From green rolling hills to a Mediterranean culture and cuisine, the hospitality of the Arabs, first-class souks, historical cities that are thousands of years old and one of the most interesting political scenes in our modern history, visiting Palestine, especially a tiny region called the West Bank, will definitely surprise you.

Whether you are interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a lover of Biblical and Christian sites or just a backpacker seeking adventure, Palestine is a country adaptable to any kind of traveler.

For a sense of inspiration, also read: 10 things I didn’t know before traveling to Palestine

 

Travel to Palestine - 2-week backpacking itinerary

 

Visit Palestine (West Bank): A travel guide and 2-week itinerary

In this Palestine travel guide you will find:

Things you need to know to prepare for your trip to Palestine
Safety in Palestine
Books I recommend
The people and religion
Detailed costs
Food
Travel to Palestine: a 2-week backpacking itinerary

Total transparency – If you like my website and found this post useful, remember that, if you book a hotel, bus, flight or travel insurance through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me maintain and keep Against the Compass going! Thanks 🙂

 

Traveling to Palestine – Things you need to know

Wait, West Bank or Gaza? – You probably know this already but Palestinian territories are divided into two regions: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, both separated by the state of Israel. You can’t enter Gaza unless you are a journalist or an NGO worker. This article is for those traveling to the West Bank.

How to get in – There are no international airports in Palestine, so you can only enter overland through Israel. The Palestinian border is controlled by the Israeli authorities. Read more: Israel – Jordan border crossing.

Visas – A Palestinian visa doesn’t exist. If you are in possession of an Israeli visa, you can visit the West Bank. Most nationalities, especially EU countries, USA, Canada, Australia, and Japan, can get a free visa on arrival. For more information, check out this link to see if your visa situation.

Israeli stamps? – The Israeli authorities don’t stamp passports anymore. Instead, they give you a slip containing all your personal information, which you need to keep with you if want to travel to the West Bank. This is quite a controversial topic. You can find all your answers here: Avoid Israeli stamps – FAQ.

Currency – In Palestine, the currency used is the Israeli Shekel. 1USD = 3.60ISL. Exchange offices are available throughout the country.

Language – Arabic is the official language. A large proportion of the Palestinian population is well-educated and many speak good English. Taxi drivers and shopkeepers speak very basic English.

When to go – The West Bank is a year-round destination, with slightly cold winters and moderately hot summers. Some desert parts, though, like Jericho, can get extremely hot in summer. I would say that either spring or autumn would be the best time to travel to Palestine.

Transportation – Since both the Israeli authorities and settlers need to drive throughout the region, roads are in a very good condition. The West Bank also has an efficient public transport system, connecting all cities and towns. Typically, you have two options: big buses, which are cheaper but slower and less frequent; or serveece, which are brand new yellow mini-vans that are slightly more expensive but faster and way more frequent. Within cities, towns and between small villages, shared taxis are also very common.

Hitchhiking – While backpacking in Palestine, I hitchhiked five or six times and I never had to wait for more than ten minutes and, even in smaller areas and towns, some cars were stopping voluntarily, asking me if I needed a ride to somewhere. Very rarely, they will ask you for money. It only happened to me once.

Internet / SIM Card – High-speed Wi-Fi is available throughout the country. You can buy either a Palestinian or an Israeli SIM card. Palestinian SIM cards are cheap but only have 2G not 3G, so if you want good internet data you must buy an Israeli one, which can only be bought in Israel or in border cities like Kalandia, close to Ramallah. A brand new SIM with one month’s worth of data and calls costs around 90ISL (25USD).

Visit Palestine - Monastery of Tempation
Monastery of Temptation, Jericho

 

Is it safe to visit Palestine?

For the past few years, whatever you have heard on the news in relation to the war with Israel, has happened in the Gaza Strip, which is an isolated, hermetic and inaccessible piece of territory. The West Bank is a totally different place which has lived in peace for almost twenty years, since the Second Intifada.

However, despite being a safe destination, you should always travel with a proper insurance. I always recommend World Nomads, as it is the only company that offers unlimited medical coverage, besides a large number of adventure activities.

