Sweden’s 2nd largest city, Gothenburg has always been in the shadow of its bigger brother. While Stockholm is a posh man sipping champagne for everyone to see at a ritzy bar, Gothenburg is a rebel wild child heading out to underground raves in a pair of jeans and some converse sneakers.
The contrast is black and white, and both are worth a visit in their own right.
For queer travelers, Gothenburg is one of the most welcoming destinations on Earth – and stands out amongst its already very progressive Noric neighbors as a city that is open to all. A visit for the annual West Pride in June will see the entire city covered in rainbow flags and glitter seemingly overnight, but for the rest of the year, the Gay Gothenburg scene is a little less conspicuous – but there if you know where to look.
There is a ‘straight-friendly’ restaurant, gay pop-up parties, an outpost of the SLM Leather fetish club – and even a gay club right in the heart of the city with rainbow flags proudly displayed for all. But in such an inclusive city its no wonder that many in the LGBT+ community here no longer feel the need to hang out in ‘gay spaces’ and can be found mixing and mingling across a broad range of nightlife venues in the city – and we suggest you follow their lead. Trust us, such acceptance is liberating to say that least and we wish the entire world could be just like this.
We found Gothenburg locals to be friendly and kind-hearted – especially when compared to the oft-brash Stockholm locals – ensuring you will feel welcome and comfortable everywhere here. Even better public shows of affection are totally acceptable, so you can feel truly able to express your love however you wish.
Outside of the gay scene, Gothenburg boasts gorgeous canals, cozy cobbled streets. fine restaurants and world-class museums – and that’s before you even get out and amazing archipelago right on your doorstep. Spend your days exploring the archipelago by boat, visiting the independent shops and meandering through the art galleries; spend your nights at one of the Michelin-starred restaurants (if you’re feeling flush) or enjoying the diverse live music scene.
As well as the culture, the cafes are the other pillar of Gothenburg life. Fika, the Swedish concept of a coffee and cake break, is more than just something you do – it’s a state of mind. Embrace that at one of the many quirky cafes here, taking your time over your coffee and a huge cinnamon bun. If you somehow get bored, simply ask your hotel concierge about the seemingly never-ending array of concerts, theatre performances, hockey or football games, fairs and exhibitions happening around town to keep you entertained…
Whether you decide to visit during the crisp autumn and winter days or to come during the long summer days when the sea reaches swim-friendly degrees – you can be sure Gay Gothenburg will greet you with open arms…
Gay Gothenburg Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Gothenburg Sweden
In this article we will cover...
- Gay Gothenburg Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Gothenburg Sweden
Attractions in Gay Gothenburg
Obviously being gay does not define which attraction most of us will want to see in each city and most queer travelers will simply want to check out the top things to see in Gothenburg during the day!
This laid-back city in the west of Sweden is every bit as cool as its capital big brother, but without quite as many tourists. That’s a pretty good mix, if you ask us – and not the first time we have fallen in love with an ‘overlooked city’ like Eindhoven, Providence, or Dusseldorf. Its waterfront location makes it an extremely walkable city; visitors could easily spend whole days ambling beside the canals, admiring the neoclassical buildings and occasionally popping into a coffee shop.
If you are the type who loves to do and see as much as possible, the Gothenburg Pass is a great option to save time and money. Simply opt for a 1, 2, 3 or 5 Day Pass and enter 30 of Gothenburg’s most famous attractions and museums for free, the best of which feature on this list. You can also enjoy unlimited rides on hop on-hop off sightseeing buses and the famous Paddan boats and you’ll get a guidebook with maps, tips and tourist information to use as you go around the city – if our Gay guide to Gothenburg isn’t quite enough for you!
Gothenburg is a very safe, tolerant and progressive city and gay travelers in Sweden do not need to take any extra precautions in terms of public displays of affection. Rest assured you will have no issues exploring this beautiful and diverse city – and even the essential list of things do with keep visitors entertained for at least a couple of days!
