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Lebanon travel guide - Travel S helper

Lebanon

travel guide

Lebanon is a sovereign state in Western Asia, formally known as the Lebanese Republic. It is bounded on the north and east by Syria and on the south by Israel, while on the west by Cyprus across the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon’s geographical position at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland enabled its illustrious past and created a religious and ethnically diverse cultural identity. With a geographical area of just 10,452 km2 (4,036 sq. mi. ), it is the smallest recognized nation on the whole Asian peninsula.

The oldest trace of civilisation in Lebanon predates recorded history by more than seven thousand years. Lebanon was home to the Canaanites/Phoenicians and their kingdoms, a maritime civilization that thrived for almost 1,000 years (c. 1550–539 BC). The area was conquered by the Roman Empire in 64 BC and ultimately developed into one of the Empire’s major centers of Christianity. A monastic tradition known as the Maronite Church was founded in the Mount Lebanon area. The Maronites retained their faith and identity when the Arab Muslims invaded the area. However, a new religious group, the Druze, established themselves on Mount Lebanon as well, resulting in a centuries-old religious split. The Maronites reestablished communication with the Roman Catholic Church and reaffirmed their communion with Rome during the Crusades. Their alliances with the Latins affected the area far into the contemporary period.

From 1516 until 1918, the area was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. During the fall of the empire following World War I, the French Mandate of Lebanon took over the five provinces that comprise modern Lebanon. The French extended the Mount Lebanon Governorate’s boundaries, which were mostly Maronites and Druze, to accommodate more Muslims. Lebanon achieved independence in 1943, creating a distinct political system known as confessionalism, a kind of Consociationalism centered on religious groups. Bechara El Khoury, President of Lebanon during the country’s independence, Riad El-Solh, the country’s first prime minister, and Emir Majid Arslan II, the country’s first minister of defense, are regarded the country’s founders and national heroes for leading the country’s freedom. On 31 December 1946, all foreign soldiers departed entirely from Lebanon. Lebanon has been a member of the International Francophonie Organization since 1973.

Despite its little size, the nation has established a well-known culture and a strong presence in the Arab world. Prior to the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), the nation had relative peace and prosperity, fueled by tourism, agriculture, trade, and banking. Lebanon was dubbed the “Switzerland of the East” in the 1960s due to its financial strength and variety, and its city, Beirut, drew so many visitors that it was dubbed “the Paris of the Middle East.” At the conclusion of the war, significant efforts were made to rehabilitate the economy and restore the nation’s infrastructure. Despite these difficulties, Lebanon has the highest Human Development Index and GDP per capita in the Arab world, surpassing the Persian Gulf’s oil-rich economy.

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Lebanon - Info Card

Population

5,592,631

Currency

Lebanese pound (LBP)

Time zone

UTC+2 (EET)

Area

10,452 km2 (4,036 sq mi)

Calling code

+961

Official language

Arabic - French

Lebanon | Introduction

Tourism in Lebanon

The tourist sector contributes about 10% of GDP. In 2008, Lebanon received approximately 1,333,000 visitors, putting it at number 79 out of 191 nations. Due to its nightlife and friendliness, the New York Times rated Beirut as the top tourist destination in the world in 2009. The Ministry of Tourism reported in January 2010 that 1,851,081 visitors visited Lebanon in 2009, up 39 percent from 2008. Lebanon welcomed the most visitors to date in 2009, breaking the previous record established before the Lebanese Civil War. Tourist arrivals peaked at 2 million in 2010, but dropped by 37% in the first ten months of 2012, owing to the conflict in neighboring Syria.

The three most common countries of origin for international visitors visiting Lebanon are Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Japan. The increase in popularity of Japanese cuisine in Lebanon has been attributed to the recent inflow of Japanese visitors.

People in Lebanon

The people of Lebanon are divided into Christian (Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Greek-Catholic Melkites, Armenians, Protestant, Coptic Christians) and Muslim (Shi’a, Sunni, Alawites) and Druze groups, with the majority being Christian (Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Greek-Catholic Melkites, Armenians, Protestant, Coptic Christians). Other minor groups include the country’s significant population of Palestinian refugees (approximately 250,000). Due to the huge inflow of visitors, many of whom are returning members of the Lebanese diaspora and Lebanese nationals working abroad, the population surges significantly during the summer months (June to September). There are also a large number of Arabs from the Gulf and Levant.

People are extremely laid-back and kind. You should not be afraid to approach strangers on the street and ask for information, since the majority of them will try their best to assist you.

Although this is true particularly in Beirut, Mount Lebanon, and some of the bigger towns, Lebanon is inhabited by a relatively open and highly educated population. In the Bekaa Valley and the rural north and south, attitudes and behaviors are more conservative.

Lebanon was formerly known as (the self-proclaimed) Switzerland and the Eastern Paris. This prestige has been eroded by previous conflicts, but the Lebanese have learnt to adapt. Their quest of pleasure and enjoyment has overshadowed their financial capacities and political issues, resulting in a slew of issues throughout the years, including political issues, religious conflicts, and infrastructural issues.

Geography Of Lebanon

Lebanon is situated between latitudes 33° and 35° N and longitudes 35° and 37° E in Western Asia. Its territory is “northwest of the Arabian plate.”

The country’s total area is 10,452 square kilometers (4,036 square miles), with land covering 10,230 square kilometers (3,950 square miles). Lebanon has a 225-kilometer (140-mile) Mediterranean coast and border to the west, a 375-kilometer (233-mile) border with Syria to the north and east, and a 79-kilometer (49-mile) border with Israel to the south. Lebanon’s boundary with Israel’s occupied Golan Heights is contested in a tiny region known as Shebaa Farms.

