Is it Safe to Visit Bethlehem

Bethlehem Hills View

Israel and Palestine have been in the news frequently for the conflicts between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Being a war zone also impacted the tourist activity in the region, leading to a downfall in tourist income. However, the situation is under control now and people are taking an interest in revisiting the region. Some visit it to learn the history, while others appreciate the historic architecture. If you also want to explore the city, keep reading to know if it is safe to visit Bethlehem.

Where is Bethlehem?

From 1920 to 1948, Bethlehem was a component of the British Mandate of Palestine. Then, it was placed in the Al-Quds muḥāfaẓah (Jerusalem governorate) and it later became a part of the Israeli-occupied territory of the West Bank in 1967. Israel gave up the possession of Bethlehem in 1995, making it a part of the Palestinian Authority. So, Bethlehem is a part of the West Bank, Palestine, in 2023.

Is it Safe to Go to Bethlehem 2023?

Since the situation between Israel and Palestine has eased, tourism is seeing daylight. Many tourists have been visiting the area, including organized group tours. No foreign tourists reported issues or incidents during their stay in Bethlehem, Jericho, or Ramallah. The West Bank region is comparatively safer as most political activities and conflicts take place in Gaza.

Thus, Bethlehem is quite safe to visit in 2023. However, the US State Department has assigned Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank a Level-2 travel advisory.

Girls reaching Bethlehem

How to Reach Bethlehem?

Most tourists reach Jerusalem by air, explore the city, and travel to Bethlehem later.

Bethlehem is only 25 minutes from Jerusalem by car, but you can also use Arab bus lines to enter the West Bank. Moreover, you can use the tourist shuttle service between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

The Palestinian bus company also offers a bus service from the East Jerusalem Bus Station. It costs only 5 NIS and is a popular commuting choice between the two cities. Bus 21 is the most popular one, but you might have to wait a long time to get the bus.

However, since the West Bank is now part of the Palestinian Authority, Israeli public transport cannot enter the region. So, you cannot rent a car yourself from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Moreover, no Taxis from Israel can enter Bethlehem either.

Important Note: Traveling anywhere within the Palestinian and Israeli territories includes passing through various checkpoints. Thus, you must always keep your passport with you.

Travel Advisory for Bethlehem

While the answer to “Is it safe to visit Bethlehem” is majorly “yes,” you must consider a few things. We have listed everything you need to know regarding safety during your trip to Bethlehem and the Palestinian-Israeli region overall.

Road Closures

When traveling through the West Bank, you will often observe closed roads and Israeli military checkpoints. These checkpoints require showing your passport and immigration documents to pass through. You might find the checkpoints closed on Jewish High Holidays, national holidays, or due to security threats. The Israeli military typically lets you pass through them unless you are a dual nationality citizen with a Palestinian nationality.

Street Crimes

Bethlehem does not have a lot of street crime reports, but the beaches might be troublesome. You can lose your credit cards, passports, and other valuable items at these beaches. So, keeping your valuable belongings safe is important, especially when you visit the beaches.


Protecting your credit card and other information is critical whether you are in Bethlehem or any other area. Online scams are quite common in Israel, targeting tourists widely. So, avoid using unsecured public Wi-Fi, and do not answer emails asking for account details. Also, do not click any suspicious link asking for your credit card details.

Strikes and Demonstrations

Demonstrations, whether planned or unplanned, are common in the area. People often gather to protest against the government, affecting public transport. Security forces use water cannons and tear gas to disperse crowds; you must avoid going out during a strike or demonstration.

tourists in Bethlehem

Where to Stay in Bethlehem?

Bethlehem offers a wide variety of hotels to stay in. Picking a hotel in a populated area is a better option, particularly if traveling solo. Here are the best picks:

Dar Sitti Aziza

Dar Sitti Aziza, translating to “House of the beloved grandmother,” is a boutique-style hotel in Bethlehem. It is located in a traditional building, and the host family welcomes you warmly with delicious breakfasts.

The Walled Off Hotel

The Walled Off Hotel is beautiful, with ten rooms and top-notch facilities for a comfortable stay. The hotel rooms showcase the work of famous street artists such as Banksy. And the best part is that you can see the Separation Wall just in front. However, it will cost a little more than other accommodation options. We will tell you more about the Walled Off Hotel in the article later.

