Jericho Travel Guide
Jericho (Arabic أريحا Arīḥā), the “City of Palms”, is a small city within the Palestinian territories close to the northern end of Dead Sea and some 55 km (34 miles) from Jerusalem.
Introduction to Jericho
A relatively tranquil town, Jericho’s reputation for calm and lack of security incidents in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has made it a natural destination for West Bank visitors. Because Jericho is a tourist-orientated town, the Palestinian Authority goes to great lengths to make sure Jericho remains safe to visit. There is a constant tourist-police presence in the city and English is spoken by many in the town.
The modern town of Jericho includes the ancient mound known as Tell es-Sultan, the accumulated remains of cities that have existed on the site for some 9,000 years – the Neolithic period. Archaeology reveals that Jericho is one of the oldest human settlements in the Middle East.
Jericho, of course, is probably best known for its Biblical associations: (song) “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho – and the walls came tumbling down!”
Due to its location nearly 400 meters below sea level, Jericho is extremely hot in the summer!
From Jerusalem, start at the HaNeviim station outside the Old City, next to Damascus Gate. From there, one must take take a bus/van to one of three Palestinian cities, and take a second bus/van to Jericho. The three cities are (in order of directness):
- (Al) Ezariya (Junction)|type=around| alat=31.764093|long=35.281162}} – Bus 36 or 63 (₪6.80) reach this town/junction east of Jerusalem, identified with Bethany from the New Testament. Ask the bus driver where to get off for the sherut van (₪10-12 depending on the mood of the driver) to Jericho or take the GPS pointer as orientation. It’s advisable that you have an Arabic translator with you or specifically inquire of the bus driver as to where the Sharut/Shared taxi may be found. Alternatively, take bus 263 (₪6.80) from the Sultan Suleiman station, also close to the Damascus gate, which will stop at the junction too.
- Bethlehem – The “sherut” van from the bottom floor of the Bethlehem bus station takes around an hour to get to the central square of Jericho (₪20).
- Ramallah and Nablus by shared taxi (sherut).
You can also hitchhike from the south along the Dead Sea or from Tiberias in the north. However, the Egged bus coming from there will apparently not stop before Jerusalem to let passengers off – ask when entering.
From Allenby Bridge border crossing, there is a direct bus which will deliver you to the bus station east of the center, where you will pass through Palestinian border control. From there, it is a 2 km taxi ride or (underwhelming) walk to the city center.
Taxi service in Jericho is easy to find. Make sure to agree on a price with the taxi driver before entering the taxi. Prices for taxi rides inside Jericho shouldn’t be more than ₪10. For taxi rides to sites on the outskirts of Jericho, it’s best to negotiate a fair price.
Shared taxis from/to the center are about ₪2.
- Tell es-Sultan (ancient Jericho). This site is the center of archaeological digs in Jericho. It was the location of the ancient Jericho of the Biblical times and is located some 2 km north-west of the modern city centre, overlooking the natural spring of Ein Sultan. If you prefer to focus on other things, then it is relatively easy to see the gist of the site from the surrounding roads. The site’s car park features not one but two separate fountains both claiming to be Elisha’s spring. ₪10 (intl. students ₪7).
- Shalom al Yisrael Synagogue Mosaic Floor (in between Tel es-Sultan and Hisham’s Palace, there is a synagogue floor from the 6th century CE. Look for the bent, orange sign that says Synagogue or בית כנסת, look straight across the street and there is a road going diagonally towards some Palestinian flags). The synagogue floor is in the basement of a private house belonging to a Jerusalemite family, the Shahwans, at the end of the street. The family discovered the site and kept maintaining it until the Israelis confiscated the land and the house in 1987. ₪10.
- Hisham’s Palace (2 km north of modern Jericho). This winter palace was built by the Umayyad Caliph Hisham Ibn Abdul Malek, before being destroyed by an earthquake soon after completion in 747 CE. The extensive site contains royal buildings, a mosque, water fountains and spectacular mosaic floors. ₪10.
- Sycamore Tree of Jericho (Tree of Zacchaeus) (part of the Russian museum). This tree is referenced in the New Testament due to its association with Jesus’ visit to Jericho: “Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. Now a man named Zacchaeus was there; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to get a look at Jesus, but being a short man he could not see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, because Jesus was going to pass that way.” (Luke 19:1-4, NET Bible) ₪5, just for the garden & tree (the museum is ₪20).
- Quruntal (Mountain of Temptation). A Greek Orthodox monastery is located here, atop the mountain where Jesus is believed to have been tempted by the Devil. It houses two Greek Orthodox priests. One arrived from Greece in November 2010 when he was 30, and will stay there for the rest of his life. The other has been there for decades. From this precarious rocky spot, you get a great view of Jericho and the Jordan Valley towards Amman. Hike up to the top of the mountain, or else take the world’s longest cable car below sea level from the base of the mountain (see Do below).
- Jesus’ Baptismal site (Qasr al Yahoud). Located near Jericho on the Jordan River is the site where Jesus is said to have been baptised by John the Baptist in the Jordan River (this site in Jericho is rivalled by another in Northern Israel at Yardenit). It is also believed to be the spot described in the Old Testament where the Israelites crossed the river to enter the Land of Canaan.
- Wadi Qelt Synagogue. This synagogue is thought to be the oldest synagogue in the worldand is part of the “Jericho Royal Winter Palace” complex that was constructed in the Second Temple Period.
- Herod’s Palace (ruins) (Tulul Abu el-‘Alayiq) (take the road west from the roundabout next to the mosque at the entrance to the center). Not very impressive, but interesting if you are in to the topic. Conveniently located on the way in or out Wadi Qelt.
- Naaran Synagogue (6-7 km northwest of the center). This beautiful ancient synagogue also contains a floor decorated with mosaics.
- Monastery of Gerasimus of the Jordan (Deir Hajla) (Southeast of Jericho, along road #90), . Daily 08:00-18:00. The Greek Orthodox monastery of Deir Hajla near Jericho commemorates St. Gerasimus, whose lavra was nearby. Gerasimus left his family wealth and worldly affairs to become a monk. He departed for the region Thebaid in the Egyptian desert, later again returning to his native Lycia. About the middle of 5th century Saint Gerasimus went to Palestine and settled in wilderness near the Jordan River. There he established a monastery and became known for his righteous life of asceticism and prayer. The story of Gerasimus and the lion, when the saint tamed the animal by removing a thorn from its paw and taught it obedience, became widely known in the Christian world. He is reputed to have attended to the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon in 451.The history of the monastery is also linked to another Christian narrative. Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus were said to have found refuge in a cave here during their flight from Herod. An underground chapel was built on the spot where the Holy Family is believed to have spent the night. The crypt floor also contains the bones of monks who were massacred during the Persian conquest of the Holy Land.
- Participate with visiting archaeologists in the many archaeological digs taking place in the Jericho area.
- Also, Jericho is known to the local population as an area surrounded by beautiful surroundings. There are numerous hiking trails that have beautiful views of the oases surrounding Jericho. Make sure to bring lots of water, Jericho is also known to the locals for its hot climate.
- Go for a camel ride in the desert. Ask the Bedouins walking around with decorated camels. So much fun! Make sure to agree on a price before hand.
- Cable Car (Right next to Tell es-Sultan). Jericho Cable Car Company for getting to Mount Temptation Monastery instead of hiking. ₪55 for a 7-min trip of about 1.35 km.
- Kalya Beach. This beach on the Dead Sea is managed by the nearby Israeli settlement of Kalya. They usually allow Palestinians to use the beach as well. (Shared) taxis can be organised from Jericho.
- Banana Land Amusement Park, . Spend the day having fun at the park.
There are Bedouins selling a variety of goods in Jericho, but the prices for them aren’t much cheaper than other places. Food, however, is significantly cheaper in Jericho.
Near the Central Square, there are many places for quick bites, especially in the direction of the Sycamore Tree or Hisham’s Palace.
It worth a visit to Qurantal mountain where Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights before the devil’s temptation to him, where you will find a very nice restaurant at the bottom of the mountain. The buffet is agreeable and costs around US$15 per head for lunch. Ask to sit outside for an incredible panoramic view. You will have your lunch in front of an amazing panaromic birds eye view of Jericho city, the mountains of Jordan and the Dead Sea. You can reach this restaurant by using the Cable Car of Jericho.
- Limonä Restaurant Jericho (Limonah), Muntazhat Street, . Good but expensive.
- Sultana Restaurant, .
Where to stay in Jericho
- AubergInn (The House of Eggplants) (Close to Tell es-Sultan), . One of the nicer budget options in town and close to the Mount of Temptation and other sites.A retro Arabic house set on a farm, with many cats, chicken and donkeys. Has free bikes to use. ₪80-100 for dorms 200-350 privates (there was a deal for ₪60 in April 2017 if you stayed in Hostel in Ramallah before that and collected a stamp there).
- Jericho Waleed’s Hostel (Office opposite the post office, accommodation 2 km northeast of the central roundabout), . Actually this is just Waleed’s office, the real location of the Waleed’s accommodation is here. He has a driver that will take people to the building northeast of town. The owner is a decent and helpful guy; unfortunately, good & nice words cannot make up for the missing comfort and standards this accommodation option is lacking. While the house is still undergoing major construction, the third floor is open. In general, the rooms are noisy due to the other guests and the bad insulation. The place is infested with mosquitos, which seem to come out of nowhere, endlessly. Hospitality over quality, you have to decide for yourself. The accommodation is conveniently located for trips to the Jordan border and the Dead Sea. From ₪60.
- Sami Youth Hostel, . The hostel includes all hotel services and facilities, consists of 22 rooms and 5 suites. Rooms have been designed to fit the visitors’ needs. Available are single, double and triple rooms; all equipped with airconditioning, television, device connectors, satellite, refrigerators and internet service. ₪172.
- Jericho Inn, Vered Jericho (in the Jewish Settlement near Jericho, so it can be tricky to get in or out if you also want to visit Jericho), . On the road to Jericho on the left hand side, the Jewish settlement has another budget option around Jericho. The say: “Lying in the hammock in the garden or relaxing in of one our lovely cabins, you will enjoy the enchanting countryside atmosphere of Jericho Inn.” Member of ILH. Dorm bed from ₪100.
- Zeytouna Guest House, .
- Hisham Palace Hotel, .
- Jerusalem Hotel, .
- Jericho Oasis Hotel (previously Interncontinental), . A 5-star hotel right after the Palestinian checkpoint at the entrance to Jericho. The hotel was built before the second intifada and is one of the nicest in Palestine and also the tallest building in Jericho giving each beautifully appointed room views for miles. The hotel has 3 swimming pools, a water slide and a pool with dead sea water.
- Jericho Resort Village, . Built in the late 1990s the Jericho Resort Village is a 4-star hotel has several swimming pools, fine dining, poolside bungalows and a rooftop spa. The hotel also has a small conference centers and a poolside bar.
All major Palestinian cities are served directly by shared taxis (sherut/serviis) from here, sometimes with an interchange necessary. Travel to Israeli towns can be tricky but is possible; ask the local tourist information on the central roundabout.
- Tiberias – A large Israeli town in the north and great starting point for Galilee and Golan.
- Nablus – One of the oldest cities in the world and famous for its kunafa/kenafeh. If you are on a tight schedule and planing to go to Ramallah, you might want to skip the latter for this more exciting Palestinian city.
- Jerusalem – Besides the Dead Sea, a central focus for most people coming to this region.
- Dead Sea – One of the most famous things to see/do in Israel and Jordan. Check out Ein Gedi, a Nature Reserve and oasis along the Dead Sea.
- Negev & Judaean – Deserts close to the Dead Sea, featuring amazing sites and desert landscapes, including the Mitzpe Ramon and two other craters.
- Hiking in the Judaean Desert – Go out to other nearby hiking trails; particularly the Mishmar and Ze’elim streams are very close by.