Gay holidays in Tel-Aviv: a guide to the city
Modern Tel Aviv
Head to the coast in Tel Aviv and you won’t be able to resist strolling along the busy boardwalk that backs the sand here. Golden, sun-kissed bodies skateboard, rollerblade and jog along this paved pathway, while beach goers play volleyball on the sand or swim in the warm Mediterranean Sea.
Gay holidays in Tel Aviv aren’t complete without a day on the beach, so bring your towel, find your spot and order cocktails from nearby beach bars to keep you going throughout the day. All the beaches in the city are gay-friendly and one of our favourite socialising and sunbathing spots is the stretch of sand in front of the Hilton.
Nightlife & bars
The lively, colourful nightlife in this city makes gay holidays in Tel Aviv a hedonist’s dream. Whether you’re after wild nights out in nightclubs, or you prefer a quiet cocktail bar with lounge seats outside, there’s something for every kind of party goer.
The city’s after-dark entertainment tends to revolve around weekly parties in a different location each night. The best way to get the lowdown is to start off at Shpagat, near trendy Rothschild Boulevard, for drinks and then see where the crowds are going.
For a truly wild night out, head to The Block – an outdoor arena attracting some of the world’s best DJs. For something more sedate, head to the Florentin neighbourhood to hop between bars and clubs.
Pride is a big deal in Tel Aviv, as the city has one of the best celebrations in the world. Innumerable parties, parades and events dominate the month-long celebration, so you’re bound to have an incredible time if you come in June.
Of course, the Pride Parade is the epicentre of the celebrations, and in 2019 around 250,000 gathered in the streets to party. Travelling from Ben Tsiyon/Melchet all the way to Charles Clore Park, there’s live music, elaborate costume and impressive floats, and it ends with an all-night beach party.
“Mass weddings and drag performances aren’t uncommon for Pride Month in Tel Aviv, as well as family picnics, film screenings and more.”
Modern art museums
From the outside, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is a masterpiece in itself. The modern, geometric concrete Herta and Paul Amir Building is a striking construction designed by Preston Scott Cohen. Inside it has five floors of galleries, and they’re not short of big names, with the likes of Dali, Picasso and Klimt gracing its walls. In the Helena Rubenstein Pavilion, entry to which is included in your Museum of Art ticket, you’ll find contemporary Israeli artists on display.
Being the creative, trendy city that it is, Tel Aviv is also packed with galleries where you can browse and – if you’re feeling flush – even buy modern artworks. See Israeli and international contemporary pieces at galleries like Sommer Contemporary Art on Rothschild Boulevard, Chelouche Gallery on Maze Street in central Tel Aviv, or Art Space TLV in the south of the city.
If you’ve got money to burn, Tel Aviv is a spectacular place to do it. From designer boutiques and high-end shopping experiences to flea markets and artisan creations, there’s lots to love about shopping here.
International and Israeli designers can be found in the city’s malls, such as the Dizengoff Center, where there’s also a weekly food bazaar and designers’ market every Friday, or Ramat Aviv. But the true shopping highlights in Tel Aviv are the city’s markets.
Head to Jaffa to rummage through a sea of old goods, clothing and jewellery to find those few vintage gems and antiques well worth bargaining for, or go to Sarona Market to sample food items from its countless speciality food stores. Carmel Market is the main food market in the city and you’ll be spellbound by the piles of fragrant spices, herbs, nuts and vegetables.
Once the prominent port in Tel Aviv, Jaffa is now a fascinating warren of cobbled streets, pretty stone houses and historic buildings. Amid its tightly-packed streets, you’ll find little artisan boutiques selling jewellery and ceramics, and the famous Jaffa Flea Market spreads itself out daily from Saturday to Thursday.
Take a walking tour to see some of the best views and most interesting historic sights – don’t miss the pretty Catholic church and the central clock tower – and then refuel with some delicious Middle Eastern food. From hole-in-the-wall joints to trendy bars and restaurants, this neighbourhood offers some of the finest meals in all of Tel Aviv.
Petra & Jordan
During your gay-friendly holiday in Tel Aviv, take a little time out to hop over the border and visit an ancient marvel: the Nabataean city of Petra. Around a six-hour drive into neighbouring Jordan, this more than 2000-year-old city is one of the manmade wonders of the world and today you can stroll its dusty, rocky streets on a day trip from Tel Aviv.
The highlight of a trip to Petra is seeing The Treasury, a towering 40-metre-high temple carved into a sandstone rockface. Climb the adjacent rocks to see it from above, then marvel at its grandeur from below as you approach on the ground.
Masada and the Dead Sea
No trip to Tel Aviv is complete without a dip in the Dead Sea. Head south of the city and you’ll reach the Masada National Park, part of the Judean Desert. It’s here you’ll find the ruins of King Herod’s Palace, built around 30 BC and now laying in ruins on a plateau overlooking the Dead Sea. See the mosaic floors and take in the views from the rocky terraces before heading down to the water for a day on the beach.
Technically not a sea, but instead a lake with high salt content, the Dead Sea is so salty it’s impossible to sink. Bring your swimmers and a good book and get in the warm waters to enjoy a relaxing day of floating beneath the sun, and don’t miss out on a natural spa day – the mineral-rich mud makes a great skin mask, which can be washed off when you get in the water.
“Steeped in history and religious significance, Jerusalem is like nowhere else on earth.”
With ancient biblical ruins, historic fortifications and world-famous churches, you could spend a week here and still not see all it has to offer. But if you have just a day or two, don’t miss a visit to the Old City, where you’ll find Muslim, Christian, Armenian and Jewish quarters and a slew of fascinating sights.
Visit the Tower of David museum to get your head around the history of this storied city, then wander around the Shuk – a market where vendors sell religious wares to pilgrims. Temple Mount brings together Jews, Muslims and Christians, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is where some believe Jesus was crucified and buried.
Aside from all the history, though, is a city with a modern personality, too. Head to Machane Yehuda Market where you can sip craft beer in cool bars or taste traditional Israeli halva from market stalls.
Just over an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv, Bethlehem is another historically important city and a hub for Christian pilgrims of all denominations. It’s here that Jesus was supposedly born in that manger and where the Church of the Nativity stands today. Don’t miss a visit to the wonderfully preserved 6th-century Sanctuary church and learn about the local culture at the Palestinian Heritage Centre.
Beyond the mind-boggling history here, though, is a modern city that pulsates with creativity and culture. Most intriguing is Bethlehem’s street art and graffiti, particularly around the West Bank Barrier wall, with world-renowned artists such as Banksy having left their mark here.