The coastal plain, the Lebanon mountain range, the Beqaa valley, and the Anti-Lebanon highlands are the four main physiographic areas of Lebanon.

From the Syrian border in the north, where it expands to create the Akkar plain, to Ras al-Naqoura on the Israeli border in the south, the narrow and discontinuous coastal plain spans. The rich coastal plain is made up of marine sediments and alluvium deposited by rivers, with sandy bays and stony beaches interspersed. The Lebanon mountains rise sharply parallel to the Mediterranean coast, forming a limestone and sandstone range that stretches the length of the nation. The mountain range is formed by narrow and steep canyons and ranges in width between 10 km (6 mi) and 56 km (35 mi). The Lebanon mountains rise to a height of 3,088 meters (10,131 feet) above sea level in Qurnat as Sawda’ in North Lebanon, before gently sloping to the south and rising to 2,695 meters (8,842 feet) in Mount Sannine. The Beqaa Valley is a component of the Great Rift Valley system, located between the Lebanon mountains in the west and the Anti-Lebanon range in the east. The valley is 180 kilometers (112 miles) long and 10 to 26 kilometers (6 to 16 miles) broad, with alluvial deposits forming the rich soil. The Anti-Lebanon range extends parallel to the Lebanon mountains, with Mount Hermon at 2,814 meters as its highest point (9,232 ft).

Seasonal torrents and rivers drain Lebanon’s highlands, the most famous of which being the 145-kilometer-long Leontes, which originates in the Beqaa Valley west of Baalbek and empties into the Mediterranean Sea north of Tyre. All of Lebanon’s rivers are non-navigable; 13 start on the western slope of the Lebanon range and flow down steep gorges to the Mediterranean Sea, while the remaining three originate in the Beqaa Valley.

Climate Of Lebanon

The climate of Lebanon is moderate Mediterranean, with hot, humid summers and chilly, rainy winters.

Summer is typically the most popular season for visitors, since there is almost no rain between June and August, and temperatures vary from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius (68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit). During the summer months, however, there may be periodic heatwaves with temperatures increasing, and it may be very humid near the shore. Because the mountains are cooler and drier than the coast, many Lebanese choose to come and holiday in the highlands during the summer to escape the heat and humidity of the shore.

Autumn and spring are other excellent seasons to visit, with a little more rain than summer, but without the tourist throngs, and with much less humidity.

In the mountain areas that make up a significant section of the nation, snow falls for most of the winter, and there are many ski resorts. The coast, on the other hand, is still quite warm, with maximum temperatures seldom dropping below 13°C (55°F), though it may and has done so on many occasions.

Demographics Of Lebanon

The population of Lebanon was estimated to be 4,125,247 in July 2010, however owing to the delicate confessional political balance between Lebanon’s different religious groups, no official census has been performed since 1932. Because the Lebanese “are derived from numerous distinct peoples who have inhabited, conquered, or populated this corner of the globe,” creating Lebanon “a patchwork of closely linked civilizations,” identifying the Lebanese as ethnically Arab is a frequently used example of panethnicity. While this ethnic, linguistic, religious, and denominational variety may seem to create social and political turmoil at first sight, “this multitudinous plurality of religious groups has coexisted with minimal strife throughout most of Lebanon’s history.”

In 1971, the fertility rate was 5.00, but by 2004 it had dropped to 1.75. Fertility rates varied significantly across religious groups: 2.10 for Shiites, 1.76 for Sunnis, and 1.61 for Maronites in 2004.

Over 1,800,000 individuals moved from Lebanon between 1975 and 2011, resulting in a succession of migration waves. Millions of individuals of Lebanese ancestry, mainly Christians, live all over the globe, particularly in Latin America. Brazil is home to the world’s biggest expat community. Many Lebanese moved to West Africa, especially the Ivory Coast (where over 100,000 Lebanese live) and Senegal (roughly 30,000 Lebanese). Over 270,000 Lebanese live in Australia (1999 est.). There is also a sizable Lebanese diaspora in Canada, with an estimated 250,000–700,000 individuals of Lebanese ancestry. (For further information, see Lebanese Canadians.) The Persian Gulf, where Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar (approximately 25,000 people), Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates host many Lebanese, is another area with a large diaspora.

In 2012, Lebanon was home to approximately 1,600,000 refugees and asylum seekers, including 449,957 Palestinians, 5,986 Iraqis, over 1,100,000 Syrians, and 4,000 Sudanese. UNRWA assistance and menial labor, which they compete for with approximately 500,000 Syrian guest laborers, are their main sources of income. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, 71 percent of Syrian refugees live in poverty. The United Nations’ most recent estimates put the number of Syrian refugees at around 1,250,000.

Long and devastating military wars have devastated the nation over the past three decades. Armed conflict has impacted the majority of Lebanese; 75 percent of the population has direct personal contact with the war, while the majority of the rest have experienced a variety of difficulties. Almost the entire population (96 percent) has been touched in some manner by armed conflict, either directly or as a result of the broader repercussions.

