Interesting Cities to Visit in Iceland
Iceland has 63 towns and villages in seven regions with most along the coastline. You will find yourself enjoying a hot cup of tea in these towns as you travel from one town to the next, enjoying the unique offerings of each.
Reykjavík is Iceland’s largest town, about 123,000 people. This beautiful town is nestled in the northwest and is the most common point of entry by plane, making it the starting point for most people’s adventures. You can organize transport, spa days, a night out at the oldest LGBTQ+ bar in the country Kiki, dine, shop, visit historical sites and take day trips all from Reykjavík. In addition to Kiki, you’ll find the LGBTQ+ bar Vintage Box. From here, it’s easy to make your way to other cities around the island.
Set in the eastern fjords of Iceland, Seyðisfjörður is surrounded by the most spectacular landscape. This quaint little town is not only gorgeous, but also home to an artist’s residency and cultural scene that inspires creativity. Seyðisfjörður is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Iceland with its pride-inspired rainbow brick road featured at The Blue Church in the town center. Seyðisfjörður is also home to some of the best restaurants in eastern Iceland, nestled amongst some of the most beautiful clusters of historic houses.
Vík is a remote village in south Iceland that sits in the shadows of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Vík is among the smaller towns with a population of 318 people, but what it lacks in population, this seafront village makes up for in remarkable landscapes. Vík is home to miles of black sand beaches as well as an abandoned plane that rests on the beautiful black sand.
Interesting Attractions to Visit in Iceland
THE BLUE LAGOON
Located outside of Reykjavík, the Blue Lagoon is the most well-known and visited geothermal spa. This world wonder is a perfect treat for those arriving or departing Iceland with its baby blue thermal waters and mystical white clay bottom located amongst one of Iceland’s breathtaking lava fields. The average temperature of the Blue Lagoon is a glorious 38 degrees Celsius (100 F) and boasts a surplus of mineral-rich water.
Hverir a.k.a. Námafjall a.k.a. Námaskarð is a geothermal spot noted for its bubbling pools of mud and steaming fumaroles emitting sulfuric gas in the northeastern part of Iceland at the foot of the Námafjall volcanic mountain. It is one of the most out-of-this-world experiences as you frolic through the steam fumaroles with cold winds and Martian type landscapes. Renting a car is the most ideal way to get here, or join a guided tour, which takes you here by car or bus.
JÖKULSÁRLÓN GLACIER LAGOON
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is located in Southeast Iceland; you’ll find Iceland’s deepest and most spectacular glacier lake at the foot of Vatnajökull National Park. This natural gem is in between one of the largest glaciers in Europe and black sand beaches. At Vatnajökull it is recommend taking a boat or kayak tour through the lake and seeing the glacier up close and personal.
THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
The Golden Circle is one of the most popular Icelandic road trips. It can be completed in one day and includes a variety of remarkable natural geographical wonders in a short period. It’s just a day trip outside of Reykjavík. The Golden Circle includes three natural attractions in Iceland. Geysir, which is Iceland’s most noted geyser, is located in southwest Iceland. Geysir erupts every few minutes and is a sight to behold. Þingvellir national park features Silfra snorkeling between two tectonic plates in crystal-clear, volcanic carbon-filtered glacier water, and Gullfoss waterfall. You can rent a car or join a bus tour from Reykjavík for this journey.
Seljalands Waterfall is located in the South Region of Iceland on the road that leads to Þórsmörk and features a jaw-dropping 65m waterfall, one of the largest in Iceland. The waterfall originated from the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull. The best feature of the impressive waterfall is that you can take a small hike around and behind the waterfall and see it up close, complete with wildflower fields in the backdrop.
THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
Iceland has been noted as one of the best places in the world to see the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. The phenomenon is caused by solar winds interacting with the Earth’s magnetosphere. It’s a delight for photographers and observers alike, giving life perspective as you gaze upon the stars. Although sometimes visible in Reykjavík, it’s best to leave the urban light pollution behind witness this world wonder.
Experiencing Icelandic Food
Gastronomy in Iceland is a lot like its terrain: out of this world. In Iceland you will find meals that feature salmon, whale meat, lamb soup, fermented shark, hot dogs and the only thing grown in Iceland, tomatoes. A unique restaurant where you can try Iceland’s best is Sægreifinn. Here you will find a cozy atmosphere and perfect portions of lobster soup, fermented shark or even whale meat. Whale hunting is controversial but a part of Iceland’s important cuisine history. Another must try is Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, which has been a tradition of Reykjavík for over 60 years and serves some of the best hot dogs on the island. You will find plenty of tourists eating hot dogs in Iceland as they are known for having better taste than most hot dogs outside its shores.
Safety Considerations for LGBTQ+ Visitors to Iceland
Iceland is a very LGBTQ+ welcoming destination. Hosting weddings, having a massive gay pride event of 100,000 people and passing very aggressive LGBTQ+ rights. Iceland is also home to the world’s first openly LGBTQ+ head of government, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, in 2009. Practicing same-sex activity was decriminalized in 1940 and same-sex partnerships became legal in 1996 and marriage in 2010. The town of Hafnarfjörður has even included homosexuality education in its eighth-grade sex education lessons. Iceland is also at the forefront of trans rights, as it does not require sex reassignment surgery for official name and gender recognition. You will find Iceland to be overall a liberal country that is welcoming to LGBTQ+ visitors.
LGBTQ+ Travel Tips for Iceland
The Pride event in Iceland is one of the largest gatherings in the country as it consists of about 100,000 people. In comparison the country only has 350,000 inhabitants, so nearly one third of the country attends. The sheer amount of people alone makes for a fun and international festival. The festival is held during the mid summer month of August. With a gay pride in Reykjavík spreading over two weekends, it not only is a large pride event, but also marks the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. You will find a variety of meet ups, parties, lunches and events.
Jet De La Isla is a returning tour guide of Iceland. He guides LGBTQ+ road trips that cover Iceland with LGBTQ+ points of interest as well as adventure as his focal points of his guided tours. Jet has 15 years of travel around the world under his belt and is a professional boat tour guide in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico as his main profession. Along with running top rated boat tours with gay tour guides in Puerto Vallarta, he also owns a private ATV tour company as well as opening Mexico’s first gay hostel, Jet’s Gay Hostel. His love of nature and tech has made him a noteworthy contributor to LGBTQ+ travel. You can follow him on Instagram @jetAroundTheWorld
Featured image by Pink Iceland