One of the most progressive and liberal cities in Europe, Gay Helsinki is a leading gay city with a rich history, beautiful design and a thriving nightlife scene.
The former hometown of Tom of Finland – the ‘most influential creator of gay pornographic images’ – Gay Helsinki really does have something for everyone if you are willing to explore and look beneath the surface. Internationally renown art galleries, picturesque nature, creative design stores, plenty of cute coffee shops (frequented by even cuter Finnish guys and girls) and of course vibrant club parties.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Finland since 2017, and in this peaceful and open-minded Nordic Capital, queer travelers are welcomed everywhere with small rainbow flags on almost every store, club and restaurant window. Finns are famously shy and withdrawn, loving to brag about how withdrawn they are – but we have to disagree and found Finns in Helsinki warm, open and sincere…once you start a conversation.
While in the long, beautiful summer days it is easy to meet gay locals in the parks and beaches, in the bitterly cold winters you might want to turn to hookups to meet a friendly local in Helsinki to show you around (or perhaps invite you to enjoy a sauna…traditional or otherwise!). No matter where your interests lie, Gay Helsinki offers an adventure like no other with nature, nightlife, design and more…
Gay Helsinki Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Helsinki Finland 2018
In this article we will cover...
Attractions in Helsinki Finland
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 Helsinki during the day! Helsinki is a very safe city band gay travelers in Helsinki do not need to take any extra precautions in terms of public displays of affection in this very tolerant and progressive city. Rest assured gay travelers will have no issues exploring this beautiful and diverse city!
- Pihlajasaari Beach – Located on an island a short ferry trip from Helsinki, this is one of Helsinki’s nudist beach and unofficial gay beach. A must visit in summer; the gay area is mainly on top of the hill and around the northern end of the nudist area. Otherwise, the most popular beach in Helsinki is Hietaniemi Beach, which is neither nude nor particularly gay.
- Tom of Finland Experience – Delve into the history of this gay icon who lived in Helsinki for the majority of his life producing gay erotic art. This fascinating tour takes a look at his life, inspiration, and impacts both in the past and on pop culture today.
- Vist Suomenlinna – Helsinki’s favorite island getaway, hop on a ferry and explore this UNESCO listed World Heritage fortress. Perfect in the summer for long picnics under the (almost) midnight sun.
- Church In The Rock – One of the most famous attractions in Helsinki, though it’s basically just a chuck dug into a solid rock…But hey, it’s free!
- National Museum of Finland – A comprehensive look at Finland history dating all the way back to the first arrivals in this sparse land during the Stone Age. Modern and extremely well done, plan at least half a day.
- Lapinlahti Hospital – It wouldn’t be Finland without a slightly morbid tour of the oldest mental hospital here. A surprisingly fascinating look into the evolution of attitudes, practices, and treatments for mental illnesses.
- Day Trip To Porvoo – Completely contrasting Helsinki, Porvoo is a stunning wooden village you really should see. Famous throughout Finland for its crucial role in history and entanglements with artists, poets, and kings.
- Finnish National Gallery – One for all art lovers, the National Gallery is the largest art museum institution of Finland and is separated into three parts: the Ateneum art museum, Kiasma, and the Sinebrychoff Art Museum.
- Nuuksio National Park – A trip to Finland would be complete without experiencing its vast wilderness. Nuuksio National Park is one of the best places in Finland to do it and relatively close to Helsinki, the gorgeous expanse of forest here will leave you breathless.
- Design Museum – Devoted to Finnish and foreign design ranging from graphic to industrial to fashion.
- Wander Old Helsinki – Famed for its Art Nouveau architecture., Helsinki also has plenty of builds influenced by Classicism and Functionalism. Take a tour if you want to see the best examples and learn the fascinating history, or just stroll around to discover on your own.
A city the size of Helsinki has plenty more to explore!
We recommend getting a full guidebook if you are staying for more than a night or two. It probably won’t have any information on Gay Helsinki – that’s what we are here for – but it will have useful tips and an exhaustive list of the best attractions across Finland to assist you on your fabulous adventure!
