State of Palestine travel guide

The State of Palestine, while geographically small, boasts a rich tapestry of history, culture, and spirituality. From the sacred sites of Jerusalem to the bustling streets of Bethlehem, and the ancient city of Jericho, a journey through Palestine is a journey through time.

Planning Your Trip

Planning a trip to the State of Palestine requires careful consideration and preparation. Here’s what you need to know:

Best Time to Visit

The State of Palestine enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) offer pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds, making them ideal times to visit. Consider the significance of religious holidays like Ramadan and Easter, as they can impact travel logistics and accommodation availability.


Arabic is the official language of the State of Palestine, though English is widely spoken in tourist areas and major cities. Learning a few basic Arabic phrases can enhance your interactions with locals and enrich your cultural experience.

Currency and Finances

The Israeli New Shekel (ILS) is the primary currency used in the West Bank, while the Jordanian Dinar (JOD) is commonly accepted in certain areas. US dollars are also widely accepted. ATMs are available in major cities, but it’s advisable to carry some local currency for smaller purchases and transactions in more rural areas.

Health and Safety

Consult your healthcare provider for recommended vaccinations and necessary precautions before traveling to the State of Palestine. It’s advisable to pack a basic first-aid kit and any necessary prescription medications. Stay informed about local health advisories and follow safety guidelines provided by local authorities.

Respectful Travel

The State of Palestine is a land of diverse cultures and religious traditions. Dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites. Be mindful of local customs and traditions, and seek permission before photographing people or their belongings. Engage with locals respectfully and be open to learning about their perspectives and experiences.

Visas and Entry Requirements

Navigating the entry requirements for the State of Palestine requires a nuanced understanding of the current political situation and border control procedures. Here’s a guide to help you understand the complexities:

Entering from Israel:

While there are no formal border controls between Israel and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including Bethlehem and Jericho, it’s crucial to understand that movement within these areas is subject to Israeli security measures and regulations. Tourists holding valid Israeli tourist visas, typically issued upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, can generally travel freely between Israel and the West Bank. However, it’s essential to carry your passport and entry documents at all times, as spot checks can occur. Direct travel to the Gaza Strip from Israel is generally restricted.

Entering from Jordan:

Travelers can enter the West Bank directly from Jordan via the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge border crossing. While Palestinian Authority officials manage this border, coordination with Israeli authorities is crucial for entry and exit. Obtaining a visa in advance is generally recommended, either through a Palestinian embassy or consulate in your home country or upon arrival at the bridge, subject to approval. It’s important to check the latest travel advisories and visa regulations before planning your trip.

Important Considerations:

Travelers with passports bearing Israeli stamps or visas may face entry restrictions to certain Arab countries. Consult with the relevant embassies or consulates for up-to-date information. Be aware that the political situation can change rapidly, impacting border crossings and travel arrangements. Stay informed about the latest travel advisories and local news.

Safety and Security

While the State of Palestine is generally considered safe for tourists, it’s essential to exercise caution and stay informed about potential safety concerns. Here are some key points to remember:

Political Situation:

The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict can lead to unpredictable security situations. Stay informed about local news and any potential demonstrations or heightened tensions in the areas you plan to visit. It’s advisable to avoid areas where protests or clashes are occurring and to follow the guidance of local authorities.

Security Checkpoints:

Be prepared to encounter security checkpoints throughout the West Bank, particularly when traveling between Palestinian-controlled areas and Israeli settlements. Carry your passport and any relevant travel documents with you at all times. Cooperate with security personnel and be prepared to answer questions about your itinerary and purpose of travel.

Personal Safety:

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and theft, can occur, particularly in crowded areas. Take precautions to safeguard your belongings, such as using money belts and keeping valuables out of sight. Avoid walking alone at night, especially in unfamiliar areas. Travel in groups whenever possible and stay in well-lit and populated areas.

Local Authorities:

In case of an emergency, contact the local police or emergency services. Familiarize yourself with the local emergency numbers and the location of the nearest police station or medical facility. It’s also advisable to register your presence with your embassy or consulate upon arrival, providing them with your contact information and itinerary.

Getting Around

Navigating the State of Palestine involves understanding the various transportation options available and their implications for travelers. Here’s a guide to help you get around:

Within Cities and Towns:

Shared taxis (servees) are a common and affordable mode of transport within cities and towns. These taxis typically follow set routes and pick up and drop off passengers along the way. Negotiate the fare before starting your journey. Private taxis are also available but tend to be more expensive. Ensure the driver uses a meter or agree on a price beforehand.

