Lebanon is compactly packed with history, archaeology, natural beauty and a handsome population of fun-loving people, whose hospitality and warmth extends the length and breadth of the country. Ever since time immemorial, Lebanon has been and still remains a melting pot of great civilisations and culture. In the following sections, we have attempted to give you a brief synopsis of Lebanon's City Guide.
Check out our list of things to see and do during your stay. Our Lebanon Tour Suggestions will tell you all you need to know about the best places to visit in Lebanon. For tips on how to get around in Lebanon, read our Lebanon Transportation Guide.
Baalbek is a city where time stands still. Built of stone blocks weighing up to a hundred tons transported to the site by muscular force alone, the temples of Baalbek have survived majestically to the present day. In the fifth century, historians listed them among the 'wonders of the world', referring to them, for the first time, as 'the temples of Baalbek' the name by which they are still known today. For over half a century the ruins of Baalbek have dazzled the world. Each summer, its famous festival is one of Lebanon's most important cultural events. On the steps of the Temple of Jupiter or inside the Temple of Bacchus, Herbert von Karajan, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Fayrouz and many others have enchanted entire generations. The beauty of the ancient site shines forth in the glow of the spotlights and, on starry nights, the applause of the crowd seems to awaken the very gods from their slumber.
The former 'Pearl of the Middle East' is once again an exquisite experience: a bewildering composition of cultures and faiths, perched on a breathtaking sweep of Mediterranean coastline. The most populous city in Lebanon, Beirut, is the Lebanese Capital and home to the first law school in the world, dating back to the Phoenician Era. Beirut is a tourist attraction to visitors from around the world. Known to be the most commercial and busiest city in Lebanon, Beirut has several nightclubs, restaurants and other places of entertainment. Not to mention the famous market at the Martyr's Place known as Souk el Barghout, where hundreds of tourists pass by and enjoy a delightful meal, or even a cup of coffee at the enjoyable outdoor cafes.
Known to be the fishing centre of Lebanon, Sidon is an old fashioned city just like Tripoli. It is very popular for the cultivation of most of the country's fruits, including bananas, mangoes, apples, and other fruits not found anywhere else in Lebanon. In addition, Sidon serves as a very important, strategic oil pipeline terminal that extends from Iraq and Saudi Arabia to other recipient countries. Sidon's nightlife is dominantly spirited up with Arabic music, dancing, and traditional entertainment. What makes Sidon special is that it is home to many delightful, mouth-watering Arabic sweets' stores, which make up most of the markets.
Lebanon's second largest city (and the second most populous), Tripoli is where you can breathe history and relive the glorious old days of the country. Locals are warm and friendly and homes and cafes inviting with their wonderful smell of freshly brewed coffee. Pop into a quaint old style restaurant or accept an invitation to a Lebanese home as you stroll through the markets and lanes of this city.
For history buffs, there's no better place than Tripoli to explore the real Lebanon. A good place to start is the Citadel which is where you can explore ruins of a fort that dates back to the time of the Crusades.
The harbour is perennially buzzing with activity and is a key port of entry for goods in and out of the region. It also serves as the entry point for shipments to land locked countries further inland in the region and also serves as a port to Syria, Iraq and Jordan which lack harbours of their own.
The tourist hub of Tyre is where you must go to explore a number of Lebanon's most coveted historic sites and some of the most gorgeous locales. Tyre is also your gateway to a UNESCO world heritage site that boasts of the best preserved hippodrome from Roman times, a remarkably well preserved city from the ancient times and ruins that hold several stories and the key to much of Lebanon's past. You'll even find references to the city in the Bible - it is believed that Tyre existed as early as the 3rd millennium B.C.
Tyre is located in the far south of Lebanon and was once a twin city, split between a number of small islands and a coastal town. The Phoenician city of Tyre was honoured as a great island city and even called ‘the queen of the seas'. However, after the Arab Israeli wars in 1982, much of the city was destroyed. Efforts to rebuild it and restore it to its former glory are still on, so you can watch as the city regains its old lustre.
