How do I get from Jerusalem to Bethlehem?

If you’re in Israel and you’re in Jerusalem, we’d highly recommend you take the very short trip to Bethlehem, if it’s not already on your list of “must see” Holy Land attractions. Many are surprised at just how close Bethlehem is to Jerusalem, it’s really not that tricky a trek!

Yes, the easiest and cheapest way of getting to Bethlehem is via a quick bus ride from Jerusalem. You can of course get a taxi from Jerusalem, and probably a limo if you really wanted (and heck, we even know of people who have done the trek by bicycle, which takes a little less than an hour), but we’re guessing you’re after the authentic, “mix it with the locals” experience, so will describe the buses you can catch down to Bethlehem and back.

If you’re heading to Bethlehem for Christmas Eve, check out this tour if you need an awesome, budget-friendly Christmas Eve tour of Bethlehem, highly recommended!

The best bus to catch is probably the number 21 Arab blue and white bus, which runs from just outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City (turn right as you come out of Damascus Gate, head down the road for a couple of minutes, where you’ll come across a bus station of sorts, complete with buses with blue writing – avoid any buses with green writing, they’ll be heading north). It will cost you approximately 6-7 shekels for a one-way ride. This bus will take you the closet to the Church of the Nativity, the must see site in Bethlehem.

The alternative to number 21 is number 124. This bus takes you to the checkpoint, where you have to get off (and where you can get stuck for a few minutes). From there you can catch a local taxi, including your own built-in guide (but be warned, agree a price and schedule in advance!) to the sites of Bethlehem. Alternatively, you could walk the 20 minutes or so to get to the Church of the Nativity. The 124 bus will cost you approximately 4 shekels each way.

If you’re here for Christmas, there is usually a free mini-bus service that takes tourists into Bethlehem, but there are no guarantees that it will still be there next Christmas – let’s hope so! We’d recommend checking with your hotel/guest house as to the availability of such a ride.

Want to know what you can see and do in the town of Bethlehem? Check out our guide to one of Christianity’s most awesome spots.


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  2. Mai

    March 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks for the info. Can I take the same bus 21 to go back to Jerusalem?

    • Ashley

      March 21, 2012 at 8:54 am

      I believe so, but not 100% on that. Best to check before you get on board that it does the return leg too.

  3. Laurean

    April 11, 2014 at 8:13 am

    Yes you can, almost on the other side of the street where you arrived.

  4. Jeffrey F Nunes

    June 18, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    If one has the option, would a sherut or the bus be the best choice.
    Also, on my return from Bethlehem on the way to Ben Gurion airport, is Jerusalem the place where I would make a change of bus or shuttle?
    These are plans for 2015.
    Thank you,
    Jeff Nunes

    • Ashley

      June 19, 2014 at 10:35 am

      Hi Jeffrey,
      Getting from Jerusalem to Bethlehem you can choose either a sherut or bus, whichever comes first :-)
      Jerusalem is definitely the place to change buses to get to Ben Gurion.
      Hope that helps!

      • Steph

        September 9, 2016 at 1:19 am

        Hey Ashley,

        I’ll be coming from tel aviv to Bethlehem later this month… What’s the best way? And do business drivers let me get on with my luggage? I’ll have 1 large rolling luggage, I wonder if the intercity buses will mind?? Any help please…

        • Ashley

          September 9, 2016 at 4:13 pm

          Hi Steph, you will almost certainly need to transit through Jerusalem. Bethlehem is a quick drive from there. You can take a bus (less frequent in the evenings) near Damascus Gate, or a taxi. Probably easiest to take a taxi (regular West Jerusalem taxis are not permitted to go). Buses are cheaper of course, but bit more of a wait, lugging the luggage on your own, etc…Hope that helps!

  5. Kaloyan

    May 29, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    And what about a rent-a-car. I mean I will go to Jerusalem with rent-a-car, is it ok to go with it to Bethlehem? And where to park closest to the church of the Navity?

    • Ashley

      May 29, 2017 at 8:07 pm

      You can’t take an Israeli car rental into Bethlehem. The minibuses and sheruts are your best option, cheap and regular.

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