Swedish sensation: how Stockholm became a modern gay mecca

Between EuroGames and Stockholm Pride, this stylish city is having its gayest year yet – from smorgasbords to schlager rooms, GSN finds out how the Scandi capital took on the world of LGBT travel and won

If ever there is a time to visit Stockholm, it’s the summer of 2015. Already there’s a palpable buzz around what will be an almost month-long LGBTI party, beginning with Stockholm Pride (from 27 July to 1 August) and concluding with EuroGames (from 5-9 August).
It’s no surprise that Stockholm was selected to host the EuroGames event: it’s a city that’s embraced LGBTI visitors for years. Equal marriage was introduced in Sweden in May 2009, and last month Stockholm won the destination award at the British LGBT Awards

A city of striking beauty, Stockholm is defined by light and water. This is a low-rise city built over 14 islands and connected together by 57 bridges, so you’re surrounded by water at every turn. What’s more, we struck it lucky with the weather – clear blue skies and warm days for our entire stay.

We travelled the length and breadth of the Scandi capital to find out exactly why it’s such an LGBTI tourist paradise – and here’s what we found out…

Things to do

  • Wander the streets of SoFo. This is a super-cool neighbourhood on the island of Södermalm. It’s got a real hipster vibe with independent stores, great cafes and bars. Make sure you pick up some caramels from Parlans Konfektyr, which are handmade and deliciously smooth and buttery. The liquorice flavor is a game-changer.
  • Experience Fotografiska. This is Stockholm’s house of photography. It features changing exhibitions from the world’s leading photographers. When we were there we saw fantastic work from Andres Serrano. This is an historic building that has been given a modern makeover. The cafe is worth checking out – grab a coffee and a shrimp sandwich as you admire the stunning views across the harbour.
  • Take a ferry. The best vantage point to admire the beauty of Stockholm is from the water. The DjurgÃ¥rden Ferry departs from Slussen (where Lake Malaren meets the sea).
  • Make yourself at home at the Thiel Gallery. This stunning mansion on DjurgÃ¥rden Island has been transformed into an creative haven. Ernest Thiel was a prominent businessman with a passion for collecting art. He created this mansion so that he could share his collection with the people of Stockholm. This summer the gallery will be presenting a special exhibition focusing on the work of Eugène Jansson.
  • Take fika. This is a Swedish ritual that is a civilised form of coffee break – accompanied by a cinnamon bun. There are lots of options around Stockholm where you can take a fika break, but why not try Chokladkoppen, the gay coffee shop in Gamla Stan, which is the Old Town where you will find cobbled streets and The Royal Palace.
  • Combine culture and travel. The T-bana is Stockholm’s underground transport system and also boasts the world’s longest public art installation. Each station features murals and artwork.
  • Face your Waterloo. Sweden’s biggest export is the music of pop icons ABBA and the famous four have taken a hands-on role in creating the ABBA museum that celebrates their career. This is actually a lot more fun than you might imagine, even if you’re not a massive ABBA fan. Interaction is the key focus – you get to record a song, dance in a music video, and appear on stage as you embrace your ABBA fantasies. One of the great features of this experience is that you can then download your performances and enjoy them again. Although, listening back to my recording of Mamma Mia I was bit disappointed – I hadn’t quite nailed the notes as precisely as I had imagined!
  • Dive into history. Stockholm’s most popular attraction is the Vasa Museum. This is the home of a massive wooden warship that sank while on its maiden voyage in 1628. Incredibly preserved, it is a unique opportunity to appreciate Europe’s maritime past.
  • Stock up on some Swedish style. As well as numerous well-known fashion brands, there are some emerging designers in Sweden that are really exciting. The best place to see them all in once place is Nordiska Kompaniet – the department store known by everyone as NK. Check out the cafes and restaurants on the top floor and then give your credit card a workout. The store’s staff are particularly helpful and knowledgable and will help explain who’s who in Swedish fashion.

Where to eat

  • Urban Deli. Overlooking Nytorget square, this is the go-to food option in the SoFo neighbourhood on the island of Södermalm. It’s a sprawling space that includes a deli, a grocery, a bar and a cafe. You could easily spend the day here.
  • Zink Grill. Warm and intimate, this is simple food done really well. Share a meat platter and feast on chops, sausages, pork belly, and white beans in a rich tomato sauce.
  • Oaxen Slip. This is the more relaxed and casual eatery from the team who also operate Oaxen Krog – one of only three restaurants in Stockholm that has been awarded two Michelin stars. This is Scandinavian cuisine at its best.
  • Broms. In the stylish district of Ã

by Gareth Johnson
Source – Gay Star News