reykjavik beer and schnapps walking tour.

Given Iceland’s prior historical confusion when it comes to distilled delights—astonishingly, beer prohibition lasted from 1918 to 1989!—it seems crucial to semi-regularly remind Iceland and its visitors as to why alcohol means so damn much. 

Reykjavik has a fantastic reputation for night life!Photo from Guided 2.5 Hour Reykjavik Beer & Schnapps Walking Tour. No edits made.

It is why this article, and the opportunity to write it, means so much to me. I am duty-bound, an ambassador of this great, border-defying culture, obliged and predestined to defend the consummate joys of inebriation. Let me tell you, I feel positively intoxicated putting the words to the page.

Now, please don’t get me wrong, we’ve all felt that deep, hollow despair that comes the morning after a ‘heavy one,’ but apart from the obvious negatives (ie; a temptation towards lingering physical dependence, arterial conditions, unstable sexual impulses, etc.) it seems rather difficult, if not impossible, to wholly criticize drinking.

If there are any judgments to be heard, I resoundingly refuse to acknowledge them. No one likes to drink with a teetotaller, after all, and besides, I hitched my wagon to this rather sodden and wonky pack mule a long time ago.

Reykjavik by night, taken from across the city pond.

So tell me, who else could or even should write an article about the capital’s bar scene except for a true enthusiast? Drinkers and I mean true connoisseurs, can only trust a fellow nightcrawler, a brother who too delights in the stale, smoky musk of a beer garden, who finds indescribable beauty in the sticky leather seats, the dusty drink shelves, and the eclectic clientele.

Bars are a second home, a place to eat, drink, be merry, sleep, and be evicted from.

Believe me when I say (and you’ll read many others across the internet trying to persuade you equally of this) that there is no one, and I mean no one, who can better guide you through the glorious dimension of Reykjavik’s bar scene.

That’s enough of the pre-drinks. Let’s move on to the good stuff!


Bravo is a popular gay-friendly bar in Iceland.Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Michal Gorski. No edits made.

Bravo is first on the list. Why do you ask? For the very simple reason that during Happy Hour, Bravo has the cheapest beer downtown (that we could find). Aside from that all-important fact, the bar itself is rich in the atmosphere; the cozy darkness, the gentle ambient lighting, and the soft-patterned cushions lining the room all create a venue that lends itself to a long session sipping the golden nectar.

Bravó is one of the most popular bars in Reykjavík due largely to its easily accessible location on the Laugavegur shopping street. People tend to squeeze themselves in, making for an intimate and, at times, overcrowded night.

The hustle and bustle are perfectly energetic after a few drinks, however, and if you decide to leave, you’re only a stone's throw away from some of Reykjavík’s other most popular bars; Lebowski Bar, Kaldi, KiKis, Dillon! 

  • Address: Laugavegur 22  
  • Happy hour: 13:00 - 20:00
  • Beer 750 ISK | Wine 1000 ISK    

Lebowski Bar     

Lebowski Bar is a temple dedicated to Dudeism.

If, for reasons best known to yourself, you have somehow managed to avoid watching The Big Lebowski since its release nearly twenty years ago, I suggest you first watch the film before heading to this bar. Only then will you be able to fully appreciate the amount of time, care, and expense that went into designing this unique and memorable venue.

As a fan, Lebowski Bar is the closest you can come to experience the film’s universe without having actually starred alongside Jeff Bridges himself. The rugs, stretched out decoratively across the bar, really do hold the room together, as does the ten-pin bowling alley positioned along the bar’s right wall.

In the background, timeless tunes such as Kenny Rogers’ Just Dropped In (to see what Condition my Condition was in) and Dylan’s The Man in Me complement the cinematic atmosphere. Out of character, I have heard The Eagles played numerous times. 

The details are everywhere. One sultry glance at the menu and you’ll instantly recognize over thirty different types of White Russian cocktails, for instance. As you descend to the bathroom, you will look into mirrors declaring you TIME’s Man of the Year.

If you keep a close eye on the decor, you can even spot Saddam Hussein leering at you as if from within some strange and hallucinogenic dream.

Lebowski Bar often has something going on, be it a movie showing, a computer games quiz, an open dance floor, and new DJ sets. Attractions such as these keep the bar a popular spot, with its most popular hours over the weekend nights.

