Israel is without a doubt the best country in the Middle East for gay and lesbian individuals to live. Gay people can serve openly in the Israeli military. Additionally, Israeli governments have been promoting social equality for LGBT people for more than a decade. So it should come as no surprise that Israel’s capital of cool, Tel Aviv, where 25% of the population is estimated to be LGBT, has gained an international reputation as one of the world’s top destinations for gay men. Transgender and lesbian visitors are also openly welcome. If you haven’t yet added Tel Aviv to your travel itinerary, our Gay Tel Aviv for Beginners guide will have you looking at tickets in no time!
Tel Aviv Gay Nightlife
Tel Aviv’s nightlife is generally regarded as among the best in the world. This is particularly the case when it comes to gay establishments. One reason gay nightlife in Tel Aviv is so exciting is that the Tel Aviv gay scene revolves around weekly parties, rather than specific bars or clubs like most cities around the world.
This isn’t to say that certain gay bars in Tel Aviv aren’t extremely popular. Shpagat is one of Tel Aviv’s most popular gay bars, with a vibrant crowd seven days per week. It’s only several blocks from the trendy Rothschild Boulevard. Some visit prior to whatever party is going on that night, while others stay there all evening. If the drinks, music, and crowd are interesting, why leave?
Even if you don’t plan to stay there, Shpagat is a great place to figure out what’s going on later in the night. Both bartenders and fellow bargoers can give you an overview of the parties that are happening. If you’re lucky, you might even get put on the VIP list for free entry.
Once you arrive at the venue for the party, be prepared for a night unlike any other. Tel Aviv parties tend to be large – one of the wildest venues is at the Bloq, a large arena located near the Tel Aviv bus station. Israelis know how to let loose like no other people in the world, so prepare for balagan. Copious amounts of alcohol, dancing, and other fun things can always be found.
Gay Beaches in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv’s nightlife isn’t the only reason why millions of tourists from around the world flock here each year. The city’s incredible Mediterranean beaches have also received international acclaim. They boast crystal clear waters, white sands, and an astounding number of attractive people soaking up the sun.
While you’ll be welcome at nearly every beach in Tel Aviv, there is an unofficial gay beach: Hilton Beach. It sits just in front of the Hilton Tel Aviv hotel. Although heterosexual people come to this beach as well, you can expect most of your fellow patrons to be gay. Single men, couples, and groups of friends alike flock to Hilton Beach to enjoy sun, sand, and surf.
Hilton Beach tends to be most crowded on Fridays and Saturdays. This is the weekend in Israel. If you aren’t looking to flirt or socialize, avoid visiting Hilton Beach these days and go during the week instead. Then the beach is empty enough that you can focus your energy on catching rays or swimming.
Tel Aviv’s Hilton Beach is a quick cab ride from anywhere in the Tel Aviv area. Or, if you’re staying in central Tel Aviv, you can walk to the beach. Simply head north on Dizengoff Street until you hit Jabotinsky Street, then take a left and walk down to the water.
Tel Aviv Gay Pride
Tel Aviv hosts the only public gay pride parade in the entire Middle East. It is held annually on the first weekend of June. As being gay is legal and mostly accepted in Israel, locals and visitors alike hold nothing back in the parade, which is a wild party in and of itself. Expect lots of sexy men dancing on floats and in the crowd, as well as drag queens and queer people of all sorts.
Tel Aviv Pride has quickly become one of the most popular pride events in the entire world. Numbers sometimes hit more than 100,000 people, both Israeli and foreign. The parade is typically kicked off by Tel Aviv’s mayor and travels through the heart of the city. It ends at the Tel Aviv Beach – in particular, Hilton Beach and Gordon Beach. An afterparty at Charles Clore Park keeps the energy alive.
The best part of Tel Aviv pride is not the parade itself, but the fact that Tel Aviv’s gay nightlife gets even wilder during pride! Not only will bars and clubs be packed to the gills, but you can expect a dramatic increase in the number of parties, as well as the number of people you’ll find there. The most difficult part about attending Tel Aviv pride is choosing which of the many Pride events in Tel Aviv best suits you.
Joining a Tel Aviv Pride Package Tour is the best way to experience all of the amazing attractions that Israel has to offer while celebrating Pride and packing in the festivities. Everything is planned out for you, from hotels to activities and tours. You just come with your suitcase and your best Pride look, and get ready to have the experience of a lifetime.
