Ramallah to Bethlehem

Ramallah to Bethlehem

Ramallah is the capital city of Palestine (West Bank) located in Area A.  Ramallah offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;

  • Tomb of Yasser Arafat
  • Al-Manara Square (Times square of Ramallah)
  • Various bars and restaurants including Star and Bucks

Ramallah has a few budget places to stay but it’s recommended you check the current safety situation before visiting.

Tomb of Yasser Arafat, Ramallah

Tomb of Yasser Arafat, Ramallah

Yasser Arafat is an important figure in recent Palestine history who died in 2004 aged 75 in questionable circumstances.  When he was alive his office was located at Mukataa.  Mukataa now has a mausoleum in his honor which is 11 meters high by 11 meters wide to signify he died in November, the 11th month of the year.  The mausoleum is the building I’m stood in (above).  The Mukataa today as well as being a mausoleum to Arafat is still the headquarters of the Palestinian authority.

Al-Manara Square, Times Square, Ramallah

Al-Manara Square, Times Square, Ramallah

Al-Manara Square is the center of the city of Ramallah, often referred to as Time Square.  Whilst walking around Ramallah the locals will often shout ‘welcome’ or ‘welcome to the occupied territories’ they are very friendly.  You’ll find lot’s of traditional restaurants in the center, foodies will love the Palestinian food.

For a great view of the city of Ramallah and even Jerusalem, you can visit the top floor of Hostel D.  This is also a recommended budget accommodation in Ramallah.

Star and Bucks Cafe, Ramallah

Star and Bucks Cafe, Ramallah

If you are a Starbucks fan then you must try the Palestinian version, Star and Bucks.  You’ll find a few of these coffee shops throughout Ramallah and they have done their best to be as good as the original Starbucks.  They sell their merchandise and their logo is very similar to the Starbucks logo, the Arabic coffee they serve here is very good too.  One large difference with Star and Bucks is that most of the clientele are smoking shisha pipes, the coffee shop does not have the coffee aroma!

Palestinian Soldier, Ramallah

Palestinian Soldier, Ramallah

You’ll see Palestinian soldiers and they are very friendly towards foreigners, don’t be afraid to ask them for a photo.  I did ask if I could have a picture holding his gun but he declined and laughed about it.  This soldier (above) was guarding the Mukataa, the headquarters of the Palestinian authority.

Bus from Ramallah to Bethlehem, 2 hours

Bus from Ramallah to Bethlehem, 2 hours

The journey from Ramallah takes about 2 hours because you cannot drive directly, you have to drive around the separation wall between Israel and Palestine.  It is an interesting journey with the separation wall visible most of the way to Bethlehem.

Bethlehem to Jerusalem

2017-02-09T20:57:05+00:00 February 8th, 2017|Israel, Middle East|34 Comments


  1. Jane Clark February 9, 2017 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    I have always wanted to visit this area but have never dared to go but after reading this blog I will definitely be going.

  2. Loudy February 9, 2017 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    Looks like a good trip. Ive always wanted to visit it but still didn’t get a chance. But I will someday. Great post and thanks for sharing your trip

  3. Stacey February 9, 2017 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    This is crazy cool. I really love reading all about your adventures! I love that they have their Star and Bucks! Too funny!

  4. Hendrik February 10, 2017 at 7:45 am - Reply

    Great post, gave me a complete new picture about Palestine.
    Good to see how things are going there, I can imagine that the spirit of Yasser Arafat is still noticeable quite intensively there. Cool photo with the soldier, he truly looks really friendly 🙂

  5. Ticker Eats The World February 10, 2017 at 9:24 am - Reply

    Thanks for the information. It’s a part of the world that if often in turmoil and many people don’t know what to make of it. Posts like this opens Palestine to everyone and it’s good to know more about the culture and the people so we can understand them better. Thank you

  6. Raymond Carroll February 10, 2017 at 9:46 am - Reply

    Excellent, James. Is there anywhere you have not visited? I was in Israel for 6 weeks back in the 90’s – my friend is married to an Israeli; he keeps asking me to go back, without getting too political, I think the only reason I’d go back to Israel is to visit Palestine. Great post.

  7. Caroline @ The Travelling Sloth February 10, 2017 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    As always, a great post about the lesser known spots. it’s not often that I read posts about Palestine so I’m glad you shared this! I’m not the biggest fan of Starbucks but it would be interesting to see Star and Bucks, especially the shisha culture there. I didn’t realised you had to drive around the separation wall, I would have thought there’s a road between instead!

  8. Megan February 10, 2017 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing a little more about Ramallah. I didn’t know much about it before. Looks like it’s filled with great people and the Star and Bucks sounds fun! I’d love to try some Arabic coffee.

  9. Natalie February 10, 2017 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    What an interesting place to visit and I LOVE the play on words with the Star and Bucks. 🙂 We would love to take the kids and show them such a historical part of the world.

  10. Janine Good February 12, 2017 at 2:22 am - Reply

    This is fab. I so want to head to the holy land for a Christian pilgrimage, but have been hesitant due to the unrest. Interesting about the Star and Bucks! I am a massive Starbucks snob to the point I have written a post about it haha. I think I would seriously consider trying one while the other patrons smoke their shisha pipes. Interesting about the soldier letting you take a photo. That is quite rare.

  11. Leiha February 27, 2017 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    I can’t believe you asked to hold his gun for the photo. Imagine if he had said yes, lol. Thank you for blogging about your trip to Ramallah.

  12. Stephanie Fox February 28, 2017 at 8:04 am - Reply

    It;s not an area I think I would choose to visit but you portray it really well, I would however like to try their version of Starbucks ha!

