Ice bars are watering holes that are primarily made of ice and feature walls, sculptures, tables, seats and bar stools primarily made of ice and usually lit up by colourful LED lights. Ice bars are commonly associated with an ice hotel and are popular in Scandinavian countries but have also made their way to other tourist destinations across the globe—even in tropical countries!
If you’d like to experience drinking cocktails at an ice bar, the best place to do it is in the Scandinavian nations of Norway, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. You’ll find plenty of discount coupons and promos offering a hotel stay along with a trip to an ice bar, where you can warm yourself up with some vodka in a shot glass made of ice.
Here’s everything you need to know about drinking in the ice bars of Scandinavia and the best ice bars in the Arctic!
Ice bars originated in Sweden, where the first ice bar was built in 1994. Icebar, part of the Icehotel in Jukkasjarvi, has become the most popular well, ice bar in the world. Every winter the bar is rebuilt with a new theme in a different layout, with ice sculptors all over the world making their mark in the establishment. It’s like stepping into a new bar every time. Icebar’s main structure is made from gigantic ice blocks 40 to 50 tons in weight that are harvested from the pure and crystal-clear Torne River.
After the ice bar’s massive success, other hotel and bar chains around the world followed suit and came up with their own version of an ice bar. You’ll now find ice bars in France, Mexico City, Seoul, New Delhi and Australia, among other top tourist destinations.
How it works
Those who want to have an authentic ice bar experience have to purchase entry tickets, which come with one drink per person. Making reservations is recommended; booking in advance can get you lower prices.
It’s necessary to dress warmly, and ice bars also provide guests with heavy, warm fur-trimmed jackets or capes and gloves or mittens—the temperature inside ice bars could drop to 23 degrees Fahrenheit to keep all the ice from melting.
Depending on the bar, guests can choose from a vodka-berry cocktail or a straight-up ice-cold vodka shot. The drinks, of course, are served in ice glasses. Guests usually stay around 30 to 45 minutes. Bar staff work in three-hour shifts only because too much exposure to the frigid environment could harm their health.
Must-see ice bars in Scandinavia
Aside from the pioneering Icebar in Jukkasjarvi, other ice bars in the Arctic that are surely worth a visit include Icebar Stockholm and the SnowCastle. Icebar Stockholm is housed in the Nordic C Hotel and enjoys the prestige of being the first ice bar in the world to be open year-round, which means it’s also the first permanent ice bar on the planet. It’s also an art gallery where you can see fantastic sculptures made of ice.
The SnowCastle, located in Kemi, Finland, is considered the largest snow fort in the world. Its ice bar serves both alcoholic and non-alcoholic hot and cold drinks in ice glasses. Other ice bars worth checking out are the Artico Ice Bar in Honningsvag, Norway; the Arctic Icebar in Helsinki, Finland and the bar at the Arctic Snow Hotel in Sinetta, Finland.