Religion In Lebanon

Lebanon is the Middle East’s most religiously diverse nation. The CIA World Factbook estimates the following as of 2014: Muslim 54% (27 percent Shia Islam, 27 percent Sunni Islam), Christian 40.5 percent (21 percent Maronite Catholic, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Melkite Catholic, 1% Protestant, 5.5 percent other Christian), Druze 5.6 percent, and extremely tiny numbers of Jews, Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, and Mormons. According to a research performed by the Lebanese Information Center based on voter registration data, the Christian population remained steady in 2011 compared to prior years, accounting for 34.35 percent of the population; Muslims, including the Druze, accounted for 65.47 percent of the population. According to the 2014 World Values Survey, 3.3 percent of Lebanon’s population is atheist.

The ratio of Christians to Muslims is thought to have decreased during the last 60 years, owing to greater Christian emigration rates and a higher birth rate in the Muslim community. Christians made up 53 percent of Lebanon’s population in 1932, according to the latest census. In 1956, the population was projected to be 54 percent Christian and 44 percent Muslim.

According to a demographic survey performed by Statistics Lebanon, about 27% of the population was Shia, 27% Sunni, 21% Maronite, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Druze, 5% Melkite, and 1% Protestant, with the other 6% mainly adhering to minor non-native to Lebanon Christian groups.

Other sources, such as Euronews and the Madrid-based newspaper La Razón, put the number of Christians at approximately 53%.

A national census has not been performed since 1932 because the relative number of confessional groupings remains a contentious subject. There are four Muslim sects, 12 Christian sects, one Druze sect, and one Jewish group recognized by the state.

Residents of Southern Beirut, the Beqaa Valley, and Southern Lebanon are mostly Shi’a.

Tripoli, Western Beirut, Lebanon’s southern coast, and Northern Lebanon are home to the majority of Sunni people.

The Maronites are mainly found in Eastern Beirut and Lebanon’s highlands. They are Lebanon’s biggest Christian community.

Koura, Beirut, Zahleh, Rachaya, Matn, Aley, Akkar, Tripoli, Hasbaya, and Marjeyoun are home to the Greek Orthodox, Lebanon’s second biggest Christian group.

Language In Lebanon

Lebanon’s official languages are Standard Arabic and Lebanese Arabic, which are close to (but not identical to) the Arabic spoken in Syria, Jordan, and Palestine.

Standard Arabic is spoken by almost everyone in Lebanon, and many individuals also speak French and/or English. While most people’s primary language is French, English is also commonly spoken. Because Lebanon was a French mandated province after World War I, street and location signs are in both Arabic (first) and French (second). Signs and outdoor messages are often written in at least two languages: Standard Arabic, French, and/or English.

Economy Of Lebanon

Lebanon’s economy is based on a laissez-faire approach. The majority of the economy is denominated in dollars, and capital movement throughout the nation is unrestricted. The involvement of the Lebanese government in international commerce is limited.

Despite the worldwide crisis, the Lebanese economy expanded by 8.5 percent in 2008 and a revised 9 percent in 2009. According to IMF preliminary estimates, real GDP growth fell from 7.5 percent in 2010 to 1.5 percent in 2011, with nominal GDP projected at $41.5 billion in 2011. According to the Banque du Liban, real GDP growth may reach 4% in 2012, with inflation reaching 6%. (versus 4 percent in 2011). The Arab world’s political and security turmoil, particularly in Syria, is anticipated to have a detrimental effect on local business and economic conditions.

Lebanon’s national debt is very substantial, and it has significant external funding requirements. Although down from 154.8 percent in 2009, the public debt in 2010 surpassed 150.7 percent of GDP, ranking fourth highest in the world as a percentage of GDP. Finance Minister Mohamad Chatah said at the end of 2008 that the debt would exceed $47 billion in that year and would rise to $49 billion if two telecommunications firms were not privatized. Exorbitant debt levels, according to the Daily Star, have “slowed the economy and restricted the government’s expenditure on vital development projects.”

Lebanon’s urban populace is known for its entrepreneurial spirit. Emigration has resulted in the creation of Lebanese “business networks” all over the globe. Remittances from Lebanese living abroad amount to $8.2 billion, accounting for one-fifth of the country’s GDP. Among Arab countries, Lebanon has the highest percentage of skilled workforce.

The Lebanon Investment Development Authority was created with the goal of encouraging investment in the country. Investment Law No.360 was adopted in 2001 to strengthen the organization’s purpose.

Agricultural workers account for 12% of the overall workforce. In 2011, agriculture accounted for 5.9% of the country’s GDP. Lebanon has the largest percentage of cultivable land in the Arab world, with major crops such as apples, peaches, oranges, and lemons.

Although gold coins are produced in large quantities in Lebanon, they must be reported when exported to any other country, pursuant to International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations.

Oil has recently been found inland and on the seabed between Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel, and Egypt, and negotiations between Cyprus and Egypt are now ongoing to achieve an agreement on the exploitation of these resources. The seafloor between Lebanon and Cyprus is thought to have substantial crude oil and natural gas reserves.

Small companies that reassemble and package imported components make up the majority of industry in Lebanon. In 2004, industry ranked second in terms of employment, accounting for 26% of the working population in Lebanon, and second in terms of GDP contribution, accounting for 21% of the country’s GDP.

Approximately 65 percent of the Lebanese workforce works in the service industry. As a result, the GDP contribution accounts for approximately 67.3 percent of yearly Lebanese GDP. However, the economy’s reliance on the tourist and banking industries makes it susceptible to political unrest.

Lebanese banks are well-known for their liquidity and security. In 2008, Lebanon was one of just seven nations in the world whose stock markets grew in value.