  13. Reebex @ Recovering Hippie February 28, 2017 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Star and Bucks! That actually made me laugh out loud. Great post, looks amazing!

  14. Robina March 1, 2017 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    James this is such a great post, and a really unique look in to a part of the world many people are afraid to visit or want to actively avoid. I loved reading about the friendly locals and their take on Starbucks, brilliant!

    A question I wanted to ask you was whether or not you would consider it suitable for solo travel for a woman? I’ve been to SE Asia, Europe, South America and to India solo. But not much of the Middle East or Africa.

    • James Smith March 1, 2017 at 3:31 pm - Reply

      Yes, I’d say it’s safe for you in Israel / Palestine, Jordan and Egypt. You’ll find lot’s of other solo travelers in the hostels of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as well as tours all over the 4 countries (such as Abraham tours and hostels). Western women are expected to cover their shoulders and legs but nothing so serious like the local girls I took a selfie with in Star and Bucks. In Western Africa you’ll definitely get harassed traveling solo or with a partner, I’d imagine Eastern or South Africa is the place for you to visit in Africa as the tourism industry is more developed and they are used to tourists.

      • Robina March 6, 2017 at 3:27 pm - Reply

        Thanks so much for the info! It’s good to hear an honest but encouraging view of the area, sounds like another one for my travel “To do” list then. Enjoy the rest of the trip there.

  15. Erica March 1, 2017 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    I’d love to visit this part of the world someday! I’m so envious that you made it over there. Glad to hear that it’s safe for women as you commented above. Hopefully I’ll get there someday – and I’ll be sure to check out Star and Bucks haha.

  16. Anna Sherchand March 1, 2017 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    It is great to read first hand experience . You protray Palestine in a way that made me want to visit there. I’m not sure when but one can dream 😉

  17. Urska from sliva March 2, 2017 at 6:47 am - Reply

    Ohh I have always wanted to visit Palestine. Well one day I will, for sure. The other day it was a documentary on TV about the whole situation there and it was kinda the same as you described, very nice and friendly people, living a normal life except for some points/locations. And the wall is a big issue since is separating people. How stupid – people are building walls instead of bridges. 🙁

  18. Ariane March 4, 2017 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Hahaha, the Star and Bucks café made me laugh! But one thing is for sure… if ever I’m going to Bethlehem, I’ll have a good star and bucks coffee. Great thing that the military is friendly. I had the same experience with the colombian police… friendly and helpful, as well as reassuring 🙂

  19. Madhurima Maiti March 4, 2017 at 11:36 am - Reply

    This is rather an unconventional destination. The military is friendly and that really sounds great! I would like to visit someday after reading this post 🙂

  20. Emily March 5, 2017 at 8:45 am - Reply

    What an interesting place to visit! You don’t see it on most people’s holiday itineraries. It’s good to hear that it’s safe for tourists and that the unrest doesn’t impact on most people’s lives. I recently went to Jordan and also found the people super friendly and I now want to explore more of the region; perhaps I’ll make it to Palestine too.

  21. Claire March 5, 2017 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    So interesting! Love that they called their coffee shops Star and Bucks haha! I’m a sucker for local coffee so I would be right there!

  22. Maria March 6, 2017 at 8:03 am - Reply

    Thats a region of the globe I would love to visit. Jerusalem is on my list but I’ve never thought about Ramallah. But you have make curious about a Star and Bucks coffee 😉

  23. Abigail Sinsona July 26, 2017 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    I always enjoy following your journey, James. This is another interesting destination that you have showcased. I love learning about history and the stories about these places through your blog. Small details such as the Star and Bucks coffee definitely captures the interest!

  24. Lisa July 26, 2017 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Lol Star and Bucks sounds great and probably a lot cheaper too. I’m fascinated by Palestine, but honestly a little nervous to visit. So nice that everyone was friendly, but the soldier didn’t look it! A nice post on a still unknown destination 😀

  25. Kate Storm July 26, 2017 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    Ramallah looks like a very interesting place! I’d love to see Palestine one day. I’ve also always been curious about the “knock off” chain brands… I’ll have to try Star and Bucks when I go!

  26. Marlies July 26, 2017 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    How lovely that you pose on so many pictures, too bad you could not hold the gun – hihihi. Star and Bucks, another laugh here. Ramallah seems like a very interesting place to visit.

  27. Mariella Molestina July 27, 2017 at 1:31 am - Reply

    Too funny that they have their own version of Starbucks! Maybe a battle between the two and see who offers the best product?! Glad that you covered the normalities that go on in this city and experience their way of life.

  28. Rachelle July 27, 2017 at 5:17 am - Reply

    I remember growing up, hearing the name Yasser Arafat and thinking how much I loved to say it. I love that you mention how friendly the guards are (you know, as long as you’re not doing anything stupid or dangerous) and how open they are to taking pictures with you. Awesome that they even interact with you, as opposed to the guards in London. And I had to re-read the Star and Bucks cafe to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. What a fun find!

  29. Aryane July 27, 2017 at 9:52 am - Reply

    This must have been an awesome trip! I would love to go Israel and Palestine, but unfortunately, the never-ending conflict is a major obstacle for me 🙁

  30. jo July 27, 2017 at 11:12 am - Reply

    Star and bucks cafe hahaha. Gotta love Ramallah 😉 This is an interesting part of the world which is not at the top of my bucket list but somehow it is intriguing.

  31. Lynne March 22, 2018 at 6:15 am - Reply

    There’s also Stars and Bucks in the Manger Square souk in Bethlehem. A franchise!

    • James Smith March 22, 2018 at 8:33 am - Reply

      I missed that one! The coffee is quite good there too!

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