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.
Thessaloniki is the second-largest city of Greece and the most important center of the area. Built near the sea, elegant and refined, the Greek “Lady of the North” is a modern, vivacious city that welcomes visitors eager to learn about its history and culture, and at the same time have fun, relax, go shopping or simply explore the cityscape by the sea.
Experience a big-city hotel stay that doesn’t feel like your typical urban visit at Chicago’s Claridge House, nestled in the sought-after Gold Coast neighborhood. The hotel’s sophisticated décor and serene residential ambience foster the atmosphere of an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis.
Alaska Airlines recently debuted its new Pixar-inspired, special-edition aircraft livery. On both sides of the Pixar-themed Boeing 737-800 aircraft, travelers spot recognizable faces from the Toy Story franchise, including Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Jessie. Rex the Tyrannosaurus appears on the boarding door and the little green aliens show up on the aircraft’s winglets.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.