A Gay Couple City Weekend in Helsinki, Finland. Helsinki, the Finnish capital, is one of those destinations everyone should have on their top three travel bucket list for a city trip in Northern Europe. Kept as a secret, the citizens of Helsinki are more than proud to live in their wonderful city closely connected to nature. Recently, Finland has been elected to be the world’s most socially progressive country, as it is also legalized gay marriage officially in spring 2017. But what is so special about the Nordic city Helsinki at the Baltic Sea with its neighbors Sweden and Russia? We as gay couple travel bloggers can proudly confirm how peacefully, gay-friendly, and forward-thinking the people of Helsinki are. During our gay travel trip to Helsinki during Midsummer nights, we attended the authentic Helsinki Gay Pride Festival, visited Museums like The Aalto House Helsinki and the Design Museum, made travel photos of unique architecture like the Finlandia Hall, spend a whole afternoon at Helsinki’s theme park Linnanmäki, relaxed and sweating at the Finnish “design-sauna” LÖYLY and enjoyed fantastic Finnish food and drinks throughout the whole city. Additionally, we collected information about the best gay places in Helsinki on a map. Enjoy our article about a long gay city trip to Helsinki and see the Finnish capital through a couple of men‘s eyes.
Helsinki – The best-kept Travel Secret in the World
Staying in Helsinki during Midsummer showed us again how fruitful and mind-opening traveling can be, especially in the Finnish capital. The city of Helsinki feels safe, free, and in balance with nature. On the lookout for a place not far from Western Europe with tolerable warm summer temperatures? Our new place to be to recharge our batteries: Helsinki. More about the Helsinki Tourism information >
How to get to Helsinki and around
Helsinki is internationally connected by the Airport Helsinki-Vantaa approximately 15 km north of Helsinki. Get your train ticket in the arrival hall, downstairs on the platform or even inside the train and take one of the two lines (P or L Line) for a 30-minute ride right into the heart of the city to one of the beautiful landmarks of the capital, the Helsinki Helsingfors Central Railway Station. Once you are in town, you can choose between a well-organized public transport system of nostalgic trams and busses. Or do what we did and discover the beauty of the city by bike. Find here the network overview. One Tip for the bikers: the bicycle lane are sometimes on the same side of the road, suddenly on the sidewalk, or simply merge with the street. So be careful, pay attention, and enjoy the summer breeze. Sidenote: Helsinki is closely connected to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia by ferry. Duration: approximately 3-4 hours one way.
Gay-friendly Apartment Helsinki: Hotel Aallonkoti
Just a 10-minute walk from Helsinki Helsingfors you find the Apartment Hotel Aallonkoti in Helsinki. The modern building, the bright Finnish design interior, and the perfectly equipped Apartment kitchen (including a dishwasher and a washing machine) made our stay very comfortable. Breakfast on the balcony with a view over the Finlandia Hall says actually everything you need to know. The staff was very helpful and courteous, providing the right answer to all our questions. Check booking.com for the best Aallonkoti offers >
Those two tote bags are made by Uniikki kangaskassit. The owner Tomi is creating and printing his bags manually in an ethically and environmentally friendly way. He has a big variety of cool (gay-minded) prints. Additional to that, he is a great Helsinki guide. Visit his shop and ask everything you need to know about Helsinki. More here on Uniikki Kangaskassit.
Selfmade Breakfast with #HELEATS
Our plan was to have a self-made breakfast on our balcony after this slowdown morning experience. If you need inspiration and the best local grocery stores, cafés, and restaurants, we can recommend the hashtag #heleats on Instagram or visit the website heleats.com. This is THE food guide for a weekend in Helsinki with tips, ideas, and local secrets to give an answer to the question: why everything in Helsinki and Finland tastes so incredibly good. Two hours at Löyly Sauna, the delicious food, self-made fresh coffee, and a view over the Finlandia Hall – you cannot start any better in your Helsinki Trip. More information about What Helsinki eats >
Before we start with our review of the Klaus K Hotel Helsinki, we want to warn you, it is going to be a very erotic gay-friendly hotel article. Not only because of all the sexy and intimidating paintings by Touko Valio Laaksonen, much better known as Tom of Finland.
Tom of Finland Exhibition “The Pleasure of Play”
Having the agony of choice to visit one of the uncountable museums during our Gay City Weekend Helsinki, we decided to see the art of an extraordinary Finnish gay icon, Touko Valio Laaksonen – Tom of Finland. Born in 1920, his provoking pornographic illustrations were a revolution and he was the first artist who gave gay men strong and dominant shapes while showing their love and sexual attraction towards each other at the same time.
