7 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Lebanon
One of the most striking and culturally rich countries in the Middle East, Lebanon is both a beautiful place to visit and an important player in the region's politics.
Lebanon's fabled history includes over 3,000 years of Phoenician civilization, Christian and Muslim rule, and the French-mandated independence of the 1960s. Now, Lebanon's once prosperous and stable economy is in shambles.
When civil war broke out in 1975, more than 30,000 people were killed or injured in a string of brutal battles for control of the country. Although security in the region has improved somewhat, Lebanon is still one of the most unstable countries in the Middle East. Its infrastructure is crumbling, and corruption is widespread.
Lebanon's ancient past still shines through the current trappings of urban life, however. The capital city, Beirut, with its magnificent 18th-century architectural ensembles and chic modern malls, has something for everyone.
While in Lebanon, check out the beautiful Roman ruins of Baalbek and the ancient city of Byblos. To explore the incredible waves of history and scenic beauty that make up the country, plan your trip with our top Lebanon attractions.
Beirut has an illustrious history. It has been home to Phoenician, Assyrian, Roman, Ottoman, French, and British citizens. The city was once a walled city and has been bombed and pillaged so many times that it's known as the 'pesthouse of the Arab world.' Today, it's one of the most modern and busy cities in the region. Arriving from the Beirut International Airport, travelers are met by a taxi and taken to the beach suburbs to catch a bus to the city center. The city has very cheap flights to various European destinations (fares range from $400-500). Other options are staying in the many Bedouin campsites scattered around the country or sleeping in a proper hotel. Things to do in Beirut include going to one of the popular souqs in the old city to purchase everything from groceries to jewelry. For visitors it's also an interesting place to learn about the fascinating history of Lebanon and its struggle for independence.
Read more 👉 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Beirut
Biblical Byblos is a Mediterranean city that was founded during the Middle Bronze Age (3300-2600 BC). Little is known about the early history of the area, though there are some ruins of the Phoenician city wall from the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Most of the buildings today date from the Roman period of the city, when its name was Romanized as Babylon. It was a prosperous, cosmopolitan trading city under Rome, and during the 2nd and 1st centuries BC there were seven temples built here. Of the remaining temples, the 2nd century Thasos, dedicated to Zeus; the 3rd century small Ionic temple of Hercules; the 2nd century BC Tsanita; and the 2nd century BC Pharos temple. Today it is best known for its historic sight, the Phoenician temple of the goddess Astarte, the largest pre-Roman temple in the Near East. An adjacent museum offers visitors a good overview of the site. Although it is not well-known, the site is also of archaeological interest, with other Phoenician temple, cisterns, nymphaeums, as well as Roman and Byzantine remains. Though the site is located in Lebanon, access is through Turkey. Byblos has an airport.
Lebanon, the region of rivers and mountain streams, is on the Mediterranean and on the edge of the the Middle East. An unspoiled area with barely any modern civilization, Mount Lebanon is also home to an ancient heritage that has maintained its own traditions over the ages. The unique languages, arts, and customs of the area make it a fascinating destination. The valleys, villages, towns and the mountain range as a whole have managed to keep alive a strong sense of identity. The villages of Mt. Lebanon are linked to each other and to the capital by trails, a network of roads and horseback riding. Despite its diverse landscape, Mount Lebanon remains a predominantly rural area. The most popular way to visit is on horseback, trekking through the valley sides, over the peaks and past the villages to see the many sights that the area has to offer.
One of the most impressive ruins of the ancient world, the glory of Baalbek is simply astounding. As a result, many people visit the site of Baalbek-Hermel, hoping to see and understand just how impressive it once was. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, Baalbek-Hermel was a Roman-era city devoted to the pagan god Baal. Constructed over the ruins of an even more ancient site, it is one of the few structures in the world to have survived the subsequent centuries with essentially its original form and layout. Today, the impressive ruins, located in the Middle Bekaa Valley, provide an almost surreal look at a vanished civilization. Unfortunately, the site is prone to occasional vandalism and visitors are asked to observe a few simple rules.
The capital of the small North African country, Tripoli is surrounded by mountains. It has a population of more than 1.5 million and is a trade and manufacturing center. There is a museum of antiquities in Tripoli, as well as the 1st-century Roman Tower of the North, a large limestone column inscribed with ancient signs and inscribed with a history of the area from the times of Solomon to the conquest of Napoleon. The oasis at Derna, about 80 kilometers north of Tripoli, has caves and tunnels once occupied by the fierce tribe known as the Berbers. (People often mispronounce the name, so that it is pronounced "Deena," rather than "Derin.") The caves are rarely open, but you can visit the quarries from which the stone was extracted and view interesting geological formations.
The coastal town of Antelias is a popular summer retreat for those living in Beirut, situated 15 kilometers north of the Lebanese capital. The hills surrounding the town provide great views, but in the summer they can also be sweltering. The center of town is full of shops, restaurants, and hotels, and there are also two cinemas, two theaters, and several ice-cream parlors, restaurants and cafés. Antelias is also the birthplace of the Turkish ambassador to Lebanon.
Beirut Souks, Beirut
The lively, exotic trading center of Beirut is located on Mount Lebanon's western outskirts. This compact district is where the city's original Maronite and Greek Christian and Greek Orthodox Christian quarters meet to form an energetic, authentic, and crowded social scene. Beirut Souks is famous as the home of the mother of all souvenirs: the aluminum rooftop Bab al-Tebbaneh. There is a Middle Eastern market at the foot of the Souks with produce, clothing, and other products that rival those of the Middle East and Europe. The surrounding area offers sights and more activities, and the historic stone Hassan Tower and the Franciscan Convent offer a glimpse of the past. The Souks are not too congested and often have good views. Outside of this area is the Corniche, a scenic strip lined with cafes, restaurants, a wide variety of shops, and a museum with exhibits, designed to show how the Western influences on the area came about.