One of the most forward-looking and liberal cities in Scandinavia, an already famously gay-friendly region: It is no wonder travelers are choosing Gay Olso for their next holiday destination!
Experimental design, fabulous nightlife, trendy neighborhoods and those handsome Viking men (and women) are all waiting for you – Not to mention an active dining scene, a vibrant contemporary art scenes and all that nature on your door-step if you want to hire a car and explore. Gay Oslo really does have something for everyone if you are just willing to explore and look a little beneath the surface.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Norway since 2009, and in this peaceful and open-minded Nordic Capital, queer travelers will find small rainbow flags on almost every store, club and restaurant window. Inclusivity is often just a buzz-word, but we found in Gay Oslo sexuality was (generally speaking) a non-issue. However, in this almost ‘post-gay’ society since everyone mingled together freely it did make it hard to pinpoint defined queer spaces beyond a few gay bars – an interesting contrast to Helsinki and Copenhagen where the gay scene is growing despite similar circumstances.
For an idea how ‘post-gay’ Norway really just take a look at the Norwegian teen drama phenomenon ‘Skam’ and how the third season is looking at the topic of homosexuality simultaneous alongside other issues. Its been so wildly popular there is now an American version and German, French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch versions on the way.
Norwegians are famously shy and withdrawn, loving to brag about how withdrawn they are – but we have to disagree and found Norwegians in Oslo warm, open and sincere…once you start a conversation.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 around town, in the bitterly cold winters you might want to turn to hookups to meet a friendly local in Oslo to show you around.
Hopefully, with this guide to the Olso gay scene, you won’t need anyone else’s help to enjoy this modern city, but it won’t hurt as the city is changing and continues to reinvent itself rapidly.
Gay Oslo Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Oslo Norway
Naturally 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 Oslo during the day!
Oslo is a very safe, tolerant and progressive city and gay travelers in Norway do not need to take any extra precautions concerning 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.
Tronsmo Books & Comics – A sizeable independent bookshop which specializes in lots of quirky genres including feminism, radical literary and even has its own LGBT section and a basement jam-packed with comic books.
Oslo Evening Buffet Cruise – One of the most popular things to do in Oslo during the summer. Glide past the beautiful green islands and see Oslo just as the Vikings have for centuries (well almost). Plus there is something about having seafood on the boat which just makes it so much better.
Island Hopping – Discover the world-renowned Oslo Fjord with its numerous islands like a local! We can’t think of a better way to experience everything the Fjord has to offer than by this hopping tour, during which you will explore 1000-year-old ruins, a gorgeous hidden beach, and unique traditional wooden cabins. Add to that swimming in the warm water of the Fjord and hiking through the forests and sea cliffs! You’ve got yourself the perfect island hopping combination!
Viking Ship Museum – The three best-preserved Viking Ships in the world all in one place, and they are truly incredible. A national treasure and pride of Oslo, there is a reason they built a whole museum around them.
Holmenkollbakken – A futuristic ski jump that has become an icon of Oslo – along with providing some of the cities best vantage points. Also home to a high-tech ski museum that is not to be missed.
Oslo Opera House – One of the most beautiful Opera houses in the world, and if you have the budget, a performance of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet is utterly unforgettable. Otherwise at the very least take a wander around and in the public spaces of the building, and even head up onto the roof!
Munch Museum – A world-class museum and architectural icon of modern Oslo showcasing Edvard Munch’s life and over 28,000 pieces of his artwork.
Cross-Country Skiing Beginner Courses – You can’t find a better place to learn cross-country skiing than the majestic forests just outside Oslo. What better school than one lead by a former Norwegian champion! Cross-country is believed to be the origin of all the skiing discipline we can enjoy nowadays. Initially conceived as a form of transportation on snow-covered landscapes, cross-country skiing evolved to one of the most popular sports in Nordic countries, especially in Norway where the sport’s tradition goes way back. The aim is to teach the very basic techniques used in classic cross-country skiing situations and these are done in groups of people with the same level of experience. So why not try something totally new on your holiday, if nothing else – you will have a fabulous story to tell back at home!
Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art – A privately owned contemporary art gallery focussed on American appropriation artists and more recently the international contemporary art scene. Maybe they are most famous for paying USD 5.1m for a statue of the pop star Michael Jackson with Bubbles the chimpanzee.
Vigeland Sculpture Park – The most popular tourist attraction in Oslo, displaying the works of Gustav Vigeland. His impressive statues seek to symbolize human relationships, and we think he hit the nail on the head Completed between 1939 and 1949, we found some of the homoerotic subtext insanely progressive for the time, but we will let you judge for yourself.
Explore Grünerløkka – The otherwise of Oslo is hipster Grünerløkka famous for its bohemian vibes, street art, parks and free thinkers. Right on the edge of Oslo City Centre but an entire world away.
Oslo Pass – We won’t lie, Oslo is expensive, but if you smart this card offers free admission to a selection of over 30 attractions as well as including public transport which can save you *a lot* of money if used correctly.
