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Over the decades Sweeden has provided us with two major social inspirations - equal marriage and Abba. Sweden is one of the most socially and politically progressive countries in the world and one of the first nations to legally recognize gay marriage. It also brought us Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid in the form of Waterloo during the Eurovision Song Contest. Two of our reporters Adrian Gillan and Andrew Collins have been to Stockholm to enjoy the Smörgåsbord of delights that this city offers. Here's Andrew's report:

The stereotype goes like this: Stockholm is a land of supremely tall and lanky blonde people with weathered Nordic features and polite but slightly aloof dispositions. But the truth lies elsewhere. This cosmopolitan cultural and political hub of Northern Europe is a surprisingly spicy stew of diverse backgrounds, where hair, eye, and skin color reflect a steady and varied immigration movement over the past century, and where locals welcome visitors with warmth and openness. Gay travellers appreciate the fact that one other stereotype about Stockholm - and Sweden in general - also holds true: it's far ahead of most of the world when it comes to gay rights and tolerance.

There's an abundance of green spaces and dramatic waterfront vistas - Stockholm occupies a vast archipelago near where Lake Målaren empties into the Baltic Sea. The country is a trendsetter in design, pop music, dining, fashion, and shopping - there's much to see and do here, from respected art museums to historic homes.
In terms of size and variety, this is one of Europe's centres of gay life. As one of the first nations to legally recognize gay marriages, Sweden is one of the most socially and politically progressive countries in the world; it, with Denmark, has been a pioneer in northern Europe. Half of Stockholm's City Council members are women. The city also has an extremely popular and well attended gay pride festival.

This is not a city with a specific gay ghetto - gay and mainstream cultures mingle almost imperceptibly. Gay bars and cafes are spread throughout the city, and many establishments draw a strong mix of patrons. It's a disadvantage if you like finding all your gay hangouts in one neat little district, but the pluses are two-fold: you can find gay-friendly businesses in every major neighbourhood, and you'll rarely feel out of place walking around Stockholm with a same-sex partner or gay friends.

View from Södra Teater, Södermalm - Henrik Trygg /

Stockholm's restaurants are renowned for such traditional Swedish fare as meatballs, pickled herring, reindeer calf fillet, and cloudberry cheesecake. A wonderful place to sample a wide variety of fresh domestic and international cuisines is the Östermalmshallen marketplace, whose stalls are loaded with every food imaginable, from local cheeses to salmon to cured ham. For a fine meal, consider Den Gyldene Freden. Since the early 18th century, this elegant restaurant has been the haunt of politicos, lawmakers, and business leaders.

A young fashionable crowd frequents Sturehof, a dramatically renovated space overlooking the pedestrian-heavy Stureplan that has both an upscale restaurant and two always-packed bars. To experience a legendary smörgåsbord of gravlax (cured salmon), deviled eggs with shrimp, and glasses of the famous aperitif - aquavit - try Wärdshuset Ulla Winblåd, whose 1897 building exudes charm.

A number of eateries around town maintain high visibility in the gay community, including the lesbian-popular Blå Lotus, a New Age coffeehouse and cafe with a vegan menu. In one of the more bohemian parts of town, Södermalm, you'll find Chokladkoppen which is famous for its homemade sweets and cakes, plus coffee drinks and hot white chocolate.

Stockholm Pride happens every year, late July or early August, focused around a city centre parade and concerts at Tantolunden Park. More info at

Choosing a place to stay in Stockholm isn't complicated but can involve some searching - the city has a high occupancy rate. If you get stuck, book through the Hotellcentralen, the Stockholm Information Service's reservation center. In this city where ostensibly every accommodation is gay-friendly, you won't go wrong this way.

Photo: Jonatan Svensson Glad
CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
If money is no object and experiencing the city's finest hotel is your goal, check into the ultra-hip Berns Hotel, whose sleek rooms are decked with modern furniture and bathed in indirect lighting. Entertain visiting friends in the stunning, vaulted two-story lobby bar, or dine in Berns' fabulous restaurant, designed by Sir Terence Conran. Traditionalists, however, usually stick with the Grand, an 1874 jewel of a hotel with a stunning harbourside location - it has long been the choice of visiting political leaders and Nobel Prize winners. A bit less pricey, the 1930s art deco Lydmar is a favorite haunt of young media and design types, both as a place to stay and one to socialize in - some of the city's top bands perform regularly in the lobby's black-marble lounge.


For so large a city, Stockholm doesn't have a huge number of gay clubs, but the several popular spots here pack plenty of punch.

Stockholm Pride
Yanan Li /
Sidetrack is a fixture in the heavily gay Södermalm neighbourhood. This cozy basement lounge draws a neighbourhoody, somewhat butch crowd that spans all ages - a nice little fireplace warms everybody up. Nearby you'll find the "members-only" SLM - Stockholm's renouned raunchy leather/Levi's/uniform club, a maze of dark, smoke-filled rooms that contain enough cuffs, slings, and harnesses to keep you tied up for hours. Visitors are welcome if they observe the dress code and pay a small cover. A lot of the same guys, as well as many non-leather types, frequent the Basement, a gay porn movie palace with lockers and booths, open 24hrs a day.
If you love to party, try timing your visit to Stockholm to coincide with one of the more unusual weekly gay nightlife events in Europe, the party on the old steamship Patricia Gaykvåll. This moored vessel has several levels, one with a restaurant where fresh lobster is the specialty, and others with outdoor deck areas. The crowd is young and sceney but otherwise eclectic. And there's no more romantic place in this city to snog with your date than on the deck of the Patricia, looking out over the twinkling lights of Stockholm.

Andrew Collins authored Fodor's Gay Guide to the USA, the Connecticut Handbook, and six regional gay guides for Fodor's.


Berns Hotel (Nåckströmsgatan 8; T: +46 (0)88-566-32200; Website)
Blå Lotus (Katarina Bangatan 21; T: +46 (0)88-644-5043; Website)
Chokladkoppen (Stortorget 18; T: +46 (0)88-20-3170; Website)
Den Gyldene Freden (Österlånggatan 51; T: +46 (0)88-10-9046; Website)
The Grand (Södra Blasieholmshamnen 8; T: +46 (0)88-679-3500; Website)
Hotellcentralen (Central Station; T: +46 (0)88-789-2490; Website)
Lydmar (Sturegatan 10; 08-566-11300; Website)
Östermalmshallen market place (Nyborg at Humlegårdsgatan; Website)
Patricia_ Gaykvåll (Stadsgårdskajen 152; T: +46 (0)88-743-0570; Website)
RFSL (Stockholm's gay community centre, Sveavågen 57; T: +46 (0)88-736-0215; Website)
Sidetrack (Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 7; T: +46 (0)88-641-1688; Website)
SLM (Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 18; T: +46 (0)88-643-3100; Website)
Stockholm Information Service (Sweden House, Hamngatan 27; T: +46 (0)88-789-2400; Website)
Sturehof (Stureplan 2; T: +46 (0)88-44-05730; Website)
Wärdshuset Ulla Winblad (Rosendalsvägen 8; T: +46 (0)88-663-0571; Website)

SAS Scandinavian Airlines offer daily flights to Stockholm from all major UK airports. Check out the best prices at Alternatively, KLM also fly from London, but you will find that the flights aren't cheap.

Book Hotels In Stockholm At Special Rates With Bookings.

Revised October 2023.

Adrian Gillian's review of Stockholm


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