Stockholm is one of Europe’s top LGBT destinations, and while you’re there, you’ll find plenty to do outside of the traditional gay bars and clubs, all of which are easily found at gaylesbian.visitstockholm.com. Attitude’s Ben Kelly visited to check out the best of the rest the Scandinavian capital has to offer.
Located on one of Stockholm’s smallest islands, with a circumference of less than a mile, this hotel is one of a handful of buildings on Skeppsholmen, which also houses the Moderna Museet. The building is an old army barracks from 1699, with an authentically modern Swedish feel. The staff are helpful (and handsome) and clothed by ACNE, and your booking includes free breakfast and high speed WiFi. The hotel boasts a Swan award for its eco-friendliness, something you’ll notice in practise all around the building and grounds. The beauty of this hotel is that while it sits like a quiet oasis on an isle of its own, it’s just a 10 minute walk across the bridge to the city centre. hotelskeppsholmen.se/en
Not just by the water, but on the water, Malarpaviljongen is a restaurant-bar near the City Hall which appears to float on the Malaren. Best known for its delicious rose wine and mouth watering deserts, this place is only open during the summer months, but it’s absolutely one of the top gay meeting spots in the whole city. The gay owners give back spectacularly, donating money from wine sales to LGBT rights movements abroad, and employing LGBT asylum seekers who work at the restaurant. There’s nowhere better to spend a summer night in Stockholm. malarpaviljongen.se
Opened in 2013, ABBA: The Museum is an absolute must see for pop enthusiasts – fans of the band in particular. And boy are there plenty of them. As of 2015, ABBA have sold somewhere in the region of 380 million albums worldwide, and this permanent museum celebrates the magical music they created during their 10 years together, as well as its lasting legacy. Lose all inhibitions as the specially commissioned Jonas Akerlund video plays on the way in, and give yourself over to this mecca of pop history. You can see all their legendary outfits, the instruments they recorded on, and immerse yourself in the interactive exhibits where you can record yourself singing, and even dancing with their 3D holograms on stage! Those Swedes don’t do things by halves… abbathemuseum.com
Swimming at Langholmen
There are a number of gay beaches in Stockholm where you can strip off and dive into the welcoming waters of the Malaren for a bit of Scandinavian style, outdoor invigoration. It’s difficult to find (so plan in advance), but one of the three swimming points on Langholmen is a gay spot, and you can take advantage of the beautiful land on the rest of the island to have a picnic before or after. Swedish laws mean there’s no such thing as private land, so park up wherever you want!
Nothing is very high in Stockholm, and planning permission is rarely granted for buildings that will disturb the low lying landscape. But, if you go to this popular theatre and visit its roof terrace bar, you’ll enjoy one of the most beautiful views of most of the city. While you’re there, you can also look at what’s on in one of the 7 stages the theatre boasts of. The venue also has many music events and has an annual audience of around 250,000 people. sodrateatern.com
The Royal Palace
If you like a bit of pomp and ceremony, Stockholm’s Royal Palace is slap bang in the middle of the city. Curiously for a staunchly socialist country, the Swedes have great affection for their monarchy, who – admittedly – down sized and modernised a long time before that appeared on the cards for the UK. You can come and watch the changing of the guard for free, and entry is open to have a wander round the Royal Chapel – where the handsome Prince Carl Philip married earlier in the year – as well as exhibits to see centuries of the monarchy’s crown jewels, and King Gustav III’s specially curated Museum of Antiquities. More of an administrative headquarters than a live in palace, this feels a lot more ‘for the people’ than Buckingham Palace, where you might walk in on Her Maj on the loo. Oh go on then, here’s the Prince in all his glory…
Speaking of SoFo, one of the best places to eat in all of Stockholm is there. Urban Deli is a well known, gay friendly restaurant – in fact, it’s friendly for all. The servers all wear t-shirts which (I’m told) features all the Swedish words for various minority groups, however insulting, proudly boasting that they all work, and eat there. It’s a fun relaxed vibe, and their tapas platters are enough to fill you before you’ve even got to your main meal. Sit outside and watch the coolest Swedes out and about, usually with a baby, a dog and a coffee to go. urbandeli.org
The Swedish style really stands out when you’re there; immaculately dressed in monochrome, which is only broken for light, block pastel shirts. If it’s your thing, it’s not hard to make yourself over and fit right in. A trip to the famous department store NK (Nordiska Kompaniet), in operation since 1902, will give you the best overview of Swedish menswear, including ACNE, WHYRED and NUDIE. Another area where you can shop in smaller, more designer/hipster boutiques is SoFo on the southern Sodermalm island, which will give you a taste of Stockholm’s Shoreditch/Brooklyn. nk.se/stockholm