Ok, let’s not beat around the bush, alcohol is expensive in Iceland. In fact, it is really expensive. A 500 ml can of generic beer costs about 2,66 dollars or 2,33 euros. A liter bottle of Smirnoff vodka will set you back a hefty 60 dollars or 53 euros. And a decent bottle of red wine is about 20 bucks, or some 18 euros.
And to make matters worse, these are the prices in the state-run alcohol shops. Alcohol can’t be bought in the supermarket, it’s illegal. Some supermarkets will try to sell you cans that look like beer, in fact, they look almost identical to the better known Icelandic beer brands like “Egils Gull”. Be warned though, it’s not beer. It’s almost alcohol free (2,3%) . It doesn’t taste bad, so if you’re thirsty, give it a try. But it will definitely not nothing to get you inebriated.
To do that, you have to head out to the state-run alcohol shop. These shops are located in many places in the greater Reykjavik area and in most towns around the country of a decent size. Not all though, so plan ahead. Opening hours are until 18:00 Monday through Thursday, until 19:00 on Fridays and on Saturdays they close at 18:00. Sundays are closed.
If you venture into a bar in Iceland or a restaurant the prices are WAY higher than quoted above. A pint of beer usually costs around 8 dollars or 7,22 euros. It can be found cheaper and you can also find it more expensive, especially in the smaller towns around the island.
If you spend some time in Reykjavik, the capital, and you fancy a pint, we highly recommend that you start your evening early. Most places offer “Happy Hour” or “Two for one” early in the evening. Usually it’s between 16:00 and 20:00. That should make your evening a little more bearable, economy wise. We will promise you a good night out though, as Reykjavík has a very lively party scene.
And when we say lively, we mean it. The bars of which there is a multitude of downtown, are usually open until one o’clock on weekdays. On weekends, however, it is quite easy to party until the sun comes up (it doesn´t actually set in Iceland during the summer, but you get our drift). Many clubs and bars stay open ‘till about four in the morning and some are open even later than that.
In the smaller towns around the island the party scene is not quite as lively, naturally. Most towns do have a cozy café or a friendly bar and good restaurants in the countryside are constantly popping up these days. As for the closing times, they usually depend on the amount of fun that is going on.
So, as you can see, if you plan on partying in Iceland on your trip, be prepared to pay for it. All is not lost though. The cheapest way to buy alcohol in Iceland is at the very start of your trip, in the Duty Free. There the prices are a lot better and the variety on offer is quite good.
There are some restriction on how much each person can bring into the country though. A maximum of six units can be imported duty free. A single unit consists of 25cl of spirits, 75cl of wine or aperitif or 3ltrs of beer, cider or alcopops. You can mix your choice of units in a variety of ways and the staff in the Duty Free are very helpful in that regard.
If you decide on bringing in only one type of alcohol the allowances are as follows:
1,5 litres of spirits
4,5 litres of wine and aperitif (for example, 6 bottles).
18 litres of beer, cider and alcopop
There you have it. Iceland has many things to offer. Staggering natural beauty, awesome landscapes, friendly people, and quirky small fishing villages. But fair prices for alcohol we cannot offer. So come prepared, choose wisely and stop at the Duty Free before you enter our beautiful but expensive country.