Traveling Between Cities:

Buses are a reliable and cost-effective way to travel between major cities in the West Bank. Several bus companies operate routes connecting major destinations like Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jericho. Minibuses (sheruts) are shared taxis that follow specific routes and depart when full, offering a more flexible alternative to scheduled buses.

Crossing into Israel:

While it’s generally possible to travel between Israel and the West Bank using public transportation, certain restrictions apply. Israeli buses operate within the West Bank but may not stop at all Palestinian towns or villages. Check the bus routes and schedules carefully. Direct bus services between Palestinian cities and Jerusalem are limited; transfers may be required.

Renting a Car:

While car rental is available in major cities, it’s generally not recommended for travelers unfamiliar with the region. Driving conditions can be challenging, and navigating checkpoints and roadblocks can be stressful. If you choose to rent a car, ensure you have the necessary insurance and documentation for driving in the West Bank.


The State of Palestine offers a range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and preferences, from modest guesthouses to boutique hotels steeped in history. Here’s a guide to help you find the right place to stay:


Hotels in major cities like Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Jericho offer comfortable accommodations with amenities such as air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and restaurants. International hotel chains can be found in larger cities, while smaller, locally owned hotels provide a more authentic experience. Consider factors like proximity to attractions, transportation, and overall ambiance when making your selection.

Guesthouses and Hostels:

For budget-conscious travelers, guesthouses and hostels provide affordable alternatives. These accommodations typically offer basic amenities like shared bathrooms and communal kitchens. Some guesthouses may also provide breakfast or other meals. Hostels, popular among backpackers, offer dormitory-style rooms and a chance to connect with fellow travelers.

Home Stays:

For a more immersive cultural experience, consider a home stay with a Palestinian family. Home stays provide a unique opportunity to engage with locals, learn about their customs and traditions, and savor home-cooked meals. Organizations specializing in home stays can facilitate arrangements and provide guidance.

Religious Guesthouses:

In cities like Bethlehem and Jerusalem, religious guesthouses offer simple accommodations catering to pilgrims and travelers seeking a spiritual retreat. These guesthouses, often affiliated with churches or monasteries, provide a serene and contemplative atmosphere.

Food and Drink

Palestinian cuisine, renowned for its fresh ingredients, aromatic spices, and rich flavors, offers a delightful culinary journey for visitors. Here’s a glimpse into the world of Palestinian food and drink:

Essential Dishes:

Indulge in classic Palestinian dishes like musakhan, roasted chicken with sumac-spiced onions and olive oil, served over flatbread. Savor maqlube, a flavorful dish of rice, meat, and vegetables cooked together in a pot and flipped upside down for presentation. Don’t miss out on falafel, crispy chickpea fritters, and hummus, a creamy chickpea dip, both staples of Palestinian street food.

Fresh Produce and Flavors:

Palestinian cuisine emphasizes fresh, seasonal ingredients. Explore bustling markets overflowing with vibrant fruits and vegetables, olives, cheeses, and herbs. Savor the tangy flavor of labneh, a strained yogurt cheese, and indulge in sweet treats like knafeh, a pastry filled with cheese and soaked in syrup.

Traditional Beverages:

Quench your thirst with traditional beverages like qahwa arabiya, a strong, cardamom-infused coffee, or mint tea, a refreshing and aromatic staple served throughout the day. For a unique experience, try tamarind juice, a sweet and tangy beverage made from the fruit of the tamarind tree.

Dining Etiquette:

Embrace Palestinian hospitality by observing local dining customs. Wash your hands before meals, as meals are often communal and eaten with hands. It’s polite to accept offers of food and drink, even if you’re not particularly hungry or thirsty. Show your appreciation by complimenting the host on the delicious food.

Things to See and Do

The State of Palestine offers a captivating blend of historical wonders, religious sites, and cultural experiences. Here’s a glimpse into the diverse tapestry of things to see and do:

Explore Ancient History:

Step back in time at the ancient city of Jericho, considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Explore the ruins of Herod’s Palace, ascend the Mount of Temptation by cable car, and marvel at the ancient mosaics of Hisham’s Palace near Jericho.

Experience Religious Significance:

Visit Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, and explore the Church of the Nativity, a UNESCO World Heritage site. In Jerusalem, experience the spiritual significance of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site. Explore the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus is believed to have taken to his crucifixion.

Immerse in Palestinian Culture:

Wander through the bustling markets of Hebron and Ramallah, where you can barter for traditional crafts, spices, and local produce. Attend a cultural performance showcasing Palestinian music, dance, and storytelling. Engage with local artisans and learn about traditional crafts like olive wood carving and embroidery.

Discover Natural Beauty:

Hike through the Wadi Qelt, a scenic canyon near Jericho, with its monasteries clinging to the cliffs. Explore the Judean Desert, a rugged landscape dotted with ancient monasteries and caves. Relax by the Dead Sea, renowned for its therapeutic properties and breathtaking views.


