Over the last few years, Stockholm has emerged as one of the world’s brightest gay darlings, winning global awards and topping “Where to Go” lists across the planet. We’ve always known that the Swedish capital’s uniquely fab combo of beauty, style, culture, warmth, fun and tradition makes it a very special place. So we couldn’t be prouder that gay guys from Miami to Melbourne are now falling in love with it too.
Stockholm is spread over 14 gorgeous islands, and you’ll find our gayness all over town – in a city as open as this, there’s never been a need for just one segregated gayborhood. It’s been said that if ever there was a capital designed by gay people for gay people, Stockholm is it. We’ve had marriage equality for years, and even our future queen, the radiant Crown Princess Victoria, recently gave out the award for Gay of the Year. Stockholm has twice hosted EuroPride, and we’ll soon welcome the Eurogames.
Whether you want to bask in the glow of our bright summertime sun or snuggle up to a Swede in our magical winter, Stockholm makes a divine destination any time of year. Come let us show you what all the big gay fuss is about.
FASHION + DESIGN
Stockholm’s fashion scene has boldly charged onto the international stage of late, with Stockholm Fashion Week now an industry event to watch, and Swedish brands like Filippa K., Acne, Cheap Monday and Whyred becoming household names, at least in fashionable households. You’ll soon see why voters in a recent Logo’s NewNowNext Traveler’s Choice Awards picked Stockholm as the World Style Capital.
And for lovers of form and function, there’s no place in the world like Stockholm, the capital of sleek Scandinavian design. Whether you’re looking for Swedish classics like Orrefors crystal or Swedish freshness like Front’s chainsaw chair, Stockholm has oodles of shops geared toward beautifying your interior (see our comprehensive shopping guide for more info).
To better understand how Stockholm came to be such a dazzling design center, head to the Swedish Museum of Architecture (Arkitekturmuseet), which traces the country’s structural history from the 19th century to today.
MUSIC + ART
Stockholm’s music scene has been glowing white hot in recent years, producing gay-popular acts like Robyn, Swedish House Mafia, and the Eurovision Song Contest-winning Loreen, as well as massive indie faves like Lykke Li, Miike Snow, The Knife, and Peter Bjorn and John. As for the band that really lit the global fuse of Swedish pop music, you can now pay your respects – and even become their fifth member via hologram – at ABBA the Museum, a special wing of the brand new Swedish Music Hall of Fame.
The city is brimming with art too, some of it rather queer in nature. For a great example, look no further than the lovely Millesgården, a stunning outdoor array of the often homoerotic works by Sweden’s foremost sculptor, Carl Milles, located on the clifftop grounds of his former home, with smashing views of Lake Värtan and central Stockholm beyond.
Also with a breathtaking riverside city view – in fact, one of the best in town – is the excellent Fotografiska, home to some of the region’s (and indeed the world’s) most exciting photographic exhibitions, many of them gay-slanted. Fotografiska’s top-floor bistro and its panoramic vistas are simply fabulous too.
HISTORY + CULTURE
For some, the idea of Swedish history still conjures up images of rugged Vikings. But that’s just a tiny part of Stockholm’s fascinating and colorful – and yes, even gay – past. The best place to start exploring is the place where Stockholm itself began, its beautifully preserved Old Town of Gamla Stan. Here you’ll find Sweden’s magnificent Royal Palace, which has seen its fair share of gaiety through the years. In fact, the very first king to grow up here in the 18th century, Gustav III, enjoyed extremely close bonds with at least two of his handsome male courtiers. Later, in the 1930s, King Gustaf V became enmeshed in a gay blackmail scandal. Today, the grand 600-room palace is ceremonially protected by cute but stoic guards, and partially open for guided tours. Don’t miss Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities, the arts-loving king’s fascinating sculpture collection. The pieces are arranged just as they were during his reign, including their rather hot male nude centerpiece, Endymion.
One can only imagine the manly marine romances that were just starting to blossom below the decks of the proud Swedish warship Vasa when disaster struck, sinking her less than a mile out from Stockholm harbor on her maiden voyage in 1628. She’s now back on land and fully restored as a magnificent museum – and the city’s most popular attraction – on the central Stockholm island of Djurgården.
