Between its rich history, exciting nightlife and fantastic food, it can be very tempting when visiting Lebanon to limit your trip to the capital city, Beirut. However, step outside of Lebanon’s urban heart, even a little bit, and you will find an entire country filled with fantastic vistas and incredible experiences. Here are just a few places to see and things to do on your travels, off the beaten path.
Take a trip to Tripoli
Tripoli tantalizes visitors with an intriguing mix of history and traditional Lebanese culture. With its helpful locals, gorgeous buildings, and sprawling Ottoman souks filled with wonderful handmade goods and delicious local food, Lebanon’s second-largest city has held onto the amazing character and beauty of old Lebanon exceptionally well. You can take a guided tour, explore for yourself, or book yourself a room at a guesthouse like Beit el Nessim and take a few days. There’s plenty to enjoy.
Explore beneath the waves In Batroun
Known for its ancient Phoenician sea wall, the coastal city of Batroun is the perfect place for a little scuba diving. Take the plunge into the crystal clear water and you can come face-to-face with sea turtles, stingrays, lionfish, octopuses and more, before returning to dry land to relax at one of the city’s many bars and restaurants with a glass of refreshing local lemonade. Alternatively, you can spring for a stay at Beit al Batroun and spend a few days experiencing a treasure trove of Phoenician, Roman and Byzantine history.
Photo: Maroun Abou Ali
See the cedar trees in Tannourine
The cedar tree is one of Lebanon’s most famous and enduring symbols, representing longevity, divinity and peace. Trekking through the Tannourine Cedar Forest Reserve, you will quickly understand why. Taking in sublime views of the spectacular green valleys, rivers and quaint local villages along the way, this is a fantastic way to experience Lebanon’s rich, and endlessly breathtaking, natural heritage.
Visit a vineyard and try some wine
Lebanon is famous the world over for the quality of its wine. Wineries and vineyards can be found all over the country, with most being located in the southern Bekaa Valley. You can put this claim to fame to the test with a little wine tasting. Many of Lebanon’s wine producers, such as the Sept Winery in the northern village of Nahla, offer delightful sampling experiences, often paired with delicious Lebanese specialities prepared with fresh, local ingredients. Give it a try! You will not regret it.
Photo: Marco Pinarelli
Climb the mountains
It’s hard to go anywhere in Lebanon without catching a glimpse of its majestic, snow-capped mountains. The Mount Lebanon range extends throughout the entire country, stretching 170 kilometres from the north to the south, and the highest peak, Qurnat as Sawda, stands more than 3,000 metres tall. With plenty of hiking groups and many a mountain trail available, this is a great adventure for anyone willing to put in a little work for a great view. This is also a good way to see Lebanon’s mountaintop communities, but be warned – they may ask you to join them for lunch or a spot of Arak! Meanwhile, accommodations like Beit Douma offer fantastic mountain views.
Discover authentic Lebanese life in the Bekaa Valley
As previously mentioned, Bekaa is wine country, filled with acres of rural farmland and quaint country villages. For those looking for something a little calmer, Lebanon’s burgeoning agritourism scene is an amazing way to see the close bond that exists between the people and the land. Places like Al Haush – a family-run ‘agro-guesthouse’ – or Beit Ammiq – part of the Souk El Tayeb project – combine sustainable practices and a commitment to Lebanese cultural heritage in the beautiful Bekaa Valley. These relaxed, pastoral getaways are perfect for families looking to spend some quality time together away from the distractions of modern life, or anyone who just wants to immerse themselves in the simple beauty of the Lebanese countryside.
Photo: Natalie Riachi
Hit the beaches
We all like to catch a little late summer sunshine, and Lebanon has some truly jaw-dropping beaches equal to anywhere else on the Mediterranean coast. Within day-tripping distance of Beirut is the village of Jiyyeh, where you’ll find a whole group of private beach resorts, including Lazy B, with its lovely landscaped garden. Whether you are splashing through the surf, working on your tan or enjoying a romantic stroll along the golden sand at sunset, this is one seaside sojourn you won’t forget any time soon. If you fancy something a little more extreme, you can rent a kayak or a paddleboard for plenty of high seas hijinks!
Go big in Baalbek
Getting to Baalbek can be an adventure of its own, so it’s a good idea to make the most of your trip. However, upon reaching the city, you will find yourself surrounded by ancient Greek and Roman ruins, most notably the Temple of Bacchus and the Temple of Jupiter. The size and scope of these remnants are truly awe-inspiring. After a long day exploring the City of Sun, you’ve earned your right to relax and unwind at L’Annexe in their beautiful jewel of a courtyard.
Questions? Ask away
As you can see, there is no end to the incredible sights and sounds offered by Lebanon, and here at L’Hôte Libanais, we are always trying to find even more to share with the world. It is our deeply held belief that travel depends upon human interaction and mutual enrichment between the guest and the host. As such, we try to promote experiences that are all special in their own way and different every time, while our partner guesthouses offer a wide variety of delightful locations in which to enjoy the distinctly unique pleasures of Lebanese hospitality. So get out there and discover Lebanon outside of Beirut!
Step outside of Lebanon’s urban heart, even a little bit, and you will find an entire country filled with fantastic vistas and incredible experiences.