3 min


Take a liking to a Viking in Scandinavia's most pristine city

Stockholm’s men — tall and muscular in stature, endowed with meticulously defined jaw lines and baby-soft blond hair — will take your breath away. They seem to grace every corner of the regal city, giving new meaning to gay Stockholm’s slogan: “Take a liking to a Viking.”

In Stockholm, taking a ferry is as common as taking a bus. One of the world’s most beautiful capitals, the city is built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges, with handsome buildings, green parks and water all around; it is by far the most pristine of all Scandinavian cities. On every corner there’s another fairy-tale setting, and perhaps another Prince Charming.

Spring’s the time when the layers come off in tandem with the rise of the perpetual sun. From May to September, you can watch the gladiators jogging over the bridges that connect the vast archipelago and lose yourself in long ambles through the gingerbread streets of Gamla Stan (Stockholm’s Old Town).

By day, visitors and locals are spoiled for choice, with charming boat rides among the islands, countless picnic spots throughout the 2010 European Green Capital and visits to first-class attractions. Adjacent to most main roads you’ll find dedicated lanes for bicycles, which are an ideal way to explore the city. The bike-sharing program, Stockholm City Bikes, operates from the beginning of April through the end of October and is perfect for short trips (bikes must be dropped off at one of the many hubs within three hours of pickup). Three-day rental cards can be purchased for $25.

Stockholm’s main attractions are easily explored on foot. The Gamla Stan dates back to the 13th century and offers a glimpse of Stockholm’s past, with its backdrop of medieval architecture, cobblestone streets and charming antique shops and cafés, most of which are found in the main square. Notable is the quaint gay-owned and -operated Chokladkoppen café and the neighbouring Keffekoppen. Offering fabulous coffee and local delights, they share the same kitchen and the same breathtaking view of the square. A stone’s throw away are the Nobel Museum, the cathedral (known as the Great Church) and the Royal Palace (don’t miss the parade of soldiers and the changing of the guard).

One of the more popular of Stockholm’s 14 islands is Djurgården, home to some of the city’s premier attractions: Vasa Museum, Gröna Lund Amusement Park , Skansen (billed as the world’s oldest open-air museum), Stockholm Zoo and a variety of historical buildings, monuments and galleries. Djurgården also offers extensive stretches of green space and incredible views of Stockholm’s yacht harbours and connecting bridges.

Take a leisurely walk from downtown Stockholm to Kungsholmen island, where you’ll find one of the city’s best hidden treasures: the open-air waterfront café and beer garden Mälarpaviljongen. This gay-friendly “everyone’s welcome” establishment offers the best eye-candy in the city. Equally popular is the Moulin Rouge-esque Torget, which transforms itself from a “restaurant-by-day” to a late-night gay cocktail bar.

When the weather warms up, Stockholm’s party scene rages seven nights a week. The gay community here is out, loud and proud. Stockholm Pride, a week of spirited partying, is usually held at the end of July and beginning of August. The Viking Bears have a full schedule of weekly nights out and list special party events on their website.

Shopping can be an adventure: in the exclusive Östermalm district and Stureplan square you’ll find international designer boutiques and shops, while the mecca for all budgets is the Bohemian neighbourhood Södermalm, also known as SoFo. Taking its name from the SoHo areas of New York and London, the area “south of Folkungagatan” is where the characters in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy live and work.

Stockholm offers a wide range of accommodations for all budgets. The gay-friendly Hilton chain, which promotes its brand with the slogan “Stay Hilton, Go Out,” has the waterfront Hilton Slussen, a great property in central Stockholm. The hotel offers superior accommodation and boasts one of the best buffet breakfasts in the city.

There are no nonstop flights from Canada to Stockholm; however, direct flights to Europe with connections to Arlanda Airport are extensive, with London’s Heathrow, and its hourly connections on SAS (Scandinavian Airlines), the most common transatlantic choice.

Transportation from the airport to Stockholm’s central train station is easy, affordable and fast — the trip takes only 20 minutes — with Arlanda Express. Airport taxis and buses vary in price, depending on the time of day, as do the trip times, but generally they’ll get you downtown in 30 to 40 minutes.

For map locations and website links to more than 50 area places of interest see our gay Stockholm listings pages.

With files from Guidemag staff