Click here to get your free quote from World Nomads

 

Recommended books for traveling to Palestine

Palestine travel guide by Bradt – The only exclusive book guide to Palestine. Bradt is one of my favorite traveling brands as they give so many tips for the independent traveler and plenty of local insights.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

Israel & West Bank travel guide by Lonely Planet – You can also buy the combo from LP, although it is not very comprehensive for the Palestinian Territories.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

Walking Palestine – If you are a trekking lover, this is the best book for trekking in Palestine out there.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

People and religion

After traveling to practically all the Middle Eastern countries, I will dare say that Palestinians one of the most hospitable peoples in the region. Either because they rarely see foreigners, have an international bad reputation due to the Israeli conflict or just because they are kind by nature, the fact is that you should always expect loads of coffee, food and house invitations. Traveling in the West Bank is extremely pleasant.

Palestine is a Muslim country, Sunni Islam being the most practiced religion. Hebron, Nablus and Jenin are more traditional and conservative, so you should always dress modestly there. Ramallah, a surprisingly cosmopolitan capital, is more laid-back, so is Bethlehem, the city with the largest Christian population.

Home to some of the most important Biblical sites in the world, Christianity also plays an important role in the West Bank, not only in Bethlehem but also in several Christian villages around Ramallah and Jenin, like Taybeh and Zababdeh, where even local breweries can be found.

Read: A travel guide to Beirut

Palestinian people Qalqilya
Hanging out with some Palestinians in Qalqilya

 

Travel to Palestine – How much does it cost?

You will be surprised if I tell you that the West Bank is not a budget backpacking destination, with similar prices to Greece and Portugal. Since accommodation is pretty expensive, I would say that you can’t travel for less than:

a minimum of 25-30USD a day

Accommodation

Airbnb – Definitely, the cheapest option for a couple. You can find double rooms for as little as 20USD.

Remember that you can get 35USD of free Airbnb credit if you sign up through my link.

Hostels – The cheapest if you are backpacking solo but, honestly, they are pretty expensive for what you get. They are available throughout the country and prices range from 50ISL (14USD) to 75ISL (20USD).

Hotels – Personally, I didn’t stay in any hotels, as private rooms were too expensive. Typically, you won’t find anything cheaper than 30USD or 40USD.

Please note that you can find further details on where I stayed further down, in the ”Travel Itinerary” section. 

Food

Fast food is cheap but, if you want a bit of a change from shawarma and falafel, you will have to spend some more money.

Street falafel – 3-5ISL (80¢ – 1.40USD)
Shawarma – 8-15ISL (2.20USD – 4.10USD)
Kebab – 10ISL (2.80USD) per piece
Half a roast chicken with rice – 25ISL (7USD)
Proper, good Palestinian meal – 40-75ISL (10-20USD)

Alcohol

Beer in a bar – 15ISL – 25ISL (4-7USD)
Beer in a store – 5ISL (1.40USD)

Transportation

These are the prices of some of the bus, mini-van and shared taxi journeys I took:

Serveece (mini-van) from Hebron to Ramallah (53km) – 27ISL (7.50USD)
Bus from Ramallah to Nablus (52km) – 11ISL (3USD)
Shared taxi within the city of Bethlehem – 3ISL (80¢)

A little girl in Aida Palestinian refugee camp
A little girl in Aida refugee camp

 

Palestinian food!

Like its neighbor Lebanon, Palestine is a Mediterranean country whose cuisine goes far beyond just shawarma and falafels, as many people believe. From delicious fresh salads, including hummus and baba ganouj, to more elaborate stews and roast dishes, where olive oil is king; if you can afford it, in Palestine, you can also enjoy your way through food. These are some of my favorite dishes:

Makluba – The Palestinian dish par by excellence. Apparently, there are many variations but the one we ate had chicken, rice, cauliflower and eggplant. Makluba literally means ”upside-down”, because, when it’s being cooked, the chicken is placed at the bottom of the pan so, when it’s ready, you pour out the contents, leaving the chicken on top.

 

Msakhan – It consists of roast chicken placed on an oily slice of bread and topped with chestnuts and loads and loads of onions. It’s quite a heavy meal, so Palestinians have it for lunch.