Unfortunately, The Dude’s favorite substance is not for sale, but changing one’s consciousness is still an easy affair to manage at Lebowski’s, especially during Happy Hour or if you’re lucky enough to win ten free beers on the Spin the Wheel.

Unsurprisingly, this bar is a favorite amongst visitors and therefore lacks Icelandic authenticity. But hey, you go to Lebowski’s to meet nice people, sip some vodka and milk, and experience the novelty.

There is just one overbearing cardinal rule at this bar: no peeing on the rug. 

  • Address: Laugavegur 20
  • Happy hour: 16:00 - 19:00
  • Beer 900 ISK | Wine 1000 ISK


Happy Hour | Reykjavik's Cheapest Bars

Kaffibarinn is instantly recognizable from the street; against the maroon, corrugated iron, a large London Underground symbol rests over the entrance of this hip bar. On the weekend, expect a struggle trying to slip yourself inside; the bar, more often than not, is filled to the brim.

The reasons for this are clear; it is here where the fashion and musical tastes of 101 were born. Kaffibarinn was home to the trendsetters, musicians, artists, and early hipsters who gathered there throughout the nineties to secure Reykjavík's reputation as a party city.  

Today, Kaffibarinn attracts an older crowd, somewhat surprising given its bohemian history and titular relation to international pop culture. 

The bar was once part-owned by Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn (according to rumor, he could often be found stretched out across the bar). Spouting an early obsession with Iceland, Damon spent much time in the country, especially Kaffibarinn, and was one of the many names who helped to elevate the country's image abroad. 

Of the country, Damon said at the time: "I used to have a recurring dream, as a child, of a black sand beach. And one hazy, lazy day , I was watching the TV, and I saw a program about Iceland, and they had black beaches.

So I got on a plane and booked into the Saga Hotel. I didn't know it meant Saga holidays for older people—I thought it was Saga as in Nordic sagas. But it was actually an OAP cruise hotel. I was on my own: I didn't know anybody. I went into the street, Laugavegur, where the bars are, and that was it."

In truth, however, Albarn's "ownership" was a highly effective marketing move for the bar; Damon was given a 1% stake in the bar, meaning he owned a few square centimeters. Still, Kaffibarinn served as the titular location in one of Iceland’s most popular cinematic accomplishments, 101 Reykjavik (2000), forever cementing itself as the spiritual heart of Reykjavik's nightlife. 

On weekdays, Kaffibarinn is the perfect bar for an evening of intellectual discussion and even romance. The tables are small and candlelit, and there is a small loft upstairs for even more privacy. 

  • Address: Bergstaðastræti 1
  • Happy hour: 15:00 - 19:00
  • Beer 1000 ISK | Wine N/A

Loft Hostel

Happy Hour | Reykjavik's Cheapest Bars

At the top of the elevator, one will find Loft Hostel, one of the most popular accommodation and bar combos in the whole city. As you enter, you will be welcomed into a cozy reception area leading onto the bar and seating area.

Surrounding you will be posters of various bands and live events happening in the near future, as well as shelves and shelves of books. 

Loft also regularly participates in community events, such as yoga classes, clothes swaps, and communal painting. These are easy to avoid if uninterrupted and undistracted drinking is your quest; Loft’s bar is large, all-encompassing, and open-plan.

The outside balcony makes for one of the prettiest smoking areas in Reykjavik; there are excellent views of the main street below, as well as of mountains, the ocean, and multiple cultural landmarks that dot the horizon. 

  • Address: Bankastræti 7a
  • Happy hour: 16:00 - 19:00
  • Beer 1000 ISK | Wine 1200 ISK

The English Pub 

Happy Hour | Reykjavik's Cheapest Bars

Ah, the English Pub, an institution unto itself. This particularly Icelandic breed of the English pub (handily named the English Pub) has a lovely seating area out back, adjoined to Austurvöllur Square, and a wide range of drinks on offer.

There is often football on the television and live music almost every night. The pub encourages musical requests and patrons to dance along, making for a potentially energetic evening every night of the week. 

Perhaps best well-known for its premium ales, the founders of the pub spent six long years collating forty of the best brands available. Their dedication paid off; today, The English Pub is famous for its selection. 

One of the most memorable times I spent here was watching England’s humiliating and overwhelmingly pathetic 2-1 defeat at the hands of the courageous and, at that moment, superior Icelandic football team.

