A Journey To The Birthplace Of Jesus: Getting To Bethlehem From Jerusalem

If you’re curious to see where Jesus was born then Bethlehem has to be on your Israel itinerary.

Getting to Bethlehem from Jerusalem
Photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unsplash

It can also be a good way of seeing a part of Palestine because Bethlehem is in fact in Palestinian territory even though it is a short drive from Jerusalem.

A few basics about visiting Bethlehem:

Where is Bethlehem?

Bethlehem is in the Palestinian West Bank, about 6.2 miles (10km) from Jerusalem.

Is it safe to visit Bethlehem?

Yes it is safe, particularly the Christian sites. Caution should be taken not to wander too far away from the tourist areas. If you are at all nervous about traveling alone to Bethlehem, then join a Bethlehem guided tour from Israel.

Can you get to Bethlehem from Jerusalem?

Yes, there are regular group tours from Jerusalem/Tel-Aviv to Bethlehem and there are several ways to travel there independently. Although Jerusalem is in Israel and Bethlehem is in the Palestinian West Bank, you only need to cross through a border checkpoint to travel between the two cities.

How do you cross the Israel-Palestine border to get to Bethlehem from Jerusalem?

To travel from Jerusalem to Bethlehem you need to go through Checkpoint 300, a border crossing between Israel and the Palestinian Authority territory in the West Bank.

Can anyone cross from Israel to visit Bethlehem?

Israeli citizens cannot cross to Palestine via Checkpoint 300. Palestinian citizens can only cross into Israel if they are residents of East Jerusalem or if they hold the required entry permits. Foreign tourists can cross the border and need to show their passports containing the tourist visa they received when entering Israel (Israeli tourist visa).

What to see in Bethlehem?

The main sites are adjacent to each other and include Manger Square, the Church of the Nativity, and the Church of St. Catherine. A 5min walk away is the Milk Grotto. Other attractions in Bethlehem include the work of graffiti artist Bansky and Bansky’s  Walled Off Hotel. You could also visit The Palestinian Heritage Center,  and King David’s Wells. The streets around Manger Square sell souvenirs and some interesting local products and art.

Ways to Visit Bethlehem From Jerusalem

Jerusalem to Bethlehem by Taxi

Israeli taxis can’t cross the border between Israel and Palestine to visit Bethlehem. You can take an Israeli taxi to the border, walk across the border crossing, and then find a Palestinian taxi to take you the rest of the way to Bethlehem. Be aware that the taxi drivers waiting on the Palestinian side of the border can be intimidating, and harass tourists.

Jerusalem to Bethlehem by Rented Car

Cars rented in Israel cannot cross the border into the West Bank under Palestinian control. So you would have to drive to Checkpoint 300 and park your car then cross over on foot and take a taxi from there to Bethlehem.

However, if you rent a car from a Palestinian-operated car-rental company in East Jerusalem then you can drive through the checkpoint to Bethlehem. There is no dedicated parking lot on the Israel side of the border but there is an open area on the street side where you can park. On the Palestinian side, there is a parking lot. When renting a car for this journey (whether you park at the crossing or drive to Bethlehem, make sure you are fully covered by car insurance).

Jerusalem to Bethlehem by Group Tour

Numerous group tours leave from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv to Bethlehem. These tours usually include pick-up from your hotel. You could opt for a half-day tour to Bethlehem or a full-day tour that combines Bethlehem with other sites such as Jericho, the Dead Sea, or a tour of Jerusalem. The major advantage of a group tour is that the guide will handle all of the bureaucracy at the border crossing. These tours are accompanied by a security person and so you might feel more secure traveling in a guarded group.

Jerusalem to Bethlehem by Public Bus

There are two options for reaching Bethlehem by public bus. Both bus routes leave from Abu Tor Junction on the Hevron Road in East Jerusalem. You can also hop onto the bus on Sultan Suleiman Street near the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Bus #234 travels to the Israeli side of Checkpoint 300. From Jerusalem to the checkpoint takes about 30 mins and runs every 10-15 minutes. The bus operates from 06:00 to 21:00. Once you disembark at the border, walk through the checkpoint. Then you can either take a taxi or walk into Bethlehem which is about 2 km away. If you’re going by taxi, ask to be taken to Manger Square. The cost of this bus ride is 7 ILS at the time of writing and the taxi could cost you 20-40 ILS.

Your other public bus option is bus route #231. This is a longer route but it takes you across the border checkpoint into the heart of Bethlehem to the last stop at Bab Zqaq Bus Stop. It is operated by the South Bus Company.

3. Best Ways to Get from Jerusalem to Bethlehem

To sum up, you can definitely visit Bethlehem from Jerusalem and see the iconic place where Jesus was born. Choose the option that best suits your travel style and budget. 

Cheapest – Public bus

Quickest – Private tour

Easiest – Group tour


Team JST

Team JST work with our sponsors, shop vendors, and many more to create informative and engaging content.

Jetset Times in your inbox

Sign-up for our newsletter

By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy and European users agree to the data transfer policy.