The third largest city in progressive and liberal Finland, Gay Tampere offers down-to-earth culture and a quirky post-industrial landscape to contrast the most ostentatious and frantic capital of Helsinki just a few hours away.
Sure Helsinki might have more gay bars and Finlands only gay sauna, that does not mean the rest of Finland has nothing to offer gay travelers. There is a reason Tampere is the most popular travel destination for Finns looking to explore their own country more. Not only is Tampere authentically Finnish but this city is slow paced, filled with idiosyncratic museums, extraordinary dining, a ludicrous amount of saunas and of course – the world’s only Moomin museum.
Set between two expansive lakes (there are over 200,000 in Finland!) a visit to Gay Tampere is not like visiting your traditional European ‘fairytale’ city – think Vienna, Prague, Paris or Edinburgh – but instead a refreshingly different mix of open-public spaces, red-brick industrial buildings, quaint cafes, and grassy banks to relax on. An industrial city re-invented for the modern era, one in which looks to the future and is not constrained by its past.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Finland since 2017, and in this peaceful and open-minded city, queer travelers are welcomed everywhere. While during 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 Tampere to show you around (or perhaps invite you to enjoy a sauna…the Finnish kind!).
Finns are famously shy and withdrawn, loving to brag about how withdrawn they are – but we have to disagree and found Finns in Tampere warm, open and sincere…once you start a conversation. The only gay bar in Tampere, Mixei, is the backbone of the local LGBT community – but no other gay bars are left standing – largely because of how accepting the wider community is
While we do think having gay spaces and bars is important and hope Mixei continues to remain as popular as it is, we did also enjoy the freedom of being able to be ourselves in all the other clubs and bars we visited in Tampere – and we were not the only ones!
Above all else, Tampere is a city for everyone, where you are welcomed as you are and it is okay just to be you. No matter where your interests lie: sauna, gastronomy, art, nightlife or more – Gay Tampere has got something for you!
Gay Tampere Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Tampere Finland 2018
In this article we will cover...
Attractions in Tampere 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 Tampere during the day!
Tampere is a very safe city and gay travelers in Tampere do not need to take any extra precautions in terms of public displays of affection here. So relax, take in the sights and just be yourself – You won’t find any issues here. Here are just a few of our favorite highlights, but we are confident you will discover many, many more…
- Moomin Museum – You can’t visit Tampere without planning a pilgrimage to the world’s only Moomin Museum where thousands of people every year come to pay tribute to this adorable family of white and roundish trolls with their cute large snouts. So classically Finnish, if you have never heard of these crazy characters who reside in the idyllic and peaceful Moominvalley, then there is even more of a reason to visit. Super fans won’t want to miss the unique Moomin menu at Tuhto next door which takes your taste buds on a culinary journey through Moomin Valley.
- Doghill Fairytale Farm – Spend the day at the adorable Doghill Fairytale Farm and take a step back in time into this idyllic historic farm world. Based around the famous children’s book series in Finland called Koiramäki (Dog Hill) by featuring anthropomorphic dogs illustrator Mauri Kunnas, today Doghill Fairytale Farm is a charming town and an imaginative farm filled with atmosphere, animals to pat, old wooden buildings and plenty of exploring for the young, and young at heart!
- Vapriikki – A wonderful complex of mini-museums and exhibits focussed on history, technology, and natural sciences set in a converted 1880s building that is quint-essentially Tamperean. Some of the countries most uniquely Finnish museums are found here like the Natural History Museum of Tampere, the Media Museum Rupriikki, the Mineral Museum, the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame, the Doll Museum, Postal Museum and The Finnish Museum of Games.
- Finlayson – Finland’s first industrially manufactured textiles producer was established initially in Tampere in 1820, and since then Finlayson has been on an (almost) 200-year journey to become one of Finland’s most iconic brands. The original home of Finlayson in Tampere was a city-within-a-city and had its own police, currency, hospital, school and workers quarter and until 1920 was the biggest industrial district in the Nordics. Today this area has been repurposed as a contemporary mixed-use space with vibrant restaurants, cute cafés, and cultural spaces including the world’s only spy museum, and is well worth a visit.
- Finlayson Textile Shop – The original Finlayson factory store still located and operating in the factory area is the best place to shop for beautifully designed Finlayson products. They have a huge range and make the perfect souvenir – frequently teaming up with famous Finnish artist and brands, like the Moomins or particularly wonderful for gay men is their Tom of Finland collection. Producing famously quality products with a life cycle as long as possible, some of their products have a unique 50-year guarantee and are a mainstay of many Finnish homes.