As can be imagined, the English Pub secured a fine amount of business from me that night, though not for the same reason as the majority of other patrons.

  • Address: Austurstræti 12
  • Happy hour: 16:00 - 19:00
  • Beer 850 ISK | Wine 1200 ISK

The American Bar      

Happy Hour | Reykjavik's Cheapest Bars

A few doors down from the English Pub is the American Bar. The American Bar is loud, a little garish, and full of energy; wholeheartedly a Yankee Sportsbar.

The Stars and Stripes hang proudly across the bar’s main room whilst the walls are decked out with NFL helmets and sportswear. The atmosphere varies from chilled and relaxed to fairly energetic at the weekends.

Personally, I might recommend the bar for food (I’ve heard their meat is to die for), but I wouldn’t quite so enthusiastically advise the bar's drinking culture.

Unfortunately, and perhaps this is just me, it seems our US cousins seem to lack the cynicism, creeping self-doubt, and dusty outlook that makes drinking amongst Europeans so bloody delicious (I have heard from many accounts that certain bars in the states have a three-drink limit...)

But even if it's not that - the American Bar feels a touch corporate, as though there should be one residing in every town across Iceland.

Happy Hour | Reykjavik's Cheapest Bars

If you're an American looking for a slice of home, this bar is probably the perfect choice. For everyone else, there are other bars across the city that are more authentically Icelandic, or at the very least... less full on. 

  • Address: Austurstræti 8
  • Happy hour: 16:00 - 19:00
  • Beer 1000 ISK | Wine 1200 ISK


Happy Hour | Reykjavik's Cheapest Bars

Dillon is one of the most popular bars along the Reykjavík main strip; with a large outdoor seating area, a selection of over 150 different types of whisky, and regular musical performances, Dillon is almost always a guaranteed good time out!

This whisky-rock bar attracts a mixture of ages, locals and tourists alike, all looking to 'get their drink on,' listen to some rhythm and blues, and soak up the party atmosphere. 

Dillon has two dark-lit levels, both of which are pretty small and enclosed. This means that on a rowdy weekend night, the bar itself actually gets pretty hot inside, with patrons dancing and moving around. In recent years, they have added a trendy-looking basement and a beer garden which offers a slightly more refined atmosphere.

If you're looking to spend the majority of your weekend night at this famous whisky bar, I recommend getting there early to up your chances of finding a table.  

Thankfully, the staff at Dillon are polite, well-rounded, and professional, as are the bouncers who dutifully act upon drunk or disruptive customers. 

  • Address: Laugavegur 30 
  • Happy hour: 16:00 - 20:00
  • Beer 950 ISK | Wine 1000 ISK

Kiki Queer Bar  

Kiki’s is Iceland’s only current gay club, continuing to carry the torch for Iceland’s ‘gayest corner’; Laugavegur 22. The club attracts everyone; of all ages, sexualities, and tastes and is a staple visit amongst many on a weekend night.

Given Iceland's safety, it should be stated that LGBT travelers will be safe wherever they wish to drink, with Kiki's even coming off as a little 'straight' for a gay club (or so I hear.) Regardless, entrance to the bar is usually free, making the establishment more and more attractive the more you drink...

Kiki is a great queer bar.Photo by David Bill

Very quickly, you are bound to succumb to the positive energy of the bar, dancing away to the bouncy eighties hits, sipping on the cocktails upstairs, conversing happily, and making new friends on your travels.

  • Address: Laugavegur 22
  • Happy hour: Thursday to Tuesday: 21:00 - 01:00
  • Beer 1000 ISK | Wine N/A

KEX Hostel  

Happy Hour | Reykjavik's Cheapest Bars

Having done away with its Happy Hour, KEX Hostel still makes this list as it has a Happy Hour-priced beer available at all times.  The bar is housed in a former biscuit factory and decorated with a higgledy-piggledy array of found household items.

KEX has a number of benefits. It has a lovely beer garden, complimentary bread, interesting visuals, and, more often than not, live events. This year, Reykjavík Folk Festival chose KEX’s Gin & Tonic Room as their venue, a perfectly matched venue for the festival’s artists. Every Tuesday evening, the bar fills up with people to watch an intimate jazz session with local musicians. 