FRI – Norway’s LGBT community advocating for liberation from all forms of discrimination. Annoyingly there site is only in Norwegian, but they have plenty of events and activities listed which you can translate, or just ask a question on their Facebook page. We love the sound of their Gay Guerrilla take-over of otherwise ‘straight’ spaces.
Oslo Pride – The largest gay event in Norway attraction thousands of people to celebrate progress, show visibility and push to end all forms of discrimination. Held annually in July there are concerts, exhibitions, shows, films, debates and of course epic parties.
Scandinavian Ski Pride – A popular three-day event taking place annually in March at the Hemsedal ski-field a 3.5-hour drive from Oslo. Famed as the best ski resort in Norway, if your not that into the snow there is still epic gay parties and après-ski of course.
As you would expect in such a progressive country, pretty much every hotel and hostel in Oslo 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 Oslo that are known hot spots for gay travelers to stay! There are currently no exclusively gay hotels in Oslo. The best location in Olso for gay travelers is in the compact city center which is close to all the top tourist sites and attractions of the Oslo gay scene – by day or by night, but we also loved one hotel in the trendy Grünerløkka neighborhood and another luxurious ski countryside escape.
The following gay-friendly hotels in Olso are only the most popular with gay travelers, but there are hundreds of other hotels in Oslo if you don’t find quite what you are looking for. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap room to crash after a night of partying or a designer boutique option to sip cocktails and surround yourself with fabulous people – Gay Oslo as something for everyone!
The Thief ☆☆☆☆☆ – A gay-popular luxury hotel on the bustling Aker Brygge promenade known for its international art, designer furniture, avant-garde design and relaxing atmosphere. A modern retreat, yet so close to the city center – ‘escapees’ as guests are called loved the rooftop bar, tranquil, cove-like swimming pool and free entry to the nearby Astrup Fearnley Museum. Oh, and while there is no gay spa in Olso their is the Theif award-winning spa which has stolen treatment options from all over the world for you including options like a Turkish hamam bath (almost as much fun as Gay Istanbul) and Moroccan clay treatment.
Hotel Continental ☆☆☆☆☆ – A historic luxury hotel in Oslo open since 1900 and still today the vanguard of old-world elegance, albeit with some welcome modern touches. Located in the heart of the Oslo city close to all the cultural institutions and gay bars in Olso, we loved the chic suites with Nespresso machines and soaking tubs – along with terraces offering views over the fjord.
Lysebu Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆ – A luxury hotel in Oslo set just outside of the city. If your hiring a car in Oslo or want to be close to the Holmenkollbakken ski-jumping hill then this rustic complex of wooden buildings is a popular option – It truly looks straight out a pages of a Norwegian folktale, and you will feel treated like a Queen with world-class service, L’Occitaine products in the room, a restaurant seasonally featuring the best of Nordic cuisine and works of art on loan from the Henie Onstad art centre.
Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – A modern 37 story hotel centrally located in Gay Oslo with a fashionable Skybar, popular for its extensive city views. Of course, you can also enjoy these from most of their stylish views with look out over the city towards the Oslo Fjord. There is also a sauna, an indoor pool, and full Norwegian breakfast.
Oslo Guldsmeden ☆☆☆☆ – A hotel offering the best of Norwegian hospitality, we love the focus here on the smallest details, and the result is a boutique hotel you will never forget. We loved the Turkish steam bath, sauna and full organic breakfast perfect for those who are intolerant. Quirky, warn and environmental concise, this gay-popular hotel is for those who want to be pleasantly surprised.
Scandic Vulkan ☆☆☆ – Conveniently located in the trendy Grünerløkka neighborhood and only a leisurely 20-minute walk along the River Akerselva to the city center. We loved the Scandinavian chic feel, delicious full breakfast, and relaxed vibe. With floor-to-ceiling windows, views of the Mathallen Oslo and park, you can still experience Oslo from the comfort of your room…Perfect for those who want to experience a more ‘local neighborhood’ with a dash of luxury.
Comfort Hotel Xpress Youngstorget ☆☆☆– One of the cheapest hotels in Oslo we could find, yet the reviews are still fabulous. Close to the gay bars in Oslo with helpful staff, fun design and some surprisingly beautiful views from the top-level rooms. There is even a roof-top hangout space, gym, and basic kitchen if you want to save some coin.
Citybox Oslo ☆☆☆ – A new hotel concept that provides the cheapest private rooms in Oslo right on the door-step of the main train station. Simple, stylish hotel with everything you need: a simple bathroom, comfortable bed, desk + chair, a desk and a bit of space to hang your clothes. Nice lobby hang-out space and a cool check-in terminal to get in and out in a breeze.
Saga Poshtel Oslo Central ☆☆ – Our favorite hostel in Oslo, centrally located with a trendy, vibrant atmosphere, free breakfast and nice crowds. It really is posh, with plenty of cool hang-outs thanks to being co-located at the Saga Hotel Oslo Central. If you want to meet other travelers and head out to explore the town (while saving more than a few kroner), this is the place to go! You could also try the Anker Hostel but it’s a similar price, they charge for bed linen, are dirtier, have no lockers and receive generally unfavorable reviews.