Top Highlights of Gay Gothenburg
- The Röhsska Museum Of Design And Craft – An inspiring mix of Swedish and international designs that will make you think not only about the design but about the wider cultural impact of these items. There are over 50,000 items that take you on a journey through the history and modern-day contexts of design, with the majority of objects coming from Sweden and Europe, as well as a comprehensive collection of arts and crafts from China and Japan dating back to 2500 BC. The past 150 years are covered in the exhibition on the 1st floor and fashionistas will love the collection of fashion from the 20th and 21st centuries, including haute couture from Paris and works by Alexander McQueen.
- Liseberg Amusement Park – Gothenburg’s most popular attraction shares many of the qualities that make its home city so appealing – it’s laid-back, welcoming, never too crowded, and has a good sense of fun. Liseburg was first opened back in 1923 and has been bringing joy to children and adults alike since then. We love that this isn’t a cookie-cutter theme park, but an individual place that situates its rollercoasters and rides amongst landscaped gardens decorated with fairy lights. There’s also the perfect balance between hair-raising rollercoasters and the gentler options for those of us who prefer our thrills to be a bit tamer.
- Da Matteo Coffee – A local coffee chain that seems to have perfected both the coffee and the atmosphere for your perfect Fika. There are several branches in the city – two of which are in trendy Magasinsgaten – and not only is the coffee roasted on-site, but the bread and pastries are baked there too. The locations are all equally warm, welcoming and buzzing with friends catching up.
- Brasserie Lipp – A delicious mixture of French and Scandinavian food using the freshest ingredients is offered here, with great lunch specials and inviting street-side dining. Enjoy a glass of Champagne with your food and sit outside if the weather allows; just don’t be surprised if you end up lingering over lunch long into the afternoon.
- Gothenburg Botanical Garden – One of Europe’s largest botanical gardens, this free attraction occupies 40 acres and houses about 12,000 species – quite the feat for a country associated with long and harsh winters. Highlights include the Rock Garden and greenhouses filled with over 1,500 orchids though also loved the Japanese Glade which reminded us of being in Kyoto or Osaka.
- Universeum Science Centre – This epic science center is quite possibly the best in the world. After one visit you will see why. The Universeum shows us that science, in one form or another, is at the core of almost every aspect of the world. This is perfectly demonstrated in the popular Rainforest Hall, where you suddenly find yourself breathing the humid air of a tropical rainforest, surrounded by wildlife. The other zones are every bit as enthralling, from the hands-on experiment department where you can try your hand at coding and inventing, to the ‘Deadly Beauties’ zone full of reptiles.
- Feskekôrka / Fish Church – Technically, this fishy place got its name from how similar the building looks to a Neo-gothic church rather than the locals’ obsession with seafood, but this is a bit of a sacred place for anyone who loves (to eat) our fishy friends. Naturally, everything on sale here is fresh-caught, usually that same day. Enticing shellfish on beds of ice, gawping silvery fish, richly-pink shrimp; everything you can possibly imagine is on offer.
- Gothenburg Archipelago – Near the city, stretched out along the western Swedish coast, you’ll find the 20-or-so islands that make up the Gothenburg Archipelago. These are split into northern and southern archipelagos, with the southern collection of islands the closest to Gothenburg city. This area is completely car-free and comprises some of the more stunning natural landscapes you’ll see in Sweden. What better way to see this scenery than on a guided boat tour through the islands? Your traditional archipelago ship will cruise you past the brightly-colored boathouses, glorious beaches, clusters of red buildings and craggy shorelines while a guide tells you the intricate history of this place.
- Gothenburg Museum of Art – Six floors of exhibitions where you can get a look at the Monet, the Picasso or the Kandinsky (this museum has examples of both) without huge crowds like art museums in places like Rome, Amsterdam or Barcelona. It’s beautifully curated inside the remarkable yellow Neoclassical building, and the impressive collection of Nordic art really makes it stand out. Often this is an overlooked field in both contemporary and classic art collections so you know when you come to the Gothenburg Museum of Art that you’re going to see things you’ve never seen before. Ranging from the 15th century to modern-day, there’s lots here to feast your eyes on.