If you're seeking accommodation somewhere a little offbeat, you can't go wrong with booking a room at KEX Hostel.

  • Address: Skúlagata 28
  • Happy hour: Always (sort of)
  • Beer 1000 ISK | Wine N/A

The Dubliner      

The Dubliner! Oh, the times we've had... Some good, some bad, always interesting, but most certainly not appropriate for this medium.

This charmingly traditional Irish Pub is something of an enigma. It is, after all, nothing to look at, particularly with its large and off-putting black banner and dusky interior decor. Through the week, the bar will run a steady business and make for a homey stop at the end of your day.

On the weekend, however, that quickly changes. The bar is housed in the same building as the rollicking nightclub Paloma. This means that, throughout Friday and Saturday evening, the Dubliner will be a constant and heaving mass of feel-good, sexual energy. We're talking dark, we're talking loud. 

I have enjoyed many a Tuborg sitting on those green leather seats, soaking in the dark wooden atmosphere, nodding my head along to the sweet melody of Dirty Old Town.

Still, given the wide choice of bars to visit in Reykjavík, it often strikes me as peculiar that foreign guests choose to spend their time in one of the city's less-kept establishments.

Perhaps it is something to do with what we’ve been talking about - The Dubliner feels like a real drinker’s pub, the sort of place my grandfather might have routinely perched himself.

There is a darts board, sports on the television, a football table, and plenty of drinks on offer, including some fine Irish whisky.

  • Address: Nautin 1
  • Happy hour: 12:00 - 21:00
  • Beer 900 ISK | Wine 1000 ISK

The Irishman Pub

The Irishman Pub fills up quickly on weekends, despite the troubadour music.

If the bawdy embrace of the Dubliner is not what you're looking for in an Irish pub, you're in luck, as it has a countryman in town that's better kempt and slightly less unhinged. The Irishman Pub took the Icelandic bar scene by storm when it opened its doors, welcoming people into a somewhat gentrified Irish pub atmosphere. 

With a long happy hour, decent prices, and a treacherous wheel of fortune, it seems like the Irishman Pub has everything you'd need in a bar of its kind. The locals seem to agree, as they make sure it's absolutely packed to the brim every weekend. 

One thing to keep in mind is that the bar has live music from Thursdays to Saturdays. Yes, that means troubadours. Make of that what you will, but if listening to one more rendition of Wonderwall is going to send you off the edge, this might not be your go-to.

  • Address: Klapparstígur 27
  • Happy hour: 12:00 - 19:00
  • Beer 850 ISK | Wine 850

Kaldi Bar

Happy Hour | Reykjavik's Cheapest Bars

The Kaldi Microbrewery was the first of its kind in Iceland, bringing the lager-sodden bumpkins of Iceland into the modern age of beer drinking. With the roaring success of the brewery, Kaldi Bar was a natural offshoot that has cemented itself as one of the trendier spots in Reykjavik.

Located smack-dab in the middle of the bar scene, Kaldi's size does little in terms of supply for the ridiculous demand there is to get in. It is one of the city's most popular bars, and once you get into its narrow interior, with all of its trendy patrons, you will almost feel pressured not to squander this wonderful opportunity that life has granted you.

As astute detectives might induce from its name, Kaldi has multiple beers on tap from the brewery, including the classic Kaldi, which is ever popular with the locals. The not-so-roomy bar has a surprisingly large, seated outdoor area that's even heated up in the wintertime. Really begs the question of why anyone would want to stay inside.

  • Address: Laugavegur 20a
  • Happy hour: 16:00 - 19:00
  • Beer 1000 ISK | Wine 1000


Veður translates to "Weather".Directly across the street of Kaldi is Veður, a wine and cocktail bar with a decent selection of beers on tap. The name of the bar translates to "Weather," which, as most people visiting Iceland will undoubtedly discover, is a topic that people will never get tired of. 

While the happy hour at Veður is good on its own, with the cheapest beer being amongst the cheapest you'll find in Reykjavík, it's the endpoint of the serving hours that makes it stand out. Why would a happy hour end at 19:35, specifically? Well, that's because that's when the weather forecast on the local news ends. Har har.

