Jerusalem, Israel

How to get to Bethlehem from Jerusalem

By Menno de Vries, independent tour guide in Israel

The birth town of Jesus, Bethlehem is located within the Palestinian Authorities territory. This means you have to cross the border with Israel and you have to take your passport with you.

Your destination is most probably Manger Square, the location of the Church of nativity.

This border crossing is different then the other ones though and there is a good change, if traveling with a taxi, that you wont be stopped at all.

There are different ways to get to Bethlehem, either by your self or organized.

By foot
The traditional way, it is doable in about 2 hours, but note that there are many ups and downs, you are in the Judean hills and the summer heat is an extra challenge.

Public transportation
From the bus station near Damascus gate there is a direct Arab bus. Because Bethlehem is in so called Area A, which is forbidden for Israeli citizens to enter, there are no Israeli public buses.
These buses run every day (Israeli buses stop on Shabbat/Saturday) during the day and early evening. It takes about 30 minutes and costs NIS 6.80. At the checkpoint tourists stay in the bus, a soldier might come in and check your passport, while Palestinians might be asked to step outside for an ID check.

You can easily hire a taxi in Jerusalem to take you to Bethlehem. The taxi must have a yellow license plate and the driver should be able to go to Area A in Bethlehem. Any Arab taxi driver who has a yellow license plate can take you to Bethlehem and back to Jerusalem. Costs: around NIS 350 for two ways, taxi will wait in Bethlehem.
Or you can take any taxi from Jerusalem to a checkpoint, walk through the checkpoint and then take a (yellow) Palestinian taxi or walk for about half an hour.

Look for a private guide on Booqify or send me a message and I will forward you contact details. A private guide will help you skip the lines in the Nativity church.

Rental car
You are NOT allowed to enter Bethlehem with an Israeli rental car. If you rent a car in East Jerusalem in the area of Damascus Gate you can enter Area A (Bethlehem), but always ask for the latest update when you pick up your car.

Organised tour by Bus
Bein Harim is a tour operator organising daily tours to Bethlehem with several pick up locations.
Buy a tour to Bethlehem and The Church of The Nativity (~$70)

Abraham Tours has multiple days a week, pick up is at Pick-up at Abraham Hostel, Davidka Square, which is close to Abraham Hostel (yes, connected).
Bethlehem Tour on Tuesday and Friday (~$55)


About Menno de Vries, independent tour guide in Israel.

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