On May 10, 2013, the Lebanese ministry of energy and water stated that seismic pictures of the Lebanese seabed are undergoing comprehensive explanations of their contents, with just around 10% of them covered so far. Preliminary analysis of the findings revealed that 10% of Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone held up to 660 million barrels of oil and up to 301012 cubic feet of gas, with a probability of more than 50%.

The Syrian conflict has had a major impact on the economic and financial condition of Lebanon. The demographic pressure exerted by Syrian refugees currently residing in Lebanon has resulted in labor market competitiveness. As a result, unemployment has more than quadrupled in three years, reaching 20% in 2014. Less-skilled employees have had a pay drop of 14%. The impact of financial restrictions was also felt: the poverty rate rose, with 170.000 Lebanese falling below the poverty line. Between 2012 and 2014, government expenditure rose by $1 billion, but losses totaled $7.5 billion. The Central Bank of Lebanon estimates that spending for Syrian refugees alone amounts to $4.5 billion per year.

Entry Requirements For Lebanon

Visa restrictions
Due to tensions in the Arab-Israeli conflict, residents of Israel and visitors with any proof of visiting Israel will be denied entrance: Israeli entry stamps, departure stamps from Jordanian or Egyptian land borders to Israel, any goods with Hebrew labeling, and so on.

Visa & Passport for Lebanon

Turkish citizens are granted a free three-month visa, which may only be renewed if one month has passed since their arrival.

Citizens of Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Djibouti, Mauritania, the Comoros, Nigeria, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast are eligible for a free one-month tourist visa if they have a round-trip ticket, a hotel reservation, and USD2,000 (The cash conditions can be exempted if you get the visa from the Lebanese embassy beforehand).

Thailand (and a few more countries not mentioned elsewhere in this section) citizens are unable to get a visa at the airport or at a Lebanese embassy. Instead, a visa must be obtained via the General Security head office in Beirut by a Lebanese sponsor in Lebanon. This is a lengthy procedure that may take months to complete, so get started as soon as possible. The visas are only valid for one month, however they may be renewed to three months through General Security once in Lebanon.

For citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Jordan, three-month visas are free. Other nationalities may pay LBP25,000 (USD17) for a 15-day visa or LBP50,000 for a three-month visa (USD35). These visas are single-entry; multiple-entry visas are also available for citizens of several countries (USD75 valid for six months). Free 48-hour transit visas (valid for three calendar days) are still available, but only if you arrive by land and depart by air or vice versa.

For certain nations, visas may be acquired at Lebanese embassies and consulates abroad, or upon arrival at Beirut airport and other ports of entry.

Citizens of these nations who come for tourism are given a free one-month valid visa that may be renewed for up to three months: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados,Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, USA, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

How To Travel To Lebanon

Get In - By plane

BEY (Beirut International Airport) lies 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of the city center.Middle East Airlines services daily to Abidjan, Abu Dhabi, Accra, Amman, Athens, Cairo, Cologne, Copenhagen, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Frankfurt, Geneva, Istanbul-Atatürk, Jeddah, Kano, Kuwait, Lagos, Larnaca, London-Heathrow, Milan-Malpensa, Nice, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Riyadh and Rome-Fiumicino, Warsaw-Okęcie.

Turkish Airlines, Cyprus Airways, and Czech Airlines are all good options for flights from the UK. Even direct flights from Heathrow with MEA or BMI are often cheaper with these three carriers. Czech airlines are always the most cost-effective option from Manchester.

Get In - By bus

Every hour, buses depart Damascus at a fee of 400 or 500 SYP. The journey usually takes 4–5 hours, depending on border traffic. It is important to note that while leaving Syria, you must pay a 550 SYP departure charge and get a 48-hour Lebanese visa on the opposite side of the border. Transit Visas are free, 15-day Transit Visas are LL25,000 (US$17), and single-entry 30-day Tourist Visas are LL50,000 (US$34), all of which must be paid in Lebanese Pounds. Money changers may convert money for a charge (usually $1).

Get In - By sea

The sole regular passenger ferry service between Turkey and Lebanon is Akgunler Denizcilik’s twice-weekly service from Tasucu, just outside Mersin, to the northern city of Tripoli. Apart from the solitary passenger ferry, the only method to get to Lebanon by water is to take a cruise ship or, for the more daring, a freighter.

How To Travel Around Lebanon

Lebanon is a small nation with a journey from north to south taking less than three hours. Service taxis, buses, and cars are the most common modes of transportation.

Get Around - By taxi

The bulk of passengers rely on service cabs to move around. “Service” taxis run on fixed routes between towns and cities, similar to buses, but they may be booked to reach additional locations with little discussion. Each cab transports between 4 (within metropolitan regions) and 6 (longer trips) people who split the price. For small distances of a few kilometers/miles, the fare is 2000 LL (Lebanese lira), which is approximately $1.33, and rises based on the distance to be driven, traffic on that particular route, and, of course, persuasion/negotiation abilities, as with everything in Lebanon. A private Taxi trip without having to share with other passengers is comparable to a “Service” Taxi in that it requires the same pre-negotiation to set the price, and it costs at least 10,000 LL (6.66 US$) as a rule of thumb. A word of caution: never board a cab or “service” without first agreeing on a fee.

Taxis and “service” taxis are essentially the same, and the method of operation is determined by passenger availability and demand. In Lebanon, the bulk of “service” taxis are 1975 Mercedes vehicles that scour the streets seeking customers by honking their horns. Newer vehicle types that primarily serve as “service” taxis are beginning to emerge on Lebanese streets, with the same price tag as their older sisters.