Palestine Msakhan, consisting of roasted chicken on a thick slice of bread and covered with onions and chestnuts

 

Fatteh – This is not only Palestinian but from all the Levantine region. it has flatbread, olive oil, yogurt, chickpeas and loads of nuts. It a super powerful breakfast. I freaking love it 😀

Fatteh, a Middle Eastern meal

 

Visiting Palestine: A 2-week backpacking itinerary through the West Bank

I spent 40 days traveling in the West Bank and Jerusalem and still I couldn’t visit everything I wanted to. But I like to travel slowy, spending 3 or 4 days in each place. That’s why, in my opinion, if you only have 2 weeks, the itinerary suggested below is totally feasible. The good news is that, since the region is pretty small, distances between each destination are short and quick.

Palestine 2-week travel itinerary:
Jerusalem – Day 1-3
Bethlehem – Day 3-5
Hebron – Day 5-7
Ramallah – Day 7-9
Nablus – Day 9-11
Jericho – Day 11-14

Extending your travel itinerary:
Jenin – 2 extra days
Zababdeh – 2 extra days
Qalqilya – 1 extra day

 

Jerusalem – Day 1-3

Why go? Today, Jerusalem is part of Israel but the eastern part of the city is completely inhabited by Arabs. If Palestine ever becomes an independent state, East Jerusalem would be capital of the country. Being the holiest place for the three main monotheist religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) in Jerusalem, if you wanted, you could spend an entire eternity exploring and wandering around the Old City. I spent 10 days there myself but you only need a few days to visit the main sites.

Things to do in Jerusalem – Highlights

Western Wall – One of the most important landmarks in the city and a very holy place where, every day, thousands of Jews come to pray and venerate it. It is also called the Wailing Wall as, during the Ottoman period, Jews would go there and lament the destruction of the previously destroyed Temple Mount.

Wester Wall Jerusalem Old City
The Western Wall, a white Jew and an Ethiopian Jew

 

Church of the Holy Sepulcher – Whether you are religious or not, the Church of the Resurrection is an impressive building, where, apparently, Jesus was crucified. You can also find his empty tomb, from where, according to Christians, he rose from the dead and ascended to heaven.

Temple Mount / Al-Haram ash-Sharif – A real landmark, as this is one of the holiest places for both Jews and Muslims. The Dome of the Rock is believed to be the place from where Prophet Mohamed stepped to heaven. The last time I was there, in March 2017, it was only possible to visit in the morning. 

Old City of Jerusalem
Old City of Jerusalem

 

Hang out at Yehuda Market and around – For some reason, all travelers always finish their day at Yehuda Market, which is a regular market that, at night, turns into a bunch of small alleys where you can find budget food, beer and an awesome vibe, both local and international. Around this area, you can also find plenty of pubs and bars. Location: 31.784976, 35.212340.

Mount of Olives – According to the Bible, the Mount of Olives is the place where the Judgement Day will start. And not only that, it is also a great place to watch the sunset over the Dome of the Rock.

 

Where to stay in Jerusalem

Budget Hostel – Abraham Hostel – One of the most famous hostels in Jerusalem. Located in the center of the new part of the city, this hostel is the best place to socialize and meet other travelers alike. The owners are great and they organize all sort of activities: from endless tours to pub crawls and much more. This is one of the greatest hostels I have ever been.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

Budget Hostel (old city) – Hebron Youth Hostel – Located in the Old City, this is one of the most budget options. Some people claim that it may not be as clean as Abraham Hostel but this one is definitely cheaper. It’s all right for a few days. I stayed here during my first visit to Israel and loved the location very much.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

Mid-range Hotel – Allenby2 B&B – This very cozy hotel has been here forever, with hundreds of positive reviews and a very central location. It has a lovely garden, very warm staff and free coffee and chocolate. Overall, a great option for mid-range travelers.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

How to get from the airport to Jerusalem

There are two options. Bus nº485 costs 16ISL (7USD), departs every half an hour or so from the first floor and leaves you at the Central Station. Sherut (shared mini-vans) cost 68ISL (19USD), depart more often, are faster and leave you closer to your final destination. During Shabat, bus nº485 doesn’t run.

Yehuda market at night, Jerusalem
Yehuda market at closing time

 

Bethlehem – Day 3-4

Why go? With hundreds of tour groups roaming around, Bethlehem doesn’t give the feeling that you are in the West Bank but, since this is the birthplace of Jesus, it is one of the most visited places in the Middle East. Apart from all the Christian sites, this is a great place to easily get a close feeling of the consequences of the Israeli occupation.