Named as the “most influential creator of gay pornographic images” by the cultural historian Joseph W. Slade, he produced over 3,500 illustrations of very tight-dressed, half nude or nude men with remarkable XXL-sized dicks and a distinctive shape of body and face. We are fans of the revolutionist, and we were thrilled to visit the exhibition “Tom of Finland – The Pleasure of Play” at Kunsthalle Helsinki. More than 180 drawings spanning six decades of Laaksonen’s life and work in one exhibition. Take your chance to see this most comprehensive exhibition to date during your Helsinki visit and be sure to get your hands on their hunky souvenirs. More information about the Tom of Finland exhibition >
And don’t forget to mark 24th February 2017 red in your calendar. It is the release day of the new Tom of Finland Movie in cinemas. Click here to watch the newest Tom of Finland Movie Trailer >
Restaurant Tip Helsinki: Naughty Burgers for Lunch
A tip for a good lunch is a delicious burger and fried potatoes at Helsinki Naughty BRGR right in the center. We just needed to bike for around 10 minutes from the Helsinki Helsingfors Central Railway Station in the southwestern direction. After grabbing a beer and lemonade, a burger, salad, and fried potatoes, we biked to the waterside to enjoy our food with a Finnish view. Naughty Brgr is a great stop for a tasty snack, lunch, or even dinner. More information about all Naughty Brgr >
Theme park?! Where?! In Helsinki?! After enjoying our lunch, we went to Linnanmäki, the Finish capital’s theme park on top of the city’s “castle hill”. This old-school park of adventures opened in 1950 and has since been a public hit. With its 40 funfair-like attractions, this small theme park gives you definitely a few hours of fun.
Dinner Tip: Restaurant Linnankellari
Escape the ordinary when having dinner in a former prison. It was an experience with a twist, as the restaurant in the basement of the red brick building was a former county prison and pre-trial detention center. The oldest and first parts of the complex date back to 1837/1888 and till 2002 the prison was still in use. The building re-opened in 2007 as Hotel Katajanokka with The Linnankellari restaurant. If you ask, the staff will be happy to show you some original prison cells, including one of the first collective prison cells that are part of the rare lit basement. The food was very delicious. Karl has to admit, that he ate here, one of the best burgers in town. Combined with an original Finnish Gin Tonic (served with a rosemary branch and cranberries) it made our dinner here in jail for an exceptional and tasteful experience. More information about the prison dinner >
InsideOut Escape Games Helsinki
With our Volleyball friends and our new friend and tour guide Tomi from Uniikki Kangaskassit we went for an escape room at InsideOut Escape. It was our turn to go “Behind the freaky circus show” where we had to solve the mysteries of a strange circus family and the disappearance of some of their guests. The room was highly decorated and gave us freaky chills. We got out, but just in time. After we’ve seen a lot of different escape rooms on our travels, we are always curious and excited when a company tries to give a twist to the escape room concept. With an actor, graphic designer, and psychologist as the creators of InsideOut Escape we expected maybe a bit too much from the combination of theater, entertainment, and science but the girls are on a good way to become a big Finnish attraction. More information about InsideOut Escape Rooms >
Helsinki Pub Tram Spårakoff
Time for the evening planning and a first (or second) drink to start a great night out. How about a historical tour through Helsinki with drinks, funny people, and without the stress of driving and not being able to drink? The Spårakoff Pub Tram combines all these conveniences with a piece of uniqueness. Or did you ever make a city tour in a former HM-V type tram that’s transformed into a bar? The Pub Tram departs right around the east exit of the central station. Be early enough at the Tram Stop since especially during summer, you might have to take the next tour one hour later because of all the buzz. More information about the Pub on rails Helsinki >
Gay Bars, Gay Clubs & Cafés for LGBT in Helsinki
The majority of the people in Finland have an open mindset and are friendly towards members of the LGBTQ+ community. And so is the whole country. The integration of the LGBTQ+ life (style) nowadays society was successful, although there is, of course, always space for improvement. Walking hand in hand through the city was appropriate at any moment during our stay. We could experience this open-minded way of life while Helsinki Pride. But together with our local friend Tomi from Uniikki Kangaskassit (our favorite Helsinki bags), we spotted some nice gay (friendly) places around the city. We hope you will find your favorite locality of the gay community for your trip:
Our Gay Helsinki City Trip in Finland
Helsinki felt like home. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, but the hip city vibe gave us the perfect balance for a weekend trip up North. Like a lot of other more famous cities, Helsinki has so many more sides to explore. It is interesting how some cities can remain a bit of a secret, where other cities are flooded with tourists every day. We will definitely come back during winter to sense the big difference between long-lasting summer days and never-ending cold romantic nights. Maybe we just keep Helsinki our small Northern secret.
Karl & Daan.
Thank you, Visit Helsinki, Finnair, and gay-friendly Aallonkoti Hotel Apartments and the wonderful locals of Helsinki for making this incredible trip possible. Nevertheless, our opinion, our photos, and our writings are 100% our own, as always.