From an evening reliving the delightful ditties by Swedish supergroup Abba, to a Helsinki walking tour highlighting the girthy portraits by queer artist Tom of Finland, we count down our top 10 experiences in Scandinavia. Joining us in the studio are the bearded boys behind the gay travel blog, Couple of Men.
For a downloadable version of Season 2 Episode 8, click here.
Listening to our hosts stumble and slur their way through today’s phonetically-challenging Scandinavia episode was a hilarious farce we weren’t expecting. Download the episode now and then check back here for links to all the sites and experiences recommended by our hosts.
About Couple of Men
German-Dutch life partners Karl Krause and Daan Colijn, are the bearded boys behind Couple of Men. Their warm hearted blog chronicles the duo’s love of travel and each other. Between them they’ve travelled to over 50 countries across 5 continents. Follow their story on coupleofmen.com, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
10. Experience Northern Finland in Winter
Book a weekend at Inari-Saariselkä, Northern Finland’s premiere resort village. You can read about all the arctic activities available on their website, but highlights include cross-country skiing, a reindeer safari and an evening dog sledding adventure in search of Aura Borealis (aka The Northern Lights). You can even book a night slumbering in a luxury igloo complete with wood fire and furs.
9. Bike through Copenhagen and Helsinki
Being from Amsterdam, Karl and Daan are huge urban bikers and were particularly impressed by the cycling infrastructure in both Helsinki and Copenhagen. They also mentioned they have an upcoming trip booked to Malmö, Sweden in which they’ll be staying at bike-centric Ohboy Hotel.
If you were curious about the cycling blog Peter mentioned, it’s called Copenhagenize and you can read it here.
8. Enjoy a Tom of Finland Tour
Touko Valio Laaksonen (aka Tom of Finland) is easily the most famous gay erotic artist in the world. His beefy subjects wore revealing denim and leather outfits and all packed triple XL schlongs. If you’re in Helsinki, Klaus K Hotel offers a premium Tom of Finland package that includes staying in a room inspired by the artist, a “goodie bag” and a Friday night walking tour that highlights the Fin’s life and story including his favourite cruising spots. If you want to skip the hotel and just do the tour, you can reserve a spot online here.
7. Partake in some of the world’s most gay-friendly scenes
Scandinavia is famously one of the safest, most LGBT-welcoming regions in the world. And their respective annual pride celebrations and gay nightlife live up to the reputation.
While we haven’t been to all of the major Pride’s in Scandinavia, we wanted to give a special shout out to Helsinki Pride. Unlike most Pride parades, Helsinki Pride doesn’t attract many passive spectators. Instead, it removes the usual fencing allowing any- and every- LGBT man, woman or child to join the parade and march the capital’s streets.
Meanwhile in Stockholm, Sweden, we wanted to point out gay hot spot Mälarpaviljongen. This gorgeous gay restaurant and bar employs LGBT refugees who are still waiting on their residency papers. Be sure to try the locally brewed rainbow beer.
6. Visit the Abba Museum
Disco fans MUST bump and hustle over to Stockholm’s Abba Museum. The museum includes a number of interactive exhibits including a recently launched section dedicated to the musical and movie adaptation. PRO TIP: Visit in the late afternoon so you can walk across the street and enjoy a Mediterranean dinner and cabaret at Mamma Mia! The Party.
5. Hike Norway’s fjords
Norway’s endless countryside is well known amongst trekkers. Specifically the country’s fjords. In particular, Rob recommends gay hikers should trek to Trolltunga, Preikestolen and Kjerag. Keep in mind, these hikes aren’t for everyone and you should research distances and terrain before taking on these trails.
4. Theme Parks
Amusement Park Enthusiasts take note: Scandinavia features some of the world’s best (and oldest!) roller coasters. Of particular note are Linnanmäkki (Helsinki), Gröna Lund (Stockholm) and Tivoli (Copenhagen).
Linnanmäkki – Located on Castle Hill in the heart of Helsinki, this small amusement park offers some of the city’s best views. Be sure to ride the “Vuoristorata”, one of the oldest wooden rollercoasters in Europe. So old in fact, a handsome Fin is required to ride the roller coaster all day and manually work the brake.
Gröna Lund – This small theme park is actually located on the same island in Stockholm as the Abba Museum. One cool tidbit is to take the ferry bus around Stockholm’s many islands and get a photo with the theme park behind you.
Tivoli – We highly recommend this cute amusement park during the Christmas holiday. It is located right in the centre of Copenhagen, and is lit up over the holidays with thousands of lights and special decorations. Fun fact: this is the second oldest theme park in the world.
3. Build memories at the LEGO Museum
Take the three hour train ride from Copenhagen to Billund, Denmark to visit the recently renovated LEGO House, aka the LEGO Museum. While the six hours of travel might seem steep for a day trip, Denmark’s gorgeous countryside is a splendid distraction.
2. Book a table at a farm-to-table restaurant
Noma rocked the world when head chefs Rene Redzepi and Claus Meyer published Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine. The book was as much a mantra about hyper-local, hyper-seasonal living as it was a cookbook. Noma sparked an entire movement and farm-to-table restaurants began opening up across Scandinavia. Make sure to book a table at one such restaurant for a truly local dining experience.
1. Experience the region by river, lake or sea
All of Scandinavia’s capitals (and most of the major cities) are located right on the sea. As such, one of the best ways to experience these destinations is by water. Most of the cities have ferry buses you should absolutely ride. Alternatively, if you’re visiting Finland, use the country’s tourism site to find a guide and route geared to your needs. In Denmark, take a bite out of Copenhagen on Kayake Republic’s Nordic Food Tour which paddles between seaside restaurants, stopping for a nibble at each. Finally, Copenhagen-based company GoBoat rents its vessels to tourists so they can cruise the canals and waterways at their own pace. No licence required!
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Image Credits from top down: Couples of Men X 3, TimeTravels, OhBoy Hotel, Tom of Finland Experience, Mälarpaviljongen X 2, Abba Museum, Hvitserk X 3, LEGO House, Noma, Unsplash.com.