Bunksurfing Hostel

If you are looking for something more affordable for a night’s stay, the Bunksurfing Hostel can be your best pick. It is the perfect accommodation for backpackers at a comparatively pocket-friendly price.

What to Visit in Bethlehem?

The Milk Grotto

The Milk Grotto is another site of religious significance that welcomes pilgrims throughout the year. It is said to be where Mary and Joseph stopped when running to Egypt, and Mary nursed baby Jesus. The white look of the grotto is associated with a drop of Mary’s milk falling on the stone that turned it white. However, the grotto constitutes white stone. Women from all over the world visit The Milk Grotto to pray for being blessed with children.

The timings of the Chapel of the Milk Grotto also vary throughout the year, so check it out before heading out!

the Milk Grotto

The Church of the Nativity

The Church of the Nativity is Bethlehem’s most popular tourist location among Christians. Considered the birthplace of Jesus, it is one of the holiest places in Christendom. While the original birthplace was a humble town, the church is now surrounded by a flourishing, bustling city. The church is also UNESCO-listed.

The Church of the Nativity has the Grotto of the Nativity in an underground cave, believed to be the exact place of Jesus’s birth. Two sets of staircases take you to the Grotto of the Nativity.

Considering that it is the most significant pilgrim site in Bethlehem, be ready to stand in lines, specifically during Christmas. Also, make sure to check the church’s timings before visiting.

The Wall of Separation

The Wall of Separation is undoubtedly one of the most important sights in Bethlehem; it signifies the separation between Israel and Palestine.

Israel began building this 8 feet tall wall in 2002 along the edge of the Palestinian territory. It has electronic doors and fences as barriers between the two states. Israel calls it a security barrier against terrorism, whereas Palestinians call it a symbol of racial segregation in the region.

The wall exhibits a vast display of murals by renowned artists, including Banksy, Lush Sux, Jorit Agoch, and Salvatore De Luise. Lush Sux painted Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, showing them celebrating the wall. At the same time, the Israeli government arrested and expelled two Italian artists, Salvatore De Luise and Jorit Agoch, for painting a mural of Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian activist; the murals on the wall are not only art pieces but exhibit the artists’ anger and resentment against the wall.

Some of the most prominent pieces by Banksy throughout the city include ‘Girl Frisking Soldier,’ ‘The Armored Dove,” and ‘Rage, Flower Thrower.’

The Aida Refugee Camp

Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel museum offers tours to the Aide Refugee Camp. The guide shares the Palestinian point of view regarding the construction of the Separation Wall and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The tour gives you a sneak peek into the turrets with Israeli soldiers before arriving at the refugee camp.

The camp provides secure accommodation to refugees from 17 demolished Palestinian villages. It was established in 1950, along with others in Gaza and West Bank after 1948; around 5,000 people live in these camps. The camp’s entrance gate has a “key of return” on it symbolizing the hope of returning to their homes someday.

However, Aida camp does not have tents like usual camps. Instead, it has permanent buildings, giving it the look of a densely populated city.

Al-Sufara Restaurant

When you are in the city, enjoying some of the local cuisine is a must. You can find numerous options, but Al-Sufara is a favorite among tourists and locals. It is situated just off Manger Square and offers delicious food at pocket-friendly prices. Also, the staff is quite nice!

Monastery of Mar Saba

You can visit the Monastery of Mar Saba using a private car service. The eye-pleasing monastery of Mar Saba is in a beautiful location, around 20 minutes from Bethlehem. It is the perfect tourist spot to explore the architecture and archeological aspects of the desert landscape. The monastery is built into the rock in memory of Saint Saba; it is popular for its hospitality to visitors, but women cannot enter the area. Instead, they may see the Monastery of Mar Saba from the Women’s Tower nearby.

The Herodium

The Herodium is an interesting architectural site 5 kilometers Southeast of Bethlehem, around an hour away from the city. It is a must-visit, especially if you are interested in archeology and history. This seven-story structure sits 758 meters above sea level.

The Herodium basically comprises the remains of the palace by King Herod the Great between 23 and 15 BC. In fact, he increased the hill’s height to make it the tallest mountain in the desert.

Walled Off Hotel

When you visit the Wall of Separation, you will see Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel just in front. He also called it “the hotel with the worst view in the world.”

