Hebron is a sprawling city with the largest population in the West Bank (app. 250,000 people). Hebron is notorious as the home of the patriarchs—with the tombs of Abraham, Jacob, Issac, and their wives residing below the Ibrahimi Mosque. It is also known as the economic capital of Palestine. Unfortunately, today Hebron is most well-known as the epicenter of the “Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” and the settlement building enterprise. Four settlements lie in the heart of the Old City of Hebron, surrounded by many Israeli checkpoints, with two larger settlements sitting on the outskirts of the city.
I lived in Hebron for 8 months and I highly recommend a visit to this city if you wish to truly understand the effects of the Israeli Occupation—including the settlement enterprise, the checkpoints and closure system, and the division of the city into zones of control.
Again, Hebron is a safe destination for tourists whether you are traveling alone or in a group. This is the only city where I absolutely recommend a tour because without a local tour guide you will leave the city without understanding many crucial aspects of life in Hebron given the complex political layout of the city.
- Tour: Aboud gives an amazingly in-depth tour of Hebron visiting all of the major tourist sites as well as giving an overview of the history of Hebron and showing both the Israeli and Palestinian controlled areas of the city.
- You can go through the website linked above, or you can contact Aboud directly through WhatsApp at +972599080494. This option is of course better for the guide since the website takes a commission from his tour fee.
- Ibrahimi Mosque: The Ibrahimi Mosque is the 4th holiest site in Islam and the 2nd holiest site in Judaism. The mosque was forcibly split by the Israeli military into Muslim-only and Jewish-only sections after a massacre of Palestinian Muslim worshippers in 1994 by a settler from Hebron.
- For the Muslim side: you can visit as a non-Muslim any day except Friday and not during prayer time.
- For the Jewish side: you can visit any time except during Shabbat (sunset on Friday to Sunset on Saturday).
- Muneer’s shop: across from the Israeli Tourist Center (at the base of the Ibrahimi Mosque) is a row of shops and Muneer’s is the last shop on the right. He has a variety of traditional souvenirs, and he speaks English very well. If you are not interested in shopping you can still stop by for coffee and a story.
- Fakhoury Ceramic Factory: all the way on the left of this line of shops. They are beyond the Israeli checkpoint so Palestinians cannot visit this shop. It is a nice sign of solidarity if you stop to say high since the brothers are kind and do not get many visitors.
- Glass and Ceramics Factory: there are several factories in Hebron, but the largest with the best prices is located near the intersection of Ras al Jura. You can see ceramics being hand-painted as well as hand-blown glass.
- Glass Factory inside the Old City: located close to the checkpoint to enter the Ibrahimi Mosque, take a left off the main souq street and you should see signs for the Glass Factory (close to the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee and Al-Balad Cafe). Mostly glass products, you can usually see the glass being blown during the day.
- Keffiyeh Factory: Located in the Nimra neighborhood, it is about a 15 minute walk from Bab A Zawiya (the entrance to the old city). You can visit the last operating keffiyeh factory in the West Bank, with a diverse selection of multi-colored keffiyehs.
- Women’s Cooperative: a women’s cooperative that has been operating for over 10 years, run by a wonderful woman named Leila. They sell traditional Palestinian handcrafts that are made by women of Hebron and the surrounding villages. The shop is on the main road of the souq (market) in the Old City—after the chicken market and before the Avraham Avinu settlement.
- Russian Church (Al-Maskobiya): Built in 1871, this is the only church in Hebron, which houses the Oak Tree where it is said that Abraham received a visit from the angels. It is a beautiful church with a nice rose garden and picnic tables if you need a rest. You will have to take a taxi (about 10 shekels) and tell the driver “Al Maskobiya.”
Restaurants & Cafes
- $$$ Abu Mazen Restaraunt: Known as the best traditional restaurant in Hebron. Located in Al-Nimra neighborhood, close to the Abu Mazen Hotel. The prices reflect the quality of the food, but it is worth treating yourself at least once. Suggestions: the stuffed lamb neck, stuffed chicken, or Qidra.
- $$$Ibrahim Pasha: located next to Hebron University, it is a new Turkish restaurant run by one of the most famous chefs in Hebron, the food and presentation is wonderful, but it is a fancy restaurant with prices to match.
- $$$ Sheikh al Jabal: located at Bir al Mahjar circle (Dowar), near to ras al Jura at the Northern entrance to the city. More expensive, but my favorite barbecue (Meshawi) in Hebron.
- $$$/$$ Huwana Restaraunt: on Ein Sara street, close to circle (Dowar) Ibn Rushd. Great for breakfast, lunch, or juice and shisha, a very chic restaurant, that serves the upper-class of Hebron. Staff speaks English. Suggestions: the breakfast basket, the maqluba, chili meat fries, and the fresh juices.
- $$ Beit al Sharq: located at Dowar Ibn Rushd, they serve traditional food for reasonable prices (you can grab chicken and rice to go for about 15 NIS).
- $$ Matam Al Malaky (المطعم الملكي) : located at Al-Haras intersection, close to Hebron Sky Cafe and Vita Cafe, this is the best sit-down breakfast/lunch place, serving traditional breakfast foods (foul, hummus, shwarma and hummus, falafel, mtabal/babaganoush, etc).
