Our Gay Couple City Weekend Reykjavík Iceland – Road Trip Part 1. Traveling the huge European island Iceland works best by doing a road trip along the coast once around the whole island. In our case, we decided to drive our Iceland adventure counter clock. But how to start a perfect Iceland trip best? Like we did, spending some relaxed days in the Nordic capital of Iceland, Reykjavík. It was for us the best way to get in touch with Icelandic nature, the super friendly inhabitants of Iceland, and the LGBTQ+ community by enjoying the thrill of anticipation before the back-to-basics camping road trip in the rough and pure nature actually started.
Do it as we did during our Gay Reykjavík City Trip and explore beautiful colorful Nordic houses in the old town part of Reykjavík, gape about the stunning architecture of the music and concert hall HARPA, go to the unique Penis Museum or do a Gay City Tour with Pink Iceland. In the first three days of our Iceland trip, we could also learn about the important history of Icelandic gay life. And, of course, we had time to get prepared packing our 4×4 for a camping road trip around Iceland. We as a Gay Couple Travel Blogger would like to show you the Icelandic capital through a couple of men‘s eyes before we finally started with the Golden Circle, the black beaches of Vík, and further east and north!
Road Trip Part 1: Reykjavík Gay Travel
In our opinion, this is an important question that needs to be answered if you are about to plan a 21-day road trip to Iceland in one of the most expensive countries in Europe. Good to know about Reykjavík: Approximately one-third of all Icelanders are living in Reykjavík, which means more or less 120 000 people in the country plus students and employees working in tourism. But let’s be honest: 3-5 days are more than enough to see the beauty of Reykjavík, get to know the Icelanders in one of the city hot tubs, and party on a Friday night. A charming city and ideal for travelers like us, who love to walk a city to locate hidden places apart from the main tourist roads. For an overview of our Iceland adventure click here: Top 13 Highlights of Iceland!
A Day in Reykjavík – our Highlights of Reykjavík
Before we start: there is a time difference between Iceland and mainland Europe: compared to Amsterdam of about 2 hours. Doesn’t sound so much, but first, get used to it. We stayed in a private guesthouse in the eastern part of the city but really close to one of our favorites! But there are a lot more accommodations in and around the city center. For example, Eric the Red Guesthouse, Heidas Home, or Laugabjarg Guesthouse we can highly recommend. Let’s get started with our gay city trip Reykjavík!
Wandering Around – exploring Reykjavík
Nordic, Icelandic, and colorful traditional houses in a mixture of modern architecture creating a special atmosphere throughout the city. The key is to walk next to the main road or simply walk instead of taking the bus! All of a sudden, you will find yourself in front of a green-painted house with a windowsill full of cactus plants and a cat taking a sunbath in front of the door.
Start & End a Day at Laugardalur Swimming Pool in Reykjavík
One of the biggest public pools of Reykjavík and even the whole of Iceland offers all year long the possibility to go swimming and hot tubing, even when it is raining or snowing. Dressed only in swimming pants you have to be quick for the first steps outside with an average of around 7-11° C in September. Finally arrived in the hot and relaxing sulfur water you can enjoy the charming vintage-shaped pool area with a swimming area, a slide, hot tubs with different water temperatures, and a steam room. The Laugardalur Swimming Pool is an ideal spot for getting into conversations with locals while getting really handy insights about the trip. Did you know that even normal warm water e.g. for showering or out of the water tap smells like bad eggs? But don’t worry, that the smell won’t stay on you or your clothes. 🙂
Café IDA ZIMSEN – Food, Drinks, Books & Games
For the snack in between the Café Ida Zimsen in the old town part of Reykjavík is your perfect spot for self-made snacks, coffee, different locally made beers, and more. Right next to a small bar with self-made sandwiches and cakes, the Café and additional shop provide a selection of games and books. An ideal point for a short rest or even longer rain breaks.
Reykjavík’s City Hall with 3D Map of Iceland
The City Hall (Icelandic Ráðhús Reykjavíkur) located in the northern part of one of the inner-city lakes Reykjavíkurtjörn is the building housing the offices of the major. But what a surprise: In the basement of the main hall of Reykjavík City Hall, you will find a freely accessible handmade 3D cardboard map of the whole of Iceland. The best thing about it was the possibility to see where our route is going and how high all the mountains and volcanos on our way around the island actually would be.
PERLAN in Reykjavík ÖSKJUHLIÐ
As you already know, we love to find the spots with the best view over a city or any other travel destination. And we found a great place in Reykjavík. One of the landmark buildings of Reykjavík named Perlan. Originally built as hot water storage tanks, it is the Perlan building nowadays equipped with a winter garden, a restaurant, a souvenir shop, and a viewing deck for a 360° view over the whole of Reykjavík, for free.
Culture – Reykjavík Art Museum – ÁSMUNDARSAFN
This small building itself is a pure art piece of modern architecture that shows the sculpture of the sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson (from 1893 till1982). In front and behind the Reykjavík Art Museum Ásmundarsafn in Reykjavík- Laugardalur you can visit a free sculpture garden. Impressive and on our way from East Reykjavík to the city center, a perfect stop for a cultural highlight on our gay city trip Reykjavík.
