A Gay Traveler’s Guide to Iceland

Iceland gay travel
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Welcome to Iceland, a country not just tolerant, but celebratory of its LGBTQ+ community. As a gay traveler, you’ll find Reykjavik, the heart of Iceland’s queer culture, a haven of warmth in its cool climes.

Vibrant Reykjavik: Your Base Camp
The city’s unique charm lies in its vibrant nightlife, exceptional restaurants, and welcoming populace, with over a third partaking in annual Pride celebrations. Since 2010, Iceland has embraced same-sex marriage, adding to its progressive atmosphere. Reykjavik’s small yet significant gay area centers around the colorful Rainbow Street, a symbol of pride and unity, and the nearby Kiki bar offers a lively, inclusive nightlife experience.

Must-Visit Attractions for the Gay Globetrotter

  1. Whale Watching with Elding: Embrace the majesty of the sea with a tour to spot minke whales, humpback whales, and dolphins. Elding, a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Tourism Association, is recommended for their commitment to LGBTQ travelers.
  2. Sky Lagoon: A luxurious geothermal spa offering a unique relaxation experience with its 7-step ritual, including ice pools and saunas, set against the backdrop of Kàrsnes Harbour.
  3. The Blue Lagoon: A natural wonder and one of National Geographic’s 25 wonders of the world, this man-made lagoon is known for its healing waters and on-site luxury amenities.
  4. Northern Lights Tour: The Aurora Borealis, a breathtaking natural phenomenon, is best experienced on a professional tour, with options for overland excursions or ocean cruises.

More attractions

  • Hallgrímskirkja: This modernist church, inspired by Iceland’s volcanic basalt rock formations, offers breathtaking views of Reykjavik from its steeple​​.
  • Skólavörðustígur (Rainbow Street): A major shopping street with queer history, perfect for picking up traditional Icelandic wool sweaters and enjoying its colorful ambiance​​.
  • Icelandic Phallological Museum: A unique museum in central Reykjavik, showcasing a collection of penile specimens from various mammals​​.
  • Kiki Queer Bar: Reykjavik’s vibrant LGBTQ+ bar, known for its inclusive atmosphere and exciting drag shows​​.
  • Harpa Concert Hall: An architectural masterpiece and cultural hub, home to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Icelandic Opera​​.
  • Snæfellsjökull Volcano: An iconic, glacier-capped volcano in Snæfellsjökull National Park, offering adventurous hiking opportunities​​.
  • Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall and Kirkjufell: A scenic spot near Grundarfjörðu, renowned as Iceland’s most photographed location​​.
  • The Black Church of Budir: A minimalistic, black wooden church set in a dramatic lava field, providing stunning photographic opportunities​​.
  • Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach: A volcanic beach on Iceland’s South Coast, known for its dramatic landscape and powerful waves​​.
  • Myvatn Nature Baths: Located near Lake Myvatn, these baths are a quieter, more youthful alternative to the Blue Lagoon, showcasing Iceland’s hot spring culture​​.

Accommodations: Comfort and Style

In Reykjavik, gay travelers can find a variety of welcoming and stylish accommodations, each offering its unique charm and amenities:

  1. Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina: Located in Reykjavik’s trendy 101 harbor district, this hotel offers rooms with either city or marina views and features modern amenities including free Wi-Fi, a private bathroom with shower, and a fitness center. The hotel’s vibrant atmosphere is enhanced by its proximity to the historical dry-dock, Slippur​​.
  2. Hotel Reykjavík Centrum: Set on one of Reykjavik’s oldest streets, this hotel combines historical charm with modern amenities. It’s built over Viking-era ruins, offering an on-site exhibition of Iceland’s ancient history. The hotel features modern décor, fresh bathrooms, wooden floors, and an award-winning restaurant​​.
  3. Hótel Húsafell: Situated 90 minutes from Reykjavik in West Iceland, this eco-luxury resort offers a blend of modern design and Icelandic tradition. It features a golf course, outdoor hot tubs, and a geothermally heated swimming pool. The hotel’s restaurant offers first-class dining with locally sourced ingredients, and it’s a proud member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World​​.
  4. 101 Hotel: A sleek, modern boutique hotel located next to the Icelandic Opera House in central Reykjavik. It boasts contemporary design, a fitness center, spa facilities, and a stylish restaurant and bar. The hotel’s rooms are equipped with modern luxuries including minibars and Bang & Olufsen Beoplay speakers​​.
  5. Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel: This hotel, located next to Hlemmur Square and just off Laugavegur, Reykjavik’s main shopping street, offers Balinese-style furnishings and 4-poster beds in all rooms. It features an on-site restaurant with local and organic options and is within walking distance of the city’s main attractions​​.

Each of these accommodations offers a unique experience, ensuring that gay travelers will find a comfortable and welcoming place to stay while exploring Reykjavik’s vibrant culture and scenery.

Related: Gay Travel Europe

Events and Festivals: Celebrating Diversity

  1. Reykjavik Pride: A major event, drawing tens of thousands to celebrate and support the local LGBTQ+ community every August.
  2. Pink Iceland’s Winter Pride: A 3-day festival packed with nature, nightlife, and the northern lights.
  3. Reykjavík Bear Festival: Celebrating the bear community with parties, excursions, and a farewell brunch.
  4. New Year’s Celebration: Combining Reykjavik’s attractions with traditional Icelandic celebrations, including a bubbly bonfire tour and fireworks.

Exploring Beyond Reykjavik

  1. Golden Circle Tour: Visit hot springs, impressive waterfalls, and geothermal waters with Pink Iceland’s popular tour.
  2. Journey to the Centre of the Earth: Explore picturesque mountains, waterfalls, and Snæfellsjökull National Park.
  3. Adventure Combos: Experience the thrill of ATV riding and the relaxation of the Blue Lagoon in one exhilarating day.

Practical Tips

  • Water in Iceland is drinkable.
  • Currency is Icelandic Krona (ISK), but card payments are widely accepted.
  • Be mindful of the high cost of living.
  • English is commonly spoken.
  • Choose your travel time based on desired experiences, like the northern lights.

In summary, Iceland, with its mesmerizing landscapes, rich culture, and inclusive atmosphere, is a perfect destination for gay travelers seeking adventure, relaxation, and a warm welcome.

Related: London Is Gay at Heart

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