Travelling as a member of the LGBT community is not always smooth sailing; however, jetting off to the White City, Israel’s Tel Aviv, is the beginning of a very gay adventure in a city that welcomes LGBT travellers with open arms.
With an estimated quarter of the population of Tel Aviv identifying as gay, the city is known as one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world. Here is my guide to the city’s best clubs, beaches, events and hotels.
Tel Aviv Pride
Attending Tel Aviv Pride is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is the only pride parade in the Middle East and is easily one of the largest across the globe. If you want to wave the rainbow flag and get the glitter out in Israel, plan ahead. Pride takes place at the beginning of June and hundreds of thousands of people fill the city. Its buildings are decorated with rainbow flags, lights and bunting showing the locals’ support of the community.
Parade aside, Pride week is one of the craziest party weeks in the year with special nights at clubs and bars, beach parties and more.
Keep your eyes peeled for Eurovision news. Though Jerusalem is the favourite to host the 2019 competition, Tel Aviv has been invited to submit a bid to host. Personally, I’ve got my fingers crossed for the party city.
The white sands and azure waters of Hilton Beach make it one of the most popular spots in the city to relax, grab a cocktail and watch the world go by. The beach is best for socialising in the evenings and at weekends – this is when to log into Grindr and get to know your fellow sunbathers a little better.
There is plenty to do in the daytime when the beach is a little more family-friendly. Its clear, warm waters are perfect for a leisurely dip and there are lots of eateries along the beach to grab a snack or drink. Enjoy the gorgeous views across the Mediterranean, and those of your fellow beachgoers clad in speedos and a tan. The beach has a really open and welcoming atmosphere for both LGBT and straight visitors. If you’re feeling sporty you can go windsurfing or kayaking; otherwise, there are deckchairs and umbrellas for hire.
Gay Bars & Clubs
Starting a night out in the White City is like falling down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole –there is a real anything-can-happen atmosphere. The nightlife is organised around weekly parties rather than specific clubs and gay bars aren’t really a thing here – every bar is a gay bar. Ideally you’d just go with the flow, but if you don’t know where to start here are some of the best clubs and bars around.
- Lima Lima – If Hip Hop is your thing, Lima Lima is the place to be on Saturday nights for the legendary party Tinofet. If you arrive early you might catch an all-you-can-drink deal – great as drinking here can be pricy.
- Amazona Bar – The nightlife in Tel Aviv can feel like a huge, gay men’s club sometimes. Why not try out the city’s only lesbian bar? Cheap drinks and live music make this a great Thursday night option.
- Haoman 17 – Sometimes bigger does mean better and Hoaman is one of the biggest clubs in the city. If you are in town when they are throwing their monthly dance party Arisa, do not miss it.
- Bootleg – Bootleg provides a great mix of fresh talent and established DJs with a real variety of music on offer in a dark underground club.
- Shpagat – If you want to know where to start your night, look no further. Shpagat makes a great afternoon hang-out, with coffee and food, and transforms in the evening when the DJ arrives. It’s a good place to find out what is going on later on.
Top Tip: Be prepared to adjust your body clock – most clubs don’t get started until the early hours of the morning.
Like the city’s bars and restaurants, most hotels in the area are LGBT-friendly, from cheap and cheerful hostels to luxurious boutique accommodation. These are my suggestions for both ends of the budget:
Hilton Tel Aviv – For a touch of luxury, head to the Hilton hotel which overlooks the popular Hilton Beach. With all the amenities you’d expect from a Hilton – large pool, fully equipped gym – this beachside hotel is one of the most popular in the city.
Hayarkon 48 Hostel – This is a great option for travellers on a budget who want to explore the area’s nightlife without restrictions. The hostel has a 24/7 reception and no curfew for guests and is just a few minutes away from Jerusalem Beach.
How to Get There
Take a flight from the UK to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) – there are lots of options to chose from with over seventy flights leaving London for the city each week. The flight takes just over four and a half hours.
I’d recommend getting a Shuttle Direct transfer from the airport. Pre-book a taxi and you’ll be met on arrival and delivered you to your hotel in about twenty minutes.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct offers a variety of stress-free transport options to suit all budgets with no sneaky hidden costs. With an easy, online-booking system and reliable, trusted drivers, we make sure you will not waste a moment of your holiday.