This weekend (13th/14th/15th February 2014) sees international festival, Sonar, take on Reykjavik, Iceland, for what promises to be a very special weekend of some of the finest electronic music around in the newly built Harpa, a stunning building in the centre of the city. Featuring a stellar line-up that includes the likes of Bonobo, Diplo, Evian Christ, Jon Hopkins, James Holden, Kolsch, Major Lazer, Paul Kalkbrenner and Trentemøller to name but a few, the heady sights of Reykjavik will provide the perfect scenery for the aural delights on offer.
Celebrating its 20th birthday this year, Sonar was created in 1994 as a multi-venue festival showcasing electronic music alongside industry and technology conferences. Since 2002, Sonar has organised over 50 events across the world, including Buenos Aires, New York, London, Frankfurt, Seoul, Lisbon, Toronto, Chicago, Boston, Oakland, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Osaka, to name a few!
So what is there to do in Reykjavik when the music is off and the lights are down? Fret not, because we’ve compiled a handy little city guide for all you hedonism hunters out there who are looking to jam-pack your time in Iceland with as much of the good stuff as possible…
Bars, cafes and restaurants
Everyone loves to find a good little drinking spot. Here are some of our favourite little spots to whet your whistle and take a little break from the Sonar festivities. Heads up! – on weekdays all bars close on or before 1am, however, weekends the most popular bars stay open until 4.30am, so make sure you check out the closing times before you commit!
Bergstadastraeti 1, Reykjavik 101, Iceland (Trip Advisor page)
You’ll spot it a mile away from the London Underground sign over the door. Reykjavik’s ‘coolest’ bar, it featured in cult movie and book ‘101 Reykjavik’ as the main character’s favourite place to hang out. Not only that, but it’s part-owned by Blur’s Damon Albarn, – hence the Underground sign!
Laugarvegur 20a, Reykjavik, Reykjavik 101, Iceland (Trip Advisor page)
Based on the film, The Big Lebowski, this bar takes its namesake seriously, as you will find out as you enter. Decorated Big Lebowski style, it also features a mini-bowling alley! Offering cocktails (they do a great White Russian) big screen televisions and a restaurant out the back, this is an absolute must-see for any fans of the film.
The English Pub
Austerstraeti 12A, Reykjavik, Iceland (Trip Advisor page)
If you’re the sort that can’t go a moment without checking up on your sports, The English Pub is where you need to get yourself down to. Although perhaps not as ‘English’ as we English would expect from a place that calls itself ‘The English Pub’, the pub offers a lively atmosphere, live music every day and a ‘Wheel of Fortune’ which you can spin to win more drinks – we’ve heard if you’re around when one of the locals wins, they’ll more than likely share their rounds with you.
Austurstraeti 9, Reykjavik, Iceland (Háaleiti) (Trip Advisor page)
Exactly what it says on the tin, Laundromat Café not only offers great food, milkshakes and a fully functioning bar, but you can also get your washing done here – what more could you possibly want? Offering punters all-day breakfast and American pancakes in the morning alongside a full menu of food, drink and cakes for any time of the day, the café turns into a lively bar at night. A unique experience for anyone looking for something a little bit different
Bankastraeti 12, Reykjavik 101, Iceland (Háaleiti) (Trip Advisor page)
Iceland’s oldest café offers great food by day and morphs into a lively, vibrant bar in the evenings, offering good cocktails and music, all for a reasonable price, which is music to everyone’s ears. Prikid is the kind of place you can drop into at any time of the day and you’ll be sure to find what you’re after. The music on offer during the evenings is mostly hip-hop, so if you’re not of that persuasion, it might just be best to drop in during the day for one of their famous Kuhuna Burgers!
Dillon Whiskey Bar
Laugavegur 30, Reykjavik, Iceland (Trip Advisor page)
Admittedly only a small bar, Dillon orders over 100 different Whiskies, as well as providing live music and a great atmosphere. Rated the number one bar in Reykjavik on TripAdvisor, this place gets busy over the weekends due it its enormous popularity and small capacity. A great place to seek refuge from the cold and warm yourself up with a nice glass of Whiskey.
The ‘ultimate dive bar’ full of young and ‘trendy’ people, this bar plays house and techno on weekends for those of you who don’t fancy braving one of the more rock music orientated bars.
There’s also an app you can download called Appy Hour (available on iPhones and androids) that will let you know of all the happy hour deals in Reykjavik! Score!
Things to see in Reykjavik and beyond…
In between pouring Icelandic beer down your neck and dancing the night/day away, you might want to check out some of the sights Iceland has to offer, after all, it’s not somewhere you end up every day, is it? Iceland has a lot to offer in the way of culture and beauty, so here are some of our top tips to check out while you’re in Reykjavik…
(Trip Advisor page)
A tour of some of the most famous sites in Iceland! All of the tours will include trips to Gullfoss Waterfall, the Geysirs including Strokkur Geysir which erupts every 5-10 minutes and Thingvellir National Park which hosts the site of the world’s first democracy, which is also where the mid-Atlantic ridge is, showing the splitting of the Eurasian and the North American plates! Depending on what tour company you take, these tours can last between half a day and a full day, and some of the more extensive tours will take in more sites, but either way, these are some pretty unforgettable sites to add a magical touch to your trip.
240, Grindavik, Iceland (Trip Advisor page)
This geothermal spa features 40c pools which are rich in minerals and are rumoured to have curative powers, free natural clay to use as face srcrub, waterfalls for you to sit under as well as offering food and drinks. Best enjoyed early morning or at night for a great view, prepare for a truly amazing experience. Best to book in advance to avoid queues.
Skaftafell National Park, Route 1, Iceland (Trip Advisor page)
This is one worth taking a day out for – if you’ve planned to spend some extra time in Iceland between the festival dates, definitely check this place out. Jökulsárlón is in the South East of Iceland and is a few hours drive from Reykjavik. You can either rent a car or there are tour operators that travel to the area. The glacier lagoon here has been the location for filming for films such as Tomb Raider, Batman Begins, Die Another day and A View to Kill, as well as Bon Iver filming one of the music video there. One of the most breathtaking sights Iceland has to offer.
Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach
101 Reykjavik | Nautholsvík, Reykjavik, Iceland (Miõborg) (Trip Advisor page)
In laymen’s terms, it’s a fake beach, but a beautiful fake beach at that! With imported sand, ‘hot pots’ for swimming in and canoes and rowing boats. Situation near a local internal airport, you can do a bit of plane spotting, but on the whole the area is quiet and the beach offers a moment of tranquility. Be warned though, the ‘seawater’ can be a bit nippy, don’t get caught out!
So that’s it, TicketWeb’s guide to Reykjavik – there was loads more stuff we wanted to tell you about, but we’d be here forever if we did. If there’s anything you think we missed off that deserves to be on here, just drop up a little comment below. We hope you enjoy all the delights Sonar and Reykjavik have to offer!