Things to do in Bethlehem – Highlights

The Wall – In 2001, after the Second Intifada, Israel started building a wall, 8 meters high, which would eventually separate Israel from the West Bank. In the center of Bethlehem, the wall is decorated with progressive and Pro-Palestinian paintings, including a real painting from Banksy. Note that most Banksy paintings are fake and the only real one is the white pigeon.

The separation wall of Bethlehem
The separation wall of Bethlehem

 

Aida Palestinian refugee camp – In 1948, after the Israeli-Arab war, the Palestinians were expelled from their native land, being forced to settle down in several refugee camps across the West Bank and other neighboring, Arab countries. Aida is perhaps the most well-known camp, although, in my opinion, it is also the most commercialized. The wall is built right beside it and has some very cool graffiti on it.

Visiting Palestine - Aida Refugee camp and the separation wall
Aida Refugee camp from a 4th floor

 

Dheisheh Palestinian refugee camp – Less visited and way more interesting than Aida, in Dheisheh, you will see the real picture of life in a Palestinian refugee camp. The camp also has loads of very interesting martyr paintings. Actually, I did an Airbnb stay here, one of the best traveling experiences in my life. You can read about it here: Airbnb in a Palestinian refugee camp.

Please note: Both Aida and Dheisheh are extremely safe and foreigners are always welcome. There is no need to go on a tour unless you want someone to explain the history of the camp to you. Cameras are also welcome but, if taking any portrait, ask for permission first. It’s a good idea to spend a few dollars at one of their shops or cafés. I’ve been to more than 10 refugee camps. Any question, feel free to ask. You might also like this travel story: Visiting a Syrian refugee camp in Iraq.

Ghassan Kanafan, Palestinian writer
Ghassan Kanafani – Murdered in cold blod by Mossad (Israeli secret police) in Beirut. He was a writer, writing about the Palestinian refugees and other pro-Palestinian stories

 

The Church of Nativity and the Old City – Well, you made it all the way to Bethlehem. Perhaps you should go to see the place where one of the most influential people in our human history was born, right? The entrance is free but try to get there early, otherwise, you’ll be standing in the line for hours. The old part the city is also worth spending a couple of hours in, wandering around the different souvenirs shops.

Mar Saba (Day trip) – Constructed in an isolated desert valley during the 5th century, either carved into or built on the cliffs, Mar Saba is an Orthodox Christian monastery, considered one of the oldest inhabited monasteries in the world. Today, around 20 monks live at this impressive monastery and, the surprising fact is that they still live the same way their ancestors used to, meaning that there’s no electricity and cell phones. Entrance to women is strictly forbidden but either way, you will spend 90% of your time outside of it. How to get to Mar Saba: Located 30km from Bethlehem, if you don’t want to take a taxi, you should take a mini-van to Ubeidiya (4ISL, 1.10USD) and from there, either hitchhike or walk the remaining 5-7 kilometers. Location: 31.704939, 35.331314.

 

Where to stay in Bethlehem

Airbnb in Dheisheh  Does it sound scary to you? It shouldn’t. Palestinian refugee camps have been going on over 60 years and, today, they have become mere city neighborhoods. If you really want to have an authentic and ultimate experience, you must stay here. You can read my whole experience on this link.

Remember that, if you sign up through my link, you will get 35USD of free credit on Airbnb.

 

Mid-range Hotel Walled Off Hotel (Banksy) – Located right in front of the separation wall, this famous, thematic hotel is inspired by the work of the artist Banksy. Staying here must be an awesome experience. They have both dorms and private rooms. Even if you don’t stay here, you can visit the museum. Everybody says that this is such an awesome hotel.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

Budget Hostel – Habibi Hostel – This is, definitely, the best hostel in town. Great staff, cozy and clean rooms and a good location make this an excellent budget option in Bethlehem.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

How to get from Jerusalem to Bethlehem

Buses leave all day from the station right in front of Damascus Gate, in the Old City of Jerusalem. It takes less than 1 hour but it all depends on the mood of the Israeli authorities when crossing the border. Cost: 7ISL (2USD).

Mar Saba Greek Orthodox monastery,
Mar Saba Greek Orthodox monastery, located 30km from Bethlehem

 

Hebron – Day 5-6

Why go? One of the most interesting places to visit in Palestine but also, the most troubled. Hebron is the only city where Jewish settlements are within the city itself. The tension is extreme, which can be seen at every corner of the city. The Mosque and Synagogue at the Cave of the Patriarchs, one of the holiest sites for both Jews and Muslims, are separated by a bulletproof glass. It’s insane.

