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Palestine Travel Guide
The ultimate guide to the best things to do and see in Palestine
At the heart of the Middle East, Palestine is one of the most fascinating, historical and important parts of the region. The State of Palestine brings up a lot of immediate political issues, but please keep an open mind and understand that it’s a great tourist destination.
Palestine can be easy to visit, even as a solo traveler. It’s a beautiful part of the world with friendly locals, uniquely historical cities, amazing food (it’s the Middle East after all!), and a wide range of nature trails and other tourist activities. Start here with my basic Palestine travel tips, or jump down below to read my latest Palestine travel blogs.
Visiting Palestine – things to know
The State of Palestine includes two distinct regions: the Gaza strip and the West Bank, each operated by separate but sometimes-coordinating Palestinian governments. Gaza is largely separated from the rest of the world and is not easy to visit as a tourist due to blockades. The West Bank, however, shares borders with Israel and Jordan, sitting between the two and with East Jerusalem as the main point of entry.
Is Palestine safe to visit? That’s a question you’d have to ask yourself by taking into consideration travel warnings from your government and recent on-the-ground news, but largely, yes. I’ve visited countless times and besides the hassle of going through a checkpoint to enter via public bus, it’s quite easy and comfortable to visit.
When to visit Palestine? It’s a year-round destination, of course, but keep in mind that summers can get very, very hot. The Dead Sea which shares borders with Israel, Jordan and Palestine is not exactly a cool-off destination. The bridge seasons can be great for hiking holidays through Palestine. Christmas in Palestine is also especially unique because of the festivities that take place in Bethlehem.
Top Things To Do
Visit Bethlehem – Perhaps the most famous city in Palestine, Bethlehem is a great day trip from Jerusalem. The historic city also has plenty to see, do and eat for an extended visit. Of course there’s the famous Church of Nativity where Jesus was born, but make time to visit some other sights in the city. For example, you can also visit the wall that surrounds Bethlehem, built by Israel as a “security fence” and a way to control the population and movement. Today there are many street art murals by the likes of Banksy painted along many stretches of the wall.
Eat all the foods – Middle Eastern cuisine is one of my personal favorites; it’s very healthy and fresh with a lot of unique flavors. Visit the street stalls in cities like Nablus or Ramallah for local dishes and regional specialities beyond just shawarma and falafel. Nablus is especially popular for its knafeh—a traditional Palestinian dessert of cheese pastry soaked in a sweet syrup. You’ll find the dish available throughout the Middle East but it originates in Nablus.
Hiking trails through Palestine – I haven’t done it myself, but plenty of friends have hiked some of the assorted trails through Palestine, including the Abraham Path. The VisitPalestine tourism office has additional information on some of the trails.
It’s hard not to sense the political reality on the ground in Palestine thanks to complicated regional politics. Some cities are highly contentious between Israel and Palestine and there are regular conflicts between the peoples and governments of both, but I wouldn’t let that deter you from tourism.
Funny enough, as an international tourist in Palestine, you’re afforded a lot more freedom of movement between the two. For political tours, I highly recommend the offers from Breaking The Silence—an advocacy and activist group that runs regular tours discussing some of the complicated political issues at bay. (See my photos and read my review of a BTS tour.)
Not all Palestine tours are focused on politics, however, and there are private guides available (check with your hotel/hostel) to learn about Palestinian sightseeing, foods, and traditional crafts. Take a look at this selection of other Palestine tours.
LGBTQ – Gay Palestine Travel Guide
Palestine does not have an easy-to-find LGBTQ or gay scene, unfortunately. Some of the nightclubs in Ramallah have been reported as relative safe-havens and queer-friendly spaces, but it’s hard to find unless you’ve got a local friend to find the way.
Jerusalem also has a small but thriving LGBTQ-friendly scene—though in the Israeli-controlled part of West Jerusalem, making it difficult for many LGBTQ Palestinians to visit.
Follow @travelsofadam on Instagram for more travel tips!
Palestine Travel Blogs
One of my favorite parts of the world is also one of the most complicated. The tiny stretch of land on the western edge of the Mediterranean Sea, stretching down to the Red Sea and across the Jordan Valley, this little part of the Middle East is all at once both fascinating and beautiful. And …
When staying in Jerusalem a few months back, I had a few goals in mind for my return trip to Israel. One of them was to finally visit Hebron—a city in the West Bank predominantly Palestinian. The city’s history is one of the most complex and controversial in Israel, Palestine and the West Bank and has long …
The Bethlehem wall, built by Israel & covered in graffiti by Palestinians and international supporters, is a symbol of nonviolent protest in the West Bank.
Maybe you’ve heard great things about Tel Aviv’s nightlife (even here on this blog). Or you’re interested in Middle Eastern history & culture. Or maybe you’re religious and interested in the religious history of a controversial and culturally important land. Israel and the Palestinian territories catch a lot of attention in the media so it’s …
Want to travel to Ramallah? I’d recommend a visit if you’re in Israel. Many people have a misconceived image of the West Bank and Palestinian culture & people. So if you’re traveling in Israel or Jordan, why not travel to Ramallah in the Palestinian territories as well? Just outside Damascus Gate to the Old City …
You’ve read a lot about Israel and Palestine on my blog and I didn’t broach the politics too often (though I definitely did if you were paying attention), but it was certainly hard for me to avoid while I was there. Not only because I was briefly working for a political nonprofit, but also because …
Breaking the Silence is a group of soldiers who are Israeli veterans from the West Bank. The group’s main goal is to expose the true reality in the occupied territories, and to promote a public debate on the moral price paid by Israeli society. They offer tours to the West Bank for internationals and Israelis …