Iceland may not offer many exclusively gay places to go, but it is known for its openness to the LGBTQ+ population, and the Nordic country has a lot of welcoming options for nightlife, mostly in the seaside capital Reykjavik. Laugavegur—the primary commercial street—has many clubs, bars, restaurants, and shops, and Hverfisgata, a nearby street, offers various bars and eateries to enjoy. The pedestrian-friendly capital is known as one of the world's safest cities so travelers can move about without concern. Those age 20 and above are allowed to enter and drink at local venues, usually without paying an admission fee, unless a special event is taking place.
Iceland has some cold, windy, and variable weather, so adjust your travel plans according to the climate and prepare in advance. Since public transportation is not always available, visitors interested in exploring nightlife will find renting a car or reserving a taxi in advance helpful.
Bars and Clubs
Reykjavik only has a few explicitly gay clubs and bars, but the majority of the capital's venues offer a welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds.
- Kiki Queer Bar: This bar and nightclub located on the second and third floor of Laugavegur 22 (enter on Klapparstígur) is a fun place for dancing and is located at an address the LGBTQ+ crowd in Iceland is strongly connected to. The spot has housed other gay bars and served a subculture hub over the years.
- Bravó: Look for local beers during happy hour and enjoy the DJs at this gay-friendly and cozy bar on the street level of Laugavegur 22.
- Curious: A gay venue that is open to everyone, Curious offers a bar on the bottom level and a dance club upstairs, as well as healthy food and special events.
- Gaukurinn: This LGBTQ+ friendly bar and events venue is home to a vegan snack bar VEGANÆS. Check out live Icelandic and international music, a drag show, karaoke, stand-up comedy, and more.
- Loft Hostel: These gay-friendly accommodations offer great views from a balcony cafe/bar overlooking the city center and the hostel holds LGBTQ+ events such as drag shows.
Events or Activities
An abundance of gay-friendly events and things to do take place in Iceland, featuring options from live entertainment and mingling to nature tours and additional forms of recreation.
- Reykjavík Pride Festival: Held in August since 1999, this festival features several days of concerts, parades, educational events, and more. Tens of thousands of attendees show up for one of the capital's most lively gatherings.
- Rainbow Reykjavík: Each February, the country's three-day winter pride event coordinated by LGBTQ+ tour operator Pink Iceland entertains guests from around the world with comedy, music, food, and nature—including everything from waterfalls and blue lagoon tours to seeing the Northern Lights, depending on the weather.
- Pink Iceland also organizes special events like New Year's Eve bonfire parties and tours such as the five-day Nature, Nightlife, and Northern Lights excursion.
- Reykjavik Bear (formerly Bears on Ice): This festive gay social event with international musicians and DJs as well as nature tours takes place every September.
- Reykjavik Queer City Walk: Upon request, Funky Iceland holds fun tours lasting about 1.5 hours around Reykjavík's main landmarks, and the guides detail the city's LGBTQ+ history.
- Open houses: Everyone is welcome to the gay open houses in Reykjavík hosted each Thursday evening by Iceland's gay and lesbian organization Samtökin ’78.
Tips for Going Out in Reykjavik
- For public transportation (Strætó in Icelandic), visitors will find buses are not as popular as in some other countries, but do run all year and include some night buses. Reykjavik offers several 24-hour taxicompanies—reserve by calling in advance. If renting a car, take precautions for the summer storms, winter snow, gusty winds, and narrow roads, and always take warm clothing with you.
- Tipping is not common in Iceland as most bills already have a gratuity included. But if you are very impressed with the service, you can tip the wait staff or bartender 10 percent or round up the amount of the bill.
- Don't be surprised if you find long lines at nighttime venues; arrive early, which in Iceland is approximately 1 a.m. On weekends, most bars remain open until around 4:30 or 5:30 a.m.
- Many places don't have dress codes, though locals do tend to spruce up. Casual clothing is usually acceptable, but it's recommended not to wear hiking attire. Confirm dress codes with individual venues before heading out and bring warm layers in the winter.
- Smoking is not allowed inside venues. Look for signs for designated smoking areas.