First bar in Iceland to remove gender signs

Gender signs have been removed from the restrooms at the bar Gaukurinn in the city center of Reykjavík in an effort to make them gender neutral. Owner and manager of the bar, Sólveig Johnsen, says it’s discriminating that some people don’t feel comfortable going to the bathroom because of gender signs and wants to do all she can to fight for equality for all in Iceland. SUMMARY HERE.

Sólveig Johnsen, bar owner and manager of bar Gaukurinn has had gender signs removed from restrooms of her establishment to make everyone feel welcome. She thinks other bar owners and managers should do the same.

“We just changed the signs and I find it so amazing that it’s considered to be something special. I mean it’s the toilet for crying out loud,” says Sólveig Johnsen, owner and manager of Gaukurinn, a bar in down town Reykjavík.

The restrooms at Gaukurinn now have no gender signs and when entering the restrooms it only reads: “All gender restrooms”. This is the first bar in Reykjavík to remove gender labels and Sólveig says it’s her answer to the gender duplicity that exists in Iceland and all over the world when it comes to restrooms.

“The idea of the two genders is obsolete. But it seems to be natural for restrooms to be gender labelled. That is probably the biggest reason behind why I wanted to do this. I wanted to take a stand against this gender duplicity and as an owner of a bar I can do something and I feel like it is my duty to do so. I feel I should do what I can to fight for equality,” says Sólveig who has carried this idea within her for a while now.

“I wanted to take a stand against this gender duplicity and as an owner of a bar I can do something and I feel like it is my duty to do so. I feel I should do what I can to fight for equality.”

“To not be able to go to the restroom you feel most comfortable going to is just so discriminating. I mean, it’s a bathroom. It’s not asking for much. Even though I’m a part of a privileged group of white women I’ve experienced frustration at places where there are two, identical restrooms, one for women and one for men. And even though the men’s room is not occupied and the ladies’ is, I still have to wait like a fool for the ladies’ because I’m not allowed to use the men’s room.

So, I can’t even imagine how people who don’t identify themselves as male or female feel about never going to a bathroom with a label that they are comfortable with. And to be harassed because someone doesn’t like which bathroom you choose. It’s so absurd.”

Increased safety with gender neutral restrooms

Sólveig runs Gaukurinn with her significant other, Starri Hauksson. They have no concerns about the safety of their customers when using the restrooms because they don’t believe that gender sign protect people against violence.

“I think that safety should increase if anything with these sort of changes. We have good people working for us who are very conscious of these changes and monitor the restrooms closely. I don’t believe that separate restroom for men and women automatically give you security. If everyone is on their best behavior we can all be friends. You can’t stop violence with gender labelled restrooms. There are other things at play.

The entrance leading to the restrooms has a sign indicating that everyone, all genders are welcome to use them. The doors of the restrooms themselves however are not labelled with typical gender signs anymore.

It also matters that we have great employees and we encourage our customers to notify them if they experience anything that could be considered as harassment. I think people feel more safe if they know that they can always turn to someone within the establishment and that their voices will be heard.”

Gaukurinn has had a very close relationship with the performance art drag group Drag-Súgur and Sólveig says that bond is one of the reasons why Gaukurinn is a queer friendly bar, one of few in Iceland.

“They are our friends and we shared a float with them at the Pride Parade. I believe that the artists in Drag-Súgur have made us more aware about all the colors of the queer umbrella and helped us in the making of the gender neutral restrooms,” says Sólveig, who also did her fair share of research before changing the bathrooms.

“I urge all managers to follow my lead … in a dream world all restrooms in Iceland will be gender neutral in a year’s time and we will all live together in harmony.”

“We had planned to refurbish our restrooms and make them gender neutral for a while. But construction drew long and Reykjavík Pride was coming up. So we decided to keep our old restroom and just change the signs in time for Reykjavík Pride. So the restrooms aren’t as perfect as I would

A legendary bar Gaukurinn is a live music venue and bar, situated in downtown Reykjavík.
A legendary bar Gaukurinn is a live music venue and bar, situated in downtown Reykjavík.

like them to be but it’s a huge step in the direction that we want to go. When I got this idea I read a lot of articles written by people abroad that are fighting for gender neutral restrooms. I also read about some places that had changed their labelling and wrote a thread on Facebook to see what people thought about this idea and how I could make it better. The responses I got there were extremely positive,” says Sólveig.

It’s only been a week now since Gaukurinn removed the gender signs but Sólveig says that the response has been good. “I, personally, have not heard anything negative. People love the concept and the bartenders get positive comments about it all the time. Granted, it’s only been a week so maybe I will at some point have to face people with old-fashioned and out-dated opinions but those people can just go somewhere else. If these restrooms stop you in having fun then you have bigger problems.

But hopefully some people will walk into Gaukurinn, see the restrooms and thinks: “All genders? I thought there were only two”, and do some research. Visibility is the key to fight prejudice and to educate about all the different groups within the LGBTQI+ community.”

Urges all public places to remove gender signs

It made headlines in the beginning of this year when Akurskóli, an Icelandic elementary school, removed gender signs from it’s bathrooms in an effort to become gender neutral. The principal of the school urged other schools to follow their example and that’s exactly what Sólveig wants as well – for other bars and clubs to change their labelling.

Last winter school officials of Akurskóli had gender signs removed from the school’s restrooms, in order for the school to become more gender neutral.
Last winter school officials of Akurskóli had gender signs removed from the school’s restrooms, in order for the school to become more gender neutral.

“And not just bars and clubs but all public places. Someone has to take the first step and I’m glad that it was me. I know that some managers are worried about bad publicity but I think those worries are uncalled for – except if your client base is narrow-minded. I urge all managers to follow my lead and in a dream world all restrooms in Iceland will be gender neutral in a year’s time and we will all live together in harmony.”

Reykjavík city has also turned to the national queer organisation Samtökin ’78 and Trans Iceland for a review on a suggestion that was sent by trans activist Ugla Stefanía to the city council about gender neutral public bathrooms and public changing rooms. Both Samtökin ’78 and Trans Iceland have given the city council their reviews and both agree that this suggestion should be realized since it regards basic human rights and is an important matter in the fight for equality. The suggestion is currently under review at the city council.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.


Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.


    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.


        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.


        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us

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