Nightlife in Iceland
Going out, Iceland
 22 Jan '24
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If you are planning to visit Iceland and want to experience its nightlife, you might be wondering which towns and cities have the best bars, clubs and entertainment venues. You might also be curious if you can combine your night out with a chance to see the northern lights, one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world. In this blog post, we will answer these questions and give you some tips on how to enjoy the nightlife in Iceland.

The first thing you need to know is that Reykjavik is the crown jewel of nightlife in Iceland. It is the capital and largest city of the country, with a population of about 130,000 people. Reykjavik has a vibrant and diverse nightlife scene, with something for everyone. Whether you are looking for a wild party, a cozy pub, a live music venue, a comedy show or a craft beer bar, you will find it in Reykjavik.

Reykjavik’s nightlife is concentrated in one area, which makes it easy to explore and hop from one place to another. The main street is Laugavegur, which becomes Bankastraeti and then Austurstraeti as you descend towards the harbor. Along this street and its side streets, you will find dozens of bars, clubs and cafes that stay open until late. Some of the most popular spots include:

– Lebowski Bar: A themed bar inspired by the cult movie The Big Lebowski, with a bowling alley, a large selection of cocktails (especially White Russians) and a retro vibe.
– Goldengang Comedy: The #1 source for English stand-up comedy in Iceland, with weekly shows at Gaukurinn and Basement 101, and monthly shows at Stúdentakjallarinn (Student Cellar).
– Microbar: A cozy and friendly bar that specializes in craft beers from Iceland and abroad, with over 150 beers to choose from.
– Kaldi Bar: A small and intimate bar that offers live music, DJs and a relaxed atmosphere.
– Magic Ice: A unique attraction that features an ice gallery, an ice bar and an ice cinema, where you can admire ice sculptures, drink from ice glasses and watch movies on ice screens.

Reykjavik’s nightlife is not only fun but also safe and welcoming. You will find that Icelanders are friendly, open-minded and respectful of other cultures. You will also notice that there are no dress codes or entrance fees for most bars and clubs, which makes it easy to get in and out. However, you should be aware that alcohol is expensive in Iceland, so be prepared to pay more than you would in other countries.

If you want to experience the nightlife in other towns and cities in Iceland, you have some options as well. Although they are smaller and quieter than Reykjavik, they still have some bars and clubs that cater to locals and tourists alike. Some of the towns and cities that have a decent nightlife are:

– Akureyri: The second largest city in Iceland, located in the north. It has a few bars and clubs along Hafnarstraeti street, such as Götubarinn (a pub with live music), Græni Hatturinn (a music venue) and Sjallinn (a nightclub).
– Keflavik: The town where the international airport is located, about 40 minutes from Reykjavik. It has some bars and clubs along Hafnargata street, such as Paddy’s (an Irish pub), Rock Café (a rock bar) and Miami (a nightclub).
– Husavik: A town in the north that is famous for whale watching. It has some bars and cafes along Hafnarstettir street, such as Gamli Baukur (a pub with live music), Salka (a cafe) and JaJa Ding Dong (a bar dedicated to the movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga).

Watching the northern lights


Now that you know where to go for nightlife in Iceland, you might be wondering if you can also see the northern lights while you are out. The northern lights are a natural phenomenon that occurs when charged particles from the sun interact with the earth’s magnetic field, creating colorful lights in the sky. The northern lights are visible in Iceland from September to March, depending on the weather conditions and solar activity.

The best time to see the northern lights in Iceland is between November and January, when the nights are the darkest and longest. This means you can hunt for the northern lights from late afternoon until nearly noon the next day. However, there is no guarantee that you will see them, as they depend on many factors, such as cloud cover, moon phase and solar wind speed. You can check the northern lights forecast online to see the probability of seeing them on any given night.

– Hallgrímskirkja: The iconic church that dominates the skyline of Reykjavik. It has a large garden in front of it, where you can sit and look at the sky. You can also go up to the tower and enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the northern lights.
– Öskjuhlíð: A hill in Reykjavik that has a forest, a park and a restaurant called Perlan (The Pearl). You can walk around the hill and find a spot to watch the northern lights, or go to Perlan and have a drink while admiring the view from the glass dome.
– Thingvellir National Park: A historic and scenic park that is part of the Golden Circle route, about 40 minutes from Reykjavik. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can see the rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It is also a good place to see the northern lights, as it is away from light pollution and has a large lake that reflects the lights.

If you want to visit Thingvellir National Park from Reykjavik, you have several options. You can join a guided tour that includes transportation and other attractions along the Golden Circle route, such as Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir geothermal area. You can also rent a car and drive yourself to the park, following route 1 north until you reach route 36 at Mosfellsbaer. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Reykjavik to Varmárskóli or Reykjabyggð and then take a taxi to the park.

The LGBT community of Iceland

The street in Reykjavik with rainbow painted on the asphalt is called Skólavörðustígur. It is a lively and colorful street that connects the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church with the main shopping street, Laugavegur. The rainbow was painted in 2019 as a permanent symbol of the city’s support for the LGBTQ+ community and diversity. The street is also home to many shops, cafes, restaurants and art installations that attract tourists and locals alike.

Gay and lesbian travelers who want to find information and nightlife options in Iceland can start by visiting Pink Iceland, the country’s first and foremost gay-owned and operated travel expert. They offer tours, events, weddings and more for the LGBTQ+ community and allies. Reykjavik, the capital city, is also a very gay-friendly and welcoming destination, with a vibrant nightlife scene that includes the only gay bar in the country, Kiki Queer Bar. Other popular spots for gay and lesbian visitors are Bravo, a cozy and hip bar with live music and drag shows, and Gaukurinn, a rock bar that hosts drag nights and comedy shows. Reykjavik also hosts an annual Pride Parade that attracts over 100,000 people, making it one of the biggest celebrations of diversity and joy in the world.

As you can see, Iceland has a lot to offer when it comes to nightlife. Whether you want to party, relax, laugh or drink, you will find something that suits your mood and taste. And if you are lucky, you might also see the northern lights while you are out. So don’t miss this opportunity and enjoy the nightlife in Iceland!

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