If you come to Palestine during summer, it might seem like it’s too hot to do anything. But there is so much to do and learn, you won’t be sorry you spent your vacation in Palestine. You’ll hike the desert guided by moonlight, learn Arabic, and eat amazing food.
- Hang out with the locals
Connecting with local people who have lived through it all in Palestine is likely to teach you more about what life in Palestine is like than reading ten books.
- Explore Palestine’s cities
So many beautiful cities and towns to explore in Palestine. Stroll through Jerusalem’s Old City with its hidden alleys and neighbourhoods, and marvel at the Dome of the Rock. Or go to lesser known Nablus, with its exquisite covered souk, delicious knafeh and ancient olive oil soap factories. And don’t forget about Jericho, the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. It boasts important archaeological finds, including Natufian structures dating back to earlier than 9000 BC. You can also take a bike ride through the city, especially in the early evening when it’s not as hot. The Dead Sea is right next to Jericho so a float and mud bath are good ways to spend your day in Jericho too!
- Cook up a storm
Have you ever tried these excellent stuffed zucchinis and softer than soft humus? You might want to learn how to cook some of that mouth-watering food yourself. Cooking classes are on the rise in Palestine, so learning to make sweet semolina cake or maqloubeh is in your reach. In Bethlehem, you can join one of the Noor Women’s Empowerment Group’s cooking classes which are held in and organized by women from Aida camp. In Nablus, Bait Al Karama offers one, two, or four day cooking courses with a focus on traditional and Nabulsi dishes. With cooking sessions, guided visits to the souk, food shops and factories, this is a great option for true foodies.
- Take a hike
If you’ve been eating all that delicious food, going on a hike might seem like a good idea. Even though hiking season is usually during winter and spring as the sun can be too hot for hiking during summer, there are still some great options for hiking lovers. Why not join a Desert Full Moon Walk, a unique opportunity to walk in the Jerusalem desert guided by the light of the full moon. Sleep overnight in a Bedouin tent and wake before the crack of dawn for a unique hike through rough desert terrain. You’ll arrive at a lookout spot and watch a glorious sunrise with the Dead Sea in the foreground.
- Learn Arabic
How is your Arabic? Maybe you speak Palestinian dialect but have never learned Modern Standard Arabic? Or maybe you haven’t had the chance to learn to speak Palestinian dialect. During the summer there are plenty of opportunities for high quality language courses at Palestinian universities like AlQuds, Birzeit or Bethlehem University.
- Join a university programme
In addition to taking a language course, there are several opportunities to join summer programmes organized by Palestinian schools and universities. Birzeit University offers the PAS programme which is specifically for young Palestinians from the diaspora, but it also has a more general international summer programme. For diaspora teenagers, the Ramallah Friends School organizes a yearly Summer in Palestine Camp.
- Volunteer your time and talents
If you’re in Palestine for a longer period of time, you’ll have plenty of options to volunteer your talents. A good place to start is to ask family members if they know of any good organizations in their area, but google will also give plenty of options. It usually is best to contact an organization that seems interesting directly, most organizations have plenty of experience hosting volunteers and will be able to help you arrange your stay. If you like a more tailored program you can contact organizations that will organize your volunteer place, a place to live, and help you learn about the political situation. In Bethlehem, Volunteer Palestine or Palestine Summer Encounter will do the organizing for you.
- Go camping
Camping vacations are not very common in Palestine but that doesn’t mean nobody does it. Many Palestinian children join the scouts, especially in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. They spend time outdoors, camping in olive groves under the stars. You can do so too, as a few campsites have been established across Palestine. Between Bethlehem and Jerusalem the beautiful Maghrour valley, full of olive and fruit groves, hosts Hosh Jasmin: a beautiful farm-to-table restaurant and campsite with an amazing view of the olive tree dotted hills. You can also sleep in a Bedouin encampment in the Jerusalem wilderness, right outside of Bethlehem. Called Tal al-Qamar, or Hill of the Moon, it’s the perfect place to camp, barbeque and watch an incredible sunrise in the desert.