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Drinking in Iceland

icebeergullDrinking in Iceland is expensive. There’s just no getting around that. But there are a few ways to reduce the cost while still enjoying the city’s legendary nightlife. Here’s how to save money drinking in Iceland.

Make the Duty-Free your first stop

Located inside Keflavik Airport, the Icelandic Duty Free shop sells liquor at prices that are up to one-third less than those you’ll find in the state-run liquor shops in Reykjavik. Here, a liter of the locally made (and delicious) Reyka Vodka will run about 2,200 ISK (about US$18). A six-pack of beer will cost about 1000 ISK (not much more than a single beer will cost in a bar) and it’s easy to find a bottle of wine for under 1500 ISK.

Hit the Vinbudin

Vinbudin is the name of the state-run liquor store (the only place to buy booze aside from the Duty-Free, bars, and restaurants).  There are 48 Vinbudin locations across Iceland, including Reykjavik. Prices for liquor are about 3 times those at the Duty-Free. Beer and wine are about 25% more, but still less than the cost of buying it in a bar.
Prep for the runtur

The runtur is the name of the all-night bar crawl that happens on weekends in Reykjavik. The best way to survive with out blowing your budget is to have a few drinks at your lodging and not hit the town until 11pm. Make it through the night by sipping slowly or alternating a few drinks with some water or soda. It’s not unusual for locals to nurse one or two drinks all night, and buying rounds for your friends is not expected.

Drink local

Because Iceland is an isolated island, everything not produced locally must be imported by air or sea, driving up the price. This means imported beers, all wines, and imported liquors are generally more expensive than local options. The cheapest drinks will be Icelandic beers like Egils, Viking, Kaldi and Thule, and local spirits like vodka and Brennevin. Expect to spend about 700-900 ISK for a beer in a bar/restaurant; wine will cost 4500-6000 (or more, depending on the quality) for a bottle.

The legal drinking age in Iceland is 20 years old.

Photo by: dibaer ulfur