Touch down in Reykjavik and you’ll be in awe of how beautiful the world’s northernmost capital is. But with a buzzing nightlife scene, the Icelandic capital has more to offer than scenic views.
Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.
While you won’t find any multistorey shrines to house music, you’ll find an exciting scene revolving around jam-packed dance floors in bars, cafés and restaurants. We spoke to Teitur Helgi Skúlason, half of the production duo ra:tio, who has been working with the best up-and-coming artists in Iceland and knows his way around the city’s night scene. “Reykjavik offers a bit of an unusual clubbing experience, with unique bars and clubs all over town,” he told Culture Trip.
Prikið, the Reykjavik institution
For those looking for a distinctly Reykjavik experience, Prikið is your go-to place. “It’s the absolute cornerstone of Reykjavik nightlife – a great place for those who love ’90s contemporary hip-hop music,” says Skúlason. The small club feels like a jam-packed house party at weekends, with people crowding into the two-storey house and dancing in every space available – even the stairwell. Sitting right on Laugavegur, the main thoroughfare for nightlife in Reykjavik, it’s hard to miss this iconic red house, and even harder to leave when the grungy alternative party kicks in.
Austur, the oldest nightclub in Reykjavik
Austur is both the biggest and oldest nightclub in Reykjavik, located on the ground floor along Austurstræti – hence the name. One of the classier venues in town, there are two bars, a large dance floor, plenty of table space and, if you’ve got enough money, the chance to make use of VIP table service and have bottles delivered to your table. The polished atmosphere means that you’ll have to dress to impress inside this club, which plays classic European club and dance music.
Gaukurinn, the place to see live bands
Located closer to the harbour than the rest of the bars on this list, Gaukurinn is one of the last bastions of live music in the city after a slew of venues shut down. While the venue might resemble a dive bar, the friendly service and cheaper-than-usual prices more than make up for the slightly shabby decor. Expect alternative, rock and heavy metal live music when there are gigs on, and an all-inclusive ambience at this establishment, which also hosts regular drag shows. Stop by when you’re in need of live music or the fast food that’s served in the evening.
Pablo Discobar, the tropical escape
Pablo Discobar is a cocktail bar that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped out of the blustery Icelandic weather and into a South American discotheque. Located on Ingólfstorg, the main square downtown, tropical bird wallpaper and glittering disco balls complement the tequila- and mescal-infused cocktail menu. Though the drinks are on the pricier side, the colourful venue plays an infectious mix of electro, funk and hip-hop at weekends and serves tasty Latin tapas at the second-floor restaurant Burro, making this a go-to venue if you want to dress up for a fun night out.
B5 Bar, dressed up to the nines
One of the few clubs in the city that has a strictly enforced dress code, B5 on Bankastræti is a small, Miami-inspired club that draws in an Icelandic crowd who like to dress up for a night out. Lit in deep pink colours, this venue serves premium drinks and has a two-for-one happy hour. Locals tend to start arriving at around 1am, and the venue can get busy, so arrive early to avoid long queues.
Kíkí Queer Bar, the best club for dancing
A night out in Kíkí presents the best opportunity in the capital to let loose on the dance floor. “This is the most popular queer club in Reykjavik, but of course it’s open to everyone, as long as you’re willing to dance!” says Skúlason. The venue is lit with disco balls and the music choice is always on point: one minute it’ll be the latest pop and hip-hop songs, and the next, Queen singalongs and show tunes. The club has a friendly vibe, and you’ll meet tourists and locals alike on the dance floor. Look for the rainbow-painted building on Klapparstígur, just off Laugavegur.
Kaffibarinn, hotspot for local DJs
A longstanding club in the city, Kaffibarinn is a must for anyone looking to experience classic Reykjavik nightlife. Morphing from a quiet place to have a beer in the early evening into a party house after hours, this bar and nightclub is frequented by the alternative crowd. Rumour has it it was once owned by Blur frontman Damon Albarn. “It has a sophisticated yet loose atmosphere, with groovy techno and soul music. It’s got a small dance floor – it’s more of a sit-down place,” says Skúlason, “with prices that are standard for the city”.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.