Israel is without a doubt the best country in the Middle East for gay and lesbian individuals to live. In addition to the fact that gay people can serve openly in the Israeli military, 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, has gained an international reputation as one of the world’s top destinations for gay men. 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
Although 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, for example, located several blocks from the trendy Rothschild Boulevard, is one of Tel Aviv’s most popular gay bars, with a vibrant crowd seven days per week. Some visit Shpagat 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 – and 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 some things that we can’t mention here are to be expected.
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, both for their crystal clear waters, white sands, and the astounding number of attractive people soaking up the sun.
Although gays swim at nearly every beach in Tel Aviv, the best spot to find “family” is at Hilton Beach, located 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, which constitute 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, when the beach is empty enough that you can focus your energy as you catch rays or go for a swim.
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, which 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. Last year more than 100,000 people attended, both Israeli and foreign. The parade is typically kicked off by Tel Aviv’s mayor and travels through the heart of the city, ending at the Tel Aviv Beach – in particular, Hilton Beach and Gordon Beach.
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 -if that’s even possible! 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 Gays in Tel Aviv
Israel is without a doubt the most accepting and open Middle Eastern country when it comes to gay people. Not only is being gay in Israel perfectly legal, but public opinion about gay rights is decidedly positive. Although it is always possible to experience discrimination, you are not likely to encounter more than the occasional stray comment or dirty look.
Before I visited Tel Aviv, one of my friends there told me that it was more difficult to find straight men in Tel Aviv than it was to find gay men. Although I doubt this is actually the case, gay people are very visible in Tel Aviv and are not shy about publicly expressing their affection for one another. 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.
The best part of homosexuality being so tolerated in Tel Aviv is that Israeli men tend to be very open about their feelings for you, if they have them. While you might spend hours in another city wondering “Is he or isn’t he?”, you’ll learn very quickly whether an Israeli man is into you. If he is, he’ll make very obvious eye contact and may even ask if he can sit down 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
Jason Wood, architect, local guide, and member of the LGBTQ community, shares a few insider tips for first-time visitors in Tel Aviv. Here are Jason’s recommendations for the perfect Gay Tel Aviv for Beginners experience.
According to 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. I think every city should learn from Tel Aviv a bit about accepting the differences and listening to others. Tel Aviv should be a role model for every city not only for the gay community, but the diversity here is inspiring, and you feel it.”
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 but 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! 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
The newest spot in the scene is called DTM (Don’t Tell Mom) in Florentin. Ironically one of the gayest neighborhoods didn’t have a gay bar until now. DTM is the perfect spot for drinks around 23:00-24:00 on weekends, during the week around 21:00-22:00. 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. Wood says, “Take your bestie and stick to him/her. Pick a meeting spot and just have fun”. The afterparty at Charles Clore Park is the perfect time to catch your breath, enjoy the party, and go down to the beach. Wood recommends to travel light, wear 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.
For beginners enjoying their first visit to Tel Aviv, Pride in Israel is an unforgettable experience unlike any other city in the world!