Nightlife in Reykjavik | Everything you need to know!

pouring drinks

Nightlife in Reykjavik | Everything you need to know!


Need some Reykjavik nightlife tips?  How is the nightlife scene in Reykjavik? How to dress for a night out in Reykjavik?

Have you heard about the Icelandic way of partying? You don’t know anything about partying until you have experienced a night out in Reykjavik city! It’s a small city, but Reykjavik has been named to have one of craziest nightlife scenes in the world and there are a lot of parties in the world so that’s a big thing to say!

In my opinion, it’s actually the people that make everything so great and special. Icelandic people are super fun to party with and some… quite limitless.


In this article about the nightlife in Reykjavik, you can find the following info:

  • Local tips about the Reykjavik nightlife scene
  • Why is the nightlife scene in Reykjavik so great?
  • What is the Reykjavik nightlife dress code?
  • How to pre-party in Reykjavik
  • Is it safe to party in Reykjavik?
  • How to cure your hangover in Iceland

The nightlife in Reykjavik

The size of Reykjavik is really what makes it great. It’s so small. You can literally walk between every single venue, which makes it easy for indecisive minds. You can literally bar hop without any problems and there are no entry fees either! How great is that? You can think of the Reykjavik nightlife as of one big venue of people on endless bar crawls all over.

The bars and clubs are mainly located on one strip, which makes the whole thing feel like a one party and everyone is invited! High-end clubs and smaller, dark and loud basements stand side to side, along with tasty food trucks and street performers!

Another thing that makes it so great, especially for us locals, is how likely it is to bump into someone out on the streets! We are so few and there are not so many places to go, so we are constantly meeting someone we know! Icelandic people are also incredibly loud. There are probably not many places in the world where the local is this loud but that actually makes the whole scene so intense!

reykjavik city


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Pre-party in Reykjavik

Even though the best parties are unplanned, making a little frame definitely helps if you’re a visitor. There are many things going on even though the city is small, and knowing what to look for can definitely save some precious time (Or just do it like the local and bar hop all night).

Note down places you would like to visit and go there early to avoid ques. The queues can get quite long because Icelanders have no idea on how to stand in a cue and most try to find other alternatives to get in with usually poor results ( Unless you have arranged VIP).
Icelanders like to drink and they like dressing up too, so throw in that extra time to think about outfits so you won’t be turned away by bouncers who are not afraid of turning you away if your attire is not neat enough.

Icelanders are quite traditional when it comes to partying. We usually meet up at someone’s house for a  pre-party to down a drink or two (five). The reason why we do this is because the alcohol prices in bars are so ridiculously high that we simply can’t afford going downtown earlier! So don’t expect meeting many Icelanders partying already at 9 pm.  We are getting hammered somewhere far away.

Pro tip: Set up something to do between 6 pm -12 pm. Now, you’re a visitor so clearly, you don’t have many houses to visit for a pre-party. Your best solution here is definitely joining our Beer Tour or our amazing Pub Crawl on weekends. In our “tours”, you get a chance to meet up with a big group of other fellow wanderers who are also looking for a fun night out. Joining our tours is the absolute best way to warm up for a crazy night in Reykjavik!! And it can also save you a lot of money and help you with that already mentioned cue-problem as we have VIP access everywhere!

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Other pro tips for your warm up:

  • Download the Appy hour app and scout out where the happy hours are in town!
  • Buy alcohol in the liquor store or simply at the duty-free before you arrive. It can save you tremendous amounts of money.

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On clothing

Like I mentioned before, we like to look good. Icelanders dress to impress. If you are struggling with “what to wear on a night out in Reykjavik” then here is the rule: Look smart. Ditch the hiking boots and your wind anorak because even though the party scene in Iceland can get messy, you don’t need to be protected from head to toe with expensive outdoor wear. Pack that extra nicer jacket or dress, it’s going to be worth it.  The bouncers in Reykjavik are not shy about turning people down at the door due to unthought outfit. It is how it is. We are traditional and we like looking nice!

But also bear in mind that you are probably going to have to spend a lot of time standing outside in queues. The clubs and bars in Reykjavik are quite small and everyone in Reykjavik is trying to get in on VIP’s.  So, like I said before, if you have a nice jacket that is warm but is not designed for hiking glaciers, bring it with you.

The beauty of Reykjavik is that we love people who are not afraid of being themselves. Show your style, be yourself, don’t be afraid to experiment.
“But what if I always wear hiking clothing back home for a night out?” you ask. Well, I super highly doubt that you do. If you do, then that’s awesome. But if that’s not your general style, wear something else.

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Few tips on partying in Reykjavik

  • Icelanders hit downtown Reykjavik around 1-ish am. Don’t be surprised on empty bars and clubs before midnight!
  • Forget about the VIP line, unless you already made the arrangements or have joined our awesome bar crawl ;)
  • It’s forbidden to smoke inside in the nightclubs. Yep, you will have to stand outside whatever the weather!
  • Don’t get offended if you get pushed around in the nightclub. It’s just what we do, nothing personal. promise! The clubs are usually quite small and if you want to get through, you are going to have to make your way through with your elbows. Well, maybe not… but its very likely that you are going to get pushed so when you do it’s really nothing personal!
  • Icelanders are not used to tips. But we don’t refuse it either. Tips will give you that extra love!
  • Even though the entry age varies between venues, the average age to entry clubs and bars is 21 years and above.

When to go partying and is it safe?

There are many interesting bars and clubs in Reykjavik to visit.  Everything from underground basements to higher end, fancy nightclubs. You can literally find all genres of music on the one street of Laugavegur during weekends!
Thursdays are definitely a great night to check out the vibe and especially if you’re a fan of live music! But please bear in mind that from Sunday-Thursday, everything closes at 1 pm.

Friday and Saturdays are definitely the biggest nights to go out. This is quite universal, isn’t it?  Take a stroll down Laugavegur and follow the music to find hip old places that are disguised as chilled cafés by day but crazy dance halls by night.

Iceland has been named one of the safest countries in the world, and it truly is. But of course, dangers can be found in every corner of the world. Some souls tend to drink too much and start misbehaving with shouting and fights, but in general, Reykjavik is a safe place to party. Just always remember to keep your head in the right place :)


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More tips on partying in Reykjavik

  • The nightlife scene is almost only bound to weekends.
  • When Icelanders go “early” downtown, that means 1-2am.
  • The closing times vary, but most venues close sometime between 5 am and 6 am
  • There is no Uber in Reykjavik. The absolute quickest way for you to get a taxi home is to wait in that taxi line. Just wait in the line. Just do it.  It’s going to move fast and the taxis probably won’t stop for you that easily elsewhere.

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How to cure your hangover

The absolute best way to cure your hangover like a pro is to eat something delicious and then let mother nature heal you with a visit to one of our natural hot springs or take a dip into the Atlantic ocean!

In our opinion, the world’s best hangover cure is a dip in one of the 25th wonders of the world, the incredibly relaxing Blue Lagoon. Only 15 minutes from Keflavík international airport, so if you’re having a rough morning and have a flight in a few hours, then we recommend hopping in our beautiful geothermal pool and feeling fresh and relaxed on your flight back home.

Blue Lagoon In Iceland


You might also like: What is the blue lagoon and what makes it so special?


To sum it up…

Partying in Iceland is a must-do life experience. The Icelanders are so fun to party with and we party hard. A well planned night can seriously deliver the best experiences so makes sure to know where to go and what to do! We at the Wake-up Reykjavik team LOVE showing new visitors around and if you want to join our awesome pub crawls, please don’t hesitate to pop us a request!

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