The large stream of tourists to the lake Mývatn area has created a stream of alcoholic beverages in the region, Vísir reports. Because of the area’s immense popularity among tourists (almost half of all tourists who visit Iceland make Mývatn their destination), the number of bars and restaurants that serve alcohol near the lake has reached 14. Thus, bar-hopping has become an option for the locals. Colloquially, residents refer to the activity as “doing the circle,” which involves traveling around lake Mývatn, visiting the bars.
“Bar-hopping of this kind was first done in 2005,” when there were eight bars to visit, stated Ástríður Pétursdóttir, who has done the circle every year since 2011.
For local bar-hopping, strict rules must be followed to avoid penalty points: “The rule is that no more than 15 minutes may pass from the time you enter a bar until you get into the car again. During this time, you must consume one small beer or drink,” Ástríður explained and pointed out the importance of having a designated driver. She asserted that more and more people do complete the circle around the lake.
Helgi Héðinsson, who runs Dimmuborgir Guesthouse, agrees with Ástríður, “The atmosphere is oftentimes great when people go bar-hopping. The culture that has been created around it is very enjoyable, and it’s quite common for people to do the circle and stop in some places.”
Friðrik Jakobsson, who runs Kaffi Borgir, points out that tourists take it for granted they can order a beer. He emphasizes that having all these places serving alcohol by no means translates into the residents’ being tipsy day in and day out. On the contrary, “I’ve never had to show anyone out because of drunkenness [the ten years I’ve been here]. This is very different from what you see in downtown Reykjavík on weekends.”