- Tampere Market Hall – he largest market hall in the Nordics, take that Copenhagen, Olso, and Bergen! Tucked away right in the city center, this unassuming hidden gems is much beloved by locals who have faithfully flocked here since it opened in 1901. Today, the 32 different stalls, cafes and vendors all offer only the best of traditional Finnish cuisine and is the perfect place to sample the delightfully quirky and outrageously delicious. Local delicacies, the famous Tampere Black Sausage, regional cheese, so-much-fish, beautiful buns, pastries and more – You name it, and chances are you will find it here- always locally produced and of the highest quality!
- Tammelantori Farmers Market – Tammelantori is an animated marketplace, farmers’ market and flea market just a few blocks from the Tampere Railway station – and one of the best displays of genuinely local life in Tampere. Season produce is hawked here including berries, flowers, vegetables, cured fish and meats, but as a visitor you should just choose a sunny day, take a wander and then grab a coffee at the café in the middle of the market. Maybe with a pastry or one of the tempting sandwiches?
- Särkänniem Amusement Park – Only a 25-minute walk from the Tampere city center you can’t leave town without exploring this epic park with six thrilling roller coasters, two water rides, the High Voltage -Power Surge thrill ride, an Angry Birds Land and around 20 other fun rides to discover. The best part is that admission to the park ground is free and you can choose to buy either a single-ride ticket or get a full day pass including admission to all rides, the Doghill Fairytale Farm, Aquarium, Näsinneula Observation Tower and Planetarium for only €42 – best of all they have short lines and wait times!
- Café Runo – Ahhh, coffee and pulla – could there be anything more Finnish. Combine with a sauna, and you have essentially summed up life in Finland. Pulla, a cardamom coffee braid bread, should always be served whenever coffee is served in Finland and while many Finnish families back it at home, you can also stop by Café Runo in Tampere to try this iconic duo. A nostalgic and slightly whimsical café located on a romantic corner in the Tampere Old Town, with a mix of indoor and outdoor seating, Café Runo is perfect for lazy afternoons – or getting that perfect Insta shot.
A city the size of Tampere 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 Tampere – 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!
Events in Tampere
Gay Tampere is a city that hosts hundreds of events across the year, and queer travelers to Finland should not restrict themselves to exclusively gay events. Especially worth checking out are the many music festivals of all sizes that are organized in the summer, but every night of the week you can find some wonderful event and plenty of fabulous club parties on the weekend. For more details on check out the upcoming Tampere events page.
- Tampere Pride – A rainbow festival organized annually July to celebrate the LGBT movements progress in Finland, and to recognize that worldwide so much more needs to be done. Small by international standards, but we think any Pride is worth attending – if only to experience complete acceptance and queer spirit talking to the streets. Be sure to check out Tampere Pride’s Facebook as they often host small parties throughout the year.
- Pirkanmaan Pride – Tampere is so fabulous it manages to have two LGBT festivals Pride annually. This Pirkanmaan Pride is a regional week-long festival that takes place in early June with many open discussions, queer workshops, rainbow church events, and vibrant parties. The main event takes place on Saturday, with a Pride March – but explore their events calendar to make the most of what’s happening!
- Tampere Queer Festival – We told you Tampere was wonderfully gay, and this festival is just another example. A queer-feminist event which takes place in either September or October, it is organized by Vattu, a University of Tampere feminist group.
- Vinokino Tampere – We love attending LGBT film festivals all over the world, and while this might be just an extension of the main event Gay Helsinki, it does remain the only rainbow film festival in Finland which takes place in November. If allnight clubbing and glitter-monster realness is not quite your thing, these refined queer movie screenings at Arthouse Cinema Niagara then check this event out instead.
- Tampereen Mummolaakso – The Tampere branch of the national Mummolaakso LGBT community which organizes some activities for adult LBT women, most frequently a women-only ballroom dance night Talvikin tanssit. Worth checking out if you plan to spend longer in Gay Tampere, although it is more focussed around connecting locals they would be happy for you to attend an appropriate event.
- Blockfest – The biggest hip-hop/city festival in the Nordic countries with several stages around Tampere. Hotels sell out far in advance so if you plan to visit during mid-August take care with planning. Previous years have featured performers such as Wu-Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Nas, A$AP Rocky, and Wiz Khalifa. Tampere Jazz Happening is – A fun urban jazz jubilee, held every year since 1982 drawing in some of the worlds top jazz musicians to play alongside a showcase of young Finnish talents on the rise.
