Iceland Gay Travel
Iceland gay travel advice for the best places to stay, attractions, restaurants & gay bars for the perfect adventure to Reykjavík.
The Gay Travel Experience: Reykjavík, Iceland
The Iceland gay locals warmly welcomed me and my friends. Before arriving to this picturesque island, I could only imagine the Iceland I had seen in movies and read about online. The experience I had undeniably surpassed what I anticipated.
A comical encounter with a friendly gay guy in a small Reykjavík gay club opened the door to insight about 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 Icelandic man.
The people of Iceland are a very happy bunch. Iceland ranks very high on lists of the happiest countries in the world. All the more reason to visit. There is lots to do in Iceland, so get ready to explore the stunning landscapes and local gay spots!
Is Iceland LGBT-Friendly?
Iceland is incredibly LGBT-friendly, and the country is frequently ranked among the top 10 most gay-friendly countries in the world! 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 city, is the center of Iceland gay life. You can find various LGBT venues tucked away in different corners of the beautiful and often snow-covered city. It’s just one more reason why I recommend Iceland gay travel to everyone looking for an outdoorsy destination.
Gay Iceland: Hotels & Where to Stay
First of all, the city of Reykjavík has ten main districts. Most explorers will opt for Miðbær, or the city center area. Unless you are specifically looking to only explore the countryside, hotels or vacation rentals in this location are ideal.
Check out hotels in Laugardalur farther to the north if you’re looking for accommodations slightly outside Reykjavík. Laugardalur is the best area to stay if your visit is mainly for sporty activities and you’re not too keen on staying in the city center.
Airbnb rentals in Kópavogur are another option for a town with a denser suburban feel. Here you will have quick access to beautiful scenery without having to drive too far.
Travelers looking for a true “cabin in the woods” or secluded cottage vibe should look at renting an Airbnb in Geysir. This is the actual region where you’ll find the famous spouting geysers. Many of the options here are delightfully quaint.
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 will 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
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 restaurant was friendly and delicious.
Hallgrimskirkja, is a short walk away, 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 another nearby stop to make. 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 over at Emilie and the Cool Kids for an afternoon snack They’re an adorable café with a modern seating area in the back.
As you explore the city, you will surely see the Harpa Concert Hall in the distance, 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.
Iceland Gay Saunas
Join the locals at the Sundhöll Reykjavíkur 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 Sundhöll Reykjavíkur baths. Keep in mind though, this is a co-ed sauna meant for relaxing and socializing.
There are several hot pools of varying temperatures, a full size indoor and outdoor swimming pool with diving board, a steam room and cold pool. You can visit year-round and when I was there, I ran into a my local gay friend that I had met at the bar the night before!
Iceland Gay Travel Experiences 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?
The famous Blue Lagoon is the main tourist attraction that you should experience. It’s more like a spa, with the building and facilities built into the naturally geothermal area.
Even though it’s a famous tourist location where locals are not usually found, I still had a great time and found it to be stunning.
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 are 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.
Iceland Gay Travel: Hiking Adventures
Drive over 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. Þorláksvöllur is a must-see, an area 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, take Highway 1 to Highway 39 and then to Highway 38. From Highway 38, head east on Highway 34 and along this road there will be places to park so you can walk down to the beach.
Again, that’s highways 1-39-38-34, all going generally south and west. Be sure to pack some food and water, as there are not many places to buy food out here.
Iceland Gay Bars
All the Iceland gay bars are in Reykjavík, the center of gay life. Reykjavík has a few establishments that are primarily gay, however the crowds are often mixed. Usually you’ll encounter mostly gay men and women, but straight men can’t be ruled out!
Kiki Queer Bar was my first stop, a welcoming Reykjavík gay bar with a rainbow-painted facade. Pop music and Eurovision favorites played all evening amongst happily dancing locals.
We headed to Paloma Nightclub later in the night. Popular with locals, Paloma is a small yet comfortable gay club with a vaulted wooden ceiling upstairs. 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 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.
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Iceland Gay Travel Tips
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. There are Keflavík bus transfer services available, as ride shares or taxis can be quite expensive, although they are also available.
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.
Having the vehicle allowed us to wander into the Icelandic wilderness and stop wherever we wanted.
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 with Auto Europe. This way, you can conveniently pick up the vehicle right after you land and avoid the stress of paperwork upon arrival.
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/69 Euro 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.
More Iceland Travel Tips
Iceland proudly does not have many chain establishments. You will not 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 wolfyy guide!
Depending on the time of year that you visit, check the number of hours you will have daylight. I visited in winter, so the sun was only up for five hours or so each day.
Visiting during the winter season? Bundle up! It can be super cold and windy, so be sure to have insulated boots and gloved. Weather is also beautifully unpredictable. I found it so cool to have a 20-minute blizzard followed by cloudless sunshine!
Iceland Gay LGBT Rights
One of the coolest things about gay-friendly Iceland is that the country has the first openly LGBT head of government (In Iceland that would be Prime Minister)! Her name is Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.
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.
The government unanimously approved same-sex marriage back in 2010. If only more countries could be so sure of something so necessary!
More recently in 2014, Iceland revised anti-discrimination laws to include gender identity. In 2018, further protections included anti-discrimination protection based on gender expression and sex characteristics.
The next step for Iceland, as of 2019, is to repeal the ban on MSM’s donating blood. Looking forward to another win for Iceland!