You want to see the world, but sometimes the world is an unfriendly place. That’s why HelloGiggles is bringing you Feminist Passport, a guide to all of the most inclusive hotels, restaurants, shops, bars, and sights to visit on your next big adventure. Because travel should be for everyone.
Ah, Iceland. It’s one of those countries that is enjoying a particularly trendy travel moment. In the last few years, you have probably felt like almost everyone you know has traveled there to explore the many things Iceland can offer: the bright turquoise geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon, a view of the Northern Lights, the mind-blowing glaciers, and the active volcanoes. It’s a place that is full of history and nature, along with interesting cuisine and, during the summer, up to 21 hours of sunlight. But there’s more to Iceland than just what’s outside: It’s also ranked number one for gender equality and it’s extremely LGBTQ-friendly, making it the perfect vacation spot for anyone.
I traveled to Iceland a few weeks ago, and there were two things I loved the most about my visit. One was, of course, the unique landscape. The second was how safe I felt the entire time I was there. Iceland has not only topped the World Economic Forum’s gender gap index several years in a row, but it’s also known as one of the safest places in the world for solo female travelers. The Economist has named Iceland the world’s best place for working women, too. So when it comes to gender equality, it’s hard to get better than here.
If you’re looking for a feminist adventure with options that are inclusive, you should definitely get yourself to Iceland. There is so much to do and see, and so much that is unlike anywhere else. Here are just a few things you should make a point of doing while you’re there.
1. Walk anywhere you want without worry
If you’re visiting Iceland in the summer, when it’s warmer, walk around everywhere. You can do this without feeling worried about being catcalled (there is no word for that in Icelandic, because it happens so rarely), being stared at weirdly (again, rarely happens), or feeling isolated as a woman. Plus, Instagram-fave Reykjavik has a ton of great shops, cafes, and things to see that will keep you occupied.
2. Check out Kiki Queer Bar
Iceland is full of open-minded people, and they have a very “live and let live” policy. For the most part, people there don’t care about your sexuality, and regardless of what it is, you should feel comfortable anywhere you go. But if you’re looking for a queer-specific venue, hit up Kiki Queer Bar, the main queer club in the country. It’s a rainbow-painted building with karaoke, a drag show, and a great DJ.
3. Shop at Lífstykkjabúðin
If you want to support a female-owned business, go into Lífstykkjabúðin. The shop was opened by widow and entrepreneur Elísabet Foss in 1916, back in a time when women didn’t own businesses in Iceland. The name translates to The Corselette Store, and you can pick up great quality underwear, swimwear, and sleepwear.
4. Plan your trip around a feminist event
Want to get a taste of Icelandic culture? Visit the country during one of its many feminist events. Konudagur, aka Woman’s Day, falls towards the end of the winter. According to Grapevine, it is “an occasion for women to be pampered and well thought of by their husbands, as well as to celebrate the arrival of spring and the brighter days ahead.”
As for LGBTQ events, there’s a special girls’ night at Kiki Queer Club called Lez-B-Honest, as well as Rainbow Reykjavik, the city’s annual Winter Pride Festival in February, Drag-súgur, which is a drag cabaret at a bar called Gaukurinn each month, the Reykjavik Pride Festival in August, plus the city’s annual SlutWalk.
5. Stay at a queer-friendly hotel
Almost every place in Iceland is queer-friendly, but some hotels are gay-owned and operated, like Alfred’s Apartments and Tungata. If you want to support the LGBTQ community there, these are the places to stay.
6. Stop by Samtökin ’78
At the offices of Samtökin ’78, the national queer organization in Reykjavik, you can visit the first and only gallery in Iceland that focuses on queer art. Its goal is to promote queer art and make it more visible. It’s definitely worth a visit, and it’s not very large, so it won’t take too much time away from gazing at the sights and reveling in your newfound feminist freedom.
7. Dance to DJ J’adora
Female DJs can be hard to come by, but DJ J’adora is one of Iceland’s most in-demand DJs. She regularly performs at venues and bars throughout Reykjavik, and you can keep an eye on her Facebook page to see any events that she’s promoting. Hopefully one will take place while you’re in town.
8. Shop at Andreabyandrea
Female fashion designer Andrea Magnus designs under the label Andreabyandrea, creating beautiful clothing that is trendy but also unique. There’s a store in Hafnarfjörður in Iceland, if you want to take the trip — it’s a small port town on the southwestern coast of the country.
9. Find a copy of Blæti to read (or skim through)
Photographer and Iceland native Saga Sig is one of the country’s top fashion photographers. She moved back to Reykjavik after living in London to start her own art and fashion magazine, called Blæti, which is Icelandic for “fetishes.” While you might not be able to understand the words, it’s cool to look through something beautiful that’s created by a strong woman.