Lebanon Travel Guides for Backpackers

Lebanon: visit to Beirut and Byblos

My last Christmas was spent in Lebanon -a country, where contradictions coexist side by side. We spent most of the time in Beirut, but we also visited  Byblos  (Jbeil).  It was my first visit to the country, still I had to say that some expectations were formed in my head, mostly by the media. My advice to you is getting rid of stereotypes because only then you will be truly open to discoveries. So, let’s start our journey to Lebanon, shall we? Beirut The flight from Larnaca to Beirut lasted 35 minutes, the shortest flight I have ever taken in my life. Our plane landed at Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport.  It was 24/12, heavy rain and our friends warned us that the traffic should be crazy. However, we got lucky, there were no many cars on the streets, and I was trying to get my first impression of the city. While I was staring at some skyscrapers, we were approaching a bridge and after we passed it the whole picture changed. No more skyscrapers, new buildings, flashy lights, expensive malls, we were passing the old town. It was clear from the beginning that Beirut has a lot to “say”. Within 35 minutes we have reached our hotel, which I would recommend to everyone. The hotel was called “Unit for living” with great location and very friendly staff. It is actually a hotel apartment with a modern design and really comfortable furniture. The hotel is very close to one of the most popular streets of Beirut – Mar Mikhael,  full of bars, cafes, and restaurants. From the veranda of our beautiful, fashionable room I was looking at the building, which was almost fully destroyed and abandoned since the war… Raouche or pigeon rock Next morning our friend took us for a walk in the residential and commercial neighborhood of Beirut. It was very sunny, no sign of the previous day’s rain. People were jogging, riding bicycles on the seaside sidewalks enjoying their morning. It was Christmas day, which is being widely celebrated by the Christian part of the population in Lebanon. We decided to have a cup of coffee at a cafe with the beautiful view at Raouche rock – a symbol of Beirut. Some say that Raouche to Beirut is like cedar tree to Lebanon.   Downtown After getting our daily caffeine doze, we headed to the downtown of Beirut.  When we reached the square, I grabbed my camera to capture a beautiful mosque which was built next to the old church. For a second I stared at these two architectural creations and thought of a day when all religions can co-exist peacefully and stay side by side just like this mosque and a church. The square we were at, was called Martyrs’ square, it was named to commemorate martyrs, that were executed under the Ottoman rule. At the same square, we saw a monument with bullet holes, which was built in 1930 in the name of Arab and Lebanese nationalists hanged killed […]

Your guide for a magical week in Beirut

Dear traveler, Is your suitcase ready? Did you bring your camera with you to take the most beautiful pictures that will make your friends jealous? Did you? Is everything on point? So let us go together to Western Asia, to the country which was referred to as the “Switzerland of the east”. Yes, you guessed it right, we are going to Lebanon! Beirut I had the chance to spend a magical week in Beirut and the environs. Don’t worry, I will take you on a tour in “Paris of the Middle-East”. But first, let’s go back in time. History In Beirut, you’ll learn more history than you ever did in your whole life, although Beirut is small, its size doesn’t reflect the depth of its history: If you don’t pay a visit to the Romans ruins, you’ll be missing out, they were found when rebuilding, they are an interesting site for the fact they still remain today after so much discord in the area. Diversity While walking in the streets of Beirut, you can definitely feel the diversity, as it’s home to many religions and sects, and despite all the conflict, people are resilient and are defined with an acceptance attitude that you won’t find anywhere in the Arab world. Do not hesitate to talk to locals, they will amaze you with their stories! Nightlife You will also find the diversity in the nightlife, as it’s one of the biggest reasons why tourists come and visit, there are many nightclubs and pubs all over suitable for every taste so you can always find the right place you can spend the night. Food Food, you said? Are you a food lover? Lebanese people are too. In Beirut you can find everything you can imagine, so plan to do a diet when you get back as the food scene is incredible: Hummus, fattoush, za’atar salad and falafel etc .. and every other cuisine is available as well from the most exquisite dishes to everyday snack places. Yes, foodies! What are you waiting for? One hour away from Beirut Now, let’s go to the most exciting part of the tour, a part that will take you within yourself. Are you a nature lover? Are you passionate about hiking? walking? Or Do you simply enjoy being far away from the noise of the city? I have definitely found your spot! Tannourine Cedars Forest   Many of us have known Beirut as a dangerous place to travel, to your surprise, I could find my inner peace in a place just one hour away from Beirut. Tannourine Cedars reserve The breathtaking Tannourine Cedars reserve is situated at an altitude around 2000 meter above sea level, lies in a splendidly beautiful area and protects one of the largest and densest cedar forests in Lebanon. It is home to over 70 000 ancient cedar trees, as well as a variety of pines, poplars, and other tree species. Some of these trees are believed to be aged between 1000 and 2000 […]

Lebanon: Why Everyone Should Visit

“I got into the Beirut Arabic Language program! I’m going to go to Beirut for the summer!” I messaged my mom as soon as I got my acceptance letter to the American University in Beirut. She wasn’t thrilled. When I first told her I was applying for immersion Arabic language programs, she quietly rooted for me to go to Jordan or stay in the United States, both countries holding reputations as being “safe.” Growing up in the small town of Hillsborough, NC, the Middle East seemed scary and violent from the media. However, in Lebanon I never felt out of place or in danger. While Lebanon has it’s share of problems,  the area of Beirut I lived in safer than the area in Chicago I had lived the last year. Like any country, there are areas that one should avoid. Lebanon doesn’t get it’s share of credit as a travel destination. Located in the Middle East next to war-torn Syria, most wouldn’t give visiting the country a second thought. Recently when I told some friends about the party scene in Beirut, they said, “but isn’t everyone covered up?” I just laughed and told them absolutely not. Lebanon is an immensely interesting place. In addition to a variety of religious minorities, the country is mostly a mix of both prominent sects of Islam and Christianity. In Beirut, you’ll see stylish women wearing hijabs next to young girls in short skirts and high heels ready for the club. The city has every kind of Western food option you could want in addition to delicious Lebanese food. The parties never stop. Though if you want to immerse yourself in religion and culture, that is easy to do as well. The country is host to thousands of years of history, including impressive Roman ruins, crusader castles, and some of the only remaining Phoenician structures in the world. English and French are widely spoken, and the city is no stranger to foreigners living, working, and visiting Beirut. If you’re looking for something more “off the beaten path” (or cheaper) than a summer in Italy or France, you should book your ticket to Beirut immediately. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e8/Mozilla_Firefox_Hummus.JPG Food Lebanese food is rich in variety and flavors. My first weekend I visited a restaurant in Hamra called T-Marbouta. Typically, Lebanese food is served as “mezze” or small plates which is shared between everyone at the table. This restaurant offers a large selection of salads, meat platters, and warm/cold mezze. The Fattoush salad is a bread salad mixed with fresh lettuce and vegetables and smothered in a light lime vinaigrette, a standard part of any Lebanese meal. We also ordered chicken and shish kabab, large platters of succulent chunks of meat, prepared with spices and cooked until juicy. Hummus and pita, of course, are an essential part of the culinary experience. I found the hummus significantly more flavorful and delicious than any I’ve eaten in the United States. Likewise, the freshly made soft pita puts […]
Load More