Jerusalem, a city steeped in history and spirituality, holds profound significance for the world’s three major monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Here’s a glimpse into its multifaceted character:

Old City Walls:

Begin your exploration by entering the Old City through one of its historic gates, such as the Damascus Gate or Jaffa Gate. Stroll along the ancient city walls, offering panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. These walls, built in the 16th century, encircle the Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Religious Sites:

Experience the spiritual heart of Jerusalem by visiting the Temple Mount, home to the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, sacred Islamic sites. Explore the Western Wall, a remnant of the ancient Jewish Temple, and witness fervent prayers and rituals. Visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, revered by Christians as the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection.

Historic Neighborhoods:

Wander through the narrow alleyways and bustling markets of the Old City’s four quarters—Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian—each with its unique character and traditions. Explore the ancient Cardo, a Roman-era market street, and savor the aromas of spices and traditional foods.

Museums and Cultural Institutions:

Delve into the city’s rich history and heritage at the Tower of David Museum, housed in an ancient citadel. Explore the Israel Museum, home to a vast collection of artifacts and art, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. Visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, a poignant tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.


Bethlehem, a city steeped in biblical history, is revered as the birthplace of Jesus. Located in the West Bank, just a short distance south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem offers a poignant journey through time and faith. Here’s what awaits you in this sacred city:

Church of the Nativity:

At the heart of Bethlehem stands the Church of the Nativity, a UNESCO World Heritage site built over the grotto where Jesus is believed to have been born. Descend into the grotto and witness the silver star marking the traditional site of the Nativity. Admire the church’s ornate mosaics and ancient architecture, a testament to its enduring significance.

Manger Square:

Step into Manger Square, the heart of Bethlehem, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere. This historic square, located just outside the Church of the Nativity, is a hub of activity, with shops, restaurants, and local vendors. During Christmas, the square comes alive with festivities and celebrations.

Milk Grotto:

Visit the Milk Grotto, a revered site believed to have sheltered Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus during their flight to Egypt. According to tradition, a drop of Mary’s milk fell on the ground, turning the stone white. The grotto is now a place of pilgrimage, particularly for couples seeking fertility.

Shepherd’s Fields:

Journey to the Shepherd’s Fields, located on the outskirts of Bethlehem, where, according to Christian tradition, shepherds tending their flocks were the first to hear the news of Jesus’s birth. Experience the tranquility of this pastoral setting and imagine the scene as described in the Bible.


Hebron, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, holds deep religious significance for both Muslims and Jews. Located in the southern West Bank, Hebron offers a glimpse into a city marked by history, faith, and complexity.

Cave of the Patriarchs (Ibrahimi Mosque):

At the heart of Hebron lies the Cave of the Patriarchs, revered by Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque and by Jews as the Cave of Machpelah. This shared holy site is believed to be the burial place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs—Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah. The complex, divided into Jewish and Muslim sections, showcases a blend of architectural styles, reflecting its long and contested history.

Old City and Shuhada Street:

Explore the labyrinthine alleyways of Hebron’s Old City, with its traditional stone houses, bustling markets, and ancient mosques. Experience the somber atmosphere of Shuhada Street, once a thriving Palestinian commercial hub but now largely deserted due to access restrictions imposed following the 1994 Hebron massacre.

Glassblowing and Pottery Workshops:

Witness traditional Palestinian craftsmanship at Hebron’s renowned glassblowing and pottery workshops. Observe skilled artisans shaping molten glass into intricate designs and crafting beautiful ceramics using age-old techniques. Consider purchasing unique souvenirs directly from the artisans.

Hospitality and Local Culture:

Experience the warmth and hospitality of Hebron’s residents. Engage with locals, sample traditional Palestinian cuisine at family-run restaurants, and gain a deeper understanding of the city’s complex social and political dynamics. Consider arranging a guided tour to navigate the city’s sensitivities with local expertise.


Ramallah, a bustling city in the central West Bank, serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority. With its modern amenities, vibrant cultural scene, and historical landmarks, Ramallah offers a fascinating glimpse into contemporary Palestinian life.

Yasser Arafat Mausoleum:

Pay your respects at the Yasser Arafat Mausoleum, the final resting place of the iconic Palestinian leader. The mausoleum complex also houses a museum showcasing Arafat’s life and legacy, offering insights into the Palestinian struggle for self-determination.

Manara Square:

Experience the pulse of Ramallah at Manara Square, the city’s central plaza. This bustling square is a hub of activity, with cafes, restaurants, shops, and cultural centers. Observe daily life, mingle with locals, and savor the lively atmosphere.

