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Bethlehem

From the desert around Mar Saba, the Abraham Path meanders up the steep hills towards Bethlehem, the biblical birthplace of Jesus and hometown of King David. Home to a wide range of holy and historic sites, Bethlehem is a natural rest and recovery point for walkers and a pilgrimage destination for people from around the world.

After stopping to explore Bethlehem’s holy sites and their sometimes unexpected histories, walkers can continue south to Artas to find a convent and its gardens in the midst of a Muslim village; just a bit further on, they will come to the town of Tequa, which lies next to the ruins of an ancient city of the same name.

The names of places throughout the Bethlehem region may be familiar to many visitors, but the places themselves and the people who live there will surely offer a number of surprises and unexpected experiences.


Stages

Stage 1: Mar Saba to Bethlehem (15.3 km)
Stage 2: Bethlehem to Tequa (12.6 km)

Itineraries

Suggested Itineraries:
Day Hike: Walk from Bethlehem to Tequa (Stage 2) by Solomon’s Pools and the lush gardens of the Hortus Concluses Convent. Taxi back to Bethlehem from Tequa and enjoy an evening and overnight in the city of Jesus’ birth (12.6km, moderate).

Two Days: Hike from Mar Saba to Tequa for a taste of the Bethlehem region, including the isolated monasteries, the bustling historic city of Jesus’ birth, and the lush garden area of Artas said to be the setting of Song of Songs.

Blogs
Bethlehem region blogs:

Read stories from the Bethlehem region
in the Abraham Path blog

Video

Downloads

Download maps and GPS files (PDF, Google Earth and GPX)

Accommodations

Accommodations

Stage Location Name Type Price # of beds Contact Info (+972) Amenities
1 Bethlehem Intercontinental Jacir Palace H dbl $180 USD+ 250 rooms 180 945 3716 meals, pool, tennis courts,
1 Bethlehem Dar Abu Jubran G 13 rooms +972 (0)2770047,guesthouse@annadwa.org wifi, restaurant
1 Bethlehem Murad Resort H Sng $80, dbl $100, trp $140 USD 60 rooms, 20 chalets +972 (0)22759880, www.murad.ps restaurant, Turkish bath, spa, pool, internet
1 Bethlehem Bethlehem Youth Hostel Hs $19 USD p/p in dorm 32 dorm beds Laundry, meals, wifi
1 Bethlehem Saint Elias Guest House G dbl $40 USD 60 rooms
1 Bethlehem Casa Nova G $30 USD p/p +972(0)22742798 café, internet
1 Bethlehem El Beit G sng $45, dbl $60 33 beds Meals
1 Bethlehem  Savior Guesthouse G 2 02-2755273
2 Artas TBA F $40 p/p
2 Tequa Majida Husien – Im Ghassan F $40 p/p 2  02-2755273  Meals

Accommodations key

F – Family Stay
G – Guesthouse (small locally-owned establishment with private rooms)
H – Hotel
Hs – Hostel (accommodation offering dormitory options)
T – Bedouin Tent (usually dormitory-style sleeping on mats on the floor of a large tent)
S – Shelter (a few areas have free hiker shelters, which are a simple room with cots that hikers can use)
C – Camping (a paid or free place to put down a tent, may or may not have facilities)

Transportation

Getting to the Abraham Path in the Bethlehem Region

The airports nearest to the Bethlehem Region are Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) near Tel Aviv and Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) in Amman. No direct transportation is available from these airports to the Bethlehem Region; the easiest travel route is through Jerusalem.

Once you have reached Jerusalem, there is a system of buses and shared taxi vans (called servees taxis) that run between the cities and towns of the West Bank.

Transportation from Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem

There are a number of ways to reach Jerusalem from the Ben Gurion Airport.

  • Bus: Shuttles run regularly from the airport’s public transportation depot to nearby Airport City. There, passengers can switch to Egged bus line 947 running to Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station. These buses run roughly every half hour and cost about 25 NIS.
  • Train: Trains depart every hour from the airport to Jerusalem’s Malha train station. From the train station, travelers can take bus lines to various other parts of the city.
  • Shared Taxi (Sherut): Shared taxis depart constantly throughout the day from the airport and will take passengers to any address in Jerusalem for roughly 70 NIS.
  • Private Taxi: Private taxis are available at the airport and operate with fixed prices to all major cities.
  • Car Rental: Several rental car companies are available 24/7 at the airport. Costs range from $30-60/€22-44 per day with gas/petrol costing about $8/gallon or €1.6/liter. Note that most car rental insurance offered by credit cards is void in Israel. Insurance from most Israeli rental cars is void in Palestinian Territory areas A and B; if you plan on using your car to travel to the Bethlehem Region, be sure to check on the policies of the rental company you select.

Transportation from Queen Alia Airport to Jerusalem

From Queen Alia Airport, the easiest way to reach Jerusalem is through the border crossing at Allenby Bridge (also known as King Hussein Bridge). For more information about the logistics of the border crossing itself, see visa information on our Getting There and Away page.

From the airport, take a private taxi to the crossing (~35 JD). Once you have completed the exit/entry processes, you can take either another private taxi to Jerusalem (negotiable, ~300 NIS) or a shared taxi bus to a depot near Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate (~40 NIS).

Transportation in the Bethlehem Region

From Jerusalem, there is a network of Palestinian public buses and shared taxis (servees taxis) that generally run from sunrise to sunset. There is no formal schedule for these buses and taxis; they usually leave when they are full. These buses depart from two bus stations near Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate.

Travelers can reach Bethlehem by two different buses leaving Jerusalem:

  • Bus 21 runs directly to Bethlehem through Beit Jala (8 NIS). The last stop is a few minutes’ walk from Bethlehem’s Old City.
  • Bus 24 runs from Jerusalem to the main checkpoint near Bethlehem. After passing through the checkpoint on foot, travelers can reach the city center and Bethlehem Central Bus Station by foot (~2km), by shared taxis for four people (~3 NIS), or by private taxi.

Note that bus service is also available to Bethlehem from Ramallah (~18 NIS), from Jericho (~20 NIS), and from Hebron (~9 NIS).

From Bethlehem, you can take buses and shared taxis to most of the villages along the Abraham Path’s route through the region. Artas and Tequa are serviced by shared taxis that depart from a bus stop located downhill from Bethlehem’s Wadi Emali Street (a street leading to the right side of Manger Square as you face the Nativity Church). The area of the Herodium can be reached from the central bus station (~5 NIS).

There is no direct transportation to the Mar Saba Monastery. Ubeydiya is the nearest village accessible by shared taxi (~5 NIS).

Join a Walk

Join a Walk in the Bethlehem Region


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Sites in the Bethlehem Region:

Bethlehem City

Bethlehem has long been a point of convergence for many who have journeyed in this region of the world. Get to know this complex and historically rich city.

Church of St. George

Christians and Muslims alike revere St. George at the church of Al-Khader, who remains a living symbol in Palestine and the center of a vibrant yearly festival.

Hortus Conclusus

On a walk through Wadi Artas, a lush garden greets visitors at the unconventional site of a Catholic convent in the center of a Muslim town.

Mosque of Omar

The elegant Mosque of Omar stands on the corner across from the Church of the Nativity, a long-standing symbol of cooperation and mutual respect between the Christians and Muslims of Bethlehem.

Nativity Church

For seventeen centuries the Nativity Church has attracted pilgrims from all over the world. Enter through its “door of humility” into one of Christianity’s most sacred places.

Shepherds’ Fields

Imagine watching over flocks of sheep by night in the traditional location of an angelic announcement of Jesus’s birth.