Being gay in Reykjavik (and Iceland as a whole) is not something that is simply tolerated, it is celebrated and you can expect to have a very warm welcome in this somewhat chilly destination!
Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland so it is no surprise this is where a lot of gay travellers head to and use as a base. The city is known for its vibrant nightlife, great restaurants and a very welcoming population – over a third of the residents here join in the Pride celebrations each year!
When it comes to gay rights, same sex marriage was legalised in Iceland in June 2010 and more work is being done to protect everyone under the LGBTQ spectrum. It is encouraging to know that their Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, is a legally married lesbian!
With all that in mind, plus the fact that the the country is stunning with so many incredible and unique experiences on offer, it is easy to see why Reykjavik is attracting gay travellers from all over the world.
Gay Reykjavik Travel Guide
To find out more about our gay Reykjavik experience continue reading below to learn what Reykjavik has to offer gay travellers, from gay events to gay bars and some truly incredible activities.
Is Reykjavik safe for gay travellers?
Quite simply yes! Reykjavik is safe for gay travellers. In fact Iceland is often referred to as one of the most gay friendly places in the world.
We visited during Reykjavik Pride and as soon as we stepped into the airport arrival hall we knew we were welcome – the entrance was a rainbow arch of balloons adorned with pride flags everywhere.
This extended to every part of the city, it wasn’t that Pride or the LGBTQ community was restricted to one area or street – the whole city embraced pride and the LGBTQ community.
LGBTQ rights in Iceland score very highly both in terms of legality and public opinion, rest assured you can relax here.
Where is the gay area in Reykjavik?
The gay area in Reykjavik is very small given that there is only one gay bar! However to make up for the lack of bars they have an entire street painted as a rainbow which is officially called ‘Rainbow Street’.
This street became a permanent fixture in 2019 with residents and the mayor helping to paint it.
The local gay bar is nearby this street so by default, Rainbow Street has to be the main gay area of Reykjavik!
Things to do in Reykjavik for Gay Travellers
Whale Watching with Elding
An absolute must do, explore the whales of Reykjavík under the guidance of marine biologist guides and learn all about the incredible wildlife that calls Iceland its home.
The most common whale species here are minke whales, humpback whales, white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises. Occasionally you may see killer whales, fin whales, sei whales and long-finned pilot whales, however they are not as common. The whales are most abundant in summer.
We went on the 3 hour whale watching trip with Elding. They are a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Tourism Association (IGLTA) and proudly display on their storefront their commitment to looking after LGBTQ travellers – we highly recommend using this company.
Not to be confused with the ever popular Blue Lagoon (below), the Sky Lagoon is a luxury geothermal spa in southwestern Iceland about 20 minutes drive from Reykjavik.
Sky Lagoon opened in 2021 and is a man-made lagoon with a 230 foot infinity edge that looks directly over the Kàrsnes Harbour. The pool is filled with Iceland’s well-known geothermal waters which are warm enough for you to relax in all day.
However there is so much more to this experience than simply relaxing in the lagoon. Depending on the package you book, you can include the 7 step ritual which takes you through their ice pools, stunning sauna with glass front looking over the bay, steam room, exfoliation and more.
Equally you can just relax in the waters and swim up to the bar.
One of the most visited attractions in Iceland, visiting the Blue Lagoon is definitely a bucket list item. In 2012 the Blue Lagoon was named one of 25 wonders of the world by National Geographic.
The lagoon is manmade with water sourced from the nearby geothermal power plant that is full of minerals and became popular for its apparent healing effects on certain skin conditions.
The lagoon itself is huge and on site you can find spa facilities, gourmet dining and a luxury hotel if you really want to immerse yourself in the experience.
Perhaps one of the most iconic things to do in Iceland is to see the natural phenomenon of the northern lights.
Particles from the sun hit the upper atmosphere around the earths magnetic poles resulting in the beautiful light effect known as the Aurora Borealis aka Northern lights.
While they are sometimes visible from Reykjavik city, the lights are best seen on a professional tour, most provide the option of a repeat tour should you not see them.
