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 (where you can find my favorite falafel shop in Jerusalem) you’ll find the bus station. The buses here run to many of the Palestinian cities, including Bethlehem and Ramallah. The station is just a 3-minute walk down the main street outside the gate, across from the Garden Tomb.
Once at the station, just grab a bus (typically a sherut/minivan) to your destination. To travel to Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian National Authority government take bus #18, just 6.50 NIS. Buses leave frequently (I waited no more than 5 minutes) but usually only when the bus is full.
It takes about 40 minutes to travel by bus to Ramallah. You’ll cross through a borderpoint, but from what I understand it will rarely stop your sherut entering the West Bank. There is no passport check to enter. Be sure to check out the graffiti on the separation wall as you enter the West Bank.
Once in Ramallah, you’ll find it’s actually a pleasant place to enjoy an afternoon (or more!). Talk to some folks, enjoy some delicious coffee. There’s apparently a really cool nightclub but I never got to visit it.
When you leave Ramallah to travel back to Jerusalem, your bus will be stopped at the same borderpoint and your passports will be checked to enter Israel. As an international tourist, you can do this either on or off the bus, depending upon the border control that day. Israelis are not allowed to enter Ramallah and the security guards are checking to make sure you have an entry stamp into Israel in your passport; Israeli citizens wouldn’t have one.
The bus will drop you off at the same station outside Damascus Gate.
Good tips. Did you feel safe while traveling through the area?
Yes definitely! It’s places like Hebron that would maybe be less safe because of the constant struggle between Israeli settlers and Palestinians.