Duration: at least one week
Budget: $ 55 per day
My first visit to Beirut was in August 2022, just two years after the devasting Beirut blast which not only devasted big parts of the city but also worsened the economic and financial crisis in Lebanon. I did not know what to expect and was taken by huge surprise by this pulsing and simply beautiful city. The “Paris of the Middle East” as many referred to Beirut is a stunning city that wears its heart on its sleeve. Due to the small size of Lebanon, Beirut is the perfect base for many adventures in Lebanon, should you ever get bored of the city.
- Sight Seeing 80% 80%
- Places to eat 95% 95%
- Day-Trips 95% 95%
- Culture 100% 100%
Though the touristic infrastructure is basically nonexistent there are so many things to do and explore in Beirut. Here are my favorite things to do in the city.
Things to do in Beirut
Go on a tour
One of the best tours I have been on ever was led by Alternative-Beirut and I can’t recommend their tours enough!
To start getting to know Beirut go on a tour to get a much better understanding of Lebanon and especially Beirut.
Another super fascinating tour is led by the Bus Map Project. The tour takes you around Beirut by public transport. This might sound a bit unappealing at first, but it is a fascinating tour throughout the whole city in which you’ll get to learn way more background info about Lebanon. Definitely recommend it, especially when you plan on using public transport onwards.
Stroll Hamra Street
The neighborhood of Hamra is not only home to one of the busiest streets of Beirut but also to the biggest university. There is always much going on Hamra Street and I love going there for street food or simply to take in the busy life.
When strolling around Hamra it’s so worth looking around the corner. There is so much street art to be discovered anywhere.
The bars and restaurants in Hamra are way more casual than Mar Mikhael.While traffic can be heavy in Hamra, I still love staying in Hamra.
Visit Mohammad al-Amin Mosque
Often also referred to as the “Blue Mosque”, Mohammad al-Amin mosque is located right next to the Martyr Sauqre.
The construction has only been finished in 2000 and the biggest mosque in Lebanon.
The Sunni place of worship is also open to visitors free of charge. Make sure to wear appropriate clothes to enter!
Even though I am not a big shopper, I LOVE shopping in Beirut! There are tons of small stores selling handmade products such as soaps, home decor, and other artisans. Shopping for perfumes in a traditional perfume store is also an absolute must for me!
I also love shopping for gold jewelry in Lebanon. Its a really big thing here, and you’d be surprised by how busy jewelry stores can get!
Contrary to what you might expect, the Beirut souks are a big modern and international Mall rather than souks in a traditional sense.
Things to shop for when in Lebanon:
– Gold jewelry
– Handmade soap
Bourj Hammoud | Beiruts Armenian district
Visiting Beirut’s Armenian district, Bourj Hammoud almost felt like a day trip to a different country. You’ll immediately notice the different appearance and maybe even the languages spoken.
Located at the most Northeastern tip of Beirut, Bourj Hammoud is the perhaps most bustling and busiest part of the city. You will find plenty of shops, jewelers, restaurants, and lots of people on the streets. I loved going there for the afternoon as it was very close to our first AirBnb.
P.S Bourj Hammoud Is also a good place to make a bargain on gold jewlery.
Stroll the corniche
Not necessarily my favorite location to spend an evening but definitely worth a visit! I was told that Beirut’s corniche has only maintained some of its glamour of past times.
When strolling the corniche you’ll notice luxury yachts and find rather fancy restaurants, bars, and Cafés.
It is a good place for people watching but left me very thoughtful.
Take a cable car to Harissa Lebanon
To me, Lebanon is the country of amazing sunsets! The statue of Mother Lebanon, located in Jounieh, about 30 minutes outside of Beirut is a wonderful spot to take in sunsets.
You can either walk, drive or take the cable car up!
Nightlife in Mar Mikhael
Mar Mikhael is probably Beirut’s hippest neighborhood. Located fairly close to the harbor the streets of Mar Mikhael are seamed with stylish bars, restaurants, and cafés. There is always something going on and it is a good place for bar hopping in Beirut. Mar Mikhael is also the neighborhood with the highest number of Airbnbs. By the way: everyone dresses up very nicely in Mar Mikhael so it is time to look your best, too!
Spend the day by the beach
Lebanon is small, so a beach is never too far away. I love traveling to Lebanon during the summer months, however, even I get too hot sometimes.
To cool down and unwind I love heading out to some of the beach clubs just outside the city. While the beach clubs get quite busy during the weekend, they are almost deserted during the week.
