Great news fellow broke travelers! Happy hour is almost as common as seeing a tall, attractive Icelandic man in Reykjavík. Download the app “Appy Hour”(Google Play – App store) when you touch down and you’ll never have to pay more than your weekly paycheck for a few beers out on the town. To help further refine your options, though, I’ve spent many a night drinking discounted alcoholic beverages to discover the best of the best. I know, so kind of me.
Best For Conversation: Kaffibarinn
You know those bars that are so loud you’re stuck lip-reading what your peers are saying for two hours, but mostly just smiling and nodding? The ones where you walk out the door with a sore throat because you were yelling over the music for 120 minutes too long? Well, Kaffibarinn is not one of those places. In fact, I find the warmly lit, maroon interior of this intimate bar to be very favorable for deep conversation. The bar only offers their draft beers at a discounted price, so I recommend this spot to those who love hops. You can then take a seat in either the front or back room, both lit by old chandeliers and adorned with vintage rugs. Kaffibarinn attracts an older crowd as well as people my age, so you find a nice mix of generations around the little round tables. This is a place where I feel very comfortable showing up alone, pulling out my journal, and falling into some deep Sarah thought. Life epiphanies have been had at these tables. I recommend Kaffibarinn when you’re looking for a chill start to your evening or searching for intellectual friends.
Happy Hour: 15:00 – 20:00
Best For Classy Dates: Slippbarinn
Located right on the marina, Slippbarinn is where I would take my parents if they visited me in Reykjavík (nudge nudge). Or if you’re not perpetually single like me, then this is the perfect spot for a more upscale date. They have a full happy hour menu, complete with cocktails, wine, beer, and light appetizers. The big windows facing out towards the harbor offer beautiful views and good people watching. The more I drink, the more entertaining this pastime becomes. The vibe here is slightly chicer and more modern, with bright lighting, high ceilings, and geometrically pleasing Scandinavian decor. Happy hour is also earlier in the evening, ending by 6 pm, so I’d come here for an afternoon glass of wine with my girlfriends or even just to ease my afternoon hunger with a beautifully crafted breadbasket.
Happy Hour: 15:00 – 18:00
Best For All Day Drinking: Bravó
I don’t only drink at Bravó because they have the longest happy hour in the city; this funky bar also radiates a great atmosphere. They’re located right on the corner of a busy strip on the main street with a bright red door and rainbow windows above them. You can’t miss it. This ensures that the bar is always teeming with energy, no matter the day of the week or time of night. Bravó typically gets pretty cozy, with people squeezing together in booths and crowding around little tables. But it’s all a part of the charm. It’s nice to not have to feel guilty about drinking on a Tuesday night. Bravó fits in well with the eclectic, artsy vibe you frequently see in Reykjavík with its rainbow flags strung across the ceiling, nonmatching wall colors and bohemian throw pillows.
Happy Hour: 11:00 – 20:00
Best For Cold Nights: Bar Ananas
For the longest time I thought that this bar was named after bananas. Only recently did I learn that ananas actually means pineapple in Icelandic. But I mean, read that name really fast—can you blame me? Regardless of what tropical fruit this bar gets its name from, the inside is all tiki themed with bamboo reeds, flamingo wall art, and umbrellas hanging from the ceiling. Yes, it has a striking resemblance to the tropical themed aisle of Party City. You’ll probably start craving a piña colada as you sit inside, but the best deals are on certain beers and glasses of wine. I can say from firsthand experience that this does not detract from your tropical experience. After a few drinks in here, you’ll have totally forgotten that you’re actually on holiday in Iceland and there’s a blizzard right outside the door. Don’t leave your coat inside when you go out for a smoke break.
Happy Hour: 16:00—20:00
Best For Live Music: Húrra
Live music generally starts around 8 or 9 pm, right at the tail end of happy hour. However, the best technique (one I credit back to my university years) is to order as many happy hour drinks as you can carry right before it ends. You’ll have sufficient reserves to last you the rest of the night. I was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of their house red wine. It is no boxed wine. And all of their beers on draft are on happy hour prices, so you’re not getting stuck with the lowest ABV or least amount of taste. This is the bar to come to if you’re looking to find your next hipster boyfriend. Make sure you read up on your indie music knowledge before arriving and then strike up a conversation with the glasses wearing, scarf totin’ hottie swaying to the beat next to you. You never know—you could leave your vacation with a new Icelandic boyfriend.
Happy Hour: 18:00 – 21:00
Best For Cocktails: Sæta Svinið
Don’t be deterred by the pig theme at this local pub. Sæta Svinið offers half price cocktails during their happy hour and you don’t want to miss out on these creative concoctions. Their espresso martini is one of the best in the world (note—this opinion comes from just two years of legal drinking), but I suggest you also try one of their more unusual options. While I don’t eat meat personally, their Egg & Bacon cocktail sounds like it’d be quite enticing to the pig eaters out there. I’m more of a Miss Piggy kind of gal—consisting of red stag, triple sec, butterscotch, strawberry puree, cream, and cranberry bitter. Once you’ve consumed enough cheap drinks and the hunger sets in, you must try the waffle fries with truffle mayo. Crunchy on the outside, warm potato heaven on the inside. And to top it all off, Sæta Svinið plays a continuous soundtrack of groovy jams. You’ll get a mix of Icelandic artists, 90s hits, and songs that will stay in your head for the rest of the night. Once you’ve listened to the whole soundtrack through (this has happened to me twice now), you know it’s time to head on to the next bar.
Happy Hour: 15:00 – 18:00
Please note: all timings and prices are based on my experience in January 2017. For more up-to-date info on prices and happy hour times please refer to the Appy Hour app.
This post is a part of a series of posts where Sarah, our 23-year-old Coloradan blog-helping-elf, shares her findings during her 5-week stay in Reykjavík. Before Sarah joined us here in Reykjavík she spent a year in New Zealand where she got a taste for the sweet life of travel. After Reykjavík she’s headed south again to spend a year in Australia.
Read more of Sarah Takes on Iceland here.