For many years, Iceland has been recognised internationally for its ability to kick goals when it comes to equality for gay people. With all of this in mind, what can you expect within the confines of the Grindr grid in the land of fire and ice?

See Also: The Ultimate Guide to Gay Iceland | LGBT+ History, Rights and Culture


Gay men are often referred to as ‘early adopters.’ Chances are, if a technology is developed, gay men will pick it up long before their heterosexual counterparts.

On September 12, 2012, Tinder was launched which undoubtedly revolutionised dating throughout the world; however, years before then, an app was created that specifically targeted gay men. On March 25, 2009, Grindr was launched, an app that at the time was explicitly geared towards gay and bisexual men.

Joel Simkhai, the creator and founder of Grindr. Credit: Flickr/TechCrunch

The app uses a mobile device’s geolocation abilities to find other users who are nearby. Grindr was the first gay geo-social app to launch in the iTunes store and has now reached as many as 192 countries, it undoubtedly also changed the gay dating game in Iceland.

So what is Grindr like in Iceland? To answer that question there are a few different things to look at.

The Numbers

Credit: Reykjavík Pride Facebook

It’s difficult to say exactly how many gay men there are permanently residing in Iceland. It’s estimated that approximately 2 per cent of a developed nations population are men who identify as exclusively gay. With a current population of 348,580, this would put the possible gay male dating pool at just under 7,000.

Logging onto Grindr here you will see anywhere from 50-100 local men at any given time. Most of these men would reside in the capital of Reykjavík; however, don’t be surprised if you feel a ping in your pocket when travelling around Iceland’s vast countryside.

Credit: Reykjavík Pride Facebook

With these numbers in mind, it’s quite likely that the second you log onto the app when you enter the country, there could be a flurry of, ‘Hi, welcome to Iceland,’ messages in your inbox. The reason for this is that the community here is small.

Icelandic drag queen Gogo Starr famously got engaged during a show in Reykjavík. Credit: Gogo Starr Facebook

See Also: The Drag Scene in Iceland

Most of the gay men who grew up in Iceland have known each other a very long time. When you take that into account, locals are old news to other locals. The prospect of a romantic encounter with a foreigner can be both exciting and exotic. When you grow up on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic ocean pretty much anywhere else is exotic. Oh, and we can tell you just landed too, we all know how many kilometres away the airport is.

Locals and, Tourists and Expats Oh My!

The Bears on Ice Festival brings gay men from all over the world to Iceland each year. Credit: Bears on Ice Facebook.

Another thing to keep in mind when scrolling the Grindr grid is that Iceland is an incredibly popular country to visit. There are times throughout the year where the number of tourists can actually outnumber the amount of people who live here. So if you thought you were going to be that unique foreign fruit we’ve all been waiting for, get in line.

Iceland has a growing immigrant population. According to statistics Iceland, immigrants make up 13% of the population as of 2018, and that number seems to be growing exponentially.

Credit: Statistics Iceland

This means that when you log into Grindr, you will see people who are not Icelandic but are also not tourists. So if you have your heart set on adding an Icelandic dude to your list of accomplishments when travelling here, you may have to look harder.

A sad reality for locals who are not of Icelandic descent is that they often will have a tourist chat to them, only to ghost them after they find out they are not Icelandic.

Relax, it’s just sex.

In most other countries, if you have a one night stand when visiting as a tourist, the likelihood of bumping into them throughout the rest of your stay is relatively small. In Iceland, this is not the case. There’s no need to worry though, the local attitude to this is quite relaxed. The Icelandic language even has a word for when two people have slept with the same person. Kviðmágur which literally translates to ‘belly brother in law.’

See Also: The Most Romantic Places in Iceland

If you see a partner from a romantic interaction in the street, nobody really cares. You can choose to do the Reykjavík walk (where you don’t make eye contact and listen to headphones – signifying that you don’t feel like chatting) or just say hello and move on.

This also means that by the science of numbers, if you are talking to several guys on Grindr here, they probably all know each other and might even be chatting with each other about you.

We know you’re in town for a short time, and we’re ok with it.

Credit: Reykjavík Pride Facebook

Part of living on an island with a continually rotating source of new people can make it difficult to think about the prospect of a long term relationship.

There are those who live here and never want a relationship; those who move abroad to meet someone and hopefully convince them one day to return to the mothership; but there are also those who are quite happy with a holiday affair.

Credit: Reykjavík Pride Facebook

There are guys who will meet you and if there’s a connection, will happily go on an adventure with you, knowing that at the end of it you will leave and possibly might not see each other again. Yes, the dating pool here is small, but just because locals express interest in seeing you a second time, it doesn’t mean they are looking to buy wedding rings.

The bottom line (pun not necessarily intended) when it comes to Grindr in Iceland is that it’s basically like everywhere else, just on a smaller scale. So be honest with yourself and others, try not to be a douchebag, and you’ll have a great time. Happy Grinding!