Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus and therefore a holy site to Christians around the world. Bethlehem is also is significant to Jews because it is the burial place of the matriarch Rachel and the birthplace of King David.
The town of Bethlehem is in the West Bank, some six miles south of Jerusalem. According to the New Testament account of the apostle Matthew, Joseph and Mary were living in Bethlehem in the southern region of Judea at the time of Jesus' birth and later moved to Nazareth in the northern Galilee region. In the more popular account of the apostle Luke, Joseph and a very pregnant Mary traveled more than 90 miles from their residence in Nazareth to Joseph's Judean hometown of Bethlehem to be counted in a Roman census.

Bethlehem was turned over to the Palestinian Authority as part of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement. However, nearly all travelers arrive to Bethlehem via Jerusalem due to the proximity of the two cities. Since Bethlehem is administered by the Palestinian Authority, a border checkpoint stands on the road connecting the two locations. If entering from Jerusalem, one must pass through the "Rachel's Crossing" Israeli checkpoint into Bethlehem.

At 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.

Altar of the Birth of Christ - Church of the Nativity in Bethleheme
Altar of the Birth of Christ - Church of the Nativity in Bethleheme


Getting to Bethlehem from Jerusalem

By Foot

To go Bethlehem from Jerusalem one can take a bus, rent a car or go by arranged tours. Devoted pilgrims often prefer to walk, at a brisk pace. The hike to Bethlehem from Jerusalem takes about 2 hours but there are plenty of up and down hills along the way so physical fitness is of importance.

By Bus

The easiest and cheapest way of getting to Bethlehem is via a quick bus ride from Jerusalem. The best bus to catch is probably the number 21 Palestinian blue and white bus, which runs from just outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. The bus ride to Bethlehem costs approximately 6-7 shekels (about 1.5 Euros or 1.90 dollars) for a one-way ride. This bus will take you the closet to the Church of the Nativity, the must see site in Bethlehem.

The alternative to number 21 is number 124. This bus takes you to the checkpoint, where you have to get off . From there you can catch a local taxi to the sites of Bethlehem. Alternatively, you could walk the 20 minutes or so to get to the Church of the Nativity. The 124 bus will cost you approximately 4 shekels each way.

By Car

If you want  to go from jerusalem to Bethlehem by rent-a-car, contact with Visitor Information Center and they can recommend care rental companies. One of the more popular companies for those traveling to Bethlehem Bethlehem is the 'Middle East Rent a Car' which specialize in traveling between the Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  (They are 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. 

By Tour
There are many tours also available which include buses that leave from selected hotels in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. These tours are guided and prices usually range between $70-$90 a person. Tours to Bethlehem are easy to find online, however for more information you can contact the Christian Information Center (CIC) situated in the Old City of Jerusalem. The center can provide additional info regarding tours, times of mass and prayers, Christian sites in the Holy Land and more.