Iceland Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Iceland gay travel guide to hotels & where to stay, things to do, tours, Reykjavík gay bars, & saunas.
The Gay Travel Experience: Reykjavík, Iceland
The Iceland gay locals warmly welcomed me and my friends. Before arriving, I could only imagine the Iceland I had seen in movies and read about online.
But my experience more than exceeded what I anticipated. Everywhere you go, there’s such a mesmerizingly beautiful aura.
A comical encounter with a friendly gay guy in a small Reykjavík gay club opened the door to Reykjavík’s gay community. While enjoying part of an evening on the club’s terrace, he let me see through the eyes of a local gay Icelander.
Iceland ranks highly among the world’s happiest countries, which is all the more reason to visit! There’s a ton to do in Reykjavík as well as Iceland’s countryside, so get ready to explore some stunning landscapes and local gay spots!
Is Iceland LGBT-Friendly?
No matter who you are or what your sexual orientation or gender is, rest assured you’ll be welcome in Iceland.
Reykjavík, the nation’s capital, is the center of Iceland gay life. You’ll find various LGBT venues tucked away in different corners of this beautiful city.
Gay Iceland: Hotels & Where to Stay
Central Reykjavík Hotels
Reykjavík has ten main districts. Most travelers prefer to stay in Miðborg, the city center area that is also known as “Reykjavík 101”.
Reykjavík 101 hotels or vacation rentals are ideal unless you’re specifically looking to only explore the countryside
I love Kvosin Downtown Hotel for their chic finishes that have a true Icelandic feel. The rooms are lovely, with rich pops of color and stylish furniture. Right in the center of Reykjavík, the Kvosin Downtown Hotel’s location is unbeatable for exploring the city.
Central Reykjavík apartment rentals offer the best local experience. Tons of attractions, restaurants, and Iceland’s best gay nightlife will be within walking distance. This is where I began my own search.
East Reykjavík & Kópavogur Places to Stay
East Reykjavík hotels are probably the best option if a balance of countryside and city life fits your vibe. Check out Midgardur by Center Hotels—they have an epic gym and spa!
The unique Reykjavík Domes are about 10 minutes east of here, which is more of a unique hotel experience you might want to consider. I’d love to stay here the next time I’m in Iceland!
Accommodations in Geysir
Geysir is best for travelers who want the true “cabin in the woods” or secluded cottage experience. This area is about a 90-minute drive outside of Reykjavík.
With a villa or guesthouse in Geysir, you’ll be right in the actual region of the famous spouting geysers. It’ll also be much more convenient to reach lesser-traveled eastern Iceland.
Where to Stay in Iceland Based on Trip Length
I recommend staying in Reykjavík the entire time if your visit is short. This way you’ll be able to get to know the local gay area and can plan a day trip from the city.
If you have more time, I recommend splitting up your trip. Spend your weekend in Reykjavík and then head out to the countryside during the week.
You’ll find a beautiful, rural feel close to stunning scenery out there. With more time, you can travel farther to the eastern half of the country.
Iceland Gay Travel Experiences
I’ll first recommend some experiences within the city of Reykjavík. Afterward, I’ll mention some fantastic countryside activities.
Reykjavík Gay Travel Experiences
Hallgrimskirkja is the largest Icelandic church. Inside you can grab a lift to the top to see the wonderful views of Reykjavík. Hallgrimskirkja is such a stunning building. It’s an amazing place to take some photos.
The Sun Voyager sculpture is fun and easy little landmark to visit. Located on the waterfront, spend 15 minutes or so taking in some beautiful city views of the deep blue water. This area is particularly beautiful at sunset.
Stop at Emilie and the Cool Kids for an afternoon snack. They’re an adorable café with a modern seating area in the back.
You surely see the Harpa Concert Hall in the distance as you explore Reykjavík city. It’s a beautiful modern cultural center with a glass façade. I recommend at least stopping through to see the architecture. There are a few shops here too.
