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.
Currency and Money
Finland is part of the Euro Zone, so the euro is the accepted currency.
Media and resources
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 late July.
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.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Helsinki listings pages.
A21 Cocktail Lounge (Annankatu 21), stylish cocktail video lounge, swing, blues, jazz & champagne nights, DJ music.
Ahjo (Bulevardi 2-4), trendy urban cocktail lounge at Klaus K Hotel, summer terrace, DJ music, dancing, ages 24-plus.
Bear Park Cafe at Karhupuisto (Agricolankatu 13), May to September summer cafe, closed on rainy days, ice cream, soft drinks, cakes and pastries. WiFi access.
Café Cavalier (Malminrinne 2-4), cosy and central internet café & music bar at Kamppi Square, bears and mixed crowd; evening live performers and summertime terrace.
Club Vatican (Simonkatu 6, Kamppi), former Jenny Woo Bar, now mostly straight party bar, dance club, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
DTM Nightclub (Iso Roobertinkatu 28, Punavuori), large every-night until 4am gay dance club, two floors, big summer terrace, wifi, mornings to 10pm, cafe/bar snacks, fresh-baked goods, best sound and lights, men, women, special parties, drag shows, smoker's area, Blackjack gaming.
Fairytale (Helsinginkatu 7, Kallio), old-style intimate locals' cruise and pick-up bar, open daily, internet access.
Hercules (Lönnrotinkatu 4, Kamppi), gay men's dance club, mostly 30s ages, open to 4am, packed on weekends, restaurant, male strippers, live bands, 24-up only.
Hugos Room (Iso Roobertinkatu 3, Punavuori), food service daily, noon until late at night, stylish gay cocktail lounge, men and women of all ages mix, summer terrace, private lounge. Fafa’s next door offers Middle-Eastern fast food.
König (Mikonkatu 4), several bars, restaurant with varied menu, lunch buffets, terrace, mixed crowd; karaoke, SuomiPop to Disco music.
Mann`s Street (Mannerheimintie 12a, Kamppi), men's karaoke bar, mostly older, occasional dances for men.
Nalle Pub (Kaarlenkatu 3, Kallio), small locals' neighborhood bar, Finnish music, summer terrace, young crowd, popular with women and their male friends.
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.
See our map & listings tab for some restaurants, hotel and shopping options.