The tours can either be packaged with other attractions or done exclusively to see the lights, most operators give the option of overland excursions or you can even take a cruise to view from the open ocean – just make sure to wrap up warm!
Hallgrímskirkja is a very impressive church and national sanctuary in Reyjavik.
It’s one of Reykjavik’s most popular attractions and whilst we don’t often travel to see buildings, this certainly had the wow factor as you walk up to it.
Admission is free inside the church itself or ISK 1000 to go up the tower, but for us the best views were from the outside.
The Icelandic Phallological Museum
How could we not include this in a gay travel guide to Reykjavik? And yes you read Phallological correctly.
The Icelandic Phallological Museum contains a collection of more than two hundred and fifteen p*nises and p*nile parts belonging to almost all the land and sea animals – eye opening and educational to say the least!
Is there a gay bar in Reykjavik?
There is currently one official gay bar in Reykjavik called Kiki.
The bar is very (very) easy to spot with its rainbow exterior.
Kiki has good vibes and is a small but fun gay bar with dancing on the main floor and a slightly quieter area on the upper floor. It gets busy at the weekend with a mixed crowd and often hosts drag and/or showtunes nights.
If you are looking to meet some of the gay locals this is a great place to start.
Some consider the bar next door (Bravo) to be a gay bar by accident, albeit not an official gay bar like Kiki.
Gay Hotels in Reykjavik
There aren’t any gay hotels in Reykjavik, but rest assured you will be welcome wherever you stay. The following options are where we either stayed, visited or know as a brand are a great place to stay.
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina
This is the hotel we stayed at and we loved its location as we could walk everywhere we needed to around town.
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina, steps from downtown Reykjavik, is situated in a completely renovated four-story building that has become a landmark among local residents. It is located next to the historical, and still fully functioning, dry-dock called Slippur. Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina offers everyone the opportunity to see and experience the capital at its most creative and colorful.
The Reykjavik EDITION
The hotel certainly has the wow factor from the elaborate reception area through to the modern and luxurious rooms and rooftop bar with 360 views.
The Reykjavik EDITION is a new luxury hotel in Reykjavik set against scenic mountain views on the Old Harbour.
The hotel is conveniently located adjacent to Harpa, the landmark concert hall and conference center, and is just steps from Laugavegur, the main shopping street in downtown Reykjavik.
On site, expect to find a collection of distinct restaurants and bars, including the 7th-floor Rooftop at EDITION (where we had Pride cocktails!), which is an ideal spot from which to enjoy the bright summer nights as well as the spectacular northern lights in the colder months.
Radisson Blu 1919
Stay in the heart of the city and easily reach both the city’s attractions and the country’s outstanding natural highlights. All 88 guest rooms and suites focus is on Nordic simplicity and a reflection of cozy Scandinavian design, enhancing the guest experience and comfort. The emphasis is on the boutique hotel look-and-feel to complement the building as a historic icon since 1919.
Gay Events in Reykjavik: Pride and More
The best gay destinations in the world are the ones that don’t just offer a one off Pride celebration each year, they are the ones that have a full calendar of events for LGBTQ travellers year round – that is exactly what Reykjavik has to offer.
As a destination that we knew little about, especially from a gay travel perspective, we were very excited to see that Reykjavik holds it’s very own Pride celebration each year.
Fun fact: it is one of the only Pride celebrations to have never had anyone turn up and protest!
In fact, Iceland’s first official Pride dates back to 1999 at which time approximately 1,500 people took part and now years later Reykjavik Pride is one of the largest events in the country attracting tens of thousands of people in to the city centre to show solidarity and to have fun with the local LGBTQ+ community.
Reykjavik Pride usually last for 10 days in August and you can expect to find plenty to do, from Queer Cruises, to drag brunches and evening performances as well as one of the biggest ‘little’ Pride Parades in Europe which culminates at their main stage with past acts including the likes of Bjork.
Founded by Pink Iceland (Iceland’s first travel agency catering specifically to LGBTQ clients), this is a spectacular 3 day experience where you can expect amazing nature, nightlife and northern lights in fantastic international and local company.