Svarta Kaffið has an amazing bread bowl soup—perfect for a post-hike lunch. Each day they offer a different soup including a vegetarian option. Well worth the price, this cozy spot was friendly and delicious.
Iceland Gay Saunas
Join the locals at the Sundhöllin open-air hot baths after sunset. This sauna is so calm and relaxing! It’s perfect for an evening alone or with friends.
Gay guys looking for a sauna in Reykjavik will have a good chance at making some friends at the Sundhöllin baths.
Keep in mind though, this is a co-ed sauna meant for relaxing and socializing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t wear a sexy swimsuit while exploring all the different pools and steam rooms!
There are several hot pools of varying temperatures, a full-size indoor and outdoor swimming pool with a diving board, a steam room, and a cold pool.
You can visit year-round and when I was there, I ran into my local gay friend that I had met at the bar the night before!
Hotels near Hallgrímskirkja will be most convenient for visiting the Sundhöllin sauna.
Places to Visit Outside Reykjavík
Now for some true adventure! Most travelers are really wondering: where are the hot springs?! Iceland gay travel isn’t complete without a hot spring picture, right?
Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is a famous and iconic tourist attraction that you should absolutely experience. It’s more like a spa, with the building and facilities built into the natural geothermal area.
Even though it’s a famous tourist location where locals are not usually found, I still had a blissful, memorable time.
Ever since the Eurovision Song Contest Fire Saga movie came out, I’ve become obsessed with Húsavík. Next time I get to Iceland, I am 100% booking a whale-watching tour in Húsavík. If you go, share your experience with me!
Iceland Geothermal Areas
Besides the Blue Lagoon, you will need to drive about an hour and thirty minutes outside of Reykjavík to find geothermal spots.
The Secret Lagoon is a natural hot pool, popular with tourists and locals alike. This lagoon is less of a “spa experience” and is more authentic. Laugarvatn Fontana is another option offering a more spa-like feel.
On your way to the geothermal areas of Iceland, I’d suggest visiting the geysers. Watch these natural beauties erupt every five minutes or so, sending boiling water hundreds of feet into the air!
Note that the actual place is called “Geysir.” There is a café with snacks and coffee inside the building next to the park.
If you’re not planning to rent a car while in Iceland, you can visit the Blue Lagoon and see the Geysir area all in the same day by booking a geothermal area day trip tour.
Embark on an Iceland Gay Hiking Adventure!
Drive to Þingvellir National Park for a fantastic hiking adventure. Here you can walk between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.
Various trails with waterfalls follow the rock formations, offering stellar views. Bundle up and of course, took some great selfies!
Plan one day to drive to the southern region of Iceland. Driving along Highway 1 will make you feel like being on another planet.
The Þorláksvöllur area is a must-see, with out-of-this-world landscapes and black sand (basalt) beaches. When I visited, there were even ice blocks along the shore!
How to Get to South Iceland
To get to South Iceland from Reykjavík, follow the series of Highways 1-39-38-34, in that order. After you reach Highway 34, there will be places to park, from which you can walk down to the beach.
Be sure to pack some food and water for the day, as there are not many places to buy food out here.
Iceland Gay Tours
Joining an Iceland gay tour is a fantastic and easy way to explore the most beautiful parts of the country.
Alongside a group of other gay travelers, you can make a bunch of new friends and make the most of your travel experience. Plus, transportation, logistics, and all sorts of other details are taken care of for you.
Out Adventures is the best and most popular organizer of Iceland gay tours. They offer a variety of different vacation packages and honestly, these tours look epic.
For other Iceland gay tour options, check out offers from these popular gay tour companies.
Iceland Gay Bars
All the Iceland gay bars are in Reykjavík, the center of all local gay life. And while Reykjavík has some establishments that are primarily gay, the crowds are often quite mixed.
You’ll usually encounter gay men and their straight female friends, but straight men can’t be ruled out!
Kiki Queer Bar
Kiki Queer Bar was my first stop, a welcoming Reykjavík gay bar with a rainbow-painted facade. This is a go-to spot since it’s the single most well-known gay bar in Iceland that’s been around for many years.
