When you step off the bus in Bethlehem, Palestine, you’ll immediately be beset by taxi drivers looking to take you around to all the Banksy artwork in town. Unaware of where the various pieces of art were located, my friend and I took a taxi. To our surprise, the first piece was a mere 300 m away from the bus stop! Unsurprisingly, most of the others were within walking distance, too.
If you want to support the local cab industry, then by all means, take a taxi! But here’s the information you need to a) not get ripped off by said taxi, and b) visit the sites without a taxi at all.
How much should a taxi cost?
My friend and I were approached by half a dozen cab drivers before we were fully off the bus. The first of these was well-spoken and professional, and, unfortunately, completely full of crap. Don’t sit in the cab during negotiations–they will use it against you when you turn them down (“You sat in my cab! We did business!” was shouted after us even though we never got in the cab). He tried to charge us 150NIS to visit all the Banksy artwork plus some sites we were uninterested in. He dropped it to 100NIS as we walked away. We soon found out the whole tour would have been maybe 8 km of driving, so his prices were completely ridiculous.
The next guy offered us three pieces of Banksy art plus a ride to the church for 20NIS–we agreed. Ended up the taxi ride was totally unnecessary, but at least we didn’t pay much!
Walking the nearby sites
Two legitimate Banksy works and one knock-off are within a few hundred meters of the bus stop in Bethlehem. When you exit the bus, cross the street and turn left.
A couple hundred meters up on the right you’ll find the “Girl Frisking Soldier” piece. A protective structure has been built around it, shielding it from the road–don’t walk by it!
Continue up the street and hang a sharp right to find the “Armored Dove” on an obvious wall facing the next intersection.
I made the map from memory after my visit, the next set of directions may be off by a street, but don’t worry–the enormous Separation Wall is your next destination, and you can’t exactly miss it. Walk straight along the street back toward the separation wall (on the map in red). Once you’re at the wall, keep going straight and check out the next block of artwork that covers its length.
Then double back to where you met the wall and take a right, following the wall down a small side street. There’s more artwork (including an imitation Banksy of a girl with balloons) as well as some poignant stories from Palestinians posted on the wall. There’s also a Banksy Shop across from the wall. I doubt a single cent actually goes to Banksy, but there’s some fun stuff in there, including postcards for the folks back home.
From there, walk back to the bus stop and decide your plan of action for the next couple pieces.
Walking to the more distant Banksy works
From the bus stop it’s an easy walk into the center of town and the Church of the Nativity. You’ll be offered taxis, but they’re really not necessary. Just walk to the next intersection, go left, and walk straight along the road (and down a large staircase) to the plaza in front of the famous church.
From the Church, it’s about 800 m to the next [debatable] Banksy piece “Angel Scattering Hearts”, and a further 1200 m to the epic “Soldier Throwing Flowers”. So, from the Church, it’s about a 4 km round trip.
The angel is across the street from the Ararat Hotel, and the man is on the side of a garage across from a car shop.
You can probably negotiate for a cheap taxi to just those sites–just keep in mind that the round trip distance is just 4 km from the church, so hold out for a fair price.