To See Manger Square, You Must Cross Borders

"Is it hard to get to Bethlehem?
Aren't there checkpoints and border guards and all kinds of problems?"
We found it wasn't hard at all.

Bethlehem is only about 6 miles (10 km) from Jerusalem, but in some ways it might seem a world away...

...because this famous little town is in the Palestinian Territories.

About half of the residents are Muslims and half are Christians, though the number of Christians is falling.

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

We had talked to people who went on tours to Israel, and they told us how the tour company had to change drivers at the border, and how they had to get special permission. So when we decided to go to Israel we wondered if we would be able to get to Bethlehem.

Let me tell you right from the start.... it was easy.

Our hotel had all of those glossy tour brochures that hotels provide, and we saw that we could take a day trip to Bethlehem for about US $70... each! That seemed a little steep for a half day trip to a city that was so close. But it did include a guide, and it was hassle free.

We like to be independent travelers, though, so what to do?

We stopped by the Tourist Information Office just inside the Jaffa Gate of Old Jerusalem, and the staff told us that we could easily take public transportation.

Blue Bus 21 from Jerusalem to Bethlehem The Arab Bus... or the Blue Bus number 21 can be caught at the bus depot just outside the city walls near the Damascus gate.

This only costs about US$ 2.00 per person each way... quite a savings!

The buses run at frequent intervals carrying Palestinians into and out of Israel.

On the way back to Jerusalem, you have to go through an Israeli checkpoint, but they make it very easy for tourists. The size of the buses vary depending on the time of day, all the way from regular large buses to mini-van type buses.

Traveling through the countryside even for this short way, it all looks so... so biblical.

Manger Square - Bethlehem

It's a bit of a walk uphill from where the bus line ends to the Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity.

We hired a driver for a nominal fee. You should bargain with them, though we didn't bargain hard because there are not that many independent tourists, and we were happy enough with the price.

He took us to the Church of the Nativity, the Milk Grotto and the Shepherds' Fields and waited for us at each stop.... giving us as much time as we wanted.

Door of Humility, Church of the Nativity - Bethlehem

The Church of the Nativity marks the traditional place of Jesus' birth.

The entrance is by a low, unadorned door called the Door of Humility.

Underneath the alter is the Grotto of the Nativity.

A silver star in the floor marks the spot where Christ is believed to have been born.

The Milk Grotto, also known as the Grotto of the Lady Mary, is where the Holy Family took refuge before their flight into Egypt.

The Shepherd's Fields have been identified since ancient times as where the shepherds were when they saw the Star of Nativity.

You can also hire a local guide at the Church of the Nativity. Official guides should have a badge. We opted to visit the sights on our own with just our guidebook. There are other sights to see depending on how much time you have.

Whether you opt to take an organized tour, or see it independently, the little town of Bethlehem is easy to visit and well worth it. Travel is illuminating. Surrender to its mysteries, share, learn, embrace and enjoy.

Happy travels... even if you don't travel the world... just remember that life is a journey... embrace and enjoy it!   Judy and Mark

Curious about what else we've written about? Search our site for a destination or travel tip.

Go to International Travel Tips l Europe Travel Tips
Hotel and B&B Tips l Packing Lists and Tips
The Backstory on Travel Article A Day
Go from Bethlehem to MouseToursTravels Home Page
Privacy and Legal Policy

Protected by Copyscape Online Copyright Infringement Tool
But... We'd love to have you share this page...
Use one of the handy "share this page" buttons below. Thanks, Judy and Mark

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Did it help with your travel planning and preparation? Eager to leave on that next vacation? Please leave your tips or comments in the box below.

Ready For A New Adventure?
How about a website of your own...
... work for yourself ... or...
Exercise your brain in retirement.
Follow Your Passion
Who knows where it will take you?
(Look around at where it's taken us!)
Click below to start your own journey
First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life

Already have a website or blog with WordPress? Make it better!


Search MouseToursTravels
Travel questions or destination info?
Find our answers faster...

Related Searches


We want you to feel comfortable out in the world and on our pages - so surf away in your own language...

Timely Tips

The Holidays are Here!

Time to remind you we have tips on
Surviving Holiday Flights

Remember, if you’re carrying gifts, it’s better not to wrap them… airport security might make you open them!

Have time for a quick trip to prepare for Christmas? We have ideas...
European Christmas Markets
German Christmas Markets
Seiffen Germany Makes Christmas Decorations
Cold Weather Packing List

Christmas  Market Nutcrackers

How about gift Ideas...

Buy travel gear for yourself or a friend…. Shop, the leading online retailer of luggage, handbags, backpacks, and accessories They have anything a traveler needs... moneybelts, security purses, TSA approved locks, packing cubes for organization, and more.

…Or just take the holiday time to explore more pages here and get ideas for travel destinations and how to get there.

NOW is the time to start planning for a great trip next year.

Find, Compare & Book It!

We always say shop and compare at several sources. Here are some of our favorites...

25+ Million Users Trust TripAdvisor With Their Travel Plans. Shouldn't You?

Cheap airfare, hotels, car rentals, vacations and cruises at!

All the best hotel sites in one place right here. Hotels Combined...
HotelsCombined logo

We are not travel agents, but we're affiliated with these and other great companies.
Check 'em all out!

Follow Your Passion!

Travel Is Our Passion
What's Yours?

We have lots of fun traveling... and we've had lots of fun creating this website. It earns us money too! No get-rich quick scheme here.... just honest pages about our travels. Is this something you've ever wanted to try?

Are you passionate or knowledgeable about something? An expert even?

Cars ...or... cooking?
Boats ...or... business?
Plants ...or... parenting?

Turn it into a web business. Click on the SBI TV icon below and learn how a new life could be yours...

Learn how to build your own profitable web site like we did

Look at it... Think about it...
Why NOT you?

If you're like me, you like to talk to a real person and get answers to your questions... We get that!

Your Questions Answered Here.

Honest answers... honestly ...Promise!

Two Ways To Like Us!
Like Our Site Top Left
Like Our Fanpage Below
Thank You!