- Lost in Music – Yes, the Finns love their music and Lost In Music focuses on showcasing the talents of musicians from a wide range of genres for both international industry and the general public alike. The artists are chosen through an open application process and by consulting industry professionals. Held annually in October, over 100 artists perform at different venues around Tampere over the event weekend which attracts up to 15,000 people.
- Tammmerfest – A music festival that takes place every summer in July for five days and nights, right in the urban heart of Tampere. Tammmerfest is the biggest city festival in the country and over 80,000 guests pack into the city for this epic experience. If you do not plan on attending, it would be a good idea to visit Gay Tampere at another time as hotels sell out far in advance.
- Tampere Festival of Light – The winters are dark in the Nordic North, but thankfully this festival focuses on bringing brightness during the darkest 135 days. Taking place from late October until mid-March, the streets of Tampere are wonderfully illuminated with urban light art and different light fixtures to create a magical atmosphere like no other. The main highlight is that the entire length of Hämeenkatu street shines bright (like a diamond) with over 500 light spheres floating from the trees. Absolutely brilliant!
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Tampere Finland
Being one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world, almost every hotel and hostel in Tampere can be considered open and welcoming to LGBT travelers. After all being gay-friendly is simply providing a non-judgmental and respectful environment in which all people are treated equally. Some businesses have gone above and beyond in recognizing and marketing to the LGBT community, and it seems to have paid off – and of course, elegant design, helpful staff, and great value for money never hurt…
Here is our favorite selection of marvelous hotels in Tampere that are go-to hot spots for gay travelers…and really, doesn’t everyone like to be surrounded by people with common interests!
If you don’t find what you are looking for, there are hundreds of other accommodation options in Tampere
if you don’t see 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 Tampere has something for everyone!
- Lapland Hotel Tampere ☆☆☆☆☆ – Our absolute favorite hotel in Tampere just a few steps from the gay bar, the recently renovated Lapland Hotels Tampere proposes a deluxe stay influenced by the authentic styling, hospitality, nature and myths of Lapland. Elegant yet understated, the entire hotel honors the ultra clean Lapland wilderness, with clean design and charming views – plus most importantly large, large rooms with comfortable beds for an uninterrupted sleep. From the atmospheric timber-beam Kitchen & Bar Dabbal known for exceptional take of Nordic nature to the sophisticated top-floor sauna with both steam and infra-red sauna everything you could possibly want is right here. There is also an incomparable breakfast buffet offering a taste of traditional Finnish cuisine, with an exceptional bread selection, Finnish fish specialties including three types of salmon, smoothies, berry soup, made-to-order omelets and being Finland, plenty of coffee. You can even start your day with the famous black sausage of Tampere – albeit with a faithfully Lappish twist in that it is made with reindeer meat! Embrace the effortless harmony and tranquillity of Lapland in a mystical urban surrounding.
- Radisson Blu Grand Hotel Tammer ☆☆☆☆ – Beautifully situated on the cusp of the Tammerkoski rapids, this boutique hotel built in 1929 is a landmark of the historic riverside area, within walking distance of everything in Tampere. Inspired by the 1920s, the conservative rooms offer design, space and a dash of luxury while some have river views, balconies and/or sauna. There’s a sophisticated Italian restaurant with a seasonal terrace if you don’t feel like leaving the hotel – as well as an upscale bar, relaxing spa and of course, a fabulous sauna.
- Solo Sokos Hotel Torni Tampere ☆☆☆☆ – A funky and modern hotel set in an 88-meter-high tower, the tallest hotel in Finland, with eclectic rooms, vibrant colors and jaw-dropping views. There is also an included breakfast buffet served in a memorable on-site restaurant ( a converted former locomotive depot), and in the evenings there is also casual, music-themed bar and luxe rooftop bar overlooking Gay Tampere to relax in. Right next to the Central Train Station, there also a sauna and gym should you need them.
- Scandic Tampere Station ☆☆☆ – A modern city hotel right in the heart of Tampere with a relaxed restaurant, summer terrace, gym, and sauna. We also enjoyed the modern design, unbeatable location, free breakfast buffet, and lower prices – but would recommend spending just a little bit more to get something truly memorable.
