All things considered, Helsinki is one of Europe’s youngest capitals. It has only been around since 1550, when King Gustav Vasa ordered the entire population of four Finnish towns to move to a particular spot of the River Vantaa. After a fire destroyed the traditional wooden buildings in 1812, it was rebuilt in stone by German-born architect Carl Ludvig Engel, who designed some of the loveliest neoclassical architecture in the world. Most of his work still stands, giving this capital its own unique atmosphere.
Helsinki’s residents are outdoors lovers — not surprising, given that the city has 400 parks. Sitting in cafes and watching the world pass by is popular even in winter. Don’t miss sights like the Suomenlinna, the national castle that sits on its own island. It’s a United Nations World Heritage Site.
Gay life is an integral part of the city’s fabric, and the official tourism board advertises how gay-friendly the city has always been. Most of the gay establishments are downtown, and most are within walking distance of each other. Helsinki Gay Pride, the biggest gay event in Finland, is held the last week of June each year. There’s a week of activities, ranging from gay bingo to a visit to the bear pit at the local zoo.
Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport is about 12 miles north of the city. City bus number 615 (the 620 at night) can get you downtown in about 35 minutes. In July 2015 the new Ring Rail Line is set to open, with trains every 10-20 minutes to the city center and the national railway network.
Currency and Money
Finland is part of the Euro Zone, so the euro is the accepted currency.
Media and resources
QX, the gay magazine in neighboring Sweden, also has online listings for the other Scandinavian countries, including Finland.
The MSC-Finland-Tom’s Club fetish club has monthly parties and sauna nights for guys into leather, rubber and uniforms. See their website for dates and community information, including the Helsinki Mister Fetish Finland contest in February.
Heseta is the local counseling, support and information center for the LGBT community, with a Finnish-language website.
Besides the international exhibitions to be seen at the Helsinki Art Museum, there are about four hundred outdoor sculptures, environmental works and historical monuments in Helsinki, dating from the late 19th century, or older.
The Finnish National Opera presents fifteen operas and nine ballets each season, plus numerous concerts and choral performances.
For a city map with business locations and website links see our gay Helsinki listings pages. See some local photos at our gallery page, click activities for some things to do and places to see, and museums and galleries for those listings.
A21 Cocktail Lounge (Annankatu 21), stylish cocktail video lounge, swing, blues, jazz & champagne nights, DJ music.
Andorra (Eerikinkatu 11), entertainment complex includes: The Corona Bar NY-styled street bar/pub, pool games; Dubrovnik Lounge, lobby bar and restaurant, live music and films; Kafe Mockba Soviet-era-styled bar, scetic but cosy ambiance; Kino movie screenings and festivals.
Bear Park Cafe at Karhupuisto (Agricolankatu 13), May to September summer gay cafe kiosk, closed on rainy days, ice cream, coffees, teas, soft drinks, sandwiches, cakes, fresh baked cinnamon buns and pastries, German-style breakfasts.
Café Cavalier (Malminrinne 2-4), cosy and central gay internet café & music bar at Kamppi Square, bears and mixed crowd; evening live performers and summertime terrace with cold drinks and fresh pastries.
Café Esplanad (Pohjoisesplanadi 37), popular gay-friendly cafe/restaurant, bakery, bistro, and wine bar.
Club Vatican (Simonkatu 6, Kamppi), former Jenny Woo Bar, now mostly straight party bar, dance club, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
DTM Nightclub (Mannerheimintie 6), large, open-every-night 9pm-4am gay bar and dance club on two floors; big summer terrace, WiFi. Best sound and lights in town, 18+ men and women, karaoke, special parties, drag shows. MSC/Tom's Club leather-fetish events.
Fafa’s (Iso Roobertinkatu 2, Punavuori), fast, fresh-made Middle-Eastern falafel, kababs, humus, chicken.
Fairytale (Helsinginkatu 7, Kallio), old-style intimate locals' cruise and pick-up bar, open daily, internet access.
G Lounge Skybar (Simonkatu 8), gay-friendly rooftop bar/ lounge and sun terrace above shopping center; dancing until 4am.
Hercules (Lönnrotinkatu 4, Kamppi), 24+ gay men's dance club, mostly 30s ages open to 4am, packed on weekends, restaurant, male strippers, live bands and shows. 18+ Sundays Gay Sounday.
Kosmos Restaurant (Karlevankatu 3), restaurant/bar, popular with creative crowd; Finish cuisine, steak tartare, horse and reindeer meat, duck, salmon, pike and perch, plus veggie options.
Mann's Street (Mannerheimintie 12a, Kamppi), men's karaoke bar, mostly older crowd, Saturday-night barn dances.
Shanghai Cowboy Club & Restaurant (Mikonkatu 4), Finnish game fish and meats, Mexican street food, lunch buffets; mixed gay-friendly club 9pm-2am.
Strindberg (Pohjoisesplanadi 33, Esplanade Park), gay-popular cafe/bar; Nordic "Husmanskost" cuisine combined with modern international flavors and styles. Morning cinnamon rolls and pastries, buffet lunch and dinner menu.
TerassiBAR (Porthaninkatu 9), breakfast bar/ cozy lounge; bar drinks, coffees and teas, snacks, free WiFi.
CLOSED: Hugos Room (Iso Roobertinkatu 3, Punavuori), stylish gay cocktail lounge, food, summer terrace; mbar (Mannerheimintie 22-24), internet café/bar, coffee/ snacks; evening DJs.
Sex & Saunas
Keltainen Ruusu (Malminrinne 2), gay men's cruise/sex club, video cinema and peep booths, glory holes, slings, jail/darkroom.
Sauna Vogue (Sturenkatu 27a, 5th fl), only gay sauna in Finland, Wednesday-Sunday, two finnish saunas, steamroom, bar, videos, dark room, chill terraces, sport masseur.
US Video (Malminkatu 24, Kamppi), men's cruise and video sex club; glory holes, porn video cinemas, cabins, darkroom, internet access.