For gay tourists Tel Aviv ought to be a bigger draw. Walking these compact streets after dark is sheer joy, in this "city that never sleeps." Most people hang out first with friends, filling the city’s hundreds of restaurants and cafes before heading off to party the night away. Dinner runs quite late, and gay-operated dinning spots, not always easy to find, have flirty waiters. Food choices are internationally diverse, and local chefs typically use fresh, local-source ingredients. Some nightclubs close only "when the last customer leaves" and unlike in Jeruselem, most clubs here stay open on Friday nights, into the Sabbath hours.
Walking around alone or with your partner any hour of the day or night feels perfectly safe. Cruising in Tel Aviv is at least as uncomplicated as in North America, and visitors are generally considered "interesting." Daytime cafes with a gay crowd include the Judah 177 Café Bistro, 5 minutes walk from Hilton Beach and the nearby, Bendict, open 24 hours, serving breakfast all the time, both on Ben Yehuda at Jabotinsky. The cafe at the Gay and Lesbian Center by Gan Meir park is another friendly place to get oriented.
Most nightclubs are mixed and promoters are always changing venues, but there are regular nightly gay clubs such as Evita, and Bar Vaz, the mostly women's club in Jaffa. Other venues with regular gay events include Apolo, Beef Bar at Flight, Breakfast Club (was MILK), Drek, Wednesdays at Strorage), Gilda, Ha'oman 17, Meat Ball (Tuesdays at Schlagsahne), OCD (was Lima Lima) with their Notorious gay Mondays, Shpagat Bar, and Theatre Club (aka Moadon Ha Teatron). In Summer months BOYling has been an ongoing Saturday beachside men's party at Blue Bird.
Still more clubs are considered gay-friendly and/or have special gay events on rotation, especially during holiday weekends and for Pride. Some club nights are 18-19-plus, others 21-23+ --but some events like Big Boys at Theater, admit only men of 29 years or more. Tel Aviv has two gay bathhouses, Sauna City and Sauna Paradise, each with all the amenities, and both open 365 days a year for 18+ men (and bisexual men and women on Wednesdays at Paradise).
To keep up with the scene see the local media updates. Gay TLV Guide has good weekly listings of all the gay club nights around town. Pink House not only offers exclusively gay lodging and accommodations, their website also has a weekly rundown of gay bars and party events around town. For our list of gay and gay-friendly businesses with locations and web links, see our map & listings section.
The gay beach in front of the Hilton Hotel is the terminus of Tel Aviv’s fabulous annual pride march, and site of the huge beach party that follows. Even if you’ve had enough of big-city pride celebrations, this one in early June is a refreshing change, not to be missed. The Gay Center at Meir Gardens hosts Pride Village to kick off the march with shows, music, and other entertainment. All year the center has services, films screenings, lecture, classes of all kinds, and a daytime cafe in the park - a good place to get your bearings over coffee or a snack. Ga'ash Nude Beach, a bit outside the city, is also popular with gay men. The TLV LGBT Film Festival takes place each June. They also have monthly screenings of gay cinema at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.
There is no lack of debate here about Arab-Israeli policies or what the ultra-orthodox think about gay lifestyles; people still remember the shock and grief after the shootings of young gay Israelis in the summer of 2009. But politics aside, strong bonds between people and rugged determination generate a certain get-along tolerance in this most Western nation in the Middle East - despite, but also because of the limited resources, and small population.
Ben Gurion Airport, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, is the country’s main gateway. From the airport, a 20-minute taxi ride costs about $35. A train takes about the same amount of time at one tenth of that price. Board at the Airport station on Level S of the Landside Building, after buying a ticket at one of the machines. See Israel Railways for schedules.
Walking is a great way to get the lay of the land. For bus service see the English-language pdf download on the Busline website. Taxis are abundant and relatively cheap. Bicycle rental stands are all over the city for rides of anywhere from 30 minutes, to day or week-long periods. Israel Railways trains or Egged buses and coaches can, between them, get you around most of the country.
Every city has its gay thoroughfare, and in Tel Aviv the Dizengoff area of Shenkin Street, and Rothshild Blvd qualifies as the main gay zone. With several gay clubs and bars for spending a raucous night dancing until the sun comes up, it's also a great place for shopping, cafe-sitting, and dining, at any time of day. Gay beaches include the Hilton Hotel beach in the city, and the Ga'ash nude beach a short drive out of town. Plenty of hotel options can be found on Ha'Yarkon Street, along the shore, a short walk or taxi ride to both beach and bars. Old Jaffa is another area for good dining, in nooks among ancient streets.
Currency and Money
The Israeli shekel is the accepted currency. You shouldn’t have trouble finding ATMs downtown.
In daylight or darkness, walk north from Old Jaffa along the idyllic shore of the Mediterranean Sea, detour through Independence Park to the gay beach in front of the Hilton Hotel and you’ll find all kinds of adventure. Check out Squirt.org for more.
Media & resources
Gay TLV Guide, Tel Aviv Gay Vibe, and Tel Aviv Insider have maps, gay events, and listings of bars, clubs, restaurants, bathhouses and other places of interest. FOD Magazine is the local "Man loving" international lifestyle quarterly glossy for gay men. The Pink House guesthouse website also lists gay bars and party events around town each week.
GayWayTLV is a gay owned/operated travel agency for tourism, within and outside Israel; guided tours in Tel Aviv, flights and hotel reservations, in both English and Hebrew.