The Red-colored license plate may be seen on all kinds of public transportation vehicles in Lebanon (taxis, buses, minivans, and even trucks).

Get Around - By bus

There are many city-link bus lines that are both convenient and inexpensive. The Charles Helou Station (east of downtown) is where most buses to north Lebanon leave, whereas the Cola “Station” is where most buses to the south and southeast of Beirut (including Damascus and Baalbek) depart (which is really an intersection adjacent to the Cola bridgeoverpass).

Get Around - By car

In comparison to other countries in the area, renting a car in Lebanon is rather costly. With persistence and negotiation, reasonable, if not precisely inexpensive, prices may be obtained, and once you have your rental, gasoline is simple to come by. However, keep in mind that gasoline is not cheap, and it is one of the most impacted by inflation.

The majority of Lebanon’s roads are in poor condition, and Lebanese drivers are not renowned for their prudence. When driving in Lebanon, use great care. Even in places unaffected by the Israeli attack, huge potholes can be seen on major multi-lane highways in downtown Beirut.

For Western drivers who are used to safe driving, driving in Lebanon should be regarded an intense activity. The names of the streets are almost non-existent. Mountain driving is especially dangerous, since it often involves one-car highways in two-way streets. During peak hours, traffic in large cities like as Beirut and Tripoli, as well as on the route from Beirut to Kaslik, may be highly congested and time-consuming, converting a 20-minute journey into almost an hour.

Destinations in Lebanon

Cities in Lebanon

  • Beirut – the capital and largest city
  • Baalbek – a Phoenician and Roman archaeological site
  • Byblos (Joubeil) – another city with plenty of remains, castles and museums
  • Jezzine – main summer resort and tourist destination of South Lebanon
  • Jounieh – known for its seaside resorts and nightclubs
  • Sidon (Saida) – plenty of medieval remains
  • Tripoli (Trablus) – still unspoilt by mass-tourism
  • Tyre (Sour) – has a number of ancient sites, including its Roman Hippodrome which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Zahle – capital of Bekaa Valley

Other destinations in Lebanon

  • Batroun is a historic city on the Mediterranean coast with a bustling city center full with restaurants, cafés, pubs, and nightclubs.
  • Bcharre is a gateway to the Cedars of God forest and Cedars ski slopes, and is surrounded by mountains.
  • Ehden is a hilly town with various attractions and lovely landscape. Ehden Nature Reserve is located here.
  • Barouk is well-known for its cedar groves.
  • Jeita – Known for its Grotto
  • The house of the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran may be visited in the Kadisha Valley.
  • Beiteddine – This city is known for its palace.
  • Chouf district’s Deir el Qamar is a traditional hamlet.
  • Baskinta is a small village located at the base of Mount Sannine.
  • Qornet El-Sawda is the country’s highest mountain.
  • Mzaar Kfardebiane – Mzaar Kfardebiane is known for its skiing slopes.
  • In the Beqaa Valley, Qaraoun is known for its lake.
  • Vineyards are well-known in Kefraya.
  • Brummana is a historic village that is often referred to as a summer resort due to its nice climate, magnificent views of Beirut, and lively nightlife.
  • Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve – This 550-square-kilometer (210-square-mile) nature reserve has hiking trails among millenarian cedars. Niha, Barouk, Maaser el Shouf, Ain Zhalta, and Aammiq are all close by.

Accommodation & Hotels in Lebanon

There are numerous hotels in Lebanon, ranging in price and quality from $10 per night to hundreds of dollars per night, and the quality varies greatly. Many major hotel brands, such as Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, and Crowne Plaza, as well as local boutique and “mom-and-pop” type hotels, as well as low-cost budget hotels, may be found here.

If you plan on staying for a long time, furnished flats or all-suite hotels are the greatest option to save money since they include cleaning and other services.

Things To See in Lebanon

Lebanon has a diverse landscape, ranging from gorgeous beaches to highlands and valleys. The Lebanese take pleasure in the fact that Lebanon is one of the few nations where you can go skiing in the morning and then go to the beach in the afternoon (although it is impossible to actually do that because of traffic). Keep in mind that this is only feasible for a few days each year, typically during the transition from winter to spring and/or from summer to fall.

Downtown Beirut The picturesque downtown astonishes visitors from all around the world. Tourists may have a delicious meal or a cup of coffee at the outdoor cafés at Place de l’Etoile. In addition, the capital offers a variety of eateries and hangouts for individuals of all ages. There are many nightclubs, bars, cafés, and restaurants to suit a wide range of tastes and budgets.

The Roman Temples of Baalbeck are among the biggest and most magnificent Roman remains in the world.

Tyre’s Al Bass Archaeological Site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the world’s biggest and best preserved Roman archeological sites. The site includes a vast Necropolis, a big monumental arch leading to a Roman Road, an outstanding example of an acqueduct, and the largest and best preserved Roman Hippodrome yet discovered.

Jeita Grotto is a grotto located in Jeita, One of the new Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Jeita Grotto, has been nominated. Jeita Grotto is Lebanon’s tourist crown gem, with two spectacular grottoes to offer visitors. It is a source of fascination for whole families that want to explore a fascinating world deep beneath the ground. The “Touristic Site of Jeita” brings together all aspects of nature, including stone, water, trees, flowers, air, and animals, in a daring setting with a touch of Lebanese cultural history. It is one among the world’s most stunning and fascinating natural wonders.

Beiteddin The palace of Beiteddine is one of the most authentically Arabic architectural gems. The “midane,” a huge rectangular space for guests, and a smaller one for the royal private apartments, both with a beautiful fountain in the center, make up this historic landmark.

