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3 reasons Iceland is a great destination for LGBTQ+ travelers

June 27, 2021
5 min read
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As summer travel starts to pick up, I'm headed to Iceland in a few weeks — my second time visiting. There are a number of reasons I’m excited to go back to this incredible country, such as the picturesque landscapes, charming buildings, and friendly community, but Iceland’s support of the LGBTQ+ community is one reason that is especially important to me.

TPG has covered why Iceland is a great place to visit for families and solo travelers, but some may not know that it is also an excellent destination for the queer community and allies to consider, as Iceland one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly countries in the world.

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A decades-long fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Iceland has led to tremendous strides in gay and lesbian equality. In 2006, same-sex couples received equal access to adoption, and same-sex marriage has been legal since 2010. Iceland was also the first country to elect an openly gay head of government after Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir became Prime Minister of Iceland in 2009, and most recently the country passed an identity-affirming bill in 2020 that allows individuals to choose a third gender option known as "X" on official documents.

The National Queer Association of Iceland works diligently to ensure equal rights for all queer people in Iceland and to further serve the queer community. Founded in 1978, the organization works to educate and engage politicians on queer issues and hosts an open house every Thursday at their offices located near Reykjavik City Hall.

Related: Help us save lives and we’ll match up to $100,000

Today, the LGBTQ+ community is not simply tolerated in Iceland it is celebrated, loved and supported in all walks of life. There are numerous organizations that specialize in LGBTQ-centered travel; the local scene is constantly developing, and there is a range of events that cater specifically to the queer community and allies.

For travelers looking to visit countries that share their values in supporting the gay community, here’s why Iceland should be at the top of the list.

Related: Traveling to Iceland during the coronavirus pandemic — the complete guide

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LGBTQ+ friendly tour companies

Pink Iceland is a gay-owned and operated travel company that caters specifically to the LGBTQ+ community, and is a go-to for premium travel experiences for anyone visiting Iceland. The company specializes in day tours, weddings, events and festivals, as well as provides information on LGBTQ+ life in Iceland, and how you can support other gay-owned shops, restaurants and bars in Iceland.

Several Icelandic tour companies also offer walking tours around the country that show travelers Iceland’s major landmarks while highlighting the country’s LGBTQ+ history. Check out companies like Out Adventure, Two Bad Tourists Travel, and Tours By Locals. LGBTQ highlights include the rainbow streets in downtown Reykjavik and charming Seydisfjordur.

Also, Reykjavik's City of Literature Organization hosts culture walks that explore literary history including a tour specifically for Queer literature.

Pride festivals and events

Reykjavík Pride Festival August 3-8, 2021

Reykjavik Pride is one of the most popular Pride celebrations in the world. The week-long festival includes parades, concerts, film and comedy shows, drag performances, and much more. The festival attracts over 100,000 people annually, and this year’s Pride will be held from August 3-August 8.

Reykjavík Rainbow Festival

The Reykjavik Rainbow Festival is another annual Pride celebration, typically held in February and March. The smaller-scale festival was created and is hosted by Pink Iceland, and includes city tours, Pride parties, drag shows and northern lights tours among other exciting events.

(Simon's passion 4 Travel/Shutterstock)

Related: Iceland is open to Americans: Here’s how to get there on points and miles

A robust nightlife scene

There is a robust nightlife scene for the gay community in Iceland, with bars like Kiki and Curious providing a space for the queer community to unabashedly enjoy themselves during a night of drinking, dancing, and making friends from around the world.

Kiki is the most popular and main gay bar, and Gaukurinn hosts regular drag show in addition to live bands featuring many queer artists and karaoke nights. Drag-Sugur hosts some of Iceland's biggest drag shows as well.

Cecause Iceland is such a tolerant country, most if not all bars are LGBTQ+ friendly!

Related: Iceland trip-planning from A to Z: Glaciers, geothermal spas and lava caves

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
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5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.