Tel Aviv- Alon Ron
Tel Aviv Photo by Alon Ron
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Lonely Planet this week named Tel Aviv third in a list of the world's best cities, praising the coastal metropolis for its art and music scenes and relaxed, liberal culture.

Tel Aviv came in third, with New York the somewhat predictable winner, and the Moroccan city of Tangier a surprising second. Iquitos on the Peruvian Amazon and Ghent in Belgium were also improbable entrants to the top 10.

"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 publisher of popular travel guides said on its website. "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."

Israel's party capital also won praise for its tolerant attitudes and thriving gay culture.

"Scratch underneath the surface and Tel Aviv, or TLV, reveals itself as a truly diverse 21st-century Mediterranean hub. By far the most international city in Israel, Tel Aviv is also home to a large gay community, a kind of San Francisco in the Middle East," Lonely Planet said.

The full list looks like this:

1. New York, U.S.A.

2. Tangier, Morocco

3. Tel Aviv, Israel

4. Wellington, New Zealand

5. Valencia, Spain

6. Iquitos, Peru

7. Ghent, Belgium

8. Delhi, India

9. Newcastle, Australia

10. Chiang Mai, Thailand