Hardly any other small town on the planet is as well known as Bethlehem. Its religious significance as the birthplace of Jesus is undisputed, and even less religious contemporaries feel transported back to the nativity plays and Christmas stories of their childhood as soon as they hear the name Bethlehem. However, many Israel travelers are at the same time deterred from crossing the border into the West Bank and fear long waiting times at the checkpoints and other organizational hurdles. Here’s how to travel to Bethlehem!
The perfect solution: a tour with IsraelRail. We offer these tours from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (option for our guests on multi-day tours). Here, all organizational hurdles are taken care of by a guide and with the group you can easily reach the most important sights.
What to expect:
The tours usually start early in the morning in Jerusalem. From there, the bus takes you directly to Bethlehem, where the first unique sight is already waiting for your visit: The Church of Nativity! It is not only one of the oldest churches in the world, but also one of the most interesting in terms of architecture and decoration. If you finally descend into the grotto, where there is a small altar at the place of Jesus’ birth, you will hardly be able to escape the mystical atmosphere of this place.
The program then includes a visit to the Milk Grotto. This is where the Holy Family hid during the massacre of the innocent. During this time, a few drops of milk are said to have dripped from Mary’s breast onto the floor of the cave, after which it turned white – A real miracle! The grotto was incorporated into a chapel built above it in the 5th century, and today it is often visited by women who pray there for fertility. But also for the conventional tourist a visit to the chapel is worthwhile, after all, it is a place steeped in history and an architecturally interesting mixture of cave and building attached to it.
Your visit to Bethlehem is concluded by a trip to the nearby shepherds’ fields. Several small chapels of different denominations can be found here in the fields where, according to biblical tradition, angels announced the birth of Jesus to some shepherds. Here, the Franciscan chapel stands out in particular, whose shape is inspired by a traditional shepherd’s tent.
After the tour you will go back to Jerusalem by bus. The guide will help you pass the checkpoints and you will be back in Jerusalem in time for lunch.
Would you prefer to discover Bethlehem on a private tour, without a group? Then check out our Bethlehem Premium Private Day Tour!