Valley of Qadisha (Holy Valley) The “Holy Valley” stretches from Bcharreh to the seashore in north Lebanon. It is home to a plethora of caverns, chapels, and monasteries and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Byblos, also known as “Jbeil” in Arabic, is a Phoenician city that has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A medieval castle and a Roman amphitheater are among the tourist attractions, as are many coastal cafés and restaurants offering fresh seafood.

Anjar is a city in the Beqaa Valley with a variety of local eateries serving traditional Lebanese cuisine. The remains of an 8th-century Umayyad city may be found in the city.

Things To Do in Lebanon

Nightlife in Lebanon

The people of Lebanon have had to adjust to the political unrest. Lebanon is without a doubt the Middle East’s party capital. There are several different nightlife districts in Beirut, such as the Gemmayze district, which is mainly full of bars and restaurants, or Monot Street, which has nightclubs and pubs. Open-air nightclubs such as Sky Bar, White, and Iris are also popular in Lebanon. Greater Beirut is a city that never sleeps, since the vast majority of its businesses are open 24 hours a day.

Lebanese nightclubs are varied, with both “oriental” and “occidental” styles, as well as a combination of both, can be found.

Sporting Club, Oceana, Laguava or Edde Sands, and Janna Sur Mer are just a few of the beautiful beaches and beach resorts in Lebanon. These locations, on the other hand, are not inexpensive and may be rather pricey, particularly for the budget traveler.

Hike in Lebanon

The Lebanon Mountain Route (LMT) is a 350-kilometer long national hiking trail that runs from Al Qobaiyat in the north to Marjaayoun in the south of Lebanon. The trail is not well defined, and you need hire a guide if you don’t want to get lost. The guides may be pricey, but it’s worth bargaining with them. If you want to go alone, the countryside is densely inhabited, and you will never be far from other people. This is by far the greatest way to observe Lebanon in its natural state!

Ski in Lebanon

Lebanon offers six ski resorts with groomed slopes that appeal to all abilities of skiers and snowboarders. Kilometers of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing paths await exploration outside the skiable areas; Lebanon offers something for everyone. Each ski resort has its own distinct personality.

Food & Drinks in Lebanon

Food in Lebanon

Lebanon’s food is excellent, with vegetarian meals like tabouleh, fattoush, and waraq ainab, as well as delectable dips like hommos and moutabal.

Lebanese barbeque, such as shish tawouq (barbecued chicken) – typically eaten with garlic, lahm mashwiye (barbecued beef), and kafta, are must-haves (barbequed seasoned minced meat).

Depending on where you go, a full dinner at a local restaurant may cost as low as 15 US dollars (22500 LL), but there are also more costly choices.

Sandwiches, such as shawarma sandwiches, are also available as Lebanese “quick food” at roadside kiosks (known in other countries as doner – or gyros in Greece). Shawarma is wrapped on thin Lebanese bread. Various barbequed meat sandwiches are also available, as are lamb or chicken spleen, brains, lamb bone marrow, and lamb testicles.

Breakfast typically consists of manaeesh, which resembles a folded pizza with zaatar (a spice blend of thyme, olive oil, and sesame seeds), jebneh (cheese), or minced meat as toppings (this version is more properly referred to as lahm bi ajin).

Another typical morning item is knefeh, a kind of breaded cheese served in a sesame seed bread with a thick syrup. It’s also a dessert option.

Lebanon is also known for its Arabic sweets, which can be found in many of the country’s top restaurants. Tripoli, on the other hand, is known as “the” city for Lebanese sweets, and is often referred to as Lebanon’s “Sweet Capital.”

International food chains may be found all throughout the country. Italian, French, Chinese, and Japanese cuisines, as well as cafe franchises (such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and others), are very popular in Lebanon, with a greater concentration in Beirut and the urban sprawl north of the city.

Drinks in Lebanon

Lebanon’s wines are well-known throughout the world. Grapes have been cultivated in the Bekaa Valley since antiquity, and the vineyards provide the base wine for distillation into the national spirit Arak, which, like Ouzo, has an aniseed flavor and becomes murky when diluted with water. Meze is traditionally served with Arak.

However, the grapes have also been utilized to produce wine in the past. The troops and officials who arrived to govern the French mandate following World War One generated a demand for red wine, and vast acreages of the Cinsault grape were planted specifically for that purpose. These have been complemented by the most popular foreign varietals, including as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, during the past 20 years.

Wineries often provide wine tastings and are friendly. Chateau Musar is located near Ghazir, 15 miles north of Beirut, and imports grapes from the Bekaa region. The huge Kefraya, Ksara, the oldest winery of all, Massaya, a popular new producer in Tanail, and Nakad in Jdeita, which, like Musar, has adhered to an eccentric old fashioned method, are among the wineries in Bekaa. In the West Bekaa area, Kefraya also has a great restaurant, and the landscape is lovely to travel through.

Money & Shopping in Lebanon

The Lebanese pound, abbreviated “LBP,” or the “Lebanese Lira,” abbreviated “LL,” is the most often used acronym. With a value of about LL1,500 to US$1, its value is maintained constant in relation to the US dollar. Almost everything accepts either Lebanese pounds or US dollars, and it’s normal to pay in dollars but get change in pounds (in which case, make sure you don’t get short-changed).

LL1000, LL5000, LL10,000, LL20,000, LL50,000, and LL100,000 are the bills used. p.s. There are two types of LL1000, both of which are acceptable.

