Most travelers arrive to Bethlehem via Jerusalem. Since Bethlehem is administered by the Palestinian Authority, an Israeli military checkpoint stands on the road connecting the two locations.
Bus no. 21 runs from the Arabic Bus Station at the Damacus Gate in East Jerusalem via Beit Jala to Bethlehem. The average trip length is 40 minutes and costs 7.5 NIS. Note that this bus does not go through the mail checkpoint 300. The bus will drop you of on Bethlehem/Beit Jala intersection - which is 1 km away from the Manger Square. You can easily follow the Pope Paul VI Street to get to the Manger Square and the Basilica of the Nativity in 15 minutes. You can also get a taxi to the Manger Square, It will cost you around 15-20 NIS per drive not per person. You are allowed to bargain.
Bus 124 (24) also leaves from Damascus Gate, it costs 5 NIS and runs directly to the Bethlehem Checkpoint and back. You would have to walk through the checkpoint as you enter and exit Bethlehem.
Make sure to bring your passport. From the checkpoint, you can either walk half an hour or take a taxi to the center of Bethlehem (15-20 NIS), which is about 2.5 km away. Also, make sure that taxi driver drops you off on the Manger Square.
While renting your car, make sure it has insurance for both Israeli and Palestinian areas. The Visitor Information Center would recommend you renting a car from the company Middle East Rent a Car, located in Jerusalem.
Cremisan: In 1883, the convent of Cremisan was founded in Palestine by Salesians on ruins of a Byzantine monastery from the 7th century. Its main purpose was to produce wine from local grapes. The convent is located just on the current border between Jerusalem and Beit Jala. Today, grapes are grown on hillsides between 600 and 930 m altitude, but only 2% the wine production (around 700,000 liters per year) is made from Crimean's own grapes. The rest comes mainly from Beit Jala and Hebron area.
St.Nicolas Church: This church is said to be built on the site of the cave where St. Nicolas lived. Originally from Cappadocia, Nicolas was a monk who came to Palestine in the fourth century and later became Bishop of Myrrh in Turkey.
Solomon Pools – Artas Route: Located some 3 Km south of Bethlehem near the village of Artas, you can visit the Solomon Pools which are the closest perennial springs to Jerusalem at an altitude above that of the city. Hence it once provided one of the oldest and most reliable water supplies. The three rectangular shaped pools/cisterns can hold up to 116,000 cubic meters of water. Partly excavated and built from rock, these huge reservoirs collected spring and rain water and pumped it into Bethlehem. The water reached as far as Jerusalem, using the sheer force of gravity. Adjacent to the pools, lie the remains of an ancient Ottoman fort set in a beautiful grove of Pine and Cypress trees. The actual reservoirs were in use up until 1946.
Artas: Just south of Bethlehem, near the Solomon’s Pool, lies the village of Artas (or Urtas) which is by far one of the best-known West Bank villages. The name Artas originates from hortus, the Latin for “garden" because it is believed to be the site of hortus conclusus. Solomon’s erotic Canticle or Song of Songs: “Thou art like a garden enclosed, my sister, my spouse, like a sealed fountain. Thy plantations are a paradise of delights.
Church and Convent of Our Lady of the Garden (Hortus Conclusus): Across the valley from the village of Artas is the convent, orphanage, and school of Hortus Conclusus. The name derives from a line in the biblical song of Solomon which refers to the poet's love as a garden enclosed, a fountain seled up. The convent was built in 1901.