At the Stockholm City Museum, you can follow the Swedish capital’s progression from simple early settlement all the way up to its diverse and dynamic present. What’s more, in summer the museum conducts gay-themed city tours, both by land and sea – and if those don’t grab you, maybe their very popular ABBA City Walk will.
To discover only the second site from the 20th century to achieve UNESCO World Heritage status, head south to Woodland Cemetery (Skogskyrkogården), which serenely blends nature and architecture in honor of the departed. Here you can also pay respects to some of Stockholm’s most famed past citizens, including one of its best known native daughters, Greta Garbo. (The final resting place of her gay Svengali, Mauritz Stiller, is on the other side of town at Northern Cemetery.)
SPORTS + OUTDOORS
Stockholm’s multi-island milieu makes it an excellent setting for sport and nature lovers. Boating is a favorite local summer pastime – and we highly recommend it, since there’s no better way to see our beautiful city than by sea. For a real treat, take a vitalizing day trip just beyond the city limits to the wonderful Stockholm archipelago, where a mind-boggling 30,000 islands and islets include loads of possible destinations, like the arty new Artipelag and the charming Sandhamn. Strömma Kanalbolaget offers a variety of short cruise options in and around Stockholm, lasting anywhere from 25 minutes to 8 hours.
Stockholm’s gay swimmers and sunbathers have a number of easily accessible choices, including the island of Långholmen just off of Södermalm; the cliff-top, clothing-optional and cruisy Frescati Beach in Haga, just north of the city; or the outdoor wonderland of Hellasgården about 20 minutes south of the city center, with its own beach, swimming area, jogging trails, bike paths, and miniature golf. When the weather turns chillier, Hellasgården is also an ideal place for winter sports like ice skating and cross-
country skiing – and for the truly hearty, even ice swimming.
In 2015, Stockholm will mark a gay sport milestone when it hosts its first Eurogames. Some 5,000 gay and lesbian athletes from across the continent will descend on the Swedish capital, competing in more than 25 sports over four summer days.
FOOD + FUN
Stockholm’s culinary scene is on fire, with an ever-growing number of celeb chefs and Michelin-starred eateries. And should you ever get peckish while touring the city, just do like a Swede and grab a fika, which translates to taking an afternoon break for coffee and baked goods. A perfect spot for that is the gay café Chokladkoppen, right at the heart of Gamla Stan.
For more substantial fare, there are excellent gay-flaired dining options all over town, from Urban Deli in Södermalm (a combo food store/café/bistro with a very hip mixed crowd) to Torget in Gamla Stan (the living room-like queen of Stockholm’s LGBT dining scene), and Mälarpaviljongen on the riverbank in Kungsholmen (in summer months only, but when it’s open there’s no better choice – or one with a hotter crowd). Beyond their fantastic food, these are all also great places to get your evening started by dining and mingling with charming locals.
After dinner, it’s time to dive into Stockholm’s sparkling nightlife scene. The city’s loaded with cool mixed bars and lounges that are well worth checking out, and where you’ll always feel entirely welcome. When you’re ready for full-on gay carousing, the multi-floored Kolingsborg in Slussen hosts big and throbbing mainstream parties on Wednesdays (Sthlm Night Fever), Fridays (Garage) and Saturdays (Paradise), while Side Track in Södermalm is a more laid back choice. For the leather crowd, the place to be is the members-only Scandinavian Leather Men (SLM).
Some of Stockholm’s best gay parties happen just one night a week. On Saturdays it’s the popular and cute-crowded Zipper, playing house and schlager music (i.e., campy Europop) on two floors. Sundays bring out the wild gay side of Patricia, a former British lightship that’s been moored in Stockholm harbor since 1986, where she’s found new life as a (literally) rocking party boat. And for the truly adventurous, a walk on the wild side at Stockholm’s hip queer underground monthly party Mums Mums is one you won’t soon forget.