Waterfalls, erupting geysers, tectonic plates, the most popular party of the season, comedy, singing, exciting activities, world class cuisine and geothermal baths all neatly arranged over 3 glorious days.
This small pride festival is the perfect winter getaway and a great introduction to Iceland.
Find out more at Rainbow Reykjavik.
Reykjavik Bear: RVK Bear
Reykjavík Bear held its first annual Bear festival in 2021 and is organised by a Non-Profit organisation Bangsafélagið (the bear organization).
RVK Bear offers three parties, a trip to the world famous Blue Lagoon, a day trip to the scenic Golden Circle and a farewell brunch.
Reykjavík Bear invites bears of all shapes and sizes, all ages and backgrounds as well as their friends and admirers to come to enjoy themselves in the world’s northern most capital!
Find out more at RVK Bear.
Pink New Years Eve
Another great offering from Pink Iceland is this 4 day New Years Eve Package.
The package combines quality time in Reykjavik, visits to some of the most famous natural wonders like the Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss, Thingvellir national park and the Blue Lagoon.
The tour culminates with you celebrating New Years Eve the Icelandic way with a bubbly bonfire tour, fireworks galore, a house party and some late night dancing followed by a relaxing dip in the Blue Lagoon on the first day of the new year.
Find out more at Pink New Years Eve.
Gay Tours from Reykjavik
For gay tours in Iceland make sure to get in contact with Pink Iceland, they are the first and only LGBTQ travel agent in Iceland catering to LGBTQ travellers and if you are looking for a gay tour from Reykjavik, they have a lot to offer. Check out:
Golden Circle – This is Pink Iceland’s most popular tour with erupting hot springs, tectonic plates, Iceland’s most impressive waterfall and a dip into geothermal waters.
Journey to the centre of the earth – you will drive to the northern part of the peninsula where you’ll see one of Iceland’s most picturesque mountains, Kirkjufell and one of Iceland’s most photographed waterfall, Kirkjufellsfoss. Next up is Snæfellsjökull National Park, named after the Snæfellsjökull stratovolcano which towers over the area. The 700,000 year old volcano, now covered by a glacier bearing the same name, is where Jules Verne found the entrance to the center of the earth.
Blue Lagoon, ATVs and Reykjanes – Enjoy the rush of driving an ATV up a mountain followed by a relaxing soak in the Blue Lagoon.
There are so many more options to check out – take a look at Pink Iceland.
Gay Sauna in Reykjavik?
Is there a gay sauna in Reykjavik?
Unfortunately not. For a country that has so many spas and saunas there isn’t a gay sauna in Reykjavik right now.
However if you visit during Pride and the gays outnumber everyone, does that count?
Travelling to Reykjavik
Flights into Keflavik International Airport – Icelandair
International flights to Iceland arrive into Keflavik International Airport with the main airline serving Iceland being Icelandair.
If you are heading from the UK (like us) return economy flights from Icelandair flying from London to Keflavik are available from £149 and from Manchester for £175.
Equally Icelandair connects passengers from North America, Canada and Europe – visit https://www.icelandair.com/ for the latest prices.
Keflavik International Airport to Reykjavik
Once you land in Keflavik you have a couple of options, both take about 45 minutes:
- Private Taxi – this will cost c£150/$180
- Flybus Airport Transfer – very easy to use and find. As you exit the airport you will see the desk to buy a ticket and just minutes away from the desk the bus will be waiting. This will cost c£20/$23 depending on exchange rates.
Practical Tips for your Gay Trip to Reykjavik
- Water is drinkable.
- Currency is ISK but it was easy enough to pay by card everywhere we went.
- It is one of the more expensive places to visit in Europe so bear that in mind when planning.
- The national language is Icelandic but every we spoke to spoke better English than us.
- Be yourself, rest assured you can feel comfortable here.
- Plan carefully the time of year depending on what you want to see, some months you are more likely to see the northern lights for example.
We loved our time in Gay Reykjavik and are excited to return one day and see more of Iceland – it has a lot to offer!