The bills LL1, LL5, LL10, LL25, LL50, LL100, LL250, and LL500 were not utilized.

There are two types of coins: LL250 and LL500. The LL25, LL50, and LL100 coins are seldom used.

Festivals & Holidays in Lebanon

Lebanon observes national holidays as well as Christian and Muslim festivals. Both the Gregorian and Julian calendars are used to commemorate Christian festivals. The Gregorian Calendar is used by Greek Orthodox (save for Easter), Catholics, Protestants, and Melkite Christians, who celebrate Christmas on December 25. According to the Julian Calendar, Armenian Apostolic Christians celebrate Christmas on January 6th. The Islamic lunar calendar is used to determine Muslim festivals. Eid al-Fitr (the three-day feast at the end of the Ramadan month), Eid al-Adha (The Feast of the Sacrifice), which is observed during the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God, the Birth of the Prophet Muhammad, and Ashura are among the Muslim holidays observed (the Shiite Day of Mourning). Workers Day, Independence Day, and Martyrs Day are all national holidays in Lebanon.

Lebanese culture includes music festivals, which are often held at historical locations. The Baalbeck International Festival, the Byblos International Festival, the Beiteddine International Festival, the Jounieh International Festival, the Broumana Festival, the Batroun International Festival, the Ehmej Festival, the Dhour Chwer Festival, and the Tyr Festival are among the most well-known. The Ministry of Tourism of Lebanon promotes these events. Each year, Lebanon holds approximately 15 international concerts, placing it first in the Middle East and sixth globally in terms of nightlife.

Holidays in Lebanon

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Armenian Christmas (January 6)
  • St. Valentine’s Day (February 14)
  • St. Maroun’s Day (February 9)- Christian religious observances.
  • Prophet’s Day (March 9)- Islamic religious observances
  • Feast of the Annunciation (March 25)
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Sunday – Christian religious observances.
  • Labor Day (May 1)- most businesses and schools closed.
  • Liberation of the South (May 25)
  • St. Elias’ Day (July 20)- A lot of fireworks and festivals.
  • Assumption Day (August 15)
  • Ramadan (variable)-Islamic religious observances
  • Eid el Fitr (variable)-Islamic religious observances
  • Independence Day (November 22)- All businesses and schools closed.
  • Eid il-Burbara or Saint Barbara’s Day (December 4)- Christian religious observances.
  • Christmas Day (December 25)- Most businesses and restaurants closed the evening before and all day; family gathering, exchanging gifts, Christian religious observances.
  • New Year’s Eve (December 31)

Traditions & Customs in Lebanon

Because Lebanon is a nation with many distinct religious groups, it is prudent to respect the religious diversity among the Lebanese people. When visiting religious places (churches, mosques, etc.) as well as rural towns and villages, modest attire is advised.

Even in Beirut, certain neighborhoods are more conservative than others, so tourists should keep this in mind while seeing the city. Overall, though, ‘western’ apparel is usually acceptable, so keep your attire modest to hedge your risks. However, keep in mind that, as open and western as Beirut is, this is not Europe; going “topless” on any beach, private or public, is not advised.

Women are advised to dress modestly in Tripoli, particularly in the ancient city. The same may be said for the majority of the country’s traditional “souks.” In general, Lebanese are used to a variety of lifestyles, and some take offense quickly, particularly when it comes to issues of clothing. Although not all Lebanese are open-minded, the Lebanese are used to variety and are therefore easier to embrace other lifestyles.

Due to political sensitivities, including the war with Israel and the crisis with Syria, visitors should avoid discussing politics, particularly in relation to these two nations.

Culture Of Lebanon

Lebanon’s culture is a result of thousands of years of interaction between different civilizations. Originally inhabited by the Canaanite-Phoenicians, Lebanese culture has developed through millennia by drawing from all of these groups. It has been invaded and colonized by the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Fatimids, Crusaders, Ottoman Turks, and most recently the French. Lebanon’s varied population, which includes people of many ethnic and religious backgrounds, has also influenced the country’s festivals, musical styles, literature, and food. The Lebanese “have an essentially similar culture” despite their ethnic, linguistic, religious, and denominational diversity. Lebanese Arabic is widely spoken, and the country’s cuisine, music, and literature are deeply entrenched in “broader Mediterranean and Arab Levantine traditions.”

Arts

Khalil Gibran is best known in literature for his novel The Prophet (1923), which has been translated into more than twenty languages. Elias Khoury, Amin Maalouf, Hanan al-Shaykh, and Georges Schehadé are among the modern Lebanese authors who have gained worldwide acclaim.

Moustafa Farroukh was one of Lebanon’s most well-known painters of the twentieth century. Over the course of his career, he exhibited in locations ranging from Paris to New York to Beirut. Many more modern artists are presently working, such as Walid Raad, a New York-based contemporary media artist.

The Arab Image Foundation contains a collection of over 400,000 images from Lebanon and the Middle East in the area of photography. The photos are on display at a research center, and the collection has been promoted via a variety of events and publications in Lebanon and throughout the globe.

Popular culture

Lebanon’s music pervades the country’s culture. Traditional folk music is still popular in Lebanon, but contemporary music that combines Western and traditional Arabic genres, as well as pop and fusion, is quickly gaining appeal. Lydia Canaan, a historical figure and Lebanese musical pioneer, is recognized as the first rock star in the Middle East in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Library and Archives in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Traditional Lebanese, classical Arabic, Armenian, and contemporary French, English, American, and Latin songs may be heard on radio stations.

