What are the Top 20 things to do in Lebanon?
Situated in the crossroad of three continents, with Mediterranean coast on one, and snowy mountains on the other side, Lebanon has always been unique and unforgettable country. Urban neighborhoods, historical sites, breath-taking nature, and the mix of cultures are only some of the reasons that make Lebanon one of the world’s most desirable travel destinations. Here is our pick of places to visit.
1. Temples of Baalbek, Bekaa Valley, Baalbeck – Located on the south west of the Anti-Lebanon mountains, these colossal ruins of Phoenician and Greco-Roman architecture used to be a sanctuary visited by pilgrims, and today they are one of the most famous tourist attractions. Be sure to visit the remarkable Temple of Jupiter and its 20 meters high columns.
2. Jeita Grotto, Beirut – A fascinating limestone cave system 20 kilometers north of Beirut will take your breath away with its strikingly beautiful nature-made decorations. In the upper gallery you can see the world’s largest stalactite and then take a boat ride to the lower gallery.
3. Beiteddine Palace, near Deir el-Qamar – Built in the end of the 18th century by emir Bashir Chehab II, this grand palace looks as if it came from 1001 night. Gorgeous garden, small museums, fountains and the collection of Byzantine mosaics are a good reason to visit this spectacular place.
4. National Museum of Beirut – Built in the 1930s, this small but beautiful museum houses a large collection of antiquities and artifacts like sarcophagi, mosaics, jewelry, coins, an ceramics. Thanks only to the staff efforts the collection was not destroyed during the Civil war.
5. Downtown Beirut – Once a popular city center, the Downtown Beirut, also known as Solidere, is now a high end district with numerous shopping malls, restaurants and cafes. Its great pedestrian routes with beautiful architecture, churches, and mosques fit into the description “Paris of the East”.
6. The Corniche, Beirut – This favorite promenade spot starts at Ras Beirut and ends at the St George Yacht Motor Club. Here you can see relaxed people chatting with their friends over a coffee and nargileh. You can play backgammon or buy hot nuts and corn from the street vendors while enjoying the warm atmosphere that typifies this district.
7. American University of Beirut – In the green and peaceful campus of this Middle East’s prestigious educational center you’ll always find chatty students and teachers speaking both English and Arabic. Its archeological museum is the third oldest museum in the Middle East, it is open to the public and free of charge.
8. Gemmayzeh Street, Beirut – The trendy neighborhood also called Vegas of the Middle East or Soho of Beirut is packed with more than 100 cafes, bars and clubs that open mostly in the evenings and late at night. There’s a saying “What happens in Gemmayzeh, stays in Gemmayzeh” because visitors from the surrounding more conservative areas come here to yield to their desires.
9. Souqs, Sidon – In the labyrinth of passages you’ll find shops, kiosks and cafes that have been trading like this for centuries. From these tiny market stalls you can buy everything from the tasty Arabic dishes to the orange and rose water, homemade soaps and wood workings.
10. Chateau Montagne, Aindarah, Mount Lebanon – A beautiful hilltop castle with a magnificent panoramic view was built some 50 years ago with intention to become the most beautiful castle in the world. Although today it’s mostly used for weddings and other celebrations, it would be a shame not to visit its luscious green gardens and landscape.
11. Qadisha (Kadisha) Valley – Fifty monasteries embraced between two cliffs in a river valley will bring inner peace to all its visitors, religious or not. It’s a beautiful hiking spot with waterfalls, forests, brooks, and incredible views, but there’s also the grotto of the mad where mad people were put in irons in hope that St. Anthony would help them get better.
12. Deir Qannoubine, Bcharre – Five hour long walk from Diman up through the valley will bring you to the amazing monastery from the 15th century. The monastery, half built into a rock, is decorated with beautiful frescoes worth the trek.
13. Taynal Mosque, Tripoli – The mosque was constructed in the 14th century and is said to be the most beautiful mosque in Lebanon. Its magnificent entrance, two harems and five domes make this mosque one of the finest examples of Mamluk architecture.
14. The Crusader Castle, Byblos – The castle was built in the 12th century by Fulk, King of Jerusalem. The history behind the castle is amazing, so is the view over the harbor.
15. Byblos Segway Tours – Experience ancient and charming city of Byblos in a different way. Glide around the old city, souqs, the castle, and the port for a new and relaxing experience.
16. Soap Museum, Sidon – Meet the history of making soap, the manufacturing techniques, and hammams. The museum building used to be a soap factory back in the 17th century.
17. Al-Bass site & Tyre Beach – Tyre is a small and enjoyable city with a famous archeological site where you can see a Roman Hippodrome, Necropolis, a Roman road and aqueduct. You can also rent a boat or just swim or dive in the clearest sea in Lebanon.
18. Origami Academy, Dbayeh – A place where both kids and adults can learn how to make the whole new world from a piece of paper. There are always some new activities for those who enjoy the great atmosphere and food in the Academy.
19. Palm Islands Reserve, Tripoli – These three islands, which are declared as a nature reserve and protected by Unesco, are a sanctuary for many endangered species like rabbits, monk seals, loggerhead turtles and 300 varieties of migratory birds.
20. Synagogue Maghen Abraham, Beirut – the oldest, and now the only Beirut’s synagogue is located in former Jewish district Wadi Abou Jamile. Built in 1925 and then destroyed in 1982 in Israeli attack, the Synagogue is now in the process of renovation.