For security reasons it’s generally not a good idea to wander around the countryside unaccompanied. Consult local organisations such as Walk Palestine (www.walkpalestine.com) to find a guide and for up-to-date information on areas considered safe; Jericho and environs are usually a good bet.
On the West Bank, a tour can be a good way of both getting oriented and staying safe.
Green Olive Tours (www.greenolivetours.com) Offers a wide variety of highly political but insightful day trips and multiday tours in both the West Bank and Israel.
Hijazi Travel (http://hijazih.wordpress.com) Owner Hijazi Eid specialises in West Bank hiking and trekking, as well as city tours.
Alternative Tourism Group (www.atg.ps) Culture, religion and politics, as well as walks along the Nazareth-to-Bethlehem Nativity Trail.
Abu Hassan Alternative Tours (www.alternativetours-jerusalem.com/) Offers both 'political' and 'touristic’ day trips.
Most of the best sleeping options are in Ramallah and Bethlehem. While dorms are relatively cheap in the West Bank, private rooms can be expensive (although they are far cheaper than in Jerusalem). It is worth booking accommodation in advance (especially at peak times, such as Christmas) because hotels can be great sources of information about transport, tours and the security situation in the West Bank ahead of your trip.
Camping should be avoided because of general security concerns.
The following price ranges are for double rooms with breakfast on weekends in high season.
$ less than 200NIS
$$$ more than 400NIS
It's possible to eat extremely cheaply in the West Bank if you confine yourself to kebab stands and local outlets, where a falafel or a shawarma can cost as little as 3NIS and rarely more than 12NIS. Fresh fruit and vegetables are plentiful and cheap at the bazaars in most towns and cities.
Ramallah in particular has a huge range of international restaurants, serving everything from sushi to modern Italian.
The following price ranges refer to a main course.
$ less than 35NIS
$$$ more than 55NIS
- Fadwa Cafe & Restaurant Franco-Palestinian fusion at Hosh Al Syrian Guesthouse in Bethlehem.
- Hosh Al Jasmine Palestinian food with the best views in the West Bank.
- La Vie Cafe A quiet spot for organic food in Ramallah with good vegetarian options.
- Abu Omar This Jericho stalwart serves the best BBQ chicken in the West Bank. Period.
- Zeit ou Zaatar Palestinian and Levantine dishes overlooking Nablus' Old City.
Most budget and midrange sit-down restaurants in the West Bank serve mainly Levantine Arabic fare such as shish tawooq (marinated chicken grilled on skewers) and kofta (lamb kebab), as well as a huge range of delicious mezze: hummus and muttabal (purée of aubergine mixed with tahini, yogurt and olive oil), salads, kibbeh (meat-filled cracked-wheat croquettes) and fried cheese.
Thankfully, it is no longer hard to find traditional Palestinian food in the West Bank, and a number of restaurants, particularly in Bethlehem, now offer dishes such as mansaf (literally 'exploded' chicken or lamb over rice with a thick, meaty broth) and makloubeh ('upside down' chicken, under rice cooked with nuts and spices). Meanwhile, no trip to the West Bank is complete without trying kunafeh, the sweet wheat-and-cheese-based desert that is native to the northern city of Nablus.
Drinking & Nightlife
Given that most West Bank Palestinians are Muslim, nightlife often revolves around shisha cafes, restaurants and juice bars.
That said, alcohol is served at many midrange restaurants in Bethlehem, and Ramallah's party scene is famous across the region: trendy spots come and go, and the best way to keep up to date is to head out on one of the pub crawls organised by Area D Hostel.
For theatre and musical performances, it is worth checking in with Al Kamandjati in Ramallah and the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, as well as the International Centre of Bethlehem and Khan Al Wakalah in Nablus. This Week in Palestine has listings of events throughout the West Bank. Ramallah's bars and clubs often host DJs and both local and foreign musicians.
One of the great pleasures of travelling in the West Bank is pottering around the bustling souqs and picking up souvenirs, often for a fraction of the price you would pay in Jerusalem. Most West Bank cities have their own particular speciality: look for blown glass and pottery in Hebron, soap in Nablus and olive wood in Bethlehem.