The Lonely Planet travel guide’s “Best in Travel” series ranked Tel Aviv third on its list of top 10 cities for 2011. “Tel Aviv is the total flipside of Jerusalem, a modern Sin City on the sea rather than an ancient Holy City on a hill,” the entry states. “Hedonism is the one religion that unites its inhabitants. There are more bars than synagogues, God is a DJ and everyone’s body is a temple.” The Lonely Planet also mentions Tel Aviv’s universities, museums, and architecture, calling the city the “greenhouse for Israel’s growing art, film, and music scenes” and a “kind of San Francisco in the Middle East,” a nod to Tel Aviv’s large gay community.
In fact, Tel Aviv has been marketing itself as a gay metropolis for the past few years, with the GLBT community working together with the municipality to create attractions for homosexual travelers. And it seems its hard work has paid off. In September, Tel Aviv was also nominated for two TripOut Gay Travel Awards in the ‘Best breakout destination’ and ‘Sexiest place on earth’ categories.
Others on the Lonely Planet’s list include New York, which came in on top, and Tangier, Morocco, which ranked number two. In addition to the top 10 cities, the guide also selected the top 10 countries for 2011, in which surprisingly Syria came in ninth. For its reasons, the guide mentioned Syria’s slowly liberalizing economy and its new-found freedom of no longer having the “noose of the ‘Axis of Evil’ tag hanging around its neck.” Perhaps.
Israel did not make it on to the top country list. But then again, there’s always next year.