Arguably the coolest city in Scandinavia (and not only in temperature) and one of Europe’s most LGBT-friendly cities, we’ve put together the ultimate LGBT guide to Stockholm. Sweden has a progressive history of LGBT rights and was the seventh country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, a common barometer for a country’s gay-friendliness. Stockholm is at the centre of that openness, hosting Scandinavia’s largest LGBT pride each summer.
The city’s culture for fashion, shopping, design and art makes it a year-round hotspot. To help you discover the best of the Swedish capital, we’ve profiled our favourite LGBT-friendly things to see and do.
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Gay life in Stockholm
Stockholm is a gay hotspot year-round thanks to a liberal attitude and culture, but this year the city is hosting Eurovision after an impressive win last year from Sweden’s Måns Zelmerlöw, singing Heroes. It’s the third time Sweden is hosting Eurovision, though the city has been attracting LGBT tourists for years – especially considering the active role Sweden and Stockholm tourism have taken toward advocating equality and Stockholm’s many LGBT venues.
Stockholm doesn’t necessarily have a single neighbourhood that is particularly popular for the city’s LGBT scene. Rather, like the city itself, the best bars, shops and venues are spread out through a few different areas—namely on Södermalm Island (in both the SoFo and Mariatorget districts), in Gamla Stan (Stockholm’s “Old City”) and in the Central Business District.
On Södermalm, the SoFo district (that’s South of Folkungagatan) is home to some of the city’s most trendy hotspots – specifically, the café and restaurant Urban Deli just opposite Nytorget Park. There you’ll find young couples and singles taking in the views from the outdoor patio, eating open-faced sandwiches and sipping classic cocktails.
Around the corner, you’ll also find a number of small cafés catering to the local hipsters, doubling up as vintage and thrift shops. The best? Grandpa, which is at the epicenter of Stockholm’s vintage shopping community. Or try Sivletto, an underground vintage shop with retro products and an in-house barber.
Also on Södermalm, the area around Mariatorget is home to one of Stockholm’s best gay clubs: the indie, underground King Kong club which hosts different parties each week. The two basement dance floors play everything from pop and electronic to schläger music (including the occasional Eurovision-themed nights).
Central Business District
In the city’s Central Business District there are a handful of gay nightlife hotspots, including the city’s most popular Friday-night party: “Candy” at Le Bon Palais. The Candy party includes a small dance floor that only plays Eurovision hits.
Stockholm’s Old City, Gamla Stan, is also one of Stockholm’s most LGBT-friendly districts. With its cobblestoned streets and historic buildings, it’s also a beautiful setting for romance. Check out the gay café Chokladkoppen during the day for their popular (and cheap!) open-faced sandwiches – do as the locals do and get the shrimp one! The café is a popular hangout for Stockholm’s LGBT community and is a good place to get situated in the scene of the city.
One of the newer bars and cafes on the scene is The Secret Garden – a beautiful little bar, not specifically LGBTQ, but still popular with drag queens and great for a quiet date early in the evening.
As the largest city in Scandinavia, Stockholm has become a cultural hub of activities. The city’s photography museum, Fotografiska is located on the harbour’s edge and exhibits a number of important contemporary photography exhibitions each year – ranging from nature photography to contemporary fashion. The museum’s restaurant on the top-level also features an impressive panoramic view over the city’s skyline.
No gay holiday to Stockholm is complete without a visit to the ABBA Museum – an interactive museum about the legendary pop-group which includes a karaoke stage for visitors.
In the summertime, a lot of the life moves outside – with boat sightseeing being a popular way to explore the city. Stockholm is built on 14 islands and many boats (originating near Gamla Stan) offer tours through the city’s harbor or the entire archipelago of nearly 30,000 islands!
The Stockholm summer comes alive with a lot of LGBT-focused events when rainbow flags are present on the public buses and just about every 7-11 and other shops put up rainbows for the entire city. Stockholm Pride is the largest in Scandinavia and with it’s week of events ranging from fetish training sessions to educational seminars on LGBT rights across Europe, it’s one of the most comprehensive and inclusive prides in Europe.
This year, as host to the Eurovision Song Contest, the city will be pulling out all its rainbows from May 10-14. For more gay tips and events in Stockholm, check the city’s official Gay & Lesbian visitors guide. You can find more tips for Stockholm, including restaurants, activities and more in the Hipster Guide to Stockholm on travelsofadam.com.
Have you been to Stockholm? Let us know your own tips in the comments below!