Alexander Skarsgård and Anton Hysen, Asplund and Ikea, Acne and H&M, The Knife and Robyn (as well as Roxette and Lykke Li, and Jens Lekman and Annie!) — it's impossible to escape Sweden's hand in shaping the design, fashion, pop-culture, and sex symbols that run hot in our gay veins. So why resist? Instead, embrace it all in Stockholm, its hip capital, while it embraces you in return — out of a country of 10 million, its largest public event turns out to be the half-a-million-strong Pride festival. Say “Hej hej!” to a perfect gay hotspot.

Spread across 14 islands, with over 30,000 more in the surrounding archipelago, Stockholm lays out a seductive smorgasbord of activity timed to the seasons. Summertime is alive with outdoor events and late-night carousing, bolstered by 18 hours of sunshine and a sprightly dusk that gives directly to dawn. On the islands of Djurgården and  Långholmen, sunbathing and picnics are de rigueur, while clothes are not — tall, lithe Scandinavian stunners aren't just a stereotype! Winter may bring ice and snow, but also incredible coziness and a crisp magic to the city's smoke-scented skyline, while festivals like gay-popular Lucia brighten the night. With year-round prime shopping, excellent museums, and inventively clean cuisine from Michelin-starred to meatballs (surrounded by the Baltic, you shouldn't go a day without seafood), Stockholm breathes the ineffable coolness of a capital that's not too big, and not too small, but just right. It's a city where opportunity meets contrasts: art and design, fashion and futurism, cobblestones and striking glass, and Vikings and aristocracy. It’s all queer, calm, dynamic, and energetically integrated.

Having escaped the leveling so common in other European countries by the World Wars, a patchwork of historic neighborhoods each exude their own charm and style, making the city seem at once delightfully compact and remarkably spacious. Head to scruffy SoFo (South of Folkungagatan) on Södermalm, where pretty people and hipsters alike haunt the cafes and bars, and load up on stylish wares at sublime second-hand and design shops. Keep to Gamla Stan, the 13th-century medieval Old Town, to live out your fantasies at the Royal Palace and photo ops around every turn. Norrmalm is the New Town, with culture centers and department stores galore (don't miss P.U.B. or NK), while the leafy streets of Östermalm keep it tony. Discover artistic treasures in the Stockholm City Museum, the Royal Opera House, as well as the Nobis Hotel, where the origin of the phrase “Stockholm Syndrome” originated. With no specific gay district, you'll find a good time whatever you're searching for in a holiday destination.

Gay, gay-friendly, or simply friendly, you can count on a warm and laid-back, typically Scandinavian welcome. Land of the midnight sun and legal gay marriages, birthplace of ABBA and Nobel prizes, two-time host of Europride, it's a place where pink dollars mesh with policy. Snap back that aquavit — Stockholm is ready to celebrate!

Follow Gay Stockholm on Twitter, and find additional LGBT resources at its Facebook group.