There is so much to say about this. I’ve written a full article about it: Visiting Hebron, the most troubled city in Palestine

Things to do in Hebron – Highlights

Arab side (H1) – What used to be a busy market, full of joy and happiness, is today nothing but a semi-abandoned area, whose inhabitants can’t avoid expressing their hatred of the settlers. The old Arab quarter is full of deserted streets with random walls placed in the middle of them by the Israeli authorities. Most of the windows are protected to prevent the settlers throwing objects at them.

Arabs Hebron
The Arabs were forced to protect their windows from the settler’s violence

 

Mosque and Synagogue of the Cave of the Patriarchs – A very holy place for both Arabs and Jews, this is the place where Abraham, one of the most important figures for both religions, is buried. His tomb is located right in between the synagogue and the mosque, separated by bulletproof glass. Crazy.

Jewish Side (H2) – It’s also important to go and see how the settlers live. I suggest you go there and try to talk with an Israeli. Many of them, will be happy to share their side of the story with you, as they also want to end with their international bad reputation.

Remember to check my article for further info: Visiting Hebron, the most troubled city in Palestine

Herbawi Kuffiya factory – In Palestine, there is the first and only kuffiya factory (Palestinian scarf) that has ever existed in Palestine. For further details, read this post: The Art of the Palestinian scarf – Visiting the kuffiya factory in Hebron.

Visiting Hebron - The Abraham’s mosque
The Abraham’s mosque

 

Where to stay in Hebron

Budget Hostel – Hostel Hebron – The most popular hostel in Hebron. With a set of pretty new facilities and awesome reviews, this hostel is located next to the old city.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

Mid-range Hotel – Queen Plaza – If you don’t want to stay in a hostel, Queen Plaza is the most popular mid-range option in town and has very good reviews.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

Couchsurfing at Mo’s – Mo is a Palestinian who has hosted over hundreds of people in Hebron. He was more than happy to be included in my guide Meeting Mo was one of the highlights of my trip!

 

How to get from Bethlehem to Hebron

Buses leave from the station which is closer to Hebron Road. Here: 31.709617, 35.199298. Price: 9ISL ($2.50).

The Herbawi Palestinian scarf factory
The kuffiya factory of Hebron

 

Ramallah – Day 7-8

Why go? Home to a large expat community, Ramallah is a cosmopolitan city where you can hang out for few days in its numerous pubs and restaurants, besides visiting Yasser’s Arafat’s Tomb and the Historical Museum. Ramallah will definitely surprise you.

Things to do in Ramallah – Highlights

The Mausoleum and Museum – The place where the former President Yasser Arafat is buried and also a Historical Museum that showcases the story of Palestine from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict perspective.

Yasser's Arafat Tomb
Yasser’s Arafat Tomb

 

Taybeh brewery (Day Trip) – Yes, a brewery! Located in Taybeh, the town with the largest proportion of Christians, this is the first micro-brewery ever founded in Palestine. In the mornings, they offer free tours and a beer tasting for free. You can also buy additional beers at 7ISL (2USD) per bottle. How to get to Taybeh: Mini-vans leave from the main station and cost 7ISL (2USD). It’s a very small village, so you’ll find the microbrewery easily.

Nightlife in Ramallah – A visit to Ramallah is not complete without getting drank at any of its many bars and pubs. The locals recommended Garage, Fuego and Sangria’s to me.

 

Where to stay in Ramallah

Budget Hostel – Hostel In Ramallah – A cool hostel located in the city center with which is run by two brothers. Dorm mattresses are pretty comfy and they also have private rooms for couples. There’s a cool, friendly atmosphere. The breakfast is quite poor though and, at night, for a couple of USD, they cook a special dinner with products from their own farm.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

Mid-range hotelSan Andrew’s Guest House – From a fabulous breakfast to super clean and modern rooms, this guest house is the perfect place for mid-range travelers. It’s slightly far from the city center but you could walk a little bit or just take an inexpensive taxi.

