Getting from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is not as simple as the short distance between the two cities, suggests. Nonetheless, with a little preparation, it is easy and quick to get from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, with various options available to fit all budgets and travel styles. Jerusalem and Bethlehem are just a few kilometers apart, and in fact, the two cities almost join together, however, access between the two is limited by the fact that Bethlehem is under Palestinian control and therefore entrance to the city involves crossing a border checkpoint. For this reason, we recommend making the journey by tour or private vehicle, although there are bus services available for those who are comfortable with this option. Please note that because you are crossing through a checkpoint, passports must be carried at all times.
Tours from Jerusalem to Bethlehem
Getting from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is simple but requires a little forward planning
Tours from Jerusalem to Bethlehem are one of the most convenient and popular ways for visitors to travel to the city of Jesus’s birth. With guaranteed tours departing every day, not only are tours from Jerusalem to Bethlehem convenient as a means of traveling between the two cities, they are also cost effective and have the added bonus of, being guided and allowing you to relax and benefit from the value of a local guide taking you direct to the major sites. There are a number of tour options from Jerusalem to Bethlehem:
Shuttle from Jerusalem to Bethlehem
Tourist shuttles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem are currently available every afternoon, leaving Jerusalem at 15:30, and leaving Bethlehem at 17:30 (also dropping off in Tel Aviv). Perfect for a quick visit or for those who are looking for an overnight stay. More information on shuttle from Jerusalem to Bethlehem can be found here.
Private Vehicles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem
Due to the fact that Bethlehem is under Palestinian control, you cannot hail a taxi in the street in Jerusalem to take you to Bethlehem. A private car can be arranged however, to collect you from your address and escort you to the city of Bethlehem. Vehicles of all size are available (from 3 passenger cars up to big buses) depending on group size, and this service is available every day. Check here for transfers from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.
Bus from Jerusalem to Bethlehem
There is a public bus service from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and two possible ways to get from Jerusalem to Bethlehem by bus. The Palestinian bus company operates a public line from East Jerusalem Bus Station. Bus 21 operates from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, there is no timetable available but service is frequent. The cost is around 5 NIS, and journey time varies (there can be lengthy delays as this vehicle is designated for locals and does not bypass queues at checkpoints as tourist vehicles usually do.)
Driving into Bethlehem
All major Israeli car rental companies do not insure their cars for travel into the West Bank and therefore driving a rental car into Bethlehem is not possible.