- The Museum of World Culture – A free museum that takes an edgy and contemporary approach to exploring cultural history with exhibits that aim to ask questions and encourage visitors to reflect on the answers, rather than simply telling people things. Interactive workshops, activities, films, and performances encourage you to explore contemporary issues from around the world.
- Maritiman Floating Museum – Gothenburg is a city that’s built its life around the water, so what better place to host the biggest floating museum in the world? You won’t find just one ship to explore, here, but 19 water vessels ranging from military to civilian. The Nordkaparen submarine is a highlight, particularly as it’s unusual to be able to go below decks on a submarine; so is the ex-destroyer Smaland. Obviously some areas of the ships are off-limits, but otherwise, you can freely roam above and below decks.
- West Pride – An annual event since 2007, this is Gothenburg’s Pride taking place annually in June and offering a sickening mix of music, song, dance, theatre, films, parties and exhibitions for one magical week. Every culminates in a Saturday Rainbow Parade where 15,000 people mark to celebrate and show support the values of love, human rights, and equality. Obviously, it isn’t as big as Stockholm Pride or Copenhagen Pride, but as we should all know by now – bigger is not always better!
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Gothenburg
- Avalon Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – Located right in the heart of Gothenburg is an oasis of inspiration with modern rooms, innovative architecture and feng shui design principles utilized where furnishing, light, scent and sound all combine to improve your stay. From the sixth floor and above the panoramic sky views are included in your room price and there is also a seasonal terrace with an overhanging glass swimming pool that is free to use for guests. The two gay bars in the city are less than 5 minutes walk away, breakfast is included and there a voguish restaurant and bar with outdoor seating onsite as well. Our preferred hotel for an extraordinary stay in Gay Gothenburg.
- Dorsia Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆ – A luxury hotel stuck in a magnificent time warp where every room is a surprise and every stay is guaranteed to be utterly exceptional Dreamy carpe diem beds suitable for kings and queens tempt you to sleep in, with bed cloths of mulberry silk and bed linen of handmade Egyptian cotton. Everything here is complete with the purpose to give you a new kind of exclusivity, and each of the 37 rooms on offer are all different. Equally beautiful, equally comfortable – but all plus kingdoms within themselves. There is also a baroque library with an antique piano, a glitzy lounge bar, and a romantic candlelit restaurant to complete the appeal.
- Upper House ☆☆☆☆ – A paradise for the senses encompassing a five-star hotel, a Michelin-star restaurant and a spa that brings a whole new meaning to well-being. You enter a world of relaxed Scandinavian luxury, where every detail has been carefully designed with the customer experience as its focal point. Opt for a stay in beautifully restful rooms or stylish suites with all possible comforts. Come along to the restaurant and be part of a gastronomic experience where subtle flavors are born and shaped. Or retreat to their heavenly spa and let yourself be seduced by the feeling of enriched wellness and simply taking it easy. At the spa, you’ll also have access to the protruding champagne pool you can see from the street, Gothenburg’s highest hammam, saunas, an experience shower, and a relaxation suite, where you can take in the incredible views.
- Hotel Royal ☆☆☆ – Located in central Gothenburg you will find Hotel Royal – a historical, family-owned hotel that has been serving guests since 1852, making Hotel Royal the oldest hotel in Gothenburg. One of the best-reviewed accommodation options in the city in the city with unique interiors and rooms that will leave an impression, without the hefty price tag. Whatever your needs – a charming room for a romantic weekend, a calm place to sleep during your business trip, or simply a clean hotel in the city center – Hotel Royal will assure you a comfortable stay.
- Lådfabriken ☆☆☆ – A gay-owned boutique design B&B located about an hour north of Gothenburg, perfect if you are hiring a car and exploring the beautiful archipelago of Sweden’s west coast as part of a larger road trip. Lådfabriken means ‘the fish box factory’ and offers four uniquely styled rooms, kayaks, bikes and personal service from couple, Johan and Marcel. Creative design and stunning nature, what’s not to love!
- Scandic Rubinen ☆☆☆ – A cosmopolitan hotel with stream-lined design, great-value rooms and a central location with all of Gothenburg right at your fingertips. There is a free breakfast served in a hip, ground-floor restaurant – or in the evening you can try the rooftop bar with a terrace, work out in the gym or enjoy the on-site sauna.