If you prefer a mountain setting for your holidays then Zahleh is a wonderful place to get some bracing mountain air while you explore Lebanon. Indulge in some gastronomic adventures and take a tour of the beautiful vineyards of the region. Try a bottle of the local bubbly (it's called Narjilleh) and sample some of the produce of the agricultural heartland of Lebanon - the Bekaa Valley. Taste the freshness of the crunchy lettuce, the hearty sweet potato and sugar beets in the Mezze platter and try other Lebanese cuisine before heading out to pick up your own souvenir - a bottle of wine from master wine makers ‘Kefraya'.
Byblos overwhelms the senses with its ancient heritage. The oldest continually inhabited town in the world still looks exactly like the ancient Phoenician port it was a few hundred years ago. The most noteworthy sites include the Crusaders castle, built during the 12th and 13th centuries; the Egyptian temples, the most ancient of which dates back to the 2nd millennium BC; the Roman amphitheatre with its stunning Mediterranean backdrop; the Phoenician Royal Necropolis; and the scenic 12th century church of St. John the Baptist. Byblos also holds recently restored medieval souks, where visitors can shop for souvenirs, including Lebanese arts and crafts, postcards, traditional dress, and other local wares or simply stroll along the old cobblestone streets and enjoy the architecture.
Anjar, 58 kilometers from Beirut, is completely different from any other archaeological experience you will have in Lebanon. At other historical sites in the country, different epochs and civilizations are superimposed one on top of the other. Aanjar dates exclusively from one period, the Umayyad dynasty. Anjar has a special beauty. The city's slender columns and fragile arches stand in contrast to the massive bulk of the nearby Anti-Lebanon mountains, an eerie background for Anjar's extensive ruins and the memories of its short, but energetic, moment in history.
The town of Deir El Qamar is no less than a living museum, with its unusual winding and narrow streets that lead out to dramatic palaces and buildings that reflect an old world architectural style. Buildings here are well maintained and regular restoration work has preserved the past at its best.
Turn around a road lined by feudal style architecture and you may well chance upon a charming stepped street or perhaps an enclosed garden.
The Ottomans are credited with bringing the capital from Ba'aqline to here in 1590 when Prince Fakhreddine Al-Maani II - one of the most important of the Ottoman rulers - decided to extend the boundaries of Mount Lebanon to this town. The remains of the Ottoman Empire in Lebanon are visible even today, in the form of places of worship dating back to that age and include a synagogue, some churches and a mosque.
Eternal symbol of Lebanon, the Cedars fascinate with their majesty and great age. Known for their long lasting wood resistant to temperature, humidity and decay, the trees were widely exploited in antiquity. The most famous cedars are undoubtedly those of Bsharreh, many of which are hundreds of years old. Some of these trees, estimated at between 1500 and 3000 years old, have reached a height of 35 meters and their trunks are between 12 and 14 meters around. With branches positioned like arms at prayer, the so-called Cedars of the Lord are at their most impressive when seen under layers of white snow. The resort of the Cedars near Bsharreh is also known for its excellent skiing and the exceptional view of the Qadisha valley seen from the highest slopes.
Harissa, a statue of Our Lady of Lebanon with her arms outspread over Jounieh Bay, is one of the countrys most renowned manmade landmarks. The statue was made in Lyon; it is of bronze covered with white paint and of 8 meters and a half long. The statue arrived to Beirut in 1906 on board of a big ship. The construction of the sanctuary was finished on the third of May 1908, with the tower-piedestal of 20meters high. On that day, the virgin was proclamed Sovereign of the mountains and seas, and Queen of Lebanon. It is the most visited sanctuary in Lebanon, and many come walking from far away. There are two noteworthy churches on the site, a modern cathedral, and a small chapel right under the statue. The view is simply "breathtaking"!