- $$ Hebron Sky Cafe/Sama Al-Khaleel: (At Al-Haras intersection, close to Hebron University and Ein Sara Street, take the elevator inside the mall to 6th floor): good drinks, a large and diverse menu, cheap shisha, and outdoor covered seating with a nice view.
- $ Mata’am Mohammad Ali: very close to the Old City and Bab A Zawiya, located inside the Souq Al Madina Al Manara Mall: on the second floor. They serve delicious traditional rice dishes with chicken for only 15-20 shekels.
- They only speak Arabic so ask for qidra, mensaf, or maqluba and they will prepare a plate for you.
- $ Falafel at Bab a Zawiya: A stand covered in tin foil, next to the gas station at the entrance to bab a zawiya. My favorite falafel in Hebron (with fried eggplant/cauliflower). The owner, Majid, is extremely friendly, only 3 shekels.
- Note: several cafes also function as full restaurants including Zuwar, Hebron Sky, and Alburj.
- Dessert: Heluwiat Sahl Al Akhdar:Ein Sara Street across from the football/soccer field (Al Husseain Ben Ali Stadium): my favorite kunafeh in Hebron.
- Fayrouz Cafe: Ein Sara St, down the street from Huwana Restaurant and next to a fire station. The second floor of an old building that has a nice ambience with good music, shisha, and drinks.
- Hebron Sky Cafe/Sama Al-Khaleel: (At Al-Haras intersection, close to Hebron University and Ein Sara Street, take the elevator inside the mall to 6th floor): good drinks, a large and diverse menu, cheap shisha, and outdoor covered seating with a nice view.
- Alburj Cafe: located at Al-Haras intersection, across the street from Hebron Sky and King of Falafel, this cafe is similar to Hebron Sky–located at the top of a building with nice views and a full menu.
- Zuwar Cafe: located at the Ras Al Jura circle at the northern entrance of the city on the 9th floor of a building, with great views, a large menu, very popular, but on the pricey side.
- Vita Cafe: Around the corner from the intersection of Ein Sara and Al Haras, with good coffee, iced tea, pastries, wifi, and is sometimes a gathering place for local musicians.
- Q Candy: a cafe located on Ein Sara St. across from Huwana Restaurant and close to Dowar Ibn Rush. This cafe has nice European style coffee, milkshakes, pastries, and seating upstairs. It can be quite busy so it’s not a great place to sit and do work.
- Kookh Cafe/Horse Training School: take a taxi (located close to Ein Sara Street). They have nice drinks and shisha. It costs about 300 shekels for 4 horseback riding lessons. The manager speaks good English and the staff is very friendly.
- Sigafredo Cafe: European style cafe, with coffee, milkshakes, pizza, and other western comforts. Located about a 5 minute walk from ras al jura circle, on the same side as Mr. Bakri restaurant.
Places to Stay
- $$$: Queen Plaza Hotel (located on Ein Sara Street) or Abu Mazen Hotel (located in Al-Nimra neighborhood).
- $$ Lamar Guest House or the H2 Hostel which are both around the same price (about 60 shekels per night) and are both close to the Old City.
- $ Zleikha: a very nice woman who lives in the heart of the Old City often has a room available for Airbnb (she speaks English very well), probably your cheapest option but missing some of the amenities of a hostel/hotel.
- $$Hamed: has a very nice apartment in H1, outside of the city center but with easy access to everything. The plus-side of this property is that 100% of your payment goes to an amazing local non-profit.
- Couchsurfing: Mo is a reputable couchsurfing host who has hosted over 600 guests and I have heard good reviews from friends who have stayed with him. You have to create a courchsurfing profile to set up a stay with him, but the stay is absolutely free!
- Private Apartment: contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a single bedroom private apartment which is a 10 minute taxi from the Old City and a 5 minute taxi from the New City (must be interested in at least a 1 week stay). The host is a wonderful young man and musician.
- Home stay: if you are interested in a home stay contact us at email@example.com and we will do our best to arrange one if there is availability.
Volunteer or Study Arabic
- Defense for Children International (Hebron Office): contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will contact friends at the office if you are interested in volunteering.
- Hebron Rehabilitation Committee: created to monitor the situation in the Old City, it documents human rights violations and is responsible for the impressive rehabilitation of buildings in the Old City bringing back residents, businesses, organizations, and overall life to the Old City. Contact us at email@example.com if interested.
- ADWAR: Women’s Rights NGO: contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you in touch with someone from their office.
- Youth Against Settlements: based directly next to the Tel Rumeida settlement in Hebron, they offer volunteer housing, and you can arrange directly with them the sort of project you would like to carry out. Apply to volunteer directly through their website.
- International Human Rights Observers: EAPPI, CPT, and ISM all have offices here and are international observer/activist groups (refer to our page on general volunteering under the Activities tab).
- Arabic Tutor: I use an outstanding private Arabic tutor who does classes in both Modern Standard Arabic/Fusha and Amia. She is an experienced teacher who offers classes for app. 30-50 NIS per hour depending on your level.