- At Home Bed & Breakfast ☆☆ – 20 minutes tram from the center of Gothenburg is this cute, affordable and extra gay-friendly B&B with sauna and a furnished terrace. There is also free parking.
- Linnéplatsens Hotell & Vandrarhem ☆☆ – Affordable and modern accommodation in a little off-the-beaten-track location but with easy public transport connections. The simple yet comfortable rooms in Scandinavian style are a hit with travelers, but we recommend them most for their high-end dorm rooms – perfect if you are looking to save money on your trip. Meet other travelers in the dorm, over the daily breakfast buffet or in the guest kitchen – and plan your adventures in Gay Gothenburg with new friends!
While there is no doubt Gothenburg is a gay-friendly destination, the Gothenburg LGBT scene is hard to find since most queer people no longer feel the need to segregate themselves in gay bars. If you want to experience the gay nightlife, you can head to the only gay club in Gothenburg, Gretas, which is always busy on the weekend or the straight-friendly bar, Bee.
Otherwise, lesbians and gay men mix freely with straight people in bars and clubs across the city. Being such a tolerant society, you are unlikely to experience any issues with displays of affection in public in Sweden and will be welcomed in most clubs and bars. Stockholm might be widely considered the nightlife capital of Sweden, but nights out in Gothenburg are anything but boring thanks to innovative party organizers, (slightly) more affordable prices and an alternative / underground music scene. The large student population here also helps, who congregate in the many cocktail lounges, lounges, pubs and late night clubs that dot the city.
There are no defined nightlife areas in Gothenburg – but the Inom Vallgraven shopping district hosts the only two permanent gay nightlife spots and most of the larger clubs dot the main boulevard Avenyn. Most bars close around midnight or 2 am with nightclubs usually close around 3 am. Credit cards are widely accepted, but cash is not – and some bars and clubs have a minimum of 22 or 25 years old age policy
Casual is usually the dress code here, but those Viking’s are so effortlessly chic this might require a bit more effort from us foreigners. Alcohol is not cheap here so house parties are very popular in Gothenburg. If you get the opportunity to ask around on the gay apps for happening events or check out the Facebook pages of the two on-going gay party series here.
For now though, here are our favorite gay-popular / gay bars in Gothenburg!
Gay Bars And Parties In Gothenburg
- Wish You Were Queer – A pop-up dance party series for the alternative queer crowd, especially younger students. Wish You Were Queer is held every 2-3 months at different locations around Gay Gothenburg with queer takeovers, summer dances, Pride festivities and other various themes each time. Always plenty of fun, epic DJs and multiple dance floors to enjoy – check their Facebook page for more information and to see if your travel date align.
- Greta’s – The only real gay bar and club in Gothenburg, smack bang in the center of the city. We told you Sweden was progressive. Greta’s is straight-friendly and welcomed everyone during the weekend with fabulous DJ’s, two dance floors, and occasional drag acts. House music, queer anthems, throwback, and Swedish Schlager…You will find them all here!
- Bee Bar – Another straight-friendly bar and restaurant just around the corner from Greta’s. Perfect for a casual dinner, people watching from their newly completed outdoor terrace or cocktails to start your night off. The kitchen is open every day from 11:30 til 22:00, but the bar stays open till 3 am on the weekends.
- Club QUEER – Taking place since 2001, there is a gay night at the Park Lane nightclub on the last Friday of every month. Expect famous -in-Sweden drag queens, muscle boys, flamboyant costumes and plenty of members of the LGBT community coming together for one magnificent night. Club Queer is a Gothenburg institution but does close over the summer months so check their Facebook for upcoming themes and dates. Absolutely not to be missed!
Gay-Friendly Hotspots In Gothenburg
- Yaki-Da – A club with many faces and guises, depending on when you visit, there is a wonderful outdoor terrace, two dance floors, organic bistro, and coffee bar. The vibe very much depends on the hour you visit, but you’ll always be well taken care of. With a late-night kitchen, DJs play an eclectic mix of music from all corners of the globe, live performances, and funky design spaces, Yaki-Da is a must-visit.
