We’ve just got back from our second trip to Iceland – it was a multi-destination adventure that involved staying in seven different places across the country with a total of four nights spent in Reykjavik. It may be an expensive city but it’s also a very fun one and has plenty of places to get a decent beer. We visited a fair number of the bars while we were there, but here’s just five of the best places to drink beer in Reykjavik in my humble view.
Mikkeller & Friends Reykjavik
I had to start with Mikkeller! Located in an attic on top of a restaurant (keep climbing, it’s not on the ground floor!), it’s a bit hidden away but was popular with both locals and visitors on each occasion we popped in. It’s the fourth Mikkeller bar I’ve visited now and the beer selection didn’t disappoint with the 20 taps dominated by Mikkeller and To Ol beers for the majority of the time we were there. I say majority as they held a Chicago tap takeover the day after our first weekend in Reykjavik and when we returned, there were still some US beers available.
A fairly cosy venue, the main bar is in one room with the seating in another. This is a larger space featuring a wall filled with Mikkeller posters in frames, plenty of seating and a relaxed atmosphere. It’s not cheap but it’s a great place to spend a few hours.
Micro Bar featured heavily in the post I did on beer in Iceland last year, and as we enjoyed it so much we decided to stay in the hotel which houses it (City Center Hotel) on our return to Reykjavik. It’s operated by brewery Gaedingur who are based in the countryside near Skagafjordur in North Iceland, and as a result their taps are dominated by their own beers but they also feature other Icelandic and international brands.
They also have one experimental beer on, which was a Berliner Weiss during our stay. Boards of five or ten tasters are on offer if you want to sample the whole range and they also have a varied selection of bottles.
**Update November 2015 –
I’ve just found out that Micro Bar has moved to a bigger site in Reykjavik! They’re now located at Vesturgata 2 which is just around the corner from City Center Hotel opposite the Tourist Information centre. We’ll have to make a return visit to Reykjavík to check it out!
Located off one of the main shopping streets of Reykjavik, Kaldi looks deceptively small from the outside but do venture in! Alongside the main bar, there is a cosy snug room at the back and a small terrace out back. It feels rustic and intimate although it can get quite crowded but the beers are excellent and the staff friendly and helpful. Another bonus of Kaldi Bar is that they have a happy hour where a selection of their large beers are available for 700isk (about £3.50).
As a result of spending so much time in Mikkeller , we only actually had one drink in Skuli but it was a great little bar and the majority of patrons were locals. Most of the beers on keg were from Borg Brugghus but they also have options from Belgian brewers along with the likes of Mikkeller, To Ol and Omnipollo on too. It also has an outdoor seating area – which is very useful as we popped in about 10pm on a Friday evening and it was rammed (hence the lack of pics)! They also do a happy hour.
When we travel, we generally stick to fairly mid-range accommodation but we decided to go for a night in Kex as it comes very highly rated and looked quite a fun and quirky place to stay. It was my first ever stay in a hostel (we didn’t stay in a dorm, we had a private double room although the bathrooms were shared – I don’t think I’m quite ready to sleep in a room with 14 strangers!) and I was impressed. It’s a huge building (a former biscuit factory) and alongside its accommodation, there is a bar open to all on the first floor. With an industrial theme, the Kex bar fits with its building and has a good atmosphere. On draught they mainly have Einstok but they also have one special on and while we were there it was Omnipollo’s Leon. We only had one in there before heading out for food, but when we returned later on it was bustling.
Only low alcohol booze is available in your standard shop or supermarket, so it’s the off licence you have to head to for anything stronger. Although they have some odd opening times, it’s worth a visit if you can find one. We popped into the one on Austurstraeti where we found a good selection of Icelandic beers along with Mikkeller available. Different shops have different beer on offer as well – for example, we visited one Vinbudin in the north of Iceland that had a lot of Gaedingur so although it’s pricier than the shop at Keflavik Airport, it could be worth a visit for something a bit different to take home.
Wondering what else you can do in Iceland’s capital that doesn’t involve alcohol? See my guide to the ten things you need to do in Reykjavik on my other blog Jollies and Jaunts.