Tel Aviv is undoubtedly the Middle East’s LGBT capital. An oasis of acceptance and open-mindedness, it’s home to many members of Israel’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. It also boasts a wide array of gay-friendly bars, cafés, cultural events and even beaches, making it a great destination for absolutely everyone.
Visitors of all orientations, genders and preferences are welcome anywhere, anytime in Tel Aviv. Here are our top picks for the city’s most inclusive and fun destinations.
- Shpagat, 43 Nahalat Binyamin St.
Perhaps Tel Aviv’s best-known LGBT café and bar, Shpagat (“splits” in Hebrew) always ranks first in any list of the city’s top LGBT venues. Located in downtown Tel Aviv’s artsy Nahalat Binyamin Street, it’s perfectly located for round-the-clock fun.
Visitors can enjoy a quiet coffee and a bite in the early evening or a drink and a full-on party later in the night. The place regularly hosts DJs who play all sorts of music, and the place is especially popular with out-of-towners. Definitely worth a night out!
Shpagat is open daily from 6pm until the early hours, also open during daytime on Fridays and Saturdays.
TLVFest is an annual international film festival that celebrates LGBT cinema from Israel and abroad. Now in its 14th year, the festival is designed to promote pluralism and tolerance in Israeli society, all while showcasing great cinema.
The event, scheduled this year for June 6-15, is hosted by the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, a wonderful centrally located cultural spot. The program is set to include film screenings, meetings with local and international filmmakers, panel discussions and special events. A Best Film award is handed out during the festival to one of the participating Israeli movies, highlighting and aiding the local LGBT cinematic community.
- Café Albi, 8 Hagdud Ha’Ivri St.
A favorite with South Tel Aviv’s hipster crowd, this LGBT-friendly, activist café is an oasis of tolerance, acceptance and excellent vegan desserts in one of Tel Aviv’s grittier areas.
All are welcome at Café Albi, from LGBT community members, social and political activists, asylum-seekers and local homeless people to keyboard-tapping out-of-office workers. The perfect place to relax over a vegetarian meal with friends or dive deep into a book with a side of coffee and cake, this little venue is also a great starting point for exploring Tel Aviv’s less-known neighborhoods.
Café Albi is open Sunday-Friday 8am-midnight, Saturday 10am-midnight.
- LGBTQ Center in Gan Meir, 22 Tchernichovsky St.
The LGBTQ Center in leafy Gan Meir park in downtown Tel Aviv is an absolute mecca for all of the community’s activities and needs. Not only are there regular workshops, conferences, lectures and cultural events, but also activities such as “queer yoga,” art lessons, a proud ensemble and choir and even a senior citizens club.
There’s also an information point at the center where visitors can learn more about sightseeing, accommodations and overall recommendations. Those wanting to brush up their Hebrew and meet other community members can join the free-of-charge Q Ulpan.
- Hilton Beach, opposite the Hilton Hotel on 205 Hayarkon St.
An absolute summer must, the Hilton beach is one of Tel Aviv’s gay-friendliest seaside venues. Located opposite the Hilton (hence the name), this strip of sand is bang in the center of things and, like the rest of the city’s beaches, offers a fun, clean and safe beachside experience.
Come here to work on your summer tan, relax with friends or try your hand at a game of matkot (Israeli beach paddleball) while enjoying the company of other community members, city residents and visiting tourists.
When you’ve had enough of the sea or the whirring matkot balls flying dangerously close to your face, step back onto the promenade or make your way into the city for a refreshing drink before starting all over again.
- Pride Parade
Tel Aviv’s best-known LGBT event, the annual Pride Parade is one fabulous celebration. Drawing in huge crowds of overseas visitors, local LGBT community members and large parts of the Israeli public, this festive day is a proclamation of love, diversity and acceptance.
Taking place on June 14 this year, the parade snakes its way through the city center all the way down to the beach. It’s one of the hottest events around – quite literally! The summery date promises plenty of sunshine and most of the parade’s route is out of the shade, so make sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat.
- Rotating party lines
It’s not only LGBT bars and clubs that host events for the community. Some of Tel Aviv’s most prominent nightlife spots regularly hold LGBT parties, particularly at weekends, just going to show how mainstream LGBT culture is in the city.
It’s worthwhile checking in advance what’s on to make sure you don’t miss out on any fun. Different party lines cater to various tastes, so whether it’s a mixed-crowd, girls-only or Middle Eastern style soiree you’re after, you’re bound to find a great night out.
Check out more information here.