This full-day tour offers a chance to visit a variety of attractions in one day with the benefit of private transport to ease logistics and relieve you from the burden of navigation, and a local guide to help you understand the significance of each site you visit. Leaving Jerusalem, you’ll need to cross into the West Bank, a process made simpler with a local guide who’ll also offer an insight into the political situation of these bitterly divided communities. You’ll visit Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, then return to Jerusalem to tour the poignant Holocaust Remembrance Center and the lively markets.
Your private driver-guide will pick you up from your Jerusalem hotel on the morning of your tour and take you directly out of the city to cross the West Bank border into the Palestinian Territories. Bethlehem, one of the most popular areas to visit in the West Bank, is located less than 10 km (6 miles) from Jerusalem and is best known as the birthplace of Jesus.
Manger Square, in the heart of the old city, is home to the Church of the Nativity. Built above a cave that’s said to be Jesus’ birthplace, there has been a church on this site since the 4th century making it date from the 6th century and one of the oldest churches in the world. Here you can head down some cramped steps to the grotto beneath the altar, where a silver star marks the accepted site of Jesus’ birth. The newer adjoining Church of Saint Catherine is where the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem celebrates midnight mass on Christmas Eve.
From Bethlehem, you’ll return to Jerusalem to visit the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center. This is Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, and a visit is a moving experience. Yad Vashem features numerous galleries filled with original items, video testimonies, diaries, letters, and works of art, all telling the human stories of those murdered by the Nazis. The genocide is known in Israel as the Shoah, the Hebrew word for calamity. Other exhibits include the Hall of Names, a memorial to the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, as well as the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, commemorating those who helped save Jewish lives.
After some time to absorb the sombre exhibits and memorials, your guide will take you to Mahane Yehuda market where you’ll find yourself surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem life. As you wander the labyrinthine alleys, your guide will recommend foods to try for lunch, take you to little-known curiosities in the market area, and will explain how Mahane Yehuda highlights Israel’s immigrant culture and fusion of influences from all over the world, particularly in its food, a symbol of Jerusalem’s many immigrant communities and their traditions.
Once you’ve had some time to walk around and explore the market, your driver-guide will take you back to your hotel.