Lebanon Country Guide
Lebanon is a country of vast extremes: in religion, culture, terrain, and history. It surely has every type of vacation one could want, from a luxurious city break to idyllic beaches, from rugged mountain villages to peaceful countrysides. You will find your Arabian nights here, as most tourists do. Whatever your cup of pleasure, chances are that you could most definitely have it here in Lebanon.
Lebanon's colourful landscape is like a richly woven tapestry of rugged mountains, verdant valleys and a coastline lapped gently by the Mediterranean.
Our Lebanon Country Travel Guide below will provide you with all you need about the best of beautiful Lebanon. If you are more interested in city events, attractions and things to do, click on the Lebanon Destination Guide and our local Lebanon Tour Ideas. Let us guide you through our beautiful country with our in-depth local knowledge. Check out the latest Lebanon travel features on YouTube.
Beirut is the cultural and administrative heart of Lebanon, located as it is at a vantage point on the Mediterranean. This marvellous city has even been called the "Paris of the East" and it isn't hard to see why. The charming city boasts of an eclectic mix of cafes, theatres, performing arts venues and interesting little shops - set against a backdrop of towering mountains and the turquoise waters of the Corniche.
Learn belly dancing and be cheered in a palace hall full of the gentle smell shishaw smoke and jasmine leis. Simply stand awe-struck in the temple of Bacchus and watch the moon rise over the ancient columns. Watch the sun set over the distant hills of Syria and dream of voyages to unknown lands out of the port of Byblos. Do the Hawaiian wave in the stadium of a hippodrome or flit around in a fashion parade in downtown Beirut!
We recommend you read about travel in Lebanon on GoNOMAD.
Lebanon Country Travel Guide
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Lebanon is divided into 3 broad climate zones spanning the valley area of Bekaa, the coastal areas and the mountains. While the coast has mild weather with a pleasant (but sometimes rainy) winter, summers can get hot and humid. The mountains with their alpine weather are a great getaway from the heat of the plains during summer. Bekaa valley, on the other hand, is a little tougher on the tourist, with hot and dry summers and snowy, windy winters.
Lebanon stretches 225 kilometres from North to South and 46 kilometres from east to west. Its countryside is a heady mix of a Mediterranean coastline and high mountain peaks, making the weather an interesting mix of hot and cold.
Expect summers in Lebanon to be warm and balmy (with coastal temperatures averaging 31°C on a hot day), with days that never seem to end. Even when it isn't summer, the sun shines on in Lebanon. In fact, about 300 days a year are bright and sunny! The mountains are pleasant and mildly cool during summer, making them a great destination for the heat-worn traveller.
The Mediterranean winter is mild and rainy along the coast, with the region getting an annual rainfall of between 700 and 1200 mm. Temperatures hover around 15 degrees on the coast. If you're heading for the hills, prepare for some colder climes - it has been known to snow in the mountains.
Springtime is perfect for skiing and swimming. You can actually plan to head to the ski resorts for some good cross country skiing and then come back down the coast for a lovely beach holiday all on one trip! Skiing holidays are best planned between December and April when the region gets most of its snowfall.
Spring and Atumn last for about one or two months with temperatures settling in at about 21°C.
Click here to view the current weather conditions in Beirut.
There are plenty of telephone booths where you can make local and international phone calls. Pick up phone cards at the post offices, kiosks at major shopping areas and at tobacconists. Phone cards are priced between 10,000 and 30,000 LBP. Locals use their mobile phones a lot, but homes and businesses do have landlines. To dial an international number, first punch in the dialling code "961" followed by the country code of the country you are calling and then the number. Local numbers in Lebanon come with a 2 digit area code preceding the phone number.
Emergency numbers include:
Nationwide Emergency/ Internal Security Forces 112
Police Operation 160
Tourist Police 350901/343504
Beirut Information 427714/5
Jounieh Information 900000/9301111
Sidon Information 721221/725811/2
Tripoli Information 200400/1
Zahle Information 800169
Red Cross 140
Civil Defense 125
Internet connectivity in Lebanon is common as are cyber cafes from where you can check your mail or surf the internet for a small charge. Hotels also offer connectivity, so if you're carrying your laptop you can plug in or use their business centre facilities to get connected.
If you need to send a letter by snail mail you'd be well advised to go straight to the post office since letterboxes where you can post your mail are hard to come by. Letters take between a week and a fortnight to be delivered to North America and Europe. Parcel delivery by express mail is also possible.
To view the currenct exchange rate, click on this link to OANDA.com - The Currency Site.
Major credit cards, such as Visa, Master Card, Diners Club, and American Express, are accepted in large establishments throughout the country. ATMs are becoming more numerous and many are located outside bank branches and in the business areas of major cities.
Tipping: It is common to tip service personnel such as porters, hotel staff, doormen, guides and waiters with an amount between 2,000 and 10,000 LBP, depending on the type of service and the quality of service received. When dining at restaurants, a tip of between 10 and 15% is acceptable.
Bargaining: Use your discretion when bargaining. Certain products such as food are best bought at the quoted price - in fact, haggling over food prices may even be considered rude. You can, however, bargain over prices of a taxi fare (in advance) or goods sold by street vendors. Also, when you're making any purchases in bulk, do enquire if there is any discount for a wholesale buy.
