Snow is not something many people associate with Palestine, but in Halhul, a large town just 5km north of Hebron, it snows every winter without fail. This vibrant town is the highest inhabited place in Palestine, at 916 metres above sea level. It is a hive of activity with many businesses and lots of traffic passing through.

Muslim tradition states that the prophet Jonah is buried in this town, and the Mosque of Nabi Yunus (prophet Jonah) currently stands over the alleged site. It is from Jonah that the town takes its name, as he stayed in the area for a year, and hala (stay/live) and hul (one year) make Halhul.

The Old City is the most attractive and interesting place to wander, with several hidden gems to be found, while the main street is a lively, frenetic place of business, shopping and socialising.

Population: 22,108 (2007)

What To Do

While the main street is lined with colourful shops, mini-markets, coffee shops and various businesses, the Old City is the place to wander peacefully between beautiful historic buildings. Especially in winter, when there is bound to be a thick layer of pristine white snow adorning everything in sight. But it doesn’t have to be snowing to appreciate the classically attractive old stone houses, domed roofs and solid arches.

Many of the old houses are now occupied by refugee families from all over the West Bank, who will happily invite visitors to drink proper Arabic coffee with them. Much of the Old City went up in flames in 1968 at the hands of Israeli soldiers, but what remains is indeed a spectacle.

There is a very small mosque to be found, which is built over the tomb of a man who lived in the same era as the prophet Mohammed. Adjacent from the mosque’s entrance is an ancient olive tree, gnarled, twisted and over 1,400 years old.

Elsewhere in Halhul, there is the Mosque of Nabi Yunus (prophet Jonah), who was famous for his journey inside a whale. The alleged tomb of Jonah is in the centre of the mosque, and below it is a large cave, although it cannot be visited.

Where To Eat

There are many cafes, falafel vendors and shawarma restaurants in Halhul itself, unsurprising given the size of the town. The nearby Hebron neighbourhood of Ras al-Jora is dining central for the whole southern West Bank, however.

Where To Stay

There are just four hotels in Hebron, but there is much more variety in Bethlehem to the north, or even Ramallah.