Iceland Nightlife: How to Party on a Budget
WHAT’S WITH THE JUICE?
Okay, so let me start by first stating the obvious – that if you really want to save money in Iceland, DON’T DRINK! But come on guys, let’s be real… with a nightlife that seemingly demands your attention from midnight to sun-up, sobriety is probably the last thing on your mind. Therefore, this post is dedicated to all of you party-hardy booze-cruisers with an appetite to rage, but holding less dough than a pizza hut.
So for the sake of the party, lets take a quick glance back in history to show exactly why this modern day mecca for nightlife makes it so difficult to get down. Then, we’ll follow it up with an in depth look at how exactly you can go about sippin’ the sauce without breakin’ the bank.
GLASS HALF EMPTY:
The party first shut its eyes over this beautiful country full of thirsty Vikings with a surprising public vote to ban all forms of alcohol in 1908. However, the prohibition, similar to that of the US, didn’t fully come into affect until 1915 (7 years after the vote). After that, the country remained drier than a Jonas Brothers concert. That is, until 6 years later when those wine-sippin’ Spaniards showed up lookin’ to party with some Nordic natives!
Bummed at the fact that these Icelandic party-poopers were selling them heaps of fish without buying any of their famous Spanish wine, they boycotted the booze-ban and demanded a recount! Seeing that the Spanish don’t like to take no for an answer, Iceland had no choice but to modify their laws and allow the purchase and consumption of wine in 1921. Little did they know, this was merely the pregame…
It only took another 14 years and the taste of a smooth Spanish red to convince Icelanders to modify their laws once more – this time, legalizing the good stuff! In 1935, Iceland raised their ban on hard-spirits.
The party had officially started, but unfortunately, beer was yet to receive its invitation. This meant that (for some strange reason) any beer over 2.25% alcohol content was still considered illegal…. 2.25%?? I’m pretty sure you could catch a better buzz off of a honey bun! But the local bars were quick to respond to this twisted-tease, concocting a mixture of the 2.25% child’s play with a little half-and-half of Icelandic vodka! However, local law by the name of Buzz Killington eventually caught wind, and this too was banned in 1985.
It wasn’t until 4 years later that ‘real’ beer was finally given the thumbs up – officially marking March 1, 1989 as Iceland’s “Beer Day”. To this day, you won’t find beer over 2.25% anywhere besides bars, restaurants, or a Vinbudin – Iceland’s pricey little alcohol stores that are hard to find and have horrible hours of operation. But even though alcohol was now legal, the tear-jerkingly high taxes seemed to deter anyone not boasting an Icelandic salary from partaking in its consumption.
GLASS HALF FULL:
Although the 20th century shows us a fairly farked up history of partying in this Arctic capital, the future finally seems a bit brighter for outsiders lookin’ to join the party! Due to the strength of the Icelandic Krona (local currency) taking a sudden dive in 2008, drinking is ‘somewhat’ affordable again! So for all of you looking to take advantage of this beautiful country’s epic nightlife, here’s a few tips for making your money last beyond your first night out:
Duty Free – Anytime you’re traveling to a country with ‘above-average’ alcohol prices, Duty Free is your best friend! These beautiful little tax free airport-depots serve as the perfect first stop for loading up on party fuel. But make sure to check prices prior to flying out. Some countries have different Duty Free rates so purchasing in your departing airport can sometimes save you a few bucks as well.
Happy Hours – Although the prices may still reflect that of normal rates back home, there are plenty of Happy Hours throughout Reykjavik, and all along the main strip on Laugavegur. There’s several Happy-apps out there for finding these special little windows of fun so make sure to download your favorite and take full advantage when you can!
Placebo Effect – For all of you out there with a low tolerance for alcohol, or if you find yourself traveling with a cheap date, you can purchase 2.25% alcohol beers at just about any supermarket for just $1 a pop! We saw this work first hand with Scott (one of our fellow travelers) and the look on his face when I told him his beer wasn’t ‘really’ a beer was priceless… homie sobered up REAL QUICK!
Vinbudin – As stated in prior, these little shops are difficult to find, and trying to time it with their ridiculous hours can be quite the challenge! If you find yourself nearby to one with the lights still on and a sign that reads “OPID” (Icelandic for “open”) then take full advantage! I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily cheap – seeing that they NEVER run any types of special promotions, but it’ll certainly be cheaper than prices found inside the bars.