Flying Solo

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There's no reason to be shy about traveling to Tel Aviv solo; in fact it's one of the friendliest cities in the Middle East, and LGBTQ tourists should feel more than welcome. A great place for lone travelers to stay is the HaYarkon 48 Hostel, an affordable option smack dab in the middle of the coastline. You'll be able to easily access the entire city from here, and women traveling alone can stay in female-only accommodations.

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Your hostel offers a complimentary breakfast, but the best way to get the sense of a city is with a little people-watching, so head over to Cafe Mersand for the famous Turkish Breakfast. Guaranteed to fill you up for the day's adventures, it's a healthy spread of eggs, vegetables, spiced couscous and halvah - the buttery sweet dessert made from sesame paste and pistachios. Here you can sit with your map and a cup of strong coffee while you get the lay of the land.

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After your meal, set off down Dizengoff Street, a major thoroughfare in Tel Aviv that has many interesting sights along the way. You're headed to the Azrieli Observatory on the 49th floor of a skyscraper at the landmark Azrieli Center. From this vantage point, you'll be able to survey the whole city and get a comprehensive sense of its layout, which will serve you well over the course of your trip. Be sure to take some pictures up here, there are plenty of friendly people about to help you capture the moment.

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Once you're back down on terra firma, it's time for a bit of shopping. The world-famous Sarona Market gourmet food emporium is just a 10-minute walk away, with an impressive breadth of goods on display. Olive oil, vinegar, handmade soaps, boxed confections, cooking tools and more pack the stalls of this indoor haven. If you get hungry, don't despair. While the majority of the restaurants are expensive, there are also plenty of food stalls with affordable street food like baklawa, pizza or burekas.

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Next up is Meir Park, a hub of LGBTQ activity in Tel Aviv, and the starting point for its infamous Pride parade. Within the park, you'll find the Gan Meir Gay Center, a great place for a solo traveler to meet other explorers and to access the local gay calendar of events. Spend some time chatting with the staff, and draw up a list of events you may want to attend. Also note down any recommendations for bars and restaurants; the people working here really know their stuff.

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As the sun dips toward the horizon, you will be heading to Ijo & Babet for communal-style drinks at happy hour. This is a very laid-back bar furnished with a series of long outdoor tables that make it natural to strike up a conversation with your neighbor. For women wanting something a little more high-energy? Wait a few hours and you can boogie down at Amazona, a lesbian bar and dance club that manages to be both fierce and friendly.

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For dinner you may not feel like sitting in a stuffy dining room, so hit up Benin Johnny Falafel Stand for a fresh pita full of this Middle Eastern treat. There are a couple of small tables here, but you should take your meal four blocks to Frishman Beach, where you can enjoy the evening buzz of the boardwalk while you eat. Your hotel is just two blocks from here, so turn in or join other travelers in the common room for a board game.