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Helsinki Finland
As you would expect in such a progressive country, pretty much every hotel and hostel in Helsinki can be considered gay-friendly – after all being a gay-friendly it not all about upscale luxury, but about providing friendly and open service and welcoming everyone with open arms! Having said that, everyone likes to be surrounded by people with common interests, and as such there a few well-known hotels in Helsinki that are known hot spots for gay travelers to stay! The best locations for gay travelers is in the city center and Kallio District which is close to all the top tourist sites and attractions of the Helsinki gay scene – by day or by night.
The following gay-friendly hotels in Helsinki are only the most popular with gay travelers, but there are hundreds of other hotels in Helsinki
if you don’t find quite what you are looking for. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap place to crash after a night of partying or a chic designer option to sip cocktails and surround yourself with fabulous people – Gay Helsinki as something for everyone!
Helsinki is a large city, and with many locations worth visiting. Don’t be afraid to explore outside your neighbourhood – either with the effective metro or bus system or using a ride-sharing app (which is generally cheaper than taxis and you can preset your destination so nothing gets lost in translation!)
- Hotel Klaus K Helsinki ☆☆☆☆☆ – The first design hotel in Finland with dramatic, modern decor. Everything here is beautiful, from the on-site bar and minimalist lobby to the chic rooms (We love the Sky Loft). Fusing design and technology, the proudly gay-friendly hotel in Finland is our top choice when we stay in Helsinki.
- Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Helsinki ☆☆☆☆– An international renown hotel, the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Helsinki has a prime location, vibrant design, and gorgeous (and delicious breakfast) and friendly service. Though for the price we think the more boutique hotels in Helsinki are a better option.
- Hotel F6 ☆☆☆☆– One of the top-rated hotels in Helsinki offering hip, boutique style with a sophisticated color scheme, free bike hire, a beautiful interior garden courtyard and a happening cocktail bar.
- Hotel Helka ☆☆☆ – A fabulous gay-friendly hotel housed in a historic building. Their saying is ‘Pink Like Helka,’ and this is indeed a place of tolerance. Focussed on quality rather than flashy details, their all-organic breakfast, modern rooms and recent renovation make this an excellent mid-range hotel in Helsinki.
- Scandic Paasi ☆☆☆ – Stylish designer hotel inspired by the Finnish circus. Part of the renown Scandic Nordic Hotel group offering competitive prices, location on the edge of the Helsinki gay area, free bike and board game hire. Cute and adorable, gay travelers will feel right at home here.
- Yard Hostel Helsinki ☆☆ – A newly opened concept hostel in the heart of Helsinki. Urban jungle meets Finnish design, this gay-friendly hostel welcomes all travelers and makes them feel right at home. Offering dorms and private rooms this is a great cheap accommodation option in Helsinki for those on a budget or who want to make friends to explore Helsinki with.
Gay Bars and Gay Clubs in Helsinki
Helsinki is well-known as one of the most gay-friendly cities in Europe, and of course, it has plenty of gay nightlife to cater for any kind of mood. Being such a tolerant society, you are unlikely to experience any issues with displays of affection in public and as such will be welcomed in most clubs and bars in Helsinki – but with such a vibrant and fun gay club scene in Helsinki you really shouldn’t miss a night out here. Lesbians and gay men frequently mix in all these bars which makes for an exciting and inclusive night out. If you just want to explore and see where the night takes you, then Kallio is the gay area in Helsinki where most artsy and gay people live and go out while Punavuori appeals more to fancy, rich hipsters, and designer gays.
- DTM Nightclub – One of the most popular gay clubs Don’t Tell you Mother in Helsinki drawing a younger crowd with great pop music, 5 am close times and DJ’s on deck every night. Events taking place most weeks here ranging from karaoke to foam parties, DTM also has Happy Hour all night every Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. They claim to be the gayest party spot in Helsinki, and we have to agree!
- Hercules Gay Club – The biggest gay club in the Nordics, with three floors, plenty of events and DJ’s ranging from pop and house to classic music depending on the night. Some crazy happy hour specials earlier in the night if you’re willing to help get the party started. Hercules Gay Club is more popular with guys over 30 and on the weekends often has a minimum entry age of 24
- Fairytale – A small gay bar with an excellent happy hour specials drawing a diverse queer crowd. Great place to socialize and meet up before deciding where to go out that night.
- Kaiku – An institution in the Helsinki club scene. A large underground venue with a hipster audience though extremely queer-friendly thanks to frequent drag and club kid events. Expect solid music, a spacious dance floor, and a line up of renown international and local DJs.
