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Detours Gay Tours Blog

Gay Travel Guide: Israel

  • Brandon Folkes
  • Jan 13, 2022

Fast Facts

  • Capital City – Jerusalem
  • Population of Israel – 9.21 million (2020)
  • Official Language – Hebrew
  • Official Currency – shekel

Israel is one of the world’s most uniquely controversial and highly talked about countries in the world. As the holy land for Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths, it is a melting pot of culture and strong contradictory orthodox ideology that somehow coexists together in a small section of the world. It manages on maintaining a dichotomy of lifestyle by also being a modern-day country with areas of strong social acceptance.

In Jerusalem you will find Old City, the ancient city that houses the Dome of the Rock, the Western ‘Wailing’ Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the various Jewish, Muslim, Armenian, and Christian quarters. In its day, Old City was known internationally for its beauty and grandeur. On the other end of the spectrum is Tel Aviv, a city known for its beaches, modern lifestyle, as well as its friendliness towards the LGBT community. Tel Aviv hosts the only gay pride festival in all of the middle east and is even renown for having one of the biggest pride festivals in the world.

Israel is more than just two cities though; there's the ancient Masada fortress in the Southern district, to the Dead Sea with its salt rich waters that will have you floating like you have never experienced before. Within the massive closed walls in the controversial West Bank, a known claimed Palestinian territory, you will find many Banksy art pieces and the famous Church of the Nativity. Northern Israel houses some spectacular places to see like the Baha’l Gardens in Haifa and the ancient Roman ruins of Caesarea.

If you have never been to Israel, you need to go. There truly is nowhere quite like it, and a place like that with so much diverse heritage and a modern vibe, can only be experienced.

Top 3 Highlights

  • Swimming in the Dead Sea
  • Exploring Old City Jerusalem
  • The beaches and nightlife of Tel Aviv

Top 3 Restaurants

  • Tmol Shilshom – Jerusalem – This quaint and unique Israeli kosher restaurant is situated right in downtown Jerusalem. Fast and friendly service with a variety of delicious menu options.
  • Focaccia Bar – Jerusalem - Vibrant and friendly atmosphere; this Italian cuisine-based restaurant has some of the best focaccia you will ever try.
  • Salva Vida – Tel Aviv – Some of the best seafood in all of Tel Aviv. This cozy restaurant situated near the beaches area makes their pasta by hand and offers a chill modern funky vibe.

Top 3 Bars

  • Video Pub Gay Bar – cozy gay bar/club in downtown Jerusalem
  • Rothschild 22 – Relaxed cocktail bar off Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv
  • Shpagat – Popular and busy gay bar in Tel Aviv

Top 3 Optional Activities

  • Northern Israel Tour - Visit the ancient roman amphitheater and hippodrome of Caesarea, to the great Baha’I Gardens of Haifa, and the sprawling markets of Acre.
  • Yad Vashem - Yad Vashem is Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. The memorial consists of a 44 acre complex containing the Holocaust History Museum, memorial sites such as the Children's Memorial and the Hall of Remembrance, the Museum of Holocaust Art, sculptures and more.
  • Visit the West Bank - The West Bank is a popular place to visit, which is a Palestinian territory that is widely disputed and walled off to the rest of Israel. Here you can see Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity as well as the famous wall where Banksy paintings are found.

The Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Israel: We find the best time of the year to make your way over to this wonderful country is in March, June, and October. March and October tend to be the more temperate times to go, and less touristy. You will be able to go around and explore without dealing with the craziness of the high season crowds. In June is Tel Aviv Pride; the only pride festival in all the middle east and one of the world’s largest.

A Couple Books

  • 'To the End of the Land' by David Grossman
  • 'A Pigeon and a Boy' by Meir Shalev

A Couple Movies

  • Lemon Tree (Drama)
  • The Band’s Visit (Drama/Romance) 

"Must Try" Local Cuisine

  • Shakshuka (egg and tomato dish)
  • Falafel (deep fried chickpea balls)
  • Kanafeh (sweet pastry with cheese)