Stockholm, Sweden is a must-visit destination for lesbian travelers

Perennial gay destination favorite Stockholm undeniably lives up to the hype. Comprised of 14 islands in Lake Mälaren, with the Baltic Sea speckled with an extensive archipelago of 24,000 islands to the east, this majestic city founded in the 13th century has transformed into the modern day capital of Scandinavia.

Sweden, with Stockholm at its helm, is renown for its progressive political values and its investments in the arts and intellectual culture. Remember, Sweden is the country that has given us a female word for masturbation (“klittra”), and a gender-neutral pronoun (“hen”). It consistently ranks as one of top five countries on the Global Gender Gap Index, and has not only legally constituted “gender-neutral” wedding laws but has had anti-discrimination laws on the books for years.

StockholmAtSunset

Oh, and Sweden is a safe haven for refugees—not only did it take more refugees per capita during the horrific crisis in Syria; since the 1940s  it has historically welcomed war refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants without xenophobic hesitation or bureaucratic red tape.

For gay women, then, Stockholm is a smart, ethical choice when it comes to investing one’s disposable income on travel—and considering the continuing strength of the American dollar, it is a perfect time to set your sights on this visually stunning city. The breadth of cultural activities coupled with the natural surround and proximity to the archipelago make the greatest challenge of visiting Stockholm trying to cram everything into one trip. Defeat is inevitable—which means you’ll have to visit Stockholm again and again. Considering my experience, I can’t imagine people not wanting to return to Stockholm—or, perhaps, ever leave. From the week-long Pride celebration in July to the gay-themed Christmas celebration in December, you can’t pick a bad time of year for your visit.

When it comes to the city, no island is more on fleek than Södermalm, which is like the Brooklyn of Stockholm with its cafes and bookshops, consignment stores and art galleries, including the acclaimed photography museum Fotografiska. You can spend hours wistfully winding through the streets checking out all there is to do. Make sure to stop into a bakery and try a cardamom bun (kardamomma bulle) or a cinnamon bun (kanelbullar)—or, if you’re me, both—with a latte. Also, if you’re a connoisseur of sweets you can’t leave Sweden without trying its famous princess cake (prinsesstårta), made of marzipan and jam and whipped cream and is a million calories of extreme necessity. I frankly don’t understand how Swedes remain so thin!

CinnamonBun

To the ever mindful female traveler, nota bene: it’s okay to get lost in Stockholm and especially Södermalm. The city is safe, and the subway system is super clean, efficient, and is covered with mosaics and paintings because Swedes understand the value of art—this fact is particularly refreshing coming from America, where the humanities and arts are notoriously devalued and underfunded.

In Södermalm, too, is the lesbian-owned pub Bitter Pills (frequented mostly by young, queer clientele) and the gay bar King Kong. Friday nights, King Kong is home to the girl party Jungle Jane, hosted by Anna Högkil & Anna Ungh, the super-lesbians behind Moxy, the LBT group that you should definitely hook into before you travel to Stockholm. When my wife and I visited Stockholm the girls invited us to a crawfish dinner party at Urban Deli—truth be told, it was one of the few lesbian events that I’ve ever attended that was successful. It ran on time, with dozens of lesbians of different races and gender expressions and generations, who genuinely got along with each other—like, they were even singing Swedish songs while taking shots. It was great!

MoxieNight

The two Annas have been running Moxy since 2006. Högkil had the idea after creating a girls’ night at her former restaurant, Momma. Partnering up with Ungh, the dynamo managing the Urban Deli franchise (whose motto, in actively espousing their pro-LGBT and pro-diversity agenda, is “we like differences”), the two collaborated to create Moxy Movie nights and Moxy Sports in addition to their dance parties.

“Community is important—it’s not just about sex,” Högkil told me one afternoon when we met up for coffee to discuss the global state of lesbian affairs. “We still need a space, and the purpose of [Moxy] is for queer women to feel safe, secure, and included.” Stockholm, we lamented, like many cities around the world, does not have a permanent lesbian club venue. But the difference is that the city is so LGBT-friendly that you can hold hands and make out with your girlfriend or wife anywhere and not draw any ire or malicious gaze. You’re safe in Stockholm, lesbos! I can personally attest to this, as I made sure to do my duty as a lesbian travel writer by feeling up my wife at every single site inspection and destination possible.