You’ve probably heard of Stockholm’s phenomenal Pride, which draws over half a million people every year, making it Sweden’s largest public event and Scandinavia’s biggest LGBT Pride. Happening over several days in late July and early August, Stockholm Pride incorporates music, art, lectures, debates, and of course a fair bit of revelry, all culminating in Saturday’s huge parade through the city and outdoor festival in Pride Park.
But what you may not realize is that Stockholm also hosts several other unique and super-fun events throughout the year that bring the city’s whole gay scene together, making them perfect for meeting lots of locals in one go. These include the slippery Gays on Ice in February, the wild gay hat parade on Walpurgis (April 30), and the festive Pink Christmas in mid-December, a week-long citywide gay-themed merger of Christmas and Sweden’s all-important Santa Lucia Day.
Once you get to town, be sure to check out the Stockholm Gay & Lesbian Network blog and Swedish gay magazine QX, the foremost authorities for the very latest in Stockholm’s ever-evolving gay scene. QX also publishes a free (and regularly updated) gay map of Stockholm, which is downloadable as a PDF from their website.
Stockholm is blessed with a pantheon of outstanding hotels, all brimming with Scandinavian warmth and style, and just waiting to welcome you to your new Stockhome.
The Berns Hotel deftly blends luxury with boutique intimacy, making it the local choice for no less than Rihanna and the Dalai Lama. Nowhere else in town will you find such a grand breakfast salon (boasting mirrors and crystal chandeliers) – and one of the city’s top entertainment venues, Berns Salonger, is right next door.
Clarion Sign is the city’s largest hotel, offering the convenience of being adjacent to the main train station and its quick and easy Arlanda Express connection to the airport. The Clarion Sign’s bright and timeless interiors are by Scandinavian design icons like Arne Jacobsen and Alvar Aalto.
The stylish but unassuming Hotel Hellsten combines the normally incompatible perks of being very central, and also located on a quiet residential street. Each room is unique, and the onsite Earth Bar is loaded with cool artifacts from the owner’s days as an anthropologist throughout Africa and Asia.
Just steps from both Gamla Stan and the hip SoFo area (not to mention several of Stockholm’s most popular nightspots), the bayside Hilton Stockholm Slussen offers award-winning modern luxury, with light and airy Swedish-designed rooms and fantastic views of the water and Old Town beyond. The hotel even makes its own honey for its fabulous breakfast buffet, with the help some 60,000 bees in two hives on the roof.
Housed in a late 17th century Swedish marine barracks, the fantastic Hotel Skeppsholmen is a centerpiece of the arty and central Stockholm island of the same name. The stylishly modern rooms at this eco-conscious “urban oasis” feature wooden floors and large windows, all the better for glimpsing the beautiful waterside views.
With an unbeatably central location just minutes from both the train station and Gamla Stan, the Sheraton Stockholm also boasts gorgeous views of the city and Lake Mälaren. Rooms are spacious, perfectly equipped for the business traveler , and feature Sheraton’s signature Sweet Sleeper beds. Inspired by the unique magic of Scandinavian light, the Nordic Light Hotel serves up a multitude of light-themed perks, including Mood rooms with light beds than can be adjusted to fit your disposition (red for energy, blue for rest, or green for refreshing). If you still need more brightening, a light treatment will surely help, and can even be administered in-room.
Stockholm’s first-ever boutique property, the very popular Rival was converted into a hotel from a 1930s Art Deco cinema, by none other than ABBA’s Benny Andersson. Guests love it for its creative vibe, its great Södermalm location, and unique perks like in-room ABBA CDs.
Brought to you by the same team that created the Skeppsholmen, the Nobis is Stockholm’s latest contemporary luxury hotel, its understated modern elegance spread over two 19th century buildings. Just steps from some of the city’s best shopping, dining and entertainment options, it’s an excellent choice for discerning travelers of both the business and pleasure ilk.
Calling itself a “second generation boutique hotel,” the marvelous Lydmar brings a friendly and informal approach to 5-star service. Rooms are stylish and spacious, and its location on Stockholm’s waterfront, just across from Gamla Stan and the Royal Palace, is simply sublime.