Pop music and Eurovision favorites played all evening amongst happily dancing locals when I visited Kiki Queer Bar. It was a ton of fun.
Bravó is sort of a mix between a gay bar and a gay cafe. It’s essentially part of the same building as Kiki Queer Bar, taking on the majority of the rainbow mural that takes over this popular gay area of Reykjavík.
Paloma Nightclub was our second stop of the night. While Paloma isn’t specifically branded as a gay club, you’ll definitely find gay locals among the crowd.
The space is on the smaller side but still has plenty of room to dance. The upstairs even has an awesome vaulted wooden ceiling. The DJ played techno music until the early morning. It was an amazing night.
The locals at Paloma were so friendly and I even made a friend who is a local yoga instructor! He introduced me and my friends to his circle of gay (and straight) friends and we chatted for hours.
It was quite enjoyable to be around such carefree people who were genuinely interested in spending time with some gay travelers.
Iceland Gay Travel Tips
Flying Into Reykjavík
Most importantly, I must make a note about the different Reykjavík airports. While they both identify themselves as airports for Reykjavík, only one of them is international.
So, when you’re booking flights online, pay attention to the airport codes, which I’ll mention next.
Most international travelers fly into Keflavík and then travel by car or bus to Reykjavík.
Getting from Keflavik to Reykjavík
Keflavik International Airport is about a 30 to 40-minute drive from Reykjavík, so plan ahead for this portion of the journey.
Keflavík bus transfer services are available, as ride-shares or taxis can be quite expensive, although they are also available.
Rent a Vehicle in Keflavík
You’ll probably want to browse options for car or SUV rentals before your journey. I recommend checking vehicle rentals at the Keflavík Airport.
This way, you can conveniently pick up the vehicle right after you land and avoid the stress of paperwork upon arrival.
My friends and I rented a sport utility vehicle for our trip. I highly recommend renting one, as you’ll be able to explore much more of the beautiful lands outside the city of Reykjavík.
If your vehicle doesn’t come with built-in GPS navigation, I highly suggest investing in a windshield phone mount for safely viewing directions.
Make sure to get vehicle protection insurance, as the weather in Iceland is very unpredictable. You don’t want a hail storm damaging your rental and being stuck with a large bill to pay. Spend the extra 80 USD/70 EUR or so and for peace of mind.
Iceland is Expensive
Come prepared with a sizable amount of spending money because Iceland is very expensive! Your money certainly won’t go as far in this island nation, understandably given their remote location.
Alcohol is quite expensive as well. You can stock up at the airport Duty-Free store to save some cash. Here’s a great list of tips for saving money in Iceland.
Chain Establishments Are Basically Nonexistent
Iceland proudly does not have many chain establishments. You won’t find McDonald’s or Starbucks here. Reykjavík will put your local coffee shop and restaurant search skills to the test. Or of course, you can follow the recommendations in this guide!
Visiting Iceland During Winter?
I visited Iceland in winter, which means daylight is limited given how far north the country is located. The sun was only up for five hours or so each day, so plan your activities accordingly.
The weather is also (beautifully) unpredictable. I’ll never forget experiencing a 20-minute blizzard followed by sunny, clear blue skies!
Iceland Gay Rights
The majority of people in Iceland support the LGBT community. Iceland boasts a wealth of LGBT protections. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal for ages, since 1940. In 1996, same-sex partner registrations became available.
One of the coolest things about gay-friendly Iceland though, is they were the first country to have an openly LGBT permanent head of government in the world: Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, who held office from 2009 to 2013.
In 2018, further protections included anti-discrimination protection based on gender expression and sex characteristics.
The next step for Iceland is to repeal the country’s ban on MSM’s donating blood, which has already been in the works. Looking forward to another win for Iceland!
Next, check out wolfyy’s top picks for wintertime gay getaways around the world.
For more inspiration, explore wolfyy’s full collection of gay travel guides.