Lebanon


Overview

Lebanon travel guide, including map of Lebanon, top Lebanon travel experiences, tips for travel in Lebanon, plus historical sites in Lebanon

Mention Lebanon and images of war-torn cities still come to mind – the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War the most recent outbreak of long-running tensions in the area. But for now, Lebanon is at peace, and its traditional charms are one again welcoming travellers.

In a country where ancient meets ultramodern you can find some of the best skiing in the area, stunning Mediterranean beaches and metropolitan cities. With cities such as Beirut becoming party capitals beloved of the style crowd, Lebanon is once again becoming the ‘Paris of the Middle East’.

Wanderlust recommends

 

  1. Stroll through the colourful souks of Tripoli and shop for sticky sweets, spices and silver.
  2. Sample some of Lebanon’s finest wines at Chateau Ksara in the Bekaa Valley.
  3. Hike to Arab Christian monasteries and hermitages exploring the jaw dropping, spectacular Qadisha Valley.
  4. Take a leisurely evening stroll along the Corniche, Beirut’s sea front, and watch the backgammon playing old men and bustling café life of Beirut
  5. Lose yourself in Byblos, the lovely old fishing port that was a haunt of the 1960s jetset

 

Wanderlust tips

Travellers should be aware that the country is divided between a Christian and Muslim population and should take care to observe religious customs. If diving, do not touch or damage the coral. Do not give to beggars.

 

Further Reading

Travel in Lebanon: vital stats

 

  • Capital of Lebanon: Beirut
  • Population of Lebanon: 4.1 million
  • Languages: Arabic (official); French and English are widely spoken
  • Time in Lebanon: GMT+2 (Apr-Sep GMT+3)
  • International dialling code: +961
  • Voltage: 110/220 V
  • Visas for Lebanon: Lebanon visas
  • Money in Lebanon: Lebanese pound (LP), currently around LP2,190 to the UK£. US dollars are widely accepted but traveller’s cheques are not.
  • Lebanon travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Lebanon tourist board: Lebanon Tourism

 

When to go to Lebanon

Winter (November-February) can be cold but making excellent weather for skiers. Spring (March to May) and autumn (September-October) are best for hiking or sightseeing, with moderate temperatures. Summer (June-August) can be unbearably hot, especially inland.

 

Lebanon international airports

Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY) 5km from Beirut

 

Getting around in Lebanon

With nowhere more than a few hours’ drive from anywhere else, there are no internal flights or railways. Roads are good; regular buses and minibuses connect the main towns, and more-expensive servées (shared taxis) run regular routes. Car hire is easily arranged, but insurance is expensive so many visitors prefer to hire a car with driver and/or guide.

 

Lebanon accommodation

Lebanon has a range of accommodation from deluxe hotels – most of them in Beirut – to reasonable mid-range hotels and hostels. Notable hotels outside Beirut include the famous, luxurious Palmyra opposite the ruins in Baalbek, and the Grand Hotel Kadri in Zahlé. Chbat Hotel in Bcharré is a comfortable three-star option, perfect for exploring the Qadisha Valley.

 

Lebanon food & drink

Eating is one of the delights of Lebanon. No visit to the country is complete without at least one full mezze meal – an array of dishes to share, usually starting with hummus, olives, aubergine, labneh cheese and tabbouleh salad. Typically, next might come fried squid, fish baked with almonds, meat grilled on skewers, stuffed vine leaves and balls of spicy lamb. Remember to leave room for baklava (sickly sweet pistachio filo treats). Fish is the choice in coastal towns, though generally much more expensive than meat. For delicious budget snacks try manaeesh – a kind of Lebanese pizza with various toppings.

Excellent Lebanese wines, both reds and whites, are found everywhere in Beirut and Christian-dominated areas, and found occasionally in some hotels – ditto the locally brewed pilsner-style Almaza beer.

Health & safety in Lebanon

Stick to bottled water. Make sure you’re up to date with your vaccinations: check with your GP before travelling. If visiting rural areas make sure you have appropriate anti-malarial tablets. If diving, take the usual precautions.

The security situation is fluid and restrictions may apply – check the latest advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office before departure.