Welcome to our comprehensive Lebanon travel guide. From the bustling streets of Beirut to the tranquil valleys of the countryside, Lebanon offers an array of experiences waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re drawn to its ancient ruins, mouthwatering cuisine, or warm hospitality, this guide is designed to equip you with essential insights and tips to make your exploration of Lebanon truly unforgettable.
Fast Facts About Lebanon
- Climate: Enjoy a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Coastal areas offer a pleasant breeze, while mountain regions provide cooler temperatures.
- Local Currency: The Lebanese Pound (LBP) is the official currency. ATMs are widely available, and credit cards are accepted in most places.
- Power Voltage: Voltage is 230V, and the standard plug type is the European two-pin plug.
- Language: Arabic is the official language, but English and French are widely spoken in urban areas.
- Religion: Lebanon boasts religious diversity, with Islam and Christianity being the prominent religions.
- Safety: Generally safe, but be cautious in border areas. Follow local advice and be aware of your surroundings.
- Cultural Etiquette: Dress modestly, especially in religious sites. Always ask for permission before taking photos of people.
- Tipping: Tipping is appreciated but not mandatory. A 10% service charge is often included in restaurants.
Best Time to Visit Lebanon: Seasons and Festivals
- Spring (March – May): Experience pleasant weather and blooming landscapes. Don’t miss the Tyre International Festival in April.
- Summer (June – August): Ideal for beach lovers and outdoor activities. Join the Baalbeck International Festival in July for cultural performances.
- Autumn (September – November): Enjoy mild temperatures and vibrant foliage. The Beirut International Film Festival takes place in October.
- Winter (December – February): Hit the slopes in ski resorts like Faraya Mzaar. Experience the festive Beirut Art Film Festival in December.
- Festivals: Be part of the Byblos International Festival (July/August) and the colorful Al-Bustan Festival (February/March) for music, arts, and culture.
Top Attractions and Things to See and Do in Lebanon
- Explore Beirut: Immerse yourself in the vibrant capital city with its mix of history and modernity. Wander through the bustling streets of Hamra and admire the iconic Pigeon Rocks.
- Discover Byblos: Step back in time at one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities. Explore ancient ruins, the Crusader Castle, and vibrant markets.
- Visit Baalbek: Marvel at the awe-inspiring Roman ruins, including the Temple of Bacchus and the Temple of Jupiter, showcasing Lebanon’s rich history.
- Relax in Tyre: Unwind on the beautiful beaches of Tyre and explore its UNESCO-listed archaeological sites, including the Al-Bass Archaeological Site.
- Experience the Cedars: Hike through the stunning landscapes of the Cedars of God, a UNESCO World Heritage site home to Lebanon’s iconic cedar trees.
- Wine Tasting in the Bekaa Valley: Sample exquisite Lebanese wines amidst picturesque vineyards and discover the region’s wine-making heritage.
- Jeita Grotto: Embark on an underground adventure in this remarkable cave system with stunning stalactites and stalagmites.
The Best Ways To Get Around Lebanon
- Public Transportation: Beirut offers an efficient and affordable public transportation system, including buses and shared taxis called “service.”
- Taxis: Taxis are abundant and offer a convenient way to navigate the city and beyond. Negotiate fares before starting your ride.
- Car Rentals: For more flexibility, consider renting a car. Keep in mind that driving in Lebanon can be hectic, so be prepared for traffic.
- Uber and Careem: These ride-sharing services operate in Beirut and offer a comfortable and reliable way to get around.
- Walking and Biking: Many areas are walkable, particularly in urban centers. Bike rentals are also available in some cities for eco-friendly exploration.
Accommodation Tips: Lebanon
- Diverse Options: Lebanon offers a range of accommodation options, from luxurious hotels in Beirut to cozy guesthouses in smaller towns.
- Book in Advance: During peak seasons, it’s advisable to book your accommodation in advance to secure the best deals and availability.
- Local Guesthouses: Experience authentic Lebanese hospitality by staying in local guesthouses, which often provide a more intimate and personalized experience.
- Check Reviews: Before booking, read reviews from fellow travelers on platforms like TripAdvisor to ensure your chosen accommodation meets your expectations.
- Safety First: Prioritize safety when choosing your accommodation. Opt for well-reviewed and centrally located places for added convenience.
Lebanon Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
- Free Museums: Many museums in Lebanon offer free entry on specific days or during certain hours. For example, the National Museum of Beirut offers free admission on the last Friday of every month.
- Local Eateries: Dine at local eateries and street stalls to experience delicious Lebanese cuisine at affordable prices.
- Public Transportation: Utilize the public transportation system, including buses and shared taxis, to save on transportation costs.
- Cultural Passes: Look into cultural passes that provide discounts on entrance fees to multiple attractions. The Beirut Culture Pass is a great example.
- Haggle in Souks: When shopping in local markets (souks), don’t hesitate to haggle for better prices, especially when buying souvenirs and handicrafts.
Culinary Delights and Traditional Cuisine in Lebanon
- Mezze Feast: Indulge in a mezze feast, a spread of small, flavorful dishes that include hummus, tabbouleh, falafel, and more.
- Shawarma and Falafel: Savor the deliciousness of shawarma wraps and crispy falafel sandwiches, popular street food options.
- Kibbeh and Sfiha: Try kibbeh, a dish made from ground meat and spices, and sfiha, savory pastries filled with meat or vegetables.
- Mouthwatering Sweets: Treat yourself to Lebanese sweets like baklava, knafeh, and ma’amoul. Pair them with aromatic Lebanese coffee.
- Fresh Juices and Arak: Quench your thirst with freshly squeezed fruit juices or savor a glass of arak, an anise-flavored alcoholic beverage.
Souvenir Ideas: Bringing a Piece of Lebanon Home
- Spices and Herbs: Purchase authentic Lebanese spices like za’atar and sumac to add a touch of Lebanese flavor to your dishes back home.
- Olive Oil and Soap: Lebanese olive oil is renowned for its quality. Consider bringing back a bottle along with handmade olive oil soaps.
- Handicrafts: Explore local markets for unique handicrafts such as woven rugs, pottery, and intricate glassware.
- Traditional Clothing: Find beautifully embroidered traditional clothing pieces, like keffiyeh scarves, to remember your time in Lebanon.
- Arabic Calligraphy Art: Acquire a piece of art featuring Arabic calligraphy, which holds deep cultural significance in Lebanon.