BACK IN 2017, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association’s buyer survey named Israel one of the top two emerging LGBTQ+ destinations. Today Tel Aviv, the nation’s center for business, entertainment and the arts, continues to cement its role as a hub for sophisticated travelers. If you’re looking to feel welcome in the Middle East, place Tel Aviv at the top of your list.
“Tel Aviv is a wonderful Israeli city as well as an international city,” said Ellen Shapiro, director of public relations, Israel Ministry of Tourism. “It is incredibly culturally diverse — like all of Israel — and has amazing food, culture, arts and museums. Add to that an unparalleled nightlife scene and a long stretch of beach on the Mediterranean, with great people-watching.”
Indeed, Israel’s prime Mediterranean location makes it a natural choice for sun worshippers; the stretch of sand near the Hilton Tel Aviv is the most popular with LGBTQ+ locals and visitors. After dark, Tel Aviv wows with weekly parties as well as an array of clubs and bars. These include Amazona, the city’s top lesbian bar; Apolo, a men’s dance club; and Shpagat, where the large dance floor fills with all types of night owls.
And then there’s pride. Tel Aviv is far and away the best place to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride in the Middle East; the event attracts more than 100,000 participants each June. A variety of festivals and events complement the parade itself, and past international ambassadors included Alan Cumming, Lea DeLaria, Perez Hilton and Andy Cohen.
A noteworthy part of the pride calendar every year is TLVFest, billed as the only LGBTQ+ film festival in the Middle East. It features screenings as well as panels and presentations with creative types from the international film industry.
LGBTQ+-friendly accommodations in Tel Aviv run the gamut, including luxury properties like the Hilton Tel Aviv, which sits near the gay-popular beach; the Miami-chic Setai Tel Aviv, a member of Leading Hotels of the World located in the ancient port city of Jaffa; and the stylish NYX Tel Aviv Hotel, set downtown near a variety of attractions and activities. In Tel Aviv, the rainbow welcome mat comes in many forms.
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