From Iceland — Five Awesome Bars In Reykjavík

Five Awesome Bars In Reykjavík

Published August 31, 2009

Five Awesome Bars In Reykjavík
Rex Beckett

Do you like drinking? ‘Duh,’ you say? Good. Whether you are here for a while or just on the classic flying weekend visit, you can’t come to Iceland without pounding a few back. Needless to say, there are dozens of good places to drink in this town, but these are a few that offer a high quality experience, or a downright insane one.

Kaffi Zimzen
Hafnarstræti 18
Zimsen is best known in this town for the incredibly cheap price of beer. This attracts a very mixed crowd: students, travellers, local drifters, questionably legal youths and obviously shady characters. Needless to say, people get hammered pretty quickly and shit goes down. Former lovers scream at each other from opposite ends of the bar, their friends holding them back from full on fisticuffs, while the staff and other patrons simply watch and enjoy the show. If you are really lucky, you’ll get to watch some poor girl vomit in the smoking area, and then order more 2-for-1 beers.

Bar 11
Laugavegur 11
First time I came to Iceland in 2006, this was THE spot to see a good girl-fight, with real punching and everything! Now it’s more of a desperate meat-market that reaches critical mass around closing time when people make a last ditch effort to find someone to bone for the night. Even at an earlier hour, the place is a slobbering hot mess of depravity set to whatever’s on the jukebox. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I do suggest leaving if you need to pee, though—the toilets are rough.

Laugavegur 22
This bar opened up in the remnants of the first place I ever went out to in Iceland, Barinn. It is now a one-room madhouse of loud jams and sweaty people where you’re as likely to get felt up as you are to have your beer knocked out of your hand. Its only shortcoming is that the size of the place can’t accommodate the fantastic parties it has become acclaimed for, so there can be chaos at the door and practically no dancing space inside.  If that’s the case, just climb onto someone’s shoulders or dance on the bar. Just try not to break your nose (or anyone else’s!) while you’re at it.

Austurstræti 9
This place has a strange effect on people that makes inhibitions seem completely useless and sensible behaviour optional. There is frequent shirtlessness and impromptu make out sessions with random people on the dance floor.  It’s probably caused by the bass-heavy house music and the dark, hot, glory hole of a basement lined with built in leather beds and lush pillows. The raving, wild parties can go on longer than legally permitted, which is all the better for those who can’t call it quits at six in the morning, but like I said, it can be a bit senseless and overpowering. It’s very easy to lose yourself in the music and even harder to stop dancing.

Okay, granted, it’s not a bar, but it might as well be! It’s lined by bars on three sides and Parliament on the fourth so there is a nice healthy balance of drunkenness and political fury at almost all times. Besides, it’s always fun to get shitfaced in the park. You may have to put up with gong-banging protesters, but chances are some vigilante will march over and forcefully make them stop before getting himself thrown in a police car. What’s more, there are no paper bag laws in this town (not ones that are enforced, anyway) so you don’t have to worry about Five-Oh getting on your case.
Have fun and play nice!

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