Acceptance of the LBTQ+ Community in Tel Aviv
Israel is without a doubt the most accepting and open Middle Eastern country when it comes to gay people. Being openly gay in Israel perfectly legal. Additionally, public opinion about gay rights is decidedly positive. Although it is always possible (yet extremely rare) to experience discrimination, you are not likely to encounter more than the occasional stray comment or dirty look. All hotels in Tel Aviv are gay friendly, and its safe to say the same for most restaurants, bars, cafes, and stores – definitely the ones which visitors to the city are likely to visit. Openly gay travelers are also welcomed to regular tours around Israel without any expectation to join separate groups. Special gay pride tours are offered, however, during the Pride Week.
The queer community is very visible in Tel Aviv, and not shy about PDA. If you enjoy an evening stroll along Ben Tsion Boulevard, for example, it’s common to see gay couples and families walking right along with straight ones. Gender queer couples are almost ubiquitous as straight ones, depending on which part of the city you’re in.
The best part of homosexuality being so tolerated in Tel Aviv is that Israelis tend to be very open about their feelings for you. While you might spend hours in another city wondering “Are they or aren’t they?”, you’ll learn very quickly whether an Israeli is into you. If they are, they may simply join you at your table.
Indeed, whether you come to Tel Aviv for the gay nightlife, to lie on a gay beach, to experience gay pride, or just to enjoy the company of fellow gays, there is perhaps no better gay destination in the Middle East and very few others in the world.
Insider Tips – Gay Tel Aviv for Beginners
Below we offer some tips from the community and frequent visitors to help you make the most of your time in the city. Following locals can be a great way to get insider tips.
Jason Wood: “Tel Aviv is really an amazing place and a one of a kind LGBTQ community because you can walk around everywhere, be yourself 100% without judgment, and feel accepted by everyone around you.”
Laila Lesnikov: ” I think every city should learn from Tel Aviv a bit about accepting differences and listening to others. Tel Aviv should be a role model for every city. The diversity here is inspiring, and you feel it. It’s more than just the LGBTQ people, it’s a part of the culture here.”
Tel Aviv offers many activities and different ways of experiencing the city. Whether you are a party animal or you prefer relaxing and soaking up the sun at the gay beach, it doesn’t matter because there are so many ways to feel the vibe of Tel Aviv.
Gay Tel Aviv Beach Tips
When visiting Hilton Beach, you can rent an umbrella and chair. The best way is to go classic, bring a towel and hang out on the beach. It’s good all day, all the time. During Pride Week, at the Hilton Beach, every day there is a different DJ spinning on the beach, setting the mood. Speedos are welcome! If you’re feeling brave, ditch the bikini top and dazzle the other patrons. After spending the day on the sand and in the sea, the perfect way to end the day is to go up the hill to the grassy area near the hotel and enjoy an amazing view of the sunset. Bring blankets, snacks, and enjoy the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea.
Gay Tel Aviv Bars Tips
One of the hottest spots in the scene is La Boheme, but we have another new favorite: Gagarin in Tel Aviv. Ironically one of the gayest neighborhoods didn’t have a gay bar until now. It’s an independently curated dance club, and the perfect spot to let loose and dance to the newest sounds on the scene. Not to be missed, it’s a great spot for any first-time visitor to Tel Aviv. Another must-visit is Shpagat, a local favorite with chill vibes and good drinks. It’s a nice spot around 21:00 to enjoy some small bites and a drink before getting the night started.
Tel Aviv Pride Parade Tips
For those who are attending the parade for the first time, remember that it is SUPER hot! It’s also very crowded, but at the same time very joyful, fun and exciting. According to Wood, “You need to imagine the hottest place on earth – both temperature and people”. Bring sunscreen, water, a hat, comfortable shoes, and prepare to be drenched in water, confetti, and good vibes. Also, there are people selling cold water everywhere for about 5-10 shekels, so make sure to stay hydrated.
Very important – visitors should be aware that because there are so many people, phones don’t work, so it’s hard to communicate if you’ve lost your friends. Lesnikov says, “Take your bestie and stick to him/her. Pick a meeting spot for the end of the vents and just let loose”. The afterparty at Charles Clore Park is the perfect time to catch your breath, enjoy the party, and go down to the beach. They both recommend traveling light, wearing minimal layers, and don’t bother bringing much because of the heat!
Gay Tel Aviv Workout Tips
In Tel Aviv there are many outdoor gym spaces along the beach. These gyms are free to use and are a great place to get in a quick workout. Running along the beach is also one of the best ways to stay in shape, as demonstrated by the bronzed and chiseled bodies running along the shore. It’s also not a bad place to meet someone for an evening of fun.
For beginners enjoying their first visit to Tel Aviv, Pride in Israel is an unforgettable experience unlike any other city in the world!