Click here to see the latest prices 

 

Super budgetArea D Hostel – For the most budget backpackers, Area D is a pretty popular hostel. Unlike the other two, this one is located near Ramallah Park Terminus, with great views of the mosque and its minarets.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

How to get from Hebron to Ramallah

From the main bus station in Hebron (Location: 31.528543, 35.095612), mini-vans leave all day long. Price: 27ISL (7.50USD), for a 53km trip.

Visiting Taybeh micro-brewery
Visiting Taybeh micro-brewery

 

Nablus – Day 9-10

Things to do in Nablus – Highlights

Why go? Located in a beautiful valley between Mount Ebal and Gerizim, Nablus is a real off the beaten track destination, home to, perhaps, the most beautiful Old City in the Middle East, with plenty of narrow alleys filled with sweet and olive oil shops. Nablus is a vibrant Muslim city and the authentic Palestine where you will find the friendliest locals and the best food.

The Old City – Wandering around the huge Old Town (Qasaba) is definitely the highlight of any trip to Nablus. And guess what. Around the alleys of Qasaba you will also find the most colorful job in the Middle East.

The old city of Nablus, West Bank
The most colorful job in the Middle East

 

Kunafeh! – Kunafeh, oh… yes! This dangerously delicious cheese based pastry with orange syrup on top that can be found across the country, is originally from Nablus and, Al-Aksa, a shop located in the Old City, serves what is considered the best kunafeh in Palestine and, of course, in the world. A piece of kunafeh typically costs 5ISL (1.40USD). If you don’t eat kunafeh, you haven’t visited Palestine.

Samaritans – According to the Samaritans, Mt Gerizim, one of the mountains that form the valley around Nablus, was the first piece of land that was ever created. The Samaritans are a religious group which is very close to Judaism, even though they don’t like people to say that. The largest community of Samaritans in the world are in Nablus and they live in peace with their Muslim neighbors. They live at the top of Mt Gerizim, where you can find a museum explaining their history, and the only liquor store in town! Location: 32.200556, 35.273333.

Al Akhsa, Nablus. The most popular place for kunafeh
Kunaffeh, the most popular sweet in the West Bank

 

Where to stay in Nablus

Budget – Success Hostel – The most backpacking-friendly hostel in Nablus. Located in the city center, it has relatively fancy rooms, given the fact that it’s a hostel. The best option for budget travelers.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

Mid-range – Khan Alwakala Hotel – This may be the most beautiful hotel you have ever stayed in Palestine, as it’s located in such a beautiful building which has been restored by the UNESCO. The rooms and facilities are great and despite being such a nice hotel, it’s not that expensive and perfect for mid-range travelers.

Click here to see the latest prices

Airbnb with Basil – Basil is an extremely helpful young Palestinian who will make your stay memorable. We stayed at his place twice.

Remember that you can get 35USD of free Airbnb credit if you sign up through my link.

 

How to get from Nablus to Ramallah

We took a big bus from the main station and paid only 11ISL (3USD) for a 52km ride.

Kunafeh
Kunafeh! 😀

 

Jericho – Day 11-14

Why go? At 400 meters below sea level, this is considered the lowest city on Earth and, with 10,000 years of history, it is also the oldest inhabited city in the world. Disturbingly hot in summer but pleasant in winter, Jericho is a desert city with the largest number of touristic sites ranging from stunning Christian monasteries to ancient ruins, awesome hikes, a Bedouin culture and the gate to the Dead Sea, although it is not under Palestinian control but Israel’s.

Things to do in Jericho – Highlights

Saint George Koziba monastery – Located in Wadi Quelt, this is another beautiful Greek Orthodox monastery carved into the rocks. The entrance is free but I recommend you go there early, before the place gets filled with endless pilgrims and tourists. Dress modestly, otherwise, you won’t be allowed to get in. Inside the monastery, they offer water, tea and coffee, for free.

St George Koziba monastery, Jericho
St George Koziba monastery

 

Trekking to Wadi Qelt – Wadi Qelt is a valley that connects Jericho with Jerusalem. Around 10km after Jericho, there are some natural springs that make an excellent day trek through rolling arid hills, Bedouin camps and striking views of the valley. Some parts of the springs are deep enough to swim in. On weekends, you might find some groups of Palestinians enjoying a picnic day. Of course, expect invitations to join them.

