It’s been a long journey, but here you are! You got through the treacherous Leif Eiríksson Air Terminal and braved the FlyBus into Reykjavík and made it in one piece. Congratulations! Now what? Oh, it’s your first time in the country and you’re freaking the fuck out? Relax. This list should get you started on a good time over the next few days. Now, good luck!
Fast, unhealthy and delicious, Iceland’s standard off-the-paw snack is a hot dog in a league of its own. The sausages are steamed, but not soggy, and the bun is warm and soft with a satisfying crunch. Topping options include raw onions, fried onions (cronions! funions!), ketchup (a thinner and sweeter variety), remolaði (a funny local relish), and savoury brown mustard—we recommend one with everything. Available all over the city in various stands and corner stores, usually for 260 ISK a pop.
Waste not want not. You might be inclined to hit the grocery store and pick up a few items to stash in your pockets while running from show to show. Look for the big, crazy pig logo and pop in for the cheapest prices on food in town. In the produce section, look for the certified Icelandic label, as those are grown locally and cheaper.
We also recommend picking up some skyr, a yogurt-like milk curd product with awesome fruit flavours and super low in fat.
Grocery shoppers would do well to avoid any store that has the numbers 10, 11 or 24 (or any combination of those numbers) in their name, as those are notoriously expensive.
Wonder how Lebanese food holds up with Icelandic ingredients? Damn well, is how! Perfectly located between two of the prime venues of the festival, on Ingólfstorg, Ali Baba provides huge, healthy Middle-East-meets-North-Atlantic wraps and meals at nice prices. Their massive falafel sandwich, with a curious blend of corn, cabbage, garlic and spicy sauce, is a challenge to finish for only 800 ISK. Full shish taouk plates with all the classic fixings are not too much more. Best of all, they are open way past your bedtime.
Pre-drinking is key in this city that starts late and now charges four toes for a beer. Make sure to locate the nearest liquor store (Austurstræti 10a in downtown Reykjavík), go there during the awkwardly short opening hours (Monday to Saturday, 11am–6pm) and supply yourself with some hooch to grease the wheels before going out. Hard liquor is especially expensive in bars, so you might want to stock up on that.
This cool and cosy bar down by the harbour is the Mecca of boozing students and broke foreigners alike, with pretty good beer deals and house-party playlists. Mondays boast the only 2-for-1 beer special in town, cutting pints down to a scant 350ISK each. On Thursdays, a large beer goes for 490 ISK. So remember that.
Cashing in on the credit crash, this wicked dive on the corner of Laugavegur & Smíðustígur came up with Kreppa nights, a Thursday rager where folks can forget their financial woes! The bar serves up beers and shots for 400 ISK apiece in their rock’n’roll den of iniquity. Drinks are pretty cheap there at other times, too.
Places to hook up
Here’s what our panel of experts said in our very own ‘BEST OF REYKJAVÍK’ issue this summer (for more BEST OF REYKJAVÍK, you should log on to Grapevine.is, where we’ve got the whole collecti0n of Rvk’s best for your reading pleasures):
“OK, this is kind of a sketchy category, but our panellists did discuss the subject at length, so we thought we’d include the results for fun and/or pleasure. Note that our panel featured both men and women of varied ages, and that the findings are meant to work regardless of gender.
As one of our people remarked, Vegamót is “the place where conventionally attractive people that put a lot of effort into their appearance go to hook up. They’re ready for action, but you have to look the part, too.
Hressó (solid 5)
For your average hooker-upper, Hressó was generally considered the best place to find love. “At night, Hressó has a good, honest, often surprisingly attractive clientele, and most of them are looking for some good, honest hook-ups.”
If you’re really determined to get some action, why not try Dubliners. ‘The late-late night patrons of Dubliners usually don’t have a lot of standards, which will pay off if you don’t either.’”
This is a key rule that applies to everyone, everywhere, at all times, but it is particularly important when getting down with Icelanders. Many of them don’t think twice about the possibility of procreation—or contamination. Stock up on rubbers at the pharmacy (Lyfja, Laugavegur & Vegamótastígur) or a 10-11 (various locations) before you go in for the kill. They are really expensive here, but it’s better (and cheaper) than the potential alternatives.
These little fizzy tablets look and taste just like old school Alka-Seltzer, but they are made up of aspirin, caffeine and magic. They come in a handy plastic cylindrical tube, protecting them from getting crushed in your bag. It’s also useful to bonk someone over the head with if they pass out. Just drop one of these babies into the beverage of your choice (two if you’re still drunk), and drink your hangover away.
Of all the pools in the central Reykjavík area, the one located in Vesturbær, just off of Hofsvallagata, is probably the cutest and most relaxing. Removed from the bustling downtown brouhaha, it has four wonderful hot tubs to sit in and soak up vitamin D rich rays (mostly absent in October. Go figure). Go sit in the mystical, glass-walled steam room or one of the rare saunas in the city. Easily accessible by foot or bus line 15. Entry is 360 ISK per adult.
When in doubt, follow the hair of the dog rule. Icelanders swear by it and many of us foreigners have come around to it as well. If you were drinking steadily for hours on end the night before, and all else fails, the only way to power through is to start hammering back beer ASAFP. Actually, fuck that. Drink water. The cold tap water is better than anywhere else in the world!
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