- Haket Pub – Everyone is welcome at this popular local pub that draws in a mixed crowd with its a large variety of beers and relaxed outdoor seating area from which to bask in the afternoon sun.
- Steampunk Bar – The Nordic region’s first pub and restaurant with a steampunk theme. Expect plenty of chic design with gears, copper and peculiar steam power contraptions, along with friendly staff and memorable drinks. With an extensive selection of steaming gin-based cocktails and beer from all corners of the world, Steampunk Bar is truly something quite extra, and open to everyone.
- Upper House Dining – High up in Gothia Towers’ central tower (on the 25th floor of Tower 2), you’ll find this sophisticated lounge and dining destination. Here you can browse a well-stocked wine cellar at your leisure or enjoy a glass of fine champagne or wine with delicious canapés while gazing at the best views in the city. Part of the Upper House Hotel complex.
- Checkpoint Charlie – The definitive hub of Gothenburg by the old city gate where prestige is forbidden. Both travellers and locals head here for two floors of the best beer, games and the German food as good as you’ll get in Berlin, Munich or Hamburg. Yea, we are not convinced on the German food either – but the beer is great and the vibe infectious…
- Dorsia – Opulance, you own everything! The bright, bold and utterly Instagrammable lobby lounge bar of this luxury hotel is an absolute treasure – even if it is just for one drink. Enjoy innovative cocktails, refined surrounding and plush velvet with friends or a potential lover. Even better? Book a room here so you can live the total fantasy.
- Nefertiti -A legendary jazz club in the heart of Gothenburg that also houses a vibrant nightclub. On stage, jazz and traditional music are mainly found, but hip-hop, R&B, soul, blues and electronic music can also make appearances. In total, Nefertiti’s program contains approximately 200 concerts per year so chances are there is something on while you are visiting.
- Ruby Bar – A 7th floor outdoor bar with crafted cocktails, central location and great views – Is it any wonder that this space hidden in the Scandic Rubinen has become a queer hotspot?
- Lounge(s) – A nightclub that will take you to different places and absolutely leaves you entertained A fun, cool exiting and vibrating building with different environments and rooms adapted to different wants and needs. Lounge(s) stands for diversity and wants nothing else than to have a wonderful mixture of people, music, and surroundings. With four distinct ‘lounge’ concept, Let the local DJ’s of taking you on a dance ride you´ll never forget.
Gay Sauna in Gothenburg
Sadly for those looking for a quick and dirty Viking fix, there is currently no gay sauna in Gothenburg. After our visit we also don’t think any Gothenburg gay saunas will be opening up soon, there just isn’t the demand.
Everyone in Gay Gothenburg seems content to meet gay men via hook up apps or in the gay bars – but if you’re desperate, the only gay sauna in Sweden is found in Stockholm, though you could also try Oslo, Copenhagen or Helsinki. Though for those who are into real-life encounters rather than chatting online, there are a few kinky cruise space options that might be of interest to you.
We have opted not to name one adult entertainment / female strip club as while it has a gay cruise space also has a seedy reputation for prostitution, which is illegal in Sweden.
- SLM Gothenburg – Scandinavian Leather Men Göteborg is a non-political and non-profit association of men who have sex with men and are interested in leather, BDSM and fetishes. The association is run on voluntary basis by its members and consists of clubs in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland, and Estonia. Events are listed on their website and to enter the club you need to be dressed according to the announced dress code(s). They are very particular about this – and more information is available on their website. The club is located in Majorna area with a dance floor, darkroom, jacuzzi, showers, glory hole, etc.
- Vuxenkul – One of the few store chains in Sweden selling erotica and sex toys, with two Gothenburg locations… They offer by far the largest assortment of sex toys, lubricants, condoms, and clothing in Gothenburg and have a specific gay section. If you are in need of supplies, this is the place to go and there is also a mixed cruising space here popular with both gay and straight guys. Alternatively try Nyhavn Erotica, which has a wide selection of adult videos and private viewing rooms.