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From an evening reliving the delightful ditties by Swedish supergroup Abba to a Helsinki walking tour highlighting the girthy portraits by queer artist Tom of Finland, we count down our top 10 experiences in Scandinavia. Joining us in the studio are the bearded boys behind the gay travel blog, Couple of Men.

For a downloadable version of Season 2 Episode 8, click here.

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Podcast Notes

Listening to our hosts stumble and slur their way through today’s phonetically-challenging Scandinavia episode was a hilarious farce we weren’t expecting. Download the episode now and then check back here for links to all the sites and experiences recommended by our hosts.

About Couple of Men

Karl (Left) and Daan (Right) are extra cute in Amsterdam, their current home base.

German-Dutch life partners Karl Krause and Daan Colijn, are the bearded boys behind Couple of Men. Their warm-hearted blog chronicles the duo’s love of travel and each other. Between them, they’ve travelled to over 50 countries across 5 continents. Follow their story on coupleofmen.com, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

10. Experience Northern Finland in Winter

A team of husky's get ready to pull a dog sled in Finland's northern province.
What’s “Mush!” in Finnish?

Book a weekend at Inari-Saariselkä, Northern Finland’s premiere resort village. You can read about all the arctic activities available on their website, but highlights include cross-country skiing, a reindeer safari and an evening dog sledding adventure in search of Aura Borealis (aka The Northern Lights). You can even book a night slumbering in a luxury igloo complete with wood fire and furs.

9. Bike through Copenhagen and Helsinki

Bike friendly hotel OhBoy.
Every reservation at OhBoy Hotel in Malmö, Sweden comes with a free bike to use for the entirety of your stay.

Being from Amsterdam, Karl and Daan are huge urban bikers and were particularly impressed by the cycling infrastructure in both Helsinki and Copenhagen. They also mentioned they have an upcoming trip booked to Malmö, Sweden in which they’ll be staying at bike-centric Ohboy Hotel.

If you were curious about the cycling blog Peter mentioned, it’s called Copenhagenize and you can read it here.

8. Enjoy a Tom of Finland Tour

An erotic art piece by Finnish artist Tom of Finland. It features three gay leather men.
Helsinki’s best (and gayest) walking tour is the Tom of Finland Experience. Visit the artist’s favourite coffee shops, bars and cruising parks.

Touko Valio Laaksonen (aka Tom of Finland) is easily the most famous gay erotic artist in the world. His beefy subjects wore revealing denim and leather outfits and all packed triple XL schlongs. If you’re in Helsinki, Klaus K Hotel offers a premium Tom of Finland package that includes staying in a room inspired by the artist, a “goodie bag” and a Friday night walking tour that highlights the Fin’s life and story including his favourite cruising spots. If you want to skip the hotel and just do the tour, you can reserve a spot online here.

7. Partake in some of the world’s most gay-friendly scenes

An exterior photo of Mälarpaviljongen as seen from the river.
Visit Mälarpaviljongen, Stockholm gorgeous gazebo gay bar and restaurant.
Mälarpaviljongen's river-side patio.
Summer is the best time to visit Mälarpaviljongen in Stockholm. The gay bar and restaurant has one of the best patios literally sitting on the river.

Scandinavia is famously one of the safest, most LGBT-welcoming regions in the world. And their respective annual pride celebrations and gay nightlife live up to the reputation.

While we haven’t been to all of the major Pride in Scandinavia, we wanted to give a special shout-out to Helsinki Pride. Unlike most Pride parades, Helsinki Pride doesn’t attract many passive spectators. Instead, it removes the usual fencing allowing any- and every- LGBT man, woman or child to join the parade and march the capital’s streets.

Meanwhile, in Stockholm, Sweden, we wanted to point out the gay hot spot Mälarpaviljongen. This gorgeous gay restaurant and bar employ LGBT refugees who are still waiting on their residency papers. Be sure to try the locally brewed rainbow beer.

Finally, be sure to follow along on Couple of Men’s blog as they enjoy Malmö Pride this July.

6. Visit the Abba Museum

Four wax models replicating the members of Abba in disco-fantasy-realness on display in Stockholm.
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme… the full Abba Museum experience!

Disco fans MUST bump and hustle over to Stockholm’s Abba Museum. The museum includes a number of interactive exhibits, including a recently launched section dedicated to the musical and movie adaptation. PRO TIP: Visit in the late afternoon so you can walk across the street and enjoy a Mediterranean dinner and cabaret at Mamma Mia! The Party.

5. Hike Norway’s fjords

The Troll's Tongue is one of Norway's best known landscapes.
The death defying plataeu at Preikestolen.

Norway’s endless countryside is well known amongst trekkers. Specifically the country’s fjords. In particular, Rob recommends gay hikers should trek to Trolltunga, Preikestolen and Kjerag. Keep in mind these hikes aren’t for everyone, and you should research distances and terrain before taking on these trails.

4. Theme Parks

Karl & Daan riding the Vuoristorata in Helsinki.

Amusement Park Enthusiasts take note: Scandinavia features some of the world’s best (and oldest!) roller coasters. Of particular note are Linnanmäkki (Helsinki), Gröna Lund (Stockholm) and Tivoli (Copenhagen).

Linnanmäkki – Located on Castle Hill in the heart of Helsinki, this small amusement park offers some of the city’s best views. Be sure to ride the “Vuoristorata”, one of the oldest wooden rollercoasters in Europe. So old in fact, a handsome Fin is required to ride the roller coaster all day and manually work the brake.

Gröna Lund – This small theme park is actually located on the same island in Stockholm as the Abba Museum. One cool tidbit is to take the ferry bus around Stockholm’s many islands and get a photo with the theme park behind you.

Tivoli – We highly recommend this cute amusement park during the Christmas holiday. It is located right in the centre of Copenhagen and is lit up over the holidays with thousands of lights and special decorations. Fun fact: this is the second oldest theme park in the world.

3. Build memories at the LEGO Museum

A nostalgic journey down memory lane, one brick at a time.

Take the three-hour train ride from Copenhagen to Billund, Denmark, to visit the recently renovated LEGO House, aka the LEGO Museum. While the six hours of travel might seem steep for a day trip, Denmark’s gorgeous countryside is a splendid distraction.

2. Book a table at a farm-to-table restaurant

Experience Noma, the original farm-to-table restaurant in Scandinavia.

Noma rocked the world when head chefs Rene Redzepi and Claus Meyer published Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine. The book was as much a mantra about hyper-local, hyper-seasonal living as it was a cookbook. Noma sparked an entire movement and farm-to-table restaurants began opening up across Scandinavia. Make sure to book a table at one such restaurant for a truly local dining experience.

1. Experience the region by river, lake or sea

A wide canal on a sunny day in Copenhagen. The river is lined with colourful houses and docked sailboats.
A cosy canal snaking through colourful Copenhagen.

All of Scandinavia’s capitals (and most of the major cities) are located right on the sea. As such, one of the best ways to experience these destinations is by water. Most of the cities have ferry buses you should absolutely ride. Alternatively, if you’re visiting Finland, use the country’s tourism site to find a guide and route geared to your needs. In Denmark, take a bite out of Copenhagen on Kayake Republic’s Nordic Food Tour which paddles between seaside restaurants, stopping for a nibble at each. Finally, Copenhagen-based company GoBoat rents its vessels to tourists so they can cruise the canals and waterways at their own pace. No licence is required!

Image Credits from top down: Couples of Men X 3, TimeTravels, OhBoy Hotel, Tom of Finland Experience, Mälarpaviljongen X 2, Abba Museum, Hvitserk X 3, LEGO House, Noma, Unsplash.com.

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