The natural springs of Wadi Qelt

 

Monastery of Temptation – Apparently, this is the place where Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights meditating and fasting during the temptation of Satan. Today, instead, you can find another Greek Orthodox monastery which is the third architectural masterpiece built on a cliff. From the monastery, you get awesome views of Jericho, the Dead Sea and the mountains of Jordan. You can easily walk to the top but, for 30ISL (8USD), you can also go up by cable car.

Hisham’s Palace – Constructed in the 8th Century (arguably), these Islamic ruins were just the second residence of some kings but they contain some of the most well-preserved Islamic mosaics that have ever been discovered. The entrance ticket is 10ISL (2.70USD).

 

Where to stay in Jericho

Budget Guest House- Moon’s Homestay – The cheapest great choice in town, this family-run hostel has very decent dorms and rooms. It is a bit far from the center but, at this price, you won’t find anything better.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

Nicer – AubergInn – It might be pricier than Moon’s Homestayl but the location is excellent and it is one of the best-punctuated hostels in town. It’s run by a lovely local family and it even has a pool, which gives it quite an edge, given the fact that Jericho is one of the hottest places in the world.

Click here to see the latest prices

Hisham's Palace
This wheel which can be found in Hisham’s Palace became the national symbol of Jericho

 

Extending your itinerary

Jenin (2 extra days)

Why go? The least visited part of Palestine, Jenin is a cozy, little city with a beautiful old town, surrounded by a beautiful green scenery.

Things to see in Jenin 

Besides wandering around the old town, in Jenin, there is also a refugee camp where foreigners are more than welcome. Inside the camp, there is a famous NGO called the Freedom Theater, where you can volunteer, even for a short period of time of 1 or 2 weeks. In the hostel where I stayed, I was the only person who was not volunteering there. You can find more information about the NGO here.

Where to stay in Jenin

Cinema Guest HouseAs far as I know, this is the only guest house in town. Like I saidmost guests are volunteers working at the Freedom Theater. It’s OK for a few nights and there’s a nice atmosphere. However, I think it’s quite pricey for what you get.

Click here to see the latest prices

 

How to get to Jenin

From Nablus, we took a direct bus for just 10ISL (2.70USD), 50km.

Jenin Palestinian refugee camp
Jenin Palestinian refugee camp

 

Zababdeh (2 extra days)

Why go? This barely visited part of Palestine is home to the most beautiful scenery in the region, composed of green rolling hills, olive oil trees and where you’ll be likely to see wild turtles. In Zababdeh, we also had an unexpected, peculiar experience. Read more below on ”Where to stay section”.

Things to see in Zababdeh 

Besides visiting the church built on the place where, supposedly, the Virgin Mary spent one night on her way to Bethlehem, Zababdeh is the place from where to go on short day hikes through mountain villages, fields and green rolling hills. I recommend you go hiking around Raba, a village located 6km from Zababdeh.

The green hills around Jenin (Raba village)
The green hills around Zababdeh (Raba village)

 

Where to stay in Zababdeh

When traveling in Palestine I heard of someone called Father Firas, who was a Christian priest from Zababdeh. I was told he liked to host foreigners at his church, so I decided to give him a call. Father Firaz is not only a priest but a man with a lot of influence throughout the region. For the last few years, he has been trying to build bridges with Israel through meeting people and getting contacts from all over the world. He is a wise man from whom you will learn a lot about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. We spent 3 nights at his church and he blessed us with tremendous hospitality. I can’t recommend Father Firas’ guest house highly enough.

Note that you don’t need to be a religious person to stay at his house but just someone interested in the conflict and history of the country. Several journalists and writers have stayed here. There is no fixed price and he will tell you to pay as much as you want. Contact him at [email protected] or [email protected]. Phone number: +972599789282. When you arrive in Zababdeh, just ask for Father Firas. Everybody knows him.

How to get to Zababdeh

Zababdeh is only 10km from Jenin, from where you can take a mini-van for just 5ISL (1.40USD).

Church Zababdeh
Father Firas at his church

 

Qalqilya (1 day)

Why go? If you are interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, after Hebron, this is a super interesting place, since this is the village most affected by the construction of the separation wall, as it practically surrounds the whole community, completely drowning its economy. Many fields owned by Palestinians were left on the other side of the wall, so the Palestinian farmers have to go through insane security checks every single day. If this was not enough, the different checkpoints are only open during certain, alternate hours a day, so quite often, the Palestinian farmers have to wait for hours at their fields before they can go back home. The saddest part is that Qalqilya doesn’t receive the international attention that Bethlehem does, so instead of having a wall filled with cool Banksy paintings, there you just find an 8 meters gray, sad, concrete wall, 8-meters high.

