With its gender-fluid fashion scene and colourful LGBT culture – not to mention rumoured gay royals of yesteryear – Stockholm is a vibrant, open and welcoming city.

Sweden is known for its progressive values and they're on clear display throughout its capital, where inclusivity permeates through hotels, restaurants, bars and fashion. Plus, Stockholm hosts the biggest Pride celebration in Scandinavia and it's not to be missed.

Married couple Whitney & Megan kissing with view of Stockholm behind them © Megan & Whitney Bacon-Evans / Lonely Planet

Here's our guide for visitors to Stockholm Pride, with top tips on the best LGBT-friendly places to stay and things to do to make the most of a trip to the city and its festival.

The skinny on Stockholm Pride

This year, Stockholm (27 July–5 August 2018) is co-hosting EuroPride together with Gothenburg, (14 August–19 August 2018). Hundreds of activities and events will take place in museums, clubs and public spaces across the city, with a programme of music, art, theatre and seminars culminating in the EuroPride parade on Saturday 4 August.

Floating bar-restaurant Mälarpaviljongen will be putting on different events throughout the week, including DJ sessions, and Taverna Brillo will be hosting a party on the day of the parade.

Truck with balloons spelling 'love', surrounded by crowds of marchers, at the Stockholm Pride Parade in 2017 © Stefan Holm / Shutterstock

What to do

When you’re not at Pride events, there are plenty of fab experiences on offer in Sweden's capital. Start with a walk through Stockholm's Old Town – it's the best way to appreciate the beauty and character of the city. Meander through its cobbled streets, where you'll find lots of little cafes and independent shops.

Also located in the Old Town is Kungliga Slottet (the Royal Palace), one of the largest palaces in Europe and the official residence of the King of Sweden, the longest reigning Swedish monarch. Here you can visit the silver throne belonging to the famously unconventional 17th-century Queen Kristina, who is rumoured to have been a lesbian, as well as learn about King Gustav III, who brought grand culture and opera to Stockholm, and who is also rumoured to have been gay. In fact, the LGBT Pride parade used to stop at his statue to lay a floral wreath.

Inside Vasamuseet, crowds are gathered around the ill-fated 17th-century warship © Megan & Whitney Bacon-Evans / Lonely Planet

Vasamuseet, Sweden's most-visited museum, is worth checking out to see the world's only complete 17th-century ship in all its ill-fated glory (it sank on its maiden voyage), while Fotografiska houses contemporary photography exhibitions from the likes of the renowned German photographer Ellen von Unwerth.  And if you're a fan of ABBA – and even if you're not – a trip to ABBA The Museum is a lot of fun, with interactive digital features such as the chance to sing and dance with a hologram of the band themselves! Meanwhile, if you're hoping to take away some Swedish style, the Stockholm fashion district Bibliotekstan is where you'll find likes of Hope and Acne Studios.

If you want to enjoy a drink or two, then the LGBT-friendly floating bar Mälarpaviljongen has great views and may be just what you're after. You can also say 'yes way to rosé', as the bar makes a donation to the Rainbow Fund with every purchase. To see another side to Stockholm, head to Södra Teatern, an ornate 19th-century theatre-turned-vegetarian-restaurant-and-club. Head to the rooftop Champagnebaren for expansive views of the city. Alternatively, if you're looking to dance the night away, Club King Kong has rooms playing different of genres of music to suit a variety of tastes.

LGBT friends laughing and enjoying a glass of wine at floating bar Mälarpaviljongen © Megan & Whitney Bacon-Evans / Lonely Planet

Where to eat

After all the Pride events and sightseeing, you'll likely have built up a good appetite for the culinary delights that Stockholm has to offer. The breakfast buffet at Hotel Diplomat makes all others pale in comparison; you can even make your own waffles here. If you like a view with your fresh and seasonal food, then the Hotel Skeppsholmen, located on the island of the same name, is a must for brunch or lunch, especially if you want to try traditional Swedish meatballs.

If you're a coffee fan, then pop along to Johan & Nyström, where they roast their own beans; you'll have the choice of ordering your coffee in a coffee press, Chemex or AeroPress. They also have great pastries and vegetarian options. POP HOUSE Food & Bar is a fun spot to dine at before or after you check out the ABBA museum and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their bistro menu has European influences.

The colourful place settings at Taverna Brillo restaurant with a white and pink napkin and a stylish menu © Megan & Whitney Bacon-Evans / Lonely Planet

Trendy Taverna Brillo is a vibrant venue. Open from early morning to late evening, it has unique decor and is a favourite with the locals – expect excellent service – and there's sometimes a live DJ.  The cuisine is Italian-inspired with a Swedish twist, with dishes such as a pizza with truffle, honey, mushrooms and Swedish cheese. If you'd like a more intimate ambiance, then Green Queen is a lunch and dinner spot serving up delicious plant-based street food. The menu offers great comfort food from vegan sloppy joes to chickpea burgers, and the food certainly isn't lacking in flavour.

Where to stay

Stockholm is not short of quality LGBT-friendly hotels with excellent customer service. Hotel Rival, owned by ABBA's Benny Andersson, is a small, plush boutique hotel located in the Södermalm area of the city. The breakfast buffet is included in the room rate and the deluxe rooms have quaint balconies overlooking the square. The movie Mamma Mia! even previewed in the hotel's theatre with an audience including ABBA and the cast of the film.

Interior shot of Hotel Rival, showing the colourful, plush furniture in the lounge area © Megan & Whitney Bacon-Evans / Lonely Planet

If you'd rather stay closer to the centre of Stockholm, then luxurious Hotel Diplomat is a great choice. This opulent hotel has unique features such as a fun anitique lift that can just about fit two people with suitcases – you have to make sure you shut the door for it to work. Ask for a room with views over the small bay of Nybroviken.

If quirky Scandinavian style is more your scene, then boutique hotel Hobo may be just what you're looking for, with its neon signs, numerous hanging plants and modern minimalist design.

For more LGBT-friendly recommendations, try Stockholm LGBT; the site features businesses and organisations committed to upholding Stockholm’s reputation as one of the most diverse and inclusive cities in the world.

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