If you’re arriving in Iceland in the next few days or if you’re already here and plan to stay for a while, you may have heard once or twice (or about a million times) that Iceland is competing in the FIFA World Cup in Russia this year. The competition starts tomorrow and the whole world are waiting. Or you know, everyone who follows football at least.
Iceland is the smallest nation ever to qualify for this tournament but the previous record holder, Trinidad and Tobago, has over a million inhabitants while we have mere 350.000. Let’s just say that getting to Russia was no small feat and the whole nation is over the moon about it.
Right now, everyone is just counting down the days to the first game on Saturday against Argentina. Odds are that we’re not going to win that game (I mean, common, it’s Argentina) but win or lose the whole nation seems determined to enjoy every single minute of it. And if it goes well? Oh boy!
It doesn’t matter whether you like football or not – if you’re here while Iceland is playing, you should join in on the fun. There’s plenty of places to choose from and you probably can’t escape it anyway!
Argentina – Iceland: Saturday, June 16th at 13:00
Nigeria – Iceland: Friday, June 22nd at 15:00
Iceland – Croatia: Tuesday, June 26th.
Hljómskálagarðurinn and Ingólfstorg
During the World Cup, the city will have two big outdoor screens where you can watch the games: At Hljómskálagarður park and Ingólfstorg square. The screens and events surrounding them is a cooperation between the city of Reykjavík, the Football Association of Iceland and local companies that are lending their support.
All the games Iceland will play will be shown in Hljómskálagarður park and the National Broadcaster RÚV will be doing live broadcasts from the park to gives those unable to attend a glimpse at the atmosphere so this might be a perfect chance to get your face on live TV in Iceland. You know, if that’s one of the things on your bucket list. In the area, you’ll also find a play area for children and food carts/tents will make sure you don’t go hungry.
Every other game (you know, the boring ones that Iceland is not playing – I kid, I kid) will be screened in Ingólfstorg.
During the European Cup, thousands of people gathered to watch the Iceland games and unless the weather will be terrible and things go fantastically sour, I would expect the same for the World Cup so this will probably be the place to be. At least for the first game against Argentina.
Bíó Paradís is a wonderful art house cinema in Hverfisgata (the street parallel with main shopping street Laugavegur) that has a fun program year round (well worth checking out). During the World Cup, they will be showing every game on their big screen with free admission.
One of the reasons Bíó Paradís is favored by many is the fact that they are the only cinema in Reykjavík that has a bar (and a happy hour) and they fully support bringing your drinks with you into their auditoriums. During the World Cup, they’ll also have grilled hot dogs, some awesome Hú! merch by Hugleikur Dagsson and they even have movies for kids screening for free during the games.
Gamla Bíó is an old movie theater in downtown Reykjavík that became a fun place to watch the Iceland games during the European Cup. They’re going to do it all again for the World Cup but add even more rooms along with having a big screen in their rooftop area where they’ll screen the rest of the games.
If you’re traveling with a group of friends this might be a good option but you’ll have to reserve the tickets in advance.
Admission: 6500 ISK (included: 4 drinks, some light food and a goodie bag) for the rooms but free for the outside screen. Reservations through gamlabio[at]gamlabio.is
Box Street Food Skeifan
Box Street Food is a new Street Food pod that opened recently in the middle of this commercial area called Skeifan that most locals would agree is not the most exciting area in town. I haven’t been there since it just opened but I like everything that brings some fun into otherwise drab areas so I definitely approve of this experiment.
During the World Cup they will screen all of the games on an outdoor big screen and they’ve announced that if it rains (which is not unlikely, let’s be honest) they’ve already secured a tent big enough to cover the whole pod so you can watch your games and eat your food without getting wet. They have a bar onsite and also promise some fun live music and happenings.
I don’t know if this would necessarily be my first choice but if you want to be somewhere where it’s a little bit quieter than downtown or you’re staying somewhere close by and want to be able to walk home (because of the beer because you shouldn’t drink and drive ya’ll) then it might at least be worth checking out.
Every other bar in Reykjavík
As you may have figured out by now – this World Cup and the fact that Iceland made it is a pretty big deal. Because of that, World Cup fever has taken over and every other bar in Reykjavík will have some sort of World Cup related program at least during the Iceland games. I can’t possibly tell you about all of them but here are a few that you might want to check out
The Lebowski Bar, a tourist favorite, will show the Iceland games on 5 HD screens and have special offers at tha bar. They have food too which might be a good idea to soak up the alcohol you’ll consume. They are also going to give everyone a free round of beer for every goal Iceland scores.
The English Pub
The English pub is a popular place to watch football on the weekend so it makes sense that they will be screening all the Iceland games on their 6HD screens. They will have special offers on all draft beer during on top of their normal happy hour between 16:00 and 19:00
Bryggjan Brew Pub
Bryggjan Brew Pub is pretty big, at least compared to most bars in Reykjavík, so there should be plenty of space there. They also brew their own beers on the spot so this might be a good option for craft beer lovers. They will be screening all of the games on big screens and if the weather allows for it they’ll have a big screen on their balcony by the harbor. Football and a view – could be something. For every goal Iceland scores they’ll give away 100 free beers on first come first serve basis.
Kaldi Bar will show the match agains Argentina on a big screen in their outdoor area (which, mind you, is not that big) and will give away free beers for every goal Iceland scores. I couldn’t find any info about the other games but you can contact them directly for more info.
Outside of Reykjavík
Almost every town in Iceland will have a gathering for all or at least the first game that Iceland plays so make sure you check in with the local tourist information to get the details on where to go.