OutUK’s Adrian Gillan discovers the true meaning of Lapland in Helsinki where there’s some Finn about the boys!

Boy, those Finns’ll put you in a spin! They’ve the relaxed Scandinavian attitude you’d expect when it comes to sex and sexuality, beneath a cool veneer.

Photo: Hannu Bask.


There's a small satellite queer quarter just north east of the centre which includes the much loved Fairytale, but the main Helsinki HQ (Home for Queers) is a grid of roads just south west of the railway station – a clutch of boutiques, eateries, bars and clubs.

Street Pride Bar is a LGBTQ bar in the Kamppi district of Helsinki. The bar organizes various activities such as bar bingo, has regular DJ guests, drag shows, live music and karaoke. KGB-Club is a gay friendly karaoke and disco in Kruununhaka, a stone's throw from the center of the city. In the atmospheric basement hall of their restaurant is where they hold the disco and karaoke.

If you're after something older, head straight for the discreetly tucked away but heaving Mann’s Street bar in the second floor of an unappetising-looking office complex, called The Glass Palace on Mannerheimintie - it has regular karaoke and “excuse me” nights. They have guest DJs, numerous Drag Shows, Fetish karaoke and Gay Bingo. The Glass Palace Restaurant. Photo: Matti Tirri.
The Glass Palace was built in 1930 on the site of the Turkuskoy barracks that were destroyed during the Civil War in 1918. This building with its functionalistic architecture opened in 1936 with its iconic neon sign featuring the two waitresses. Today it is one of the most famous buildings in Helsinki. There are offices of various well known brands, Helsinki City Library, media center, where you can learn about the latest developments in the field of IT-technologies, gallery, cinema, online library, cafes and restaurants as well as shops. It can be a popular place to meet gay men. They have an excellent restaurant there called Café Lasipalatsi which is always popular for breakfast, coffee or lunch.

Bear Park Cafe in Agricolankatu is a small, cosy and easy going cafeteria that's popular with gay and lesbian guests. Room Blvd is located on Bulevardi and is a gay restaurant offering a wide selection of champagne and wines. The Scandinavian style interior is suitable for end of the day drinks, special dates or just for a casual stop by. There's a summer terrace in the court yard.

Lappi located in Annankatu serves original specialities from Lapland. Very popular but also expensive, especially the drinks. It's has friendly staff and is popular with well off gays and lesbians. Also attracting a gay crowd is Zucchini a small restaurant in the city centre, serving vegetarian dishes, coffee and pastries. It has outdoor seating but is closed in the month of July.


And then onto the clubs! Get to grips with Hercules on Lonnrotinkatu: a spacious, male-dominated bar-cum-club that lures in the leather, with relaxation areas and private cabins. Then feel the edge and energy at Helsinki’s main gay hub of a club: DTM (originally Don't Tell Mama) which lays on regular rolling pop, trance, Finn and 80’s nights. Great DJs, fine lasers and a cool young party crowd! Part of the club is also open as a sizeable internet café by day. DTM hosted visiting performers from RuPaul's Drag Race from January 2019 to early 2020, when the Mannerheimintie venue closed. DTM is scheduled to reopen in summer 2023 in a new space on the outskirts of Helsinki's Kalasatama neighborhood.


Tom of Finland parade go via the street in black uniform. Photo: ks2009q. If you are out to do some shopping or have a good time crusing in the movies then Keltainen Ruusu, Yellow Rose, is a must. It's Finland's largest sexshop megastore and cruising area! Cabinets, cinemas, non-stop video shows, glory holes, slings, darkroom and a lounging area with free hi-speed WiFi. Situated right in the heart of Helsinki - only 200m from Kamppi metro station.
MSC Finland - Tom's Club is a member of the ECMC, the European Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs which organises social activities aimed primarily at gay men with interests in motorcycles and have an interest or fetish for leather, boots, uniforms, rubber, motorcycling and sports, darkrooms, bondage & S/M. There's a big annual ECMC event called Finlandization every summer at the end of July.

US Video Mega Sex Store is a 24 hour, 6 day a week, US Video Mega Sex Store with Cruising Cinema Area and Video booths with 16000 videos to choose from. It's Closed Sundays from 9am to Monday at 9am.


Don’t despair if you’ve still not pulled. As soon as it gets half dark, which is the most it ever does in summer, it’s men on the rocks all round amongst the granite outcrops around the Olympic Stadium just north of city centre! And for a sunny Sunday morning after? You must try out the huge, predominantly gay male, nudist beach enclave on the island of Pihlayasaari. Take sun block and a quick ferry ride from the Carousel quayside in Helsinki. Liberating and horny, check it out.

Photo: Niko Soveri.

Swimming is well served at the Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall. This is the first and oldest public indoor swimming hall in Finland. It was inaugurated in 1928, and the hall itself is spectacular with its Art Deco Style, and real finnish sauna! On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays it's men only, with most of men swimming without swim gear. It has a nudist area, dry sauna and stram bath.

Vogue is the only exclusively gay “health club” in Finland, boasting three traditional Finnish saunas plus a swimming pool, bar, relaxation room and top floor roof terrace.


There are flights from London to Helsinki on airlines like British Airways, Finnair, SAS and KLM. Our hotel partners Bookings have a great selection of gay-friendly hotels at great prices.


Bear Park Cafe (Agricolankatu 13; T: 00358 44 5760 679; instagram)
Café Lasipalatsi - Glass Palace (Mannerheimintie 22/24; T: 00358 20 7424290; Website)
DTM (Soon to open in Helsinki's Kalasatama neighborhood; T: 00358 9 676 315)
Fairytale (Helsinginkatu 7; T: 00358 9 870 3226; facebook)
Glass Palace (Mannerheimintie 22/24; T: 00358 20 7424290; Website)
Hercules (Lonnrotinkatu 4; T: 00358 9 612 1776; facebook)
Keltainen Ruusu - Yellow Rose (Malminrinne 2-4, Etelä-Suomen Lääni; T: 00358 9 6855 5270; Website)
KGB-Club (Hallituskatu 3; Website)
Lappi (Annankatu 22; T: 00358 9 645 550; Website)
Mann’s Street (Mannerheimintie 12a, 2nd Floor; T: 00358 9 612 1103; facebook)
MSC Finland - Tom's Club (PL 48, Etelä-Suomen Lääni; T: 00358 9 45 677 9444; Website)
Room Blvd (00120, Bulevardi 26; T: +358 9 47840131; instagram)
Street Pride Bar (Malminrinne 1; Website)
US Video Mega Sex Store (Malminkatu 24, Etelä-Suomen Lääni; T: 00358 9 737 190; Website)
Vogue (Sturenkatu 27a, 5th floor; T: 00358 9 737 280; Website)
Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall (Yrjönkatu 21b; T: 00358 9 3108 7401; Website)
Zucchini (Fabianinkatu 4; T: 00358 9 622 2907; facebook)

Revised March 2023. Photography courtesy Helsinki City Tourist & Convention Bureau.


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