- Lillan Hotel ☆☆☆ – If you have a car or don’t mind staying just a bit out of Tampere center this warm, country-chic inn offers charming, bright rooms, relaxing café, and a seasonal garden. A truly unique boutique hotel in the district Viinikka – no other hotel in Tampere is as homely or so focussed on interior decoration items and textiles designs. Prices are also lower and the city is still a walkable distance if you enjoy a stroll.
- Dream Hostel & Hotel ☆☆ – The best budget accommodation in Gay Tampere, perfect if you are looking for a simple private room or dorm for the night. Dream Hostel has been named one of the top ten luxury hostels in Europe yet maintaining the lowest prices in Tampere, with high-quality solid wood bunk beds offering guests both a comfortable sleep and added privacy. Their private rooms have everything you need – without the high price tag – and the entire property just oozed the cool Nordic vibe with plenty of light and calm colors. If you are traveling alone and want to make friends, or are just on a tight budget, then Dream Hostel is for you!
Gay Bars and Gay Clubs in Tampere
Finland is easily one of the most gay-friendly countries in Europe, and in Tampere while there only one gay club there is plenty of welcoming and inclusive options for any traveler. Want to enjoy divine cocktails in intimate surroundings, feel the bass pulse through you until the sunrises – or just relax with a refreshing beer on a sunny terrace? Then Tampere nightlife has something for you!
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 Tampere. We spotted quite a few gay groups openly fraternizing in different venues, and were probably the only one to pay any attention – Yes, this is really how free and progressive Finnish society is: a refreshing change from places like Warsaw, Istanbul, Jakarta or Budapest.
Helsinki might claim to be the nightlife capital of Finland, but Tampere has the advantage of a bubbly and adaptable nightlife scene that is all centrally located along the Hämeenkatu making it extremely easy to bar hop and explore. If you are staying at the Lapland Hotel Tampere then the Tampere gay bar is only a few minutes walk and from there everything else is a short walk – in the bright summer nights or in the bitterly cold winters!
In winter, Finns drinks because there is nothing else to do – and in the brief summer they drink to celebrate, after all, there is no time to waste! Pubs and bars often don’t close until 4 am, and while Finns are not known for their small talk, if you give them a chance (and maybe force the first minutes of conversation) they are very proficient in English. We found in Tampere many Finns – gay or straight – delighted to chat the night away with interesting foreigners. Just brush up on your Finnish facts beforehand – they will love it!
Just remember, go at your own pace, known your own limit and don’t feel the need to keep up with these seasoned Finnish pros…You never know where the night will lead!
- NightClub Mixei – Finland’s oldest gay bar still operated today, at Mixei all open-minded people over the age of 18, are welcome – gay, straight or unicorn! There are two floors with only the bar being opened in Wednesday for a some of the best karaoke Tampere has to offer. On Friday’s and Saturday’s The nightclub operates downstairs with a large pumping dance floor and a DJ who hits all the right notes with gay anthems and classic pop hits to bring out the queer spirit. Sadly there are no regular drag shows but occasional events are listed on their Facebook page if you want to plan around something in particular. Entrance fees are charged on the weekend – like most clubs in Tampere but the drink prices are among the lowest in town! Friendly staff, cute customers and fabulous music make Mixei the perfect place to dance the night away in Tampere – but be sure to check out the rest of Tampere nightlife first!
- Leimarit – A wonderfully queer party in Tampere organized by the equal human rights Advocacy group Pirkanmaan SETA about 8 times a year. Leimarit is phenomenal in Tampere and has been for a quater-century drawing in hundreds of rainbow people each night for fun music, judgment-free clubbing, and dancing. A truly open atmosphere, but you can still get a label at the door if you want – Check their Facebook events for upcoming dates!
- Viihdemaailma Ilona – One of Tampere’s most diverse nightclubs with karaoke a VIP lounge, multiple bars and live music every Saturday night. Like every club in Tampere, you can find LGBT guys here mixed in amongst the crowd, or grinding on the dance floor before the last call. What can we say, a well-stocked bar, cute guys and epic dance music makes this a perfect place to finish the night strong.
- Nightclub Doris – One of the best-known nightclubs in Tampere especially for students and hipsters who flock here for the old school indie music and occasionally live music. Doris, however, can be a hit or miss in terms of crowds, usually getting crowded after 2 AM, especially in summer time. Either way, the staff are friendly and it is always a good place to dance and sit down with friends for a late night drink!
- Naima – An upscale nightclub next to Hämeensilta in the heart of Tampere with an eclectic variety of music and karaoke on quieter nights. The lines can get quite long later in the night, but inside is always fun, vibrant and offers some fantastic city views.