Banksy established the hotel in 2017; filled with murals and posters, it gives you the feel of a twentieth-century English pub. The hotel started as a temporary art installation but has been running for years. It has ten rooms and suites for a comfortable stay. The museum within the hotel also provides you with information regarding the area’s social and political situation.

Walled Off Hotel, BETHLEHEM

Is Bethlehem Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

Bethlehem is typically safe for solo female travelers, with no such incidents of assault or violent crimes. The areas have enough security and police to protect women, especially tourists. However, you must exercise the necessary cautions in Bethlehem that you consider in other places during solo travel.

Here are a few precautions to take as a solo female traveler in Bethlehem:

  • Opt for a safe area to stay in during your trip.
  • Study the surroundings of your stay and places you want to visit.
  • Familiarize yourself with the customs and local laws to prevent issues.
  • Avoid traveling alone at night, especially in dark areas.
  • Bethlehem is an Arab city. So, it is better to dress appropriately and cover yourself adequately.
  • Do not carry a lot of cash with you, and be vigilant while handing your credit or debit card to anyone.
  • Learn some basic Arabic to communicate with the locals.
  • Use public transportation to avoid the risks of any mishaps, though the chances are already slim in Bethlehem.
  • Stay in touch with someone over the phone to inform them of your whereabouts.
  • Most importantly, trust your instincts and walk away if something around you feels unusual.

Exceptions for US Government Employees

US Government Employees must consider higher caution when traveling through the West Bank. US employees can use Routes 1, 90, and 443 and may visit Bethlehem during the day; they must not stay overnight.

The government employees can travel to Wadi Qelt Nature Preserve, An-Nabi Musa, and St. George’s Monastery along Route 1, St. Gerasimos/Khogla Monastery Qasr al-Yaud baptismal site, Qumran, Kalia Beach, Al Auju, and along Route 90, and Herodion National Park via Route 398. The Embassy may put further restrictions on travel considering security threats.

Which Other Places Can You Visit in the West Bank?

While you are in the West Bank to visit Bethlehem, you can extend your tour to other areas, such as:

  • Hebron
  • Jericho
  • Ramallah
  • Qasr-el-Yahud
  • Nablus

Interestingly, Jerico is considered the world’s oldest city.

Areas to Avoid in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip

During your trip, you must avoid the Gaza Strip and areas around the Syrian, Lebanese, and Egyptian borders; cities with a high degree of caution include Majdal Sham, Buq’ata, Mas’ada, Taba, Eilat, Ghajar, Rosh HaNikra, and Metula.

While the West Bank is typically considered safe, you should take standard precautions. Other adjacent areas include Jericho, Ramallah, Highway 1, Route 90, and 443. You must also avoid non-essential travel to Zikim Beach, Route 34, and Sderot on the Gaza border strip.

Verdict – How to Avoid Problems in Bethlehem?

Tourists often get stuck at checkpoints or processions, causing a delay in reaching a particular location or missing their flight. The best is to keep yourself updated about local movements and circumstances through television. You can ask your hotel receptionist about the situation and check the official government websites to protect yourself from an unsettling situation. Overall, visiting Bethlehem in 2023 is generally safe.


What is the best time to visit Bethlehem?

Christmas is the best time of the year to visit Bethlehem. It is where the story began, making it an important part of the celebration; people visit Bethlehem to go to the Church of the Nativity, considered the birthplace of Jesus. Many tour guide companies conduct tours in Bethlehem, and you can also sign-up for a two-day tour.

Which currency to use in Bethlehem?

As Bethlehem is a part of the Palestinian Authority and Palestine does not have its own currency, you have multiple options. You can use US dollars, Euro, and the Israeli Shekel to pay for your meals, accommodation, or souvenirs. Most places also accept debit and credit cards, so you do not have to worry about currency problems.

Is it possible to visit Bethlehem on your own?

A large number of tourists prefer planning their trips on their own to avoid added costs. However, people avoid DIY-ing their trips when visiting Bethlehem due to political unrest between Israel and Palestine. It might surprise you that traveling to Bethlehem is as simple as any other part of the world. You must keep your passport with you as the checkpoints inspect them. Otherwise, it’s just a border crossing like other tourist destinations; joining guided tours helps better understand the history and culture.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *