Peace in the Middle East: holidays in the countryside


Alila Jabal Akhdar

The West Bank isn’t the obvious destination for a relaxing break, but the FCO’s warning to stay away was lifted years ago and the vibrancy of Palestinian culture may surprise you. The Israeli occupation is evident in walls and checkpoints, and there are some places – notably Hebron – that are always tense. That said, there’s much more to this country than conflict.

International visitors can move around freely and will be welcomed warmly by Palestinians. Hosh Jasmin ( is an organic farm and slow-food restaurant just outside Bethlehem. You can camp under the olive trees and join in yoga sessions, film nights and wine tastings.

A little way to the north, the village of Deir Ghassaneh is a great starting point for a walk on the Sufi Trails that connect the old hilltop shrines around Ramallah. You can have lunch here, at the village women’s co-operative (+972 2240 7611, Further north still is Sebastia, one of the prettiest villages in the West Bank, which has a beautifully restored guesthouse built into the ruins of a Crusader church. The Siraj Center pioneered alternative tourism in Palestine and can help with hiking or homestays anywhere in the country.

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