According to film critic and historian Roy Armes, Lebanon’s cinema was the only cinema in the Arabic-speaking area that could be considered a national cinema, apart from Egypt’s. Lebanon has had a cinema since the 1920s, and the nation has produced more than 500 films.

Lebanon’s media is not only a regional manufacturing hub, but also one of the most liberal and free in the Arab world. Reporters Without Borders claims that “the media enjoy greater freedom in Lebanon than in any other Arab nation.” Despite its tiny population and geographical location, Lebanon plays a significant role in the Arab world’s information creation and is “at the heart of a regional media network with global consequences.”

Sports

There are four ski resorts in Lebanon. Due to Lebanon’s unusual location, skiing in the morning and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea in the afternoon are both feasible. Basketball and football are two of Lebanon’s most popular competitive sports. Other popular recreational activities in Lebanon include canoeing, cycling, rafting, climbing, swimming, sailing, and caving. Every autumn, the Beirut Marathon attracts elite runners from Lebanon and across the world.

In Lebanon, rugby league is a relatively young but rapidly developing sport. Lebanon’s national rugby league squad competed in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup and qualified for the 2008 and 2013 editions by a whisker. Lebanon again competed in the 2009 European Cup, where the squad beat Ireland to finish third after barely missing out on qualifying for the final. Hazem El Masri, a Tripoli native, will always be remembered as the best Lebanese player of all time. In 1988, he moved from Lebanon to Sydney, Australia. He became the highest point-scorer in National Rugby League history in 2009, collecting 2418 points while playing with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in Australia, where he also holds the record for most first-grade appearances (317) and tries (159). He is also the highest try scorer (12 tries) and top point scorer (136 points) for the Lebanese national team at the international level.

Basketball is played in Lebanon. Three times in a row, the Lebanese National Team qualified for the FIBA World Championship. Sporting Al Riyadi Beirut, the current Arab and Asian champions, and Club Sagesse, who have previously won the Asian and Arab championships, are two of Lebanon’s most dominant basketball teams. The most decorated player in the Lebanese National Basketball League is Fadi El Khatib.

The Lebanese Premier League, whose most successful teams are the Al-Ansar Club and the Nejmeh SC, and whose famous players include Roda Antar and Youssef Mohamad, the first Arab to lead a European premier league side, is one of the most popular sports in the nation.

Lebanon has hosted the AFC Asian Cup and the Pan Arab Games in recent years. Lebanon hosted the 2009 Jeux de la Francophonie from September 27 to October 6, and has competed in every Olympic Games since its inception, earning four medals in all.

Samir Bannout, Mohammad Bannout, and Ahmad Haidar are well-known Lebanese bodybuilders.

In recent years, water sports have also proven to be extremely popular in Lebanon. Since 2012, when the Lebanon Water Festival NGO was founded, greater focus has been put on such activities, and Lebanon has been promoted worldwide as a water sport destination. They hold various competitions and water show sports to encourage their followers to get involved and win big.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Lebanon

Stay Safe in Lebanon

The overwhelming majority of Lebanese people are pleasant, and most visitors have no issues. However, tensions with Israel may flare up (albeit they are generally limited to South Lebanon), so visitors should keep an eye on the independent press while in the country.

When visiting specific places, it is advisable to be accompanied, as it is in any nation. In general, Palestinian refugee camps and Israeli borders should be avoided.

Some parts of Lebanon, such as Erssal or Aarsal in the Northern Bekaa, are notorious for kidnapping expatriates and holding them for ransom.

Visitors should always register with their respective embassies once they arrive in Lebanon and stay informed about any travel advisories.

Useful phone numbers:

  • Police: 112 or 911 or 999 (it is common that if you call them for small-scale infractions e.g. pick-pocketing or sexual harassment they will not come).
  • Fire brigade: 175 (metropolitan Beirut only)
  • Civil defense: 125 (outside Beirut)
  • The Red Cross (Medic Response): 140
  • Information: 1515

Stay Healthy in Lebanon

Lebanon has a professional and private healthcare system, making it a popular destination for health tourism in the area. The following hospitals are located mostly in Beirut:

  • AUH (American University Hospital), Hamra area: +961-1-344704.
  • RHUH (Rafic Hariri University Hospital), Bir Hassan area: +961-1-830000.
  • Hotel Dieu de France, Ashrafieh area: +961-1-386791.
  • Rizik Hospital, Ashrafieh area: +961-1-200800.
  • Mont Liban Hospital, Hazmieh area: +961-1-955444.
  • Sacré Coeur Hospital, Hazmieh area: +961-1-451704.
  • Saint George Hospital, Ashrafieh area: +961-1-441000.
  • Tel Shiha – Zahle, Beqaa
  • Nini Hospital – Tripoli, North Lebanon: +961-6-431400.
  • Hopital Albert Haykel – Koura, North Lebanon: +961-6-411111.
  • Sahel Hospital – Airport Ave Area: +961-1-858333
  • Jabal Amel Hospital – Jal Al Baher Area, Tyre: +961-7-740343, 07-740198, 07-343852, 03-280580
  • Labib Medical Center – Abou Zahr Street, Sidon Area: +961-7-723444, 07-750715/6
  • Bahman Hospital – Beirut, Haret Hreik Area: +961-1-544000 or 961-3-544000

It is essential that you get travel insurance before departing for Lebanon. Hospitals in the nation may be extremely costly, and cash payments may be required in advance due to the absence of insurance.

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