Get into Bethlehem:
Most of the travellers arrive to Bethlehem via Jerusalem. Since Bethlehem is administered by the Palestinian Authority, an Israeli military checkpoint stands on the road connecting the two locations.
Take a bus:
Bus no. 21 runs from the Arabic Bus Station at the Damacus Gate (“Bab el-‘Amoud”) in East Jerusalem via Beit Jala to Bethlehem. The average trip length is 40 minutes and costs 7.5 NIS. Note that this bus does not go through the mail checkpoint 300. The bus will drop you of on Bethlehem / Beit Jala intersection (“Bab el-Zkak”) which is 1 km away from the Manger Square. You can easily follow the Pope Paul VI Street to get to the Manger Square and the Basilica of the Nativity in 15 minutes. You can also get a taxi to the Manger Square, It will cost you around 15-20 NIS per drive not per person. You are allowed to bargain.
Bethlehem is a safe place and surely your visit will be very enjoyable!
Already on the Manger Square you can find the Visitor Information Center, where you will get your free map and advice what you could see in Bethlehem and other Palestinian towns.
or the other option:
Bus 124 (24) also leaves from Damascus Gate, it costs 5 NIS and runs directly to the Bethlehem Checkpoint and back. You would have to walk through the checkpoint as you enter and exit Bethlehem.
Make sure to bring your passport. From the checkpoint, you can either walk half an hour or take a taxi to the center of Bethlehem (15-20 NIS), which is about 2.5 km away. Also, make sure that taxi driver drops you off on the Manger Square.
Devoted pilgrims often prefer to walk, at a brisk pace the trip is doable in 2 hours from Jerusalem to Bethlehem but there are plenty of ups and downs along the way and remember about summer’s heat. 🙂
Rent a Car:
While renting your car make sure that it is going to have an insurance for both Israeli and Palestinian areas. Visitor Information Center would recommend you renting a car from the company called Middle East Rent a Car, situated in Jerusalem. The price of renting the car includes: full insurance and third party that covers Israeli and Palestinian areas, unlimited mileage, maintenance, and 24 hrs, service 7 days a week – anytime and anywhere. Next advantage: You can collect a car or drop it at Middle East car rental company in Jerusalem, Ben Gurion airport or at a branch at Allenby Bridge or Ramallah-Jerusalem main road Al-Quds St., near New Red Crescent Hospital Al-am’ari Camp, Al-Bireh.
Address in Jerusalem: 17 Nablus Road, beside the petrol station, Jerusalem
Tel: 02-6262777 / Fax: 02-6262203
Visitor Information Center wishes you a great time in Bethlehem! Contact us if you need more information. Check as well the link about Online Guides of Palestine, that page includes as well useful maps!