One of my favorites is Lazy B!
Enjoy the food culture
In Lebanon, food is a big thing. Influenced by many demographics Lebanese food is one of the best in the world.
Eating is often celebrated and meals are shared making dining a whole experience in itself. So save enough time in your day to celebrate at least one meal Lebanese style!
I loved taking part in the cooking class to not only tale some of the recipes home but also to learn more about the rhich food culture!
Paragliding in Beirut
Gliding through the sunset was one of my favorite experiences in Lebanon. The starting point for paragliding in Beirut is actually a beach stretch by Jounieh. From there we were taken up the hill from where we jumped off towards the sunset.
Seeing Beirut from above was incredible as we flew over the beach and toward the city. We even saw Mother Lebanon from up there.
After landing we spend the evening in Jounieh in one of the pretty restaurants by the water before heading back to Beirut.
P.S. There is a pretty cute café up there for those who love to see paragliders take off.
Stroll Sursock Street
Located in Beirut’s fancy Rmeil neighborhood, Sursock has been named after one of the most influential and well-known families in Beirut. The buildings are simply stunning and will take you back on a journey back in time.
Get ready to travel Lebanon
Language: Arabic, French and English are widely spoken
Currency: Lebanese Punds (LBP)
Public Transport in Lebanon
From Beirut, there are 2 main stations – Charles Helou and Cola Station – that serve as the hub for public transport. Whether you want to head north or south, there are public buses and mini-vans that can take you almost anywhere in Lebanon.
Taxi and Uber are great to get around, too as they are relatively cheap!
Driving is also a possibility, if you have good nerves and even better parking skills!
Best time to travel Lebanon
The best time to visit Lebanon is in the spring and fall. In the spring, visitors can enjoy pleasant temperatures ranging from 15°C (59°F) during the day to 7°C (44.6°F) at night. The country’s numerous beaches provide a perfect spot for sun-seekers looking to relax on powdery white sands and take a dip in the warm Mediterranean waters.
The autumn months are also great for sightseeing, as visitors can explore historic sites and enjoy colorful foliage in Lebanon’s majestic mountains. The weather is mild, with temperatures usually ranging between 15°C (59°F) during the day to 5°C (41°F) at night. During this time of year, you can also enjoy activities such as skiing in the country’s popular ski resorts.
Is Lebanon safe?
Despite the desperate situation, the country is in and the ongoing tension with Israel, Lebanon is a very safe country for travelers. The locals are super friendly and petty crime barely exits. We always felt very safe during day and nighttime.
Internet & Phone
Internet and Wifi are only so-so, especially since you most probably will have to use a VPN client. I usually get a local sim card (Alfa) as most international companies have no roaming options for Lebanin to international sanctions. Make sure to bring your passport when buying a sim card.
Tap water in Lebanon
Tap water in Lebanon is not to be trusted. Make sure to bring a water filter instead!
How to get money in Lebanon
Inflation is skyrocketing in Lebanon and the Lebanese Pound has been devalued over 15 times within the past years. As the bank holds on to the older exchange rates and is often out of money anyhow, cash is the only way to go in Lebanon.
Due to the mistrust in banking and financial institutions, credit cards are not widely accepted.
On the off chance that you run out of money, you can always get someone to send you cash via Western Union or similar.
How do you exchange your money in Lebanon’s “black market?”
Well, it’s not actually a scary place – anywhere you can exchange money is considered part of the black market. There are even official money exchange offices located all over the country, particularly along Hamra Street in Beirut. Make sure to download Lira Exchange on your smartphone, an app that provides you with the current black market exchange rate.
Biggest challenges for the responsible traveler
Trash: The infrastructure in Lebanon has suffered greatly during the ongoing crisis. Make sure to avoid trash as much as possible.
Traveling a country in crisis:
Despite the beauty to be admired in Lebanon. You have to remember that you are traveling to a country in heavy crisis. You will encounter refugees and kids begging. Make sure to always stay respectful and supportive.
Packing List Lebanon
Packing for a trip to Tanzania can be a daunting task, as the country is home to a wide range of landscapes and climates. In addition to your usual travel essentials, you’ll need to pack items for both safari and city life.
Check out our packing list to come prepared !
Places to visit in Lebanon
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In my opinion, Lebanon is one of the most mesmerizing places in the world that shouldn’t be missed out on. The rich culture, history, and beautiful landscape make it an incredible destination to visit. If you’re planning on visiting the country in 2023, here is everything you need to know.
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