The Icelandic Phallological Museum
A trap? A hot spot? Well… Definitely a unique experience! But how can we describe what you have to expect? It is a collection of penises of animals worldwide. From all over the world fans were and are still sending souvenirs and a lot of preserved penises to the Icelandic Phallological Museum. Did you ever see a dick of a donkey?
Whales of Iceland Museum
We heard a lot of bad feedback about the museum from people we met and read negative comments online. So, we were very skeptical about if we should spend the money and time at the Whales of Iceland Exhibition. A Tip or Trap? Our experience: there are no real whales, but almost perfect handmade copies of whales painted by artists thanks to a scientist with useful information. It was not busy at all, so we had enough time to read all the little details about the Whales of Iceland. It was too expensive but good preparation for our whale watching trips later on our road trip around Iceland. And don’t forget the free coffee and tea the small café offers at the end!
On the next street just around the corner, you might see a dark red painted, majestic villa with white window frames taking your full attention. Or a wooden church that is nowadays a museum next to the small city lakes. Reykjavík will surprise you behind every corner. We loved to wander around and get surprised behind every corner. But of course, we spotted some remarkable modern architecture too!
The Landmark of Reykjavík HALLGRÍMSKIRKJA
Hallgrímskirkja, built by the Icelandic architect Guðjón Samúelsson, is undoubtedly the landmark of Reykjavík, although it is surprisingly small. High above the city you can enjoy a fantastic view over Reykjavík or attend a church service, even in the English language. The Hallgrímskirkja was for us a must-selfie spot with the statue of Leif Eriksson (an Icelandic explorer, around 1000AD) in front of the church. It took the builders over 40 years to finish the church in 1986.
The concert & congress hall HARPA
The Harpa Building truly is one of our favorites of the city, at least in architecture. With its opening concert in 2011, the city obtained a glassy sparkle in the harbor area and a tourist magnet, not only because visiting the building is for free! The remarkable glass facade was made by Ólafur Elíasson who did an impressive job to compose a mixture of glass, transparency, and steel. Next time being in Iceland we definitely want to see the Iceland Symphony Orchestra that found a fitting home in this piece of beautiful architecture.
Reykjavík before our Iceland Road Trip
Gay Travel Tip for Gay Reykjavík & Iceland | PINK ICELAND TRAVEL & EVENT EXPERT (GAY WEDDINGS)
As you can expect in every article on our gay travel blog we are very curious to know about the gay situation of our travel destination. After getting in contact with gay locals from Reykjavík, we got the recommendation to have a look at the website of Pink Iceland Travel & Event Experts. We did and joined the famous “Pink City Walk” through Reykjavík with our guide, storyteller, and Co-founder of Pink Iceland, HANNES. After a warm welcome (coffee) we started our walking and Hannes gave his best to answer all our questions about art, history, and the present, not always gay-related, though. A fun time we have to say which ended with a drink at Café Ida Zimsen and an extensive exchange of interesting gay life facts of Iceland. Travelers who are about to plan a trip around the Gay Pride in Reykjavík: the 6 days Reykjavík Pride LGBTQ festival takes place annually in early August. In 2016, the celebrations are from 2nd to 7th of August. Don’t wait too long before planning your trip. August is the busiest month booked quickly!
Gay Life in Iceland – Young Story of Success
It all started with one brave man, Hörður Torfason, an Icelandic singer and songwriter, today known as the first openly gay Icelander who came out of the closet to the public. His coming out was the beginning of a movement and the breakthrough for accepting gay people as a fully valid part of modern Icelandic society. He founded The association ’78 which is nowadays the main gay rights organization in Iceland. Brave inhabitants of Iceland, like a former major initiating funding to help HIV-infected Icelanders, make Iceland one of the most open-minded countries of Europe and the whole world. Today Iceland is a country where every citizen shares equal rights. That makes a big difference for the whole society, believe us.
Kiki Bar, the only Gay Bar in Iceland
When to go out in Reykjavík? Friday night is the party night in Reykjavík. Another specialty of the Icelanders: They don’t care about your sexual orientation! But of course, we wanted to see the only gay bar in the country, the Kiki Bar. It was a good decision! Icelandic Viking beer, completely drunk straight girls, and boys mixed with gays, gay couples, and businessmen after work. We had to get used to all the drunken people bumping into us all the time. But instead of getting annoyed butch Vikings. Go with the flow and enjoy your Friday night in Iceland!
What Gays can do in Reykjavík over the year
Unfortunately, we just missed 2 of the 3 bigger events for the gay community of Iceland: the annually Reykjavík Gay Pride festival normally in the second week of August, for the bears or beer lovers among us the Bears on Ice event in September, and finally the Rainbow Reykjavík festival from January the 31st and February 3rd.
Gay Reykjavík City Trip: Let our Iceland Trip begin
Well-prepared with warm clothes and an open-minded heart you won’t have to worry about cold temperatures during a Road Trip to Iceland: the hot tubs and well-organized parties are warming up the guys joining these events. We are looking forward to participating in at least one of these in the future. Do you have any experiences with the Icelandic Gay Events or nice tips for a gay city trip to Reykjavík? Let us know in the comments, and we can make this post even more complete! Next stop on our tour: the Golden Circle of Iceland. And now our Iceland Exploration starts. Come with us on our 21 days Road Trip once around Iceland. For more info about Iceland click here: Top 13 Highlights of Iceland!
Karl & Daan.
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