The occupied Palestinian territories, officially recognised by UNESCO in November 2011, are comprised of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. Travel to Palestine requires a lot of preparation since many different obstacles can pop up at any time.
However, this shouldn't have any effect on visiting the historic, cultural and religious sites of Palestine. Nevertheless, travellers should keep themselves up to date on the political climate between Palestine and Israel. Visitors will also need to be patient during the many checkpoints and detours on the roads.
It is important to know that Palestine is divided into 3 separate zones: Zone A, controlled by the Palestinians; Zone B, controlled by both the Israelis and the Palestinians; and Zone C (the largest zone), controlled by the Israelis.
Beyond all this geographic and political complexity, though, Palestine is full of religious, cultural and historic sites to be visited. The birthplace of many religions, many visitors come to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage.
FCO travel update: the FCO continues to advise against all travel to Gaza (including the waters of Gaza) and to the Sheba'a Farms and Ghajjar along the border with Lebanon. The FCO advises you take care if travelling anywhere in the West Bank, particularly in areas close to refugee camps, in and around Israeli settlements across the West Bank and in the cities of Jenin, Nablus and Hebron. See full official advice.
Surface area : 6250.0 km2
Population : 3760000 inhabitants
Time difference : GMT +2
You will be available to find countless religious souvenirs, especially in Bethlehem. Hebron is a city rich in artisanry. The ceramics here are fabulous and the blown glass items simply beautiful. As for other souvenirs, you might want to bring back embroideries, ghutrahs, soap from Naplouse made with olive oil (very popular) or even some mosaics. Gourmets usually bring back olive oil, spices and Oriental pastries.
The cuisine in the occupied Palestinian territories is very similar to what can be found in the neighbouring countries, like Jordan, Lebanon and Israel.
Mezze are one of the main elements here (various hot and cold starters): hummus, tabouleh, vine leaves, grilled eggplant, chich taouk (chicken skewers), aubergine caviar, tomato salad, cucumber salad, brick, falafel, etc. This is all eaten with pita bread.
In terms of meat you will find two choices, chicken and mutton/lamb. What you need to try is shawarma, a pita filled with pieces of chicken or mutton, onions, tomatoes and sauce.
For dessert, you can enjoy a number of delicious Oriental pastries, but also plenty of different fruit (oranges, dates, figs, pomegranates, avocados and bananas).
Travelling in Palestine is completely possible, with the risk here not being higher than anywhere else. Nevertheless, stay informed of the political climate at and around your destination before your departure. Of course, it is impossible to go to the Gaza Strip. However, you can visit the cities of the West Bank (Ramallah, Naplouse, Jericho, Bethlehem, Hebron) and East Jerusalem. A stay in Palestine also means that you will get an inside look at how the people here live, in this geographically and historically complex part of the world.
We recommend finding a hotel in Bethlehem rather than in Jerusalem, as they are cheaper (around £24 in Bethlehem as opposed to £64 in Jerusalem).
The Mövenpick is the only 5-star hotel in Ramallah and in Palestine ...