Updated: Sep 16
When you think of a family holiday I'll be the first person to admit that Palestine wouldn't normally cross my mind, I had not heard much about it and wondered whether there was actually much for us to do there... However, let me also be the first person to break that mindset.
Palestine is a captivating place. It is split into two sections; Gaza strip - this is strictly off limits to tourists and you must be a journalist or NGO worker to be allowed entry. Then you have West Bank which is relatively peaceful and safe to travel. The locals are some of the friendliest people I have met on travels and are always on hand to help you.
The majority of tourist that visit Palestine will do so for its Christian pilgrimage sites such as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as well as other places of interest such as Sebastia, an ancient ruin in the north of the West Bank.
Tyson Trails Recommends Visiting Church of the Nativity – Located in Bethlehem, whether you are religious or not this is a must. Most visitors use a tour guide and when you are queuing to enter you will be approached by tour touts offering queue jumps, we chose to go it alone as we prefer going at our own pace (usually fast with a baby in tow). It can get extremely crowded inside especially in the underground room which houses the birthplace of Jesus, however if you make yourself visible to the guards they will bump you straight to the front so you can get your picture and get back out which was great as Roman was getting a bit irritable! You can spend as long or as little time as you want here taking it all in. Cave of the Patriarchs, Hebron – The Cave of the Patriarchs or Tomb of the Patriarchs, known to Jews as the Cave of Machpelah and to Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham, is a series of caves located in the heart of the Old City of Hebron
Jericho - Located in the Jordan Valley with the river Jordan to the east and Jerusalem to
the West it is thought to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world dated around 9000 BC it provides evidence of the first development of permanent settlements and the first steps towards civilisation, we spent the morning here on our route to the Dead sea so we chose to visit the mount of temptation, you can walk but as we had Roman we chose the fast route - cable car which offered amazing views over Jericho, once you are up you can then explore at your own leisure. Known in the bible as the mountain that Jesus was tempted by the devil during his 40 day and 40 night fast. At the top of the cable car you can get lost in the hidden rooms, winding lanes and gravity deifying monastery views, unlike most Greek Orthodox Monasteries they allow women visitors as well as men just make sure you have a light jacket or scarf if you have your shoulders out.
Where To Stay
Walled Off Hotel - Banksy is a massive name in our household and is probably mentioned at least once day due to the nature of the business Roy is in. This was actually the main reason for our visit as we had heard the hotel was due to shut. Banksy opened a hotel in Palestine in 2017, it is one of the most unique places we have ever stayed, every room is different and designed by Banksy himself with each room showcasing original Banksy artworks. You can sleep in a room with a 6 if not 7 figure piece of art staring at you (there are lots of rules and checks in place to make sure you don't think about slipping things in your suitcase)
The hotel is actually now owned by a Palestinian man and once they have paid all of their staff with the takings the rest of the money is donated to the city of Bethlehem. We spent 3 nights here in 2 different rooms, you could spend a lot of time here the hotel offers guests free entrance to its gallery, museum and live piano performances (where the piano plays itself) and there is a stencil shop next door where you can have a trial at being a street artist yourself.
Dress Respectfully Especially when when visiting areas of religious interest but i would recommend to dress conservatively the whole time. Shorts or t-shirts should be avoided and women should cover their hair with a scarf when visiting mosques.
When to visit Palestine For the best weather plan your visit fromom March to May and from September to November, when the weather is warm and dry. We visited in December and from then to February it is quite cold however when you head further into the desert land it does warm up. We chose this time as you can get some great bargains and lets be honest its not a sunbathing place.
Christmas is very busy with thousands heading to Bethlehem for Christmas Mass, you would need to prebook hotels way in advance to travel over this time.
Flying to Palestine Palestine has no airport, we travelled via Ben Gurion Airport in Isreal, this is the closest airport and is roughly a 1 hour transfer. its also accessible from Jordan and Eliat though.
Palestinian food & drink
Most days we ate shawarma (kebab), it is one of the best I have ever had! we also tried a lot of street food such as falafels but the best way to experience Palestinian food is to order lots of mezze dishes. You may also notice when driving around lots of people on the roads selling Arabic tea and coffee... I definitely recommend stopping for this! the tea is a sweet mint tea and if you are a strong coffee lover you'll love the coffee