Gay Stockholm: 14 islands, hot rocks and sun worshippers

Once you visit Stockholm the first time, the city will get in your system and call you back over and over again. What is it that makes this city so special and magical? First off, the city is spread across 14 islands, which means you are never far from the water. Add to that loads of green spaces and striking architecture. And finally mix in the stylish and gorgeous Scandinavian people, who are fun loving and friendly.

Stockholm has hosted EuroPride twice in recent years. And while there are no gay 'hoods per say, gay and gay-friendly establishments are spread liberally throughout the city. Most of the gay bars and clubs can be found in Sodermalm and Old Town (Gamla Stan), with others scattered across other neighborhoods. Due the openness and tolerance of the citys population, there are not a large number of strictly gay and lesbian venues--but everyone is welcome at just about any club, making for a well-integrated, if sometimes confusing, social/sexual climate.

There is something going on somewhere in the city most nights of the week. For those who like to dance, the Slussen area of Sodermalm features great weekend venues. These venues, often with multiple dance floors, attract a mostly male crowd that dances into the wee hours of the night. During the summer, do not be surprised when you leave the club and find it is bright daylight as the sun only dips below the horizon for a few hours. (Remember your sunglasses and low-brimmed hat!) If you want to hang out with the trendy set, there are plenty of weekly events at some of the upscale venues in town. These weekly events attract a mixed gay and non-gay crowd.

Stockholm is particularly enchanting in the summer when it seems the whole population lives outside. There are outdoor cafes and even lounges that attract locals who stop by for a coffee or cocktail, and are eager to mix with visitors. And do not miss the gay beaches which attract sun loving guys who want to bask on the hot rocks (no sandy beaches here) until the weather turns frigid again.

Restaurants to check out