- Manns Street – A gay comedy club with acts in a mixture of Finnish and English, shifting later in the night to karaoke with a nice bar and club.
- Liberty of Death – Serving the best cocktails in Helsinki, and some of the best in the world. Skilled and passionate with an extensive and creative menu, this inconspicuous little bar is the talk of the town thanks to its old world vibes, lounge-style decor, and shelves filled with old books and spices. Pricey, but well worth it.
- Cafe Cavalier – A small gay bar and cafe in the heart of the gay district. Perfect visit during the day where you can meet gay locals and find out more about the gay scene in Helsinki. They also have some great performances at night (and delicious pastries!)
Gay Events in Helsinki
Gay Helsinki is a city that has hundreds of events on across the year, and queer travelers to Finland should not restrict themselves to exclusively gay events. Especially of note are the many music festivals of all sizes that are organized around the Midsummer weekend, but every night of the week you can find live music and plenty of club events on the weekend.
While June is the primary month of LGBT celebrations and events for Helsinki’s gay community revolving around a vast Pride Festival, there are plenty of other gay events in Helsinki to look out for during the rest of the year. People in Helsinki are shy but very welcoming, so if you can start a conversation on any of your favorite hookup apps or in person, you are almost guaranteed to hear about something somewhere and get invited. These, however, are the most significant events currently on in Gay Helsinki.
- Helsinki Gay Pride – The biggest gay event held annually in Finland in June. The entire pride week is fuelled with parties, picnics, workshops and plenty of art and culture. Everything culminates on the Saturday in a Pride Parade that ends in Kaivopuisto Park where everybody drinks, picnics and enjoys the live concert. This is one gay event in Helsinki worth planning your trip around though make sure to book your hotel in Helsinki far in advance as it is peak summer and everything decent sell out months in advance.
- Helsinki Drag Battle – A new and growing event now in its third year. Held in April 2018 at Virgin Oil club this is the chance to see Helsinki Drag Queens out in force and in their best attire.
- Vinokino – A gay film festival held every year in Helsinki featuring plenty of gays and lesbian feature films, short films and documentaries – and a number of parties on the side.
- Drag Bear Race @ Bear Park Cafe – Every Sunday the favorite gay cafe Bear Park hosts their famous Drag Bear Race. This opportunity to experience the gay life in Helsinki and the spectacle of hot bear guys on the heels should not be missed.
- MSC Finland / Tom’s Club Nights – A fetish club for fans of bikes, rubber, and leather offering monthly themed events with strict attire. Non-members can join for a higher fee, but if you’re planning on moving to Gay Helsinki, you should consider becoming a member.
Cruising Spots & Gay Sauna in Helsinki
For those wanting to explore the naughtier side of Helsinki, you should know there is only one gay sauna in Helsinki – though luckily it’s pretty great! The traditional sauna was invented in Finland and has been a way of life in Finland for over 2000 years. When in Helsinki you should also try to experience an authentic Finnish sauna experience, and we recommend the 90-year-old Kotiharjun Sauna still heated with birch wood as is traditional.
All traditional sauna in Finland are separated by sex and guests will be naked. Gay travelers should take care not to confuse gay sauna’s versus traditional sauna here as it would be extremely awkward to make advances in a traditional sauna in Helsinki – which are about health and relaxation rather than sex. Maybe brush up on your gay sauna etiquette before you go!
Gay sauna or not, in any sexual encounter, please take adequate precautions. No matter what your intentions are in Gay Helsinki, you should bring your own condoms and lube to play it safe. Take home a hot guy or a hot memory, not an STD.
Besides, you never know what other fun surprises your trip might have in store for you…
- Sauna Vogue – The only gay sauna in Helsinki with two sauna rooms, a steam room, video room, dark room and a bar. Sauna Vogue is well-known for its modern facilities and cheaper entrance for under 26’s (only 10€ on Friday), but rather ironically in Helsinki gay sauna’s are not in vogue with more people preferring nightclubs and hook-up apps.
- US Video Helsinki – A popular cruising area with clean movie viewing facilities, vending machines, and free internet.
- Keltainen Ruusu – Helsinki’s largest sex shop with that also doubles as a cruising space with dark rooms, slings, and gloryholes popular until around 7 am for those leaving the Helsinki gay clubs still wanting more.