By Kara Moore
Okay, so you live in Texas. You’re looking for a gay vacation, and all your friends suggest Cancun, of course, because it’s close and relatively cheap. But you’ve got a little more money saved up and you’re looking for something unique. Well, here’s a trip that I bet you’ve never even thought of: Finland and Sweden.
When it comes to these two countries, I’m sure most of us have heard about their fine schools and their water and air that are so clean. Their famous saunas are in pretty much every hotel, and people walk, bike, or take public transportation more often, so the streets usually don’t see too much traffic. It’s a paradise created not with palm trees and blue water, but because of a society that seems nearly perfect.
Of course, what you really want to know about is the gay nightlife. Well, it’s basically just as unique, safe, and clean as the rest of the country. In Helsinki, some friends and I hit up a club named DTM (Don’t Tell Mom). It was a Thursday night and a little bit dead, but we made the best of the empty club by taking in its gorgeous scenery. Plentiful couches, several bars, and a decent dance floor that included two stripper poles. The DJ took requests, so we were able to channel Queen Bey and Rihanna while we danced. Pro tip: get the cider beer on tap. Even if you don’t like beer, the cider beer in Finland will make you rethink your position.
Now, what’s the best way to leap across the Baltic Sea and get to Sweden? Why, a booze cruise, of course! There are many overnight cruises you can take; my tour group used the Viking cruise line. Since it’s only one night and you might want to save your money for souvenirs or booze, consider the four-person room option. It’s a bit tight, but you probably won’t spend that much time in your room anyway. The view from the deck of the ship is gorgeous, but the ship’s restaurants, clubs, and bars are even better. Again, cider beer is good and cheap, but you might want to just hit up the tax-free shop and buy your drinks there—probably the cheapest you will find on your whole trip. If you smoke, they also sell ginormous packs of cigarettes that will make you feel guilty with their required health warnings. And candy—lots of candy.
Stockholm is a little more diverse and not as quiet or peaceful as beautiful Helsinki. While in Stockholm, we hit up two clubs: the gay club Patricia, and the totally unique Ice Bar—not actually gay, but a place unlike anything in the U.S.
Stockholm is basically a collection of islands interconnected by bridges, and the gay club was a docked boat. It featured several bars and dance floors, both on deck and down below. It even had a pretty nice restaurant in it, which is open before the club part really gets going. It was a pretty amazing place to sit and have drinks while overlooking the city. Patricia is one of the more popular and older gay clubs in Stockholm, so expect a diverse crowd. Also, they played a surprising amount of Spanish music.
Finally, on the last night of our weeklong trip, we went to the Ice Bar, which is literally an entire bar made of ice. While maybe the most expensive bar (considering the cover charge), it was definitely the most unique. You get one free alcoholic beverage, and special clothes so you don’t freeze. You only get an hour (because it’s a pretty small bar), but we were able to stay a bit longer. Everything is made of ice—including our drink glasses! The lighting made it like standing inside of Northern Lights. Both the music and free drink were surprisingly good for a total tourist trap.
Overall, partying like a Viking was a unique and colorful blast. Finland and Sweden might not be known for their LGBT culture, but I doubt I’ll ever have the same experience anywhere else.
Check out this video to get a truly inside look at all of the places I talked about!