Gay-Friendly / Gay Bars and Clubs in Oslo
Oslo is well-known as one of the most gay-friendly cities in Europe and has a small but vibrant gay nightlife scene. Being such a tolerant society, you are unlikely to experience any issues with displays of affection in public in Norway and will be welcomed in most clubs and bars – so naturally many gays in Oslo don’t feel the need to segregate themselves.
Conversely, this is no vibe like a gay club vibe, and we loved how lesbians and gay men frequently mix in all the Olso gay bars and having an inclusive night out with our queer family. If you’re not sure where to go, we recommend heading to the gay bars in the central city of Oslo or for a more low-key night the mixed bars in the Grünerløkka Neighbourhood are where fancy, rich hipsters, and designer gays hang out.
London Pub & Club – The most famous and biggest gay bar in Oslo has been open since the 70s (We told you this was a progressive country). Expect all your usual trappings of an iconic gay bar with a fun happy hour until 9 pm, drag queens, inclusive atmosphere and superb atmosphere. Plenty of weekday events to draw in the crowds such as karaoke and quiz nights, but as you would expect London Pub is packed on the weekend and gets very cruisy.
Elsker – A fun gay bar in Oslo with plenty of drag-related events and frequent RuPaul Drag Race viewing parties (bring your best Ru Paul merch!). A young crowd of mixed gay/lesbians who dance the weekend away to Euro-pop trash.
Bob’s Pub – Who said gay bars have to be all unicorns and glitter twinks? We loved Bob’s Pub, just a simple bar serving snacks, drinks, and nice gay company. On a sunny day in summer, you can sit outside and enjoy other queer company, or in the winter escape the cold in the cozy interior.
Fire – A fabulously funky gay dance party held over the summer month. Sure, Oslo might not have a dedicated gay club, but this popular LGBT event has a striking line-up of venues and local/international talent and is worth planning a trip to Gay Oslo around. We just checked, and their last event was gay disco-mini golf!
Indieseksuell – An indie gay club night where everyone is welcome. An alternative to the typical ‘gay hits’ on repeat (though can you really ever have too much Lady Gaga) with alternative pop hits and sickening DJs.
Heidi’s Bier Bar – A super-fun party bar popular with students that get packed most nights of the week. As with every bar in Oslo, you can find gay’s people here, but we are going for the Oktoberfest-atmosphere with beer towers, Jägerbombs, and all-night dancing.
Blå – A fun industrial-style club and jazz bar with cheaper beer and drinks that most Oslo clubs. Very student popular and eclectic events that always draw a crowd. We loved leaving in the summer under the almost-endless sunlight, and selfie-ing up a storm in the street-art covered laneway. Blå also host awesome concerts by the river and have taken the live music scene in Oslo by storm!
Lekter’n – A large, open-air bar and restaurant which is insanely popular when the sun is out. Located seaside in the upscale Aker Brygge area, we loved people watching and making the most of the admittedly short Norwegian summer.
Underwater Pub – Quirky, fun and with free opera on Tuesday and Thursday…whats not to love! This nautically themed bar transports you to a sunken ship under the sea and is pretty famous in Oslo for obvious reasons. We also loved you could bring your own food. Hint, there is a Thai restaurant across the road.
Aku-Aku Tiki Bar – I don’t care who you are, everyone loves a Tiki bar – and sitting inside sipping fruity drinks in the bitter Oslo winter making it all the more fun. A gay-friendly bar with funky decor, strong drinks and the ability to make transport you to Hawaii…at least for a few hours!
Cruising & Gay Sauna in Oslo
One place where Grindr and other gay hook-up apps really made a difference worldwide is the closing of saunas and bathhouses.
While other European destinations such as Prague, Brussels, and Valencia have bucked the trend and continue to have a thriving gay sauna scene, in Olso, this is not the case in Oslo. Sadly, today only Club Hercules remains – although it is one of the top gay saunas in Scandinavia.
Spread out over four floors Club Hercules / Saunahuset Hercules offers plenty of fun with a busy jacuzzi, steam and dry sauna room, XXX room, private cabins, and maze. It’s not the cleanest, but as you would expect this Oslo gay sauna is popular with tourists and sexy Norwegians who really get right to it if you’re not too picky. Friday’s and Saturday’s after 1 am are most popular.
Otherwise, the crowd is mostly older Bear Viking guys. Entrance is NOK 175 or NOK 110 for under 26s with towels, condoms, and lube all provided. Re-entrance is free on Sunday with a stamp, so you can visit the Hercules gay sauna in Oslo before 8 am that morning and head back for a second time after 3 pm at no extra cost.
If the gay sauna in Olso isn’t your scene, there is also the ever-popular SLM Oslo Fetish Club / Cruise Lounge for your hit of Scandinavian Leather Men (SLM). They host mostly themed parties with specials dress codes on the second Saturday of every month and have Bondage workshops. Read their house rules before going and register on the webpage no later than 10 pm the day of the event. Downstairs is the fun cruise/play area with a dark room, sling, and the essential BDSM toys.
Gay sauna or not, in any sexual encounter, please take adequate precautions. No matter what your intentions are in while traveling, 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...
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your global rainbow family and don't forget to share your best gay stories with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...We'd love to hear from you!