Average Costs in Lebanon
We have listed below the average cost of some of the most frequently asked after items to help you budget for your holiday in Lebanon. Please note that these prices are just a guide and may change from region to region.
Food & Drinks
Bottle of water (500ml) US$1
Large Local Beer US$2
Bottle of Wine US$8
Cup of Coffee US$2
Local snack (street/market food) US$8
Average Restaurant Prices:
Top End US$60
Average Room Prices:
Top End US$230
Taxi ride (10 minute) US$3
Public Bus Ticket US$2
Car Hire (per day) US$45-$500
Petrol (1 Litre) US$0.8
Souvenir T-shirt US$15
Internet (1 hour) US$3
International Phone Call (per minute) US$0.6
Movie ticket US$7
Total Area: 10,400 square kilometres
Time Zone: GMT +2 hours (+3 hours in daly lights savings time) - US EST +7
To view the current time in Beirut, click on this link to TimeAndDate.com.
Arabic is the Lebanese national language. However, it is also common to speak French and/ or English. The spoken language is a dialect called Lebanese Arabic, often combined with English and French.
New Year 1st January
St. Maroun's Day 9th February
Labor Day 1st May
Martyr's Day 6th May
Ascention 15th August
All Saints Day 1st November
Independence Day 22nd November
Christmas Day 25th Dec & 6th Jan
Lebanon Islamic holidays based on Hijri/Lunar calendar:
Eid Al-Fiter 3 days marking end of Ramadan (fasting month)
Eid Al-Adha 3 days at the end of Hajj
Islamic New Year 1st of Moharram
Ashoura 10th of Moharram
Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) Birthday 12th Rabe'a El-Awwal
Al-Isra' Wal Mi'raj 27th Rajab
The majority of the population is represented by Muslims 59.7% (Shi'a, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri); followed by minority denominations of Christian 39% (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt, Protestant); and 1.3% of people falling into other categories.
All visitors to Lebanon are required to hold a passport with a minimum of 6 months validity and a visa. Tourist visas of 1 month are given free of charge and can be renewed for up to 3 months.
Visa on Arrival
This facility is available at the Beirut International Airport and other ports of entry to Lebanon to nationals of the Commonwealth, the European Community, Russia, Japan and the American Continent.
Arab nationals of non GCC countries (Algeria, Comers Island, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen) must carry the following documentation to be eligible for the visa on arrival:
- A non refundable round trip ticket
- Hotel reservations or a residential address at which they will be staying
- Cash or cheque (from a recognized bank) of USD 2000
Nationals of Thailand, Czech Republic and Romania are advised to contact the Lebanese Embassy in their country for details on how to obtain a visa.
Note: Even if you are eligible for visa on arrival, it is prudent to check on requirements with the local Lebanese embassy in your home country before you depart.
Exceptions to the visa policy
Visa not required
If you are a national of the U.A.E., Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or Jordan and are visiting Lebanon for less than 3 months, you do not require a visa. You will, however, still need a passport with a 6-month validity.
The Government denies entry to Israeli passport holders, Israeli visa holders (valid or expired visas), and those holding passports with entry stamps to Israel.
Lebanon lies in the Middle East, sharing land borders on the north and east with Syria (375 kilometres); on the south with Israel (79 kilometres). It shares its western coast with the Mediterranean Sea.
To view a map of Lebanon, take a look at WorldAtlas.com.
Banks 8:00 to 12:30 - to 12:00 Saturday
Shops and Malls 9:00 to 18:00 - to 17:00 in Summer
Private Sector 8:00 to 17:00 - and one or two hours factored as lunch break
Note: During the holy month of Ramadan working hours are usually reduced.
Ministry of Tourism - Tourist Information +961 (1) 340940
Middle East Airlines (MEA) +961 (1) 629125 - 822780
Airport Information +961 (1) 628000
Security is a constant worry for those visiting Lebanon for the first time. In Beirut, as in other towns and villages, streets are particularly safe day and night. The culture encourages the community to watch out for all members; hence random violence is seldom experienced by both locals and visitors.
Lebanon is a progressive country and has no real religious or cultural restrictions on clothing. In fact, diversity seems to be the order of the day with traditional clothing being worn side by side with the latest designer labels from the west.
Discretion is advised when visiting religious places - you'd be better off dressing modestly. Avoid short clothes and sleeveless tops when you're visiting a religious shrine or monument and you'll be fine. Women are expected to wear scarves to cover their heads at the mosques. Carry your own or borrow one from the stalls outside the mosque.
It is necessary to have an international driving license in case you dont have a Lebanese one. Lebanon drives on the right hand side of the road.
Harissa, a statue of Our Lady of Lebanon with her arms outspread over Jounieh Bay, is one of the countrys most renowned manmade landmarks.
Aanjar: An ancient Islamic trading hub located at the southern edge of the Bekaa valley.
Baalbeck: Temples, Roman ruins and magnificent cityscapes of an ancient city once called Heliopolis or the ‘City of the Sun'.
Byblos: A showcase of the culture and traditions of the people of Lebanon, this excavation site has the remains of several ancient civilizations.
Tyre: An impressive and well preserved city site and possibly the best preserved hippodrome from Roman times.
Cedars Forest or Qadisha Valley: A natural habitat with cedar forests and a spiritual centre and monastic area, this ‘holy valley' dates back to the 12th century.