In the first part of our series on gay Israel, our sexy new Travel Guyd, Al Bel, gives us an insider’s intro to Tel Aviv’s summer climate, locals and famous gay beach.
With its beautiful Mediterranean beaches, year-round warm sunny weather, wild nightlife, gay-friendly people and laid back atmosphere, it is no wonder that Tel Aviv is becoming one of the top gay destinations in the world. From visiting the beautiful, picturesque Jaffa port, or walking through the stylish Neve Tzedek neighborhood, Tel Aviv is a charming place day and night.
Rise in tourism
The city has seen a dramatic increase in gay tourism in the last few years. More than 5000 gay tourists came to Tel Aviv on pride week alone, at the beginning of June 2012. In 2013, the numbers will increase even more, with more than 1,000 people expected to join the famous “La Demance” cruise that will start in Athens and end in a wild weekend in Tel-Aviv in time for the gay pride parade (June 7, 2013).
A young city
Tel Aviv is a relatively young city compared to its old sister Jerusalem. Founded in 1909, and known as the White City thanks to the white-painted Bauhaus style buildings (part of UNESCO world heritage), Tel Aviv is a heaven for architecture and design lovers as much as it is for beach and ‘life enthusiasts.’
If you just come to Tel Aviv for a week of sea and sun, then you’ll probably end up going to the Hilton Beach, the unofficial gay beach, packed with gay locals and tourists, mainly in the summer months (which for Tel Aviv means from March till November). Hilton Beach is the place where most gay tourists start their day, the place to see and be seen, where you can easily talk and hook up with other sun worshipers. When the sun sets, some people go back to their hotel to rest before the night begins, but as for me, I prefer going to the Resto bar on the Hilton Beach itself, drinking a few Mojitos and enjoying the summer breeze and the beautiful sunset.
Most Israeli people are open-minded and gay-friendly, especially in Tel Aviv. Israelis are very direct, and won’t hesitate talking to strangers, but nothing describes them better than the local Sabra pear fruit: Hard and tough on the outside, but soft inside. Some of my European friends told me that the most handsome men in the world can be found in Tel Aviv.
You may agree or disagree, but one thing is for sure, Israeli men love foreigners! English is widely spoken in Israel, and all street signs are also written in English. The local guys will make sure to welcome you with warm hospitality.
With more than 300 sunny days a year, any time is a good time to visit Tel Aviv, but March – June, and September – November are the best times to visit the city. It is usually very hot 80-90f (27-32C) and extremely humid (60-80%) in July and August. December to March is the wet season, though you still have many nice warm sunny days, with mild max temperatures of 60-70f (16-21C).
Large gay population
Tel Aviv wakes up at night, and this is the time to taste what the city has to offer. If you expect wild gay nightlife like Berlin, Paris, London or New York, then you might be somewhat disappointed. Despite the unofficial fact that 1 in 5 people in Tel Aviv are gay, there are very few gay bars and only one gay sauna (the other sauna was recently shut down). But still, if you walk on the streets of Tel Aviv, you’ll be amazed by how many gay guys and couples you’ll pass.
City of orgies, walks and joys,
City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst will one day make
Not the pageants of you, not your shifting tableaux, your
Spectacles, repay me,
Not the interminable rows of your houses, nor the ships at the wharves,
Nor the processions in the streets, nor the bright windows with
Goods in them.
Nor to converse with learn’d persons, or bear my share in the soiree or feast;
Not those—but, as I pass, O Tel Aviv! your frequent and swift flash of eyes offering me love,
Offering response to my own—these repay me;
Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.
Part 2: Tel Aviv’s gay scene, online and offline cruising tips – coming soon…