- Jack the Rooster – A renowned summer terrace bar overlooking the Tammerkoski rapids with views out to the picturesque Finlayson factory area. Iconic and unique, Jack the Rooster is perfect for relaxing in the sun and meeting friends and acquaintances – or later at night to have the unique experience of hearing a Finnish Rock’n’roll band live. A local favorite, but be warned during the spring and summer months it can get very crowded.
- Moro Sky Bar – A peaceful and elegant bar located high up on the 25th floor of the Torni Hotel, offering tremendous views across the entire city of Tampere. Even from its lofty heights, Moro Sky Bar remains laid-back and accessible – No table reservations are needed and anyone can visit, hotel guest or not. Classy, with fabulous cocktails and company – if refined company and divine panoramas on the top of the tallest hotel in Finland sound more appealing, this is the place for you!
- Tillikka – A classy and upscale restaurant by day that morphs every Friday and Saturday night into one of the most popular meet-up spots in town. With a variety of booths, two levels, and social spaces Tillikka is perfect for chatting with local Finns, figuring out where to head next or just chatting with your friends until close at 4 am!
- Bar Passion – Recently refurbished, Passion offers fun music, reliable service and relatively low prices all in a relaxed restaurant setting. Sure, it is not glamorous or a gay hotspot, but if you just want to relax in the evening and socialize over a drink that won’t break the bank this is a good spot to try!
For those wanting to explore the naughtier side of Tampere, you should know that while Tampere is the sauna capital of the world – there is absolutely no gay sauna here! Sorry boys, for this you are going to need to head to Helsinki, or just use your favorite gay hook up apps.
Most saunas in Finland are separated by sex and guests will generally be naked, though there are a few exceptions. LGBT 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 Tampere – which are about health and relaxation rather than sex.
The traditional sauna was invented in Finland and has been a way of life in Finland for over 2000 years. Hot steam and ice-cold water is a way of life here and the health benefits of sauna bathing have been noted scientifically since the 18th century. Public saunas are the best place for tourists to get a crash-course in Finnish people and culture as no visit to Tampere would be complete without an authentic Finnish sauna experience. Here are a few of our favorites!
- Tullin Sauna – Conveniently located just a few minutes walk from the city center, this is one of the best saunas in Tampere ticking all the boxes for price, design, hospitality, and uniqueness. Tucked away in an old industrial building (how very Tampere!) and filled with contrasting chic Nordic interior design with two hand-crafted saunas made from 100-year-old logs. Both saunas are unisex, so tourists are not thrown to far out of their comfort zone – yes, that means a bathing suit is needed, and friends, couples and everyone can enjoy the sauna together. Towel, soap, lockers, bathing suits – really everything you need is included in the modest entrance fee, and you can also enjoy an ice cold beer in the sauna or have a refined yet relaxed meal in their attached innovative bistro beforehand.
- Rajaportti Sauna – The best place to experience authentic Finnish sauna culture, the Rajaportti Sauna in Tampere was built in 1906 and today is the oldest public sauna in Finland still in use. There is immense masonry stove in the heart of the sauna, and huge meter-long logs are used to heat the space which has space for 15-20 people at any one time. A simple 15-minute bus trip out of Tampere.
- Sauna Kuuma – Easily located at just off the Laukontori Market Place on the lower Tammerkoski rapids, Sauna Kuuma offers high design and a relaxing experience for all the senses. high-quality food, sauna, and excellent service combine to make this year-round ‘living room’ sauna, where it is usually possible to take a dip outside even in the winter. The bigger sauna is a modern smoke sauna and the smaller saunas, are wood heated traditional sauna. Facilities are mixed, so be sure to bring your bathing suit!
- Kaukajärvi – A small sauna opened year-round to the public at the Kaukajärvi swimming beach. A very local experience where you can relax on the beach in summer and take an icy dip in the winter. Super-cool, very authentic Finnish sauna filled with friendly, enthusiastic sauna-lovers.
- Lapland Hotel Tampere – If you don’t have much time in Tampere, or prefer to sauna in the privacy of your own accommodation, the Lapland Hotel Tampere has a stunning top-floor sauna retreat with contemporary design, views over the city and both infra-red and steam sauna. Separate by sex, you can simply slip into your hotel robe in your room, enjoy the sauna au naturel then head straight back to your room for a shower and a good nights sleep!
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...