Beirut, Lebanon is one of Earth’s oldest cities, and is ultimately an intriguing mix of Eastern and Western cultures. The city is a cosmopolitan, if somewhat eclectic, holiday destination with an arts and cultural scene that is nothing less than thriving. There is plenty to see and do in this beautiful, history-rich area and its neighbouring regions.
Like many travellers, you may wish to holiday in Beirut and visit the rest of the country by day trip. For example, depending on how long you plan to spend in the area and the types of activities you like, you can head to Mount Lebanon to ski, or visit Batroun for its excellent beaches.
Featured Beirut Hotels
Below are some of the top things to see and do in and around the city of Beirut:
Activities and Attractions
For a truly incomparable experience, visit the Jeita Grotto. Discovered by Rev. William Thomson in 1836, this landmark takes its name from the town where it is located, just on the outskirts of Beirut proper. Its natural rock formations make it one of the region’s most unusual attractions and you can enjoy a boat ride through one side, whilst exploring the other on foot. This impressive landmark definitely deserves a spot on your itinerary.
National Museum of Beirut
The National Museum of Beirut is the first stop of many Lebanon visitors and for good reason: this principle establishment of archaeology opened in 1942, but its collections were started at the commencement of World War I. More than 100,000 works of art are located in the museum, including Medieval finds from excavations, antiques, artifacts dating back to prehistoric times, pieces from the Medieval Mamluk period, and 20th century paintings and sculptures. Regardless of whether you visit it first or last, the National Museum of Beirut is a must-see.
The Roman ruins of Baalbek deserve a spot on your itinerary as well. The architecture of Baalbek has baffled historians throughout history. Visit this site to stroll down the same pathways that ancient Romans walked on their way to worship Venus and Jupiter. If you enjoy learning about the age-old history of the places you visit, this structural wonder is certainly worthy of a day trip.
Roman Berytus Baths
The Roman Baths are situated in the centre of Beirut, between Capuchin and Bank Streets. Now surrounded by government buildings, the remains of one of the oldest Roman baths of Berytus have been preserved as an interesting and easily accessible landmark. A great backdrop for photographs, the Baths are an intriguing place to visit whilst holidaying in Beirut.
Sassine Square is essentially Beirut’s town square, and is one of the most prominent urban areas in Lebanon. Located on the eastern end of the city in the Achrafieh district, the Square was named for one of Beirut’s oldest and most prominent families. It is both a commercial and residential area, with a large transportation and pedestrian hub and is home to various leisure and commercial centres. Over the years, it has transformed from a sleepy residential district to a meeting place where people from various cultures and religions gather to communicate on a daily basis.
Shopping and Dining
If you enjoy shopping in the fashion capital of the Middle East, the best place to begin is the Beirut Souks. This area boasts a significant number of merchants selling international brands, such as Kenzo and DKNY. You may also choose to visit the ABC Mall, located in the aforementioned Sassine Square.
There are also numerous restaurants in this area from which to choose, such as the Mayrig Beirut, which offers classic Armenian fare, terrific cocktails, late-night food, and outdoor seating. Other good choices include the Loris Restaurant, a cozy eatery featuring various Lebanese dishes, bar snacks and made-to-order cocktails. The Abu Naim is another popular Lebanese restaurant, which has become a favourite of both locals and visitors alike over the past several years.
Lebanon has a classic, Mediterranean climate, characterized by cool, rainy winters and long,dry, hot summers. The average summer temperature is approximately 25°C with winter temperatures a bit more erratic, ranging from 10-20°C. In the surrounding mountains, you may see snow after December, and the rainiest month is January.
Arabic is Lebanon's national language, but French and English are also commonly used in Beirut and the surrounding areas.
There are many other things to see and do in Beirut, Lebanon, and virtually any traveller will find something pleasing with which to create wonderful holiday memories.