Dar Zahran Heritage Building:

Step back in time at the Dar Zahran Heritage Building, a beautifully restored 18th-century Ottoman-era mansion. Now a cultural center, the building hosts art exhibitions, musical performances, and cultural events, providing a glimpse into Palestinian heritage and traditions.

Arts and Culture Scene:

Immerse yourself in Ramallah’s thriving arts and culture scene. Attend a performance at the Ramallah Cultural Palace, a prominent venue for theater, music, and dance. Explore the city’s art galleries, showcasing contemporary Palestinian art, and browse the shelves of local bookstores for insights into Palestinian literature.


Nestled in the Jordan Valley, Jericho claims the title of one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with a history stretching back over 10,000 years. This ancient city, mentioned in both the Bible and the Quran, offers a captivating journey through time. Here’s what awaits you in Jericho:

Tell es-Sultan (Ancient Jericho):

Explore the archaeological wonders of Tell es-Sultan, the site of ancient Jericho. Marvel at the remains of the ancient city walls, dating back to the Neolithic period, and imagine life in this early urban settlement. Discover artifacts and structures from various historical periods, uncovering layers of Jericho’s rich past.

Hisham’s Palace:

Venture just outside Jericho to discover the ruins of Hisham’s Palace, an 8th-century Umayyad-era palace complex. Admire the intricate mosaics that once adorned the palace floors, showcasing geometric patterns and scenes from nature. Imagine the grandeur of this desert oasis during its heyday.

Mount of Temptation:

Ascend the Mount of Temptation by cable car, enjoying panoramic views of Jericho and the Jordan Valley. According to Christian tradition, this is where Jesus spent 40 days and nights fasting and resisting temptation from Satan. Explore the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Temptation, perched precariously on the cliffside.

Zacchaeus’ Sycamore Tree:

Visit the sycamore tree traditionally believed to be the one climbed by Zacchaeus, a wealthy tax collector, to see Jesus as he passed through Jericho. While the current tree is likely not the original, it stands as a symbol of the city’s biblical connections.

Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory located along the Mediterranean coast, possesses a unique history and cultural heritage. However, due to the ongoing political and humanitarian situation, travel to and within the Gaza Strip is highly restricted and presents significant challenges for visitors.

Travel Restrictions:

Access to the Gaza Strip is strictly controlled. Entry and exit are primarily through the Erez crossing with Israel and the Rafah crossing with Egypt. Permits for entry are often difficult to obtain, particularly for tourists. It’s crucial to consult with the relevant authorities and diplomatic missions for the latest travel advisories and permit requirements before considering travel to the Gaza Strip.

Safety and Security:

The security situation in the Gaza Strip remains volatile and unpredictable. The risk of armed conflict, military operations, and civil unrest is a constant concern. Infrastructure within Gaza has been significantly impacted by conflict, and essential services may be limited or disrupted. It’s crucial to prioritize personal safety and exercise extreme caution if travel to Gaza is unavoidable.

Essential Information:

Travelers considering visiting the Gaza Strip should thoroughly research and understand the risks involved. Maintaining contact with your embassy or consulate throughout your trip is essential. It’s highly recommended to travel with a reputable local guide or organization familiar with the region’s complexities.

Please note that this information is subject to change. It’s crucial to stay informed about the latest developments and travel advisories before considering any travel to the Gaza Strip.

Responsible Tourism

Traveling responsibly in the State of Palestine involves being mindful of the social, political, and economic complexities of the region. By making conscious choices, travelers can contribute positively to the well-being of local communities and the preservation of Palestinian heritage.

Supporting Local Businesses:

Opt for accommodations, restaurants, and shops owned and operated by Palestinians. Purchase locally made crafts, artwork, and souvenirs, contributing directly to the livelihoods of artisans and communities. Consider participating in workshops or demonstrations to learn about traditional skills and support local craftspeople.

Cultural Sensitivity and Respect:

Engage with Palestinian culture and traditions respectfully. Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or conservative communities. Be mindful of local customs and traditions, and seek permission before taking photos of people or their belongings. Engage in open and respectful dialogue, fostering understanding and cross-cultural connections.

Environmental Awareness:

Respect the environment and minimize your ecological footprint. Conserve water, especially in this arid region, and dispose of waste responsibly. Opt for reusable bags and water bottles to reduce plastic waste. Support local initiatives focused on sustainability and environmental conservation.

Ethical Considerations:

Be informed about the ongoing political situation and its impact on local communities. Avoid inadvertently supporting businesses or activities that contribute to human rights violations or environmental degradation. Consider engaging with organizations working to promote peace, justice, and sustainable development in the region.

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