How to get to Qalqilya

You can easily go by bus from Nablus on a day trip. That’s what I did.

The separation wall of Qalqilya, West Bank
The ugly wall of Qalqilya

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Visit palestine - 2-week travel itinerary

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27 comments

  1. Thanks for writing this is a super helpful post. I just wanted to ask some questions:

    1. If you’re coming from Israel, I assume you took Qalandia border crossing in? If you did, how was your experience there?
    2. Do the officers at the border crossings/ airports ask you a lot of questions for staying in Palestine for so long?
    3. I think I read somewhere in your blog that you’ve lived in Dubai for a while, and you may or may not be able to speak Arabic. So did you have any trouble understanding Palestinian Arabic as it was spoken on the street?

    1. Hi, thank you for your comment. My answers:
      1 – I entered from Jerusalem but, when I went to Qalandia, I re-entered Israel just to see how was there, as the border in Qalandia is the most fucked up border. In Jerusalem it was super smooth but in Qalandoa, it was very slow
      2 – They do ask some questions but you just tell them the truth and it’s all right.
      3 – I don’t understand Arabic but a lot of Palestinians speak English

      cheers

  2. Stumbled on this article while searching for travel agencies in Palestine, and just got way more information about the country than I probably would on wikipedia. Good job, the world needs to know about this beautiful country and their people and it’s good to know that freelance journalist like yourself are taking the trouble to visit there and bring us this formation. We are in the middle of launching a company for everything related to tours and hopefully maybe we’d be able to partner or work with you in some sort way. I’ve subscribed to follow up comments will be coming back to check up.

    Cheers
    Sigi N.
    Tio Tour Guides – Operators
    https://www.tiotourguides.com

  3. Thanks so much for this information! It was a great resource for me. I just would like to suggest revising your bus/serveece prices because they are not accurate. Bus from Jerusalem (Damascus Gate) to Bethlehem is only 7 shekels. Serveece from Bethlehem to Hebron is 9 shekels. Palestine is an amazing place with incredibly friendly people. I hope to go back sometime soon so I can get through all of the other stuff on your list! Cheers

    1. I am glad you enjoyed Palestine and its people. They are awesome! And thank you so much for your correction, I just updated it accordingly 🙂 Cheers,

  4. Hi! Thank you so much for sharing this comprehensive itinerary and background. Palestine is a region I have been dreaming of visiting all my life and hope to do so this year, but I have been contemplating whether to join an organized tour or plan this out all on my own. The tours are quite pricey, but it definitely saves the hassle of coordinating visas, transportation, and general travel and accommodation. I am a female and will likely travel with my brother and maybe others. With that in mind, think it might work best like you suggest to do some parts with a tour company while spending more time in areas I am interested in on my own. How much would you say your two week itinerary costed you overall?

    1. Hello, I spent around 25-30USD a day. I travel independently, always sleep in the most budget hotels/hostels (15USD a day) and eat at local places. If you want to stay in mid-range places and hire a guide it will be significantly more expensive.

  5. This was fantastic to read. Thanks so much for sharing! I’m looking to go here and Israel this year, and it’s so nice to see this type of perspective written on the West Bank. This just makes me more excited to go! Thanks for taking the time to write all this up!

    1. Hi Ellie, thanks for your kind comment! I am glad you find it useful. There is so much to exñore beyond Bethlehem and historical sites in Jericho. Have a wonderful trip there!

  6. Hello buddy, this was a great piece to read and very informative. It answered many of my questions.

    However, I have few questions which hopefully you would be able to answer. If I land in Israel at Tel Aviv with an Indian passport and then need to go West Bank, then which check points or immigration centres do I have to use and clear. Also when rerurning back from West Bank to Israel, how many check points or immigration centers I have to clear so I can reach back to tel aviv airport easily.

    1. Either way, there is only one checkpoint when entering the west bank and one when you get out. Most of the times, the checkpoint is very quick. It is seriously not a big deal.

      1. Thanks for the quick response. Really interesting what you are doing by visiting these amazing palces which are not covered well by the media and tourism industry. So what is next on your bucket list?

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