  • Address: Klapparstígur 33
  • Happy hour: 12:00 - 19:35
  • Beer 850 ISK | Wine 1000

Sæta Svínið

Sæta Svínið is a sharp dresser.With a glamorous, piggish ambassador to beckon passersby to come inside, Sæta Svínið (which translates to "The Sweet Pig") is a great gastropub that offers tasty and somewhat upscale pub food with a somewhat funky but inoffensive atmosphere. Oink!

When the Icelandic sun makes a rare appearance, the outdoor area in front of the pub quickly fills up, as the spot is one of the few in the area that's not covered in shade. It's a great place to grab a tasty lamb sandwich or a burger as an excuse to wash the meal down with a refreshing draught. 

During the evening, Sæta Svínið becomes a popular nightlife spot, maintaining its pubbish atmosphere on the upper floors but offering a rowdier alternative with a dancefloor in the basement. The bar has a tight event calendar, hosting events that have become staples in the Icelandic bar scene, including karaoke and bingo. 

  • Address: Hafnarstræti 1
  • Happy hour: 15:00 - 18:00
  • Beer 1090 ISK | Wine 1190

One more drink, bartender!   

If you’re looking to extend your stay in the bars, please be aware that the prices specified here will likely double. If you’re anything like me, however, you’ll know that the financial cost matters less the more pints you consume. Who can put a price, after all, on six shots of Jager? I’ll tell you who—the bar, but that’s their job, not yours. You just relax and enjoy yourself; the night is still young.

Reykjavik has a range of options, from dive bars to sophisticated venues.Photo from Locally Hosted Reykjavik Beer & Food Tour at the Old Harbor

I should also take a short moment to clear up any misunderstandings that may have arisen from this session. Happy Hour is, naturally, the cheapest time to head to the bars, but if you’re hoping for a Friday/Saturday with a little more juice, pizzazz, and energy, keep in mind that Icelanders themselves tend to avoid the expensive downtown prices by heading out much later.

From across my desk, I just heard that 01:00 AM is the witching hour for many people. If you wish to act like the Icelanders but still feel the necessity to drink throughout the evening, you will need to visit a little place called Vínbúðin, the state-run liquor store.

Vinbudin, the state run liquor store.Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Danninja. No edits made.

Now, my feelings about Vínbúðin are mixed. On the one hand, thank you, thank you, and thank you again. On the other, liquor of any kind cannot be bought from any other corner shops or supermarkets in Iceland (unless you count 2.25% beer as beer, which of course, you don’t.)

This leaves Vínbúðin as the sole option for a stay-at-home drinker, which naturally means a strong awareness of the opening times. Most are open from 11:00 to 18:00, though there are a couple licensed to stay open until 20:00.

Vínbúðin is closed all day Sunday, making Sunday the saddest day of the week. If you feel the need to drink on God’s Day, and by God I do, heading out on the town is really your only option. 

And while we’re still on the topic of gut rot, firewater, booze, John Barleycorn, Dutch Courage, and hooch, allow me to recommend to you the drinks you’ll find most interesting during your stay.

Happy Hour | Reykjavik's Cheapest Bars

Brennivín, an Icelandic unsweetened schnapps, literally translates to ‘burnt wine’ and, in many respects, has such an effect. Otherwise called ‘Black Death,’ the liquor bottle’s label was designed to put Icelanders off consuming the product.

This had quite the opposite effect, however, and today the drink is one of Iceland’s most popular distilled liquors, normally accompanied by the fermented shark delicacy, Hákarl.

The drink has also leaked its way into pop culture; the Foo Fighters mention it in their song "Skin and Bones," Michael Madsen sips at it in Tarantino's "Kill Bill: Volume II," and late-night host Jimmy Fallon picked it as the drink of choice to toast his engagement.

You will also want to sample the most renowned beers in Iceland; Gull, Brio, Viking Lager, Einstök White Ale, Skaði Farmhouse Ale, Garún Imperial Stout, Leifur Nordic Saison, Úlfur, Móri, Viking Stout and Kaldi Lager, to name only a handful.

Reykjavik is a great place for a cheap drink.

If I were promoting a connoisseur's attitude, I might go into each beer and detail them, but somehow I can't escape the feeling that drinking beer is too similar to sex in that regard; describing it doesn't quite match up to the experience itself. I suggest purchasing a beer platter; that way, nothing has to be missed. 

And so, from me to you, a toast to your successes, to the adventures ahead, and to Happy Hour itself! 

Cheers and Skál!

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