10 Jul Iceland’s Famous Nightlife
Icelanders are known for their crazy nightlife antics of partying through the night, so when Inga from Tiny Iceland invited us to join her and some friends for a taste of the Saturday night craziness, we were excited to tag along and see what it was all about! The partying really only happens on Friday and Saturday, so don’t expect to go downtown on a Tuesday and find the same nightlife you would on the weekend. Because of the high price of alcohol, most Icelanders will pre-game at someone’s house before going out around midnight to the bars and clubs. And because most bars stay open until 5 a.m., you have plenty of time left to party straight through the midnight sun. There are a wide variety of bars, clubs, restaurants, etc., so you are sure to find something you enjoy.
Because beer was banned in Iceland until March 1, 1989, the drinking in the past mainly revolved around spirits and wine, and most likely a lot of Brennivín as well. Which is why, at some point during your night, you should probably try Brennivín, the famous Icelandic schnapps, affectionately known as “black death”. Brennivín is Iceland’s signature distilled drink and is approximately 80 proof–I bet you can imagine why it got its nickname.
We happened to land in Iceland the same Saturday that Eurovision was being held, and this year, Iceland made it to the finals! Woo! So after an unintentionally extended nap, we went to the Lebowski Bar with Inga for some tasty burgers and drinks and to watch the scoring round of Eurovision. Everyone in the bar was tuned in and cheering for their favorite country, and every time Norway scored, the table next to us with the tiny Norwegian flags, erupted in cheers; although, the overall winner of the night was Denmark.
Once Eurovision was over, people started heading from their house parties to the bars downtown. A few of Inga’s friends met up with us and the evening began. We stayed at the Lebowski Bar for quite a while–the entire place is a retro style American bar completely modeled after the movie, “The Big Lebowski”, White Russians and all. They have 18 different types of White Russions, so make sure to give one (or them all!) a try while relaxing on the southern-style porch in the back room.
Next up, we made our way to Den Danske Kro (The Danish Pub), and we were barely able to walk in because it was so packed! Thankfully, we scored a table from a man who was getting ready to leave–talk about timing. Because Denmark won Eurovision, this place was crazy with celebration, and so much fun! There was an incredibly entertaining band playing live music; they sang great classics throughout the wee hours of the morning, and the entire bar made sure to sing right along with them. At one point Micah and I realized we knew the song that was being sung, but we couldn’t quite figure it out because something was off–we finally realized they were singing an American song but with Icelandic lyrics instead, our brightness sure gave us a laugh!
Eventually, we made our way back outside to see the sky still glowing with a tinge of sunlight–it wasn’t quite the midnight sun, but at 3 a.m. it was still surprising to see. We called it an early night according to Iceland standards, but with almost 24 hours of travel the day before; we were wiped! Even though it made it a little difficult to wake up early for the Golden Circle the next morning, we were so glad we got to have a taste of the famous Reykjavik nightlife with some amazing people.