Tanks and troops have left Lebanon street corners and busy business men and children playing spreads again life in the streets. Currently, you can safely travel to Lebanon to enjoy nature, nightlife and the Middle East's most multi-cultural society. Book your trip to Lebanon from KILROY!
Lebanon is an intense country to travel in. The small sized country contains 18 official religions and a diverse nature, which in early May could mean going to the beach and going skiing in the same day!
Lebanon: A country with a turbulent past
The last 35 years, Lebanon has been characterized by political instability and civil unrest. From 1975-1990, the country had its Civil War, where Christian groups and Palestinians fought each other with Israeli interference. It was also during this period that Hezbollah had influence in the area. You can still find shattered buildings in Beirut's center as testaments to the war.
The political disputes did not stop with the civil war and it is sometimes still risky to travel to Lebanon. Before traveling to Lebanon you should always check your own country's recommendations, and be sure that your travel insurance covers evacuation costs if appropriate.
Lebanon's capital, Beirut
Beirut is called the Paris of the Middle East. The two cities look nothing alike however. Like the rest of the Middle East's concrete-dominated capitals, Beirut is not a pretty town. But the parisian atmosphere is there. Especially around Place de'Etoile where the French-style sidewalk cafes dominate the streets, and wealthy children are playing with their Asian nannies around the beautiful clock in the middle of the square.
Beirut's nightlife is excellent, almost like Ibiza, and here you'll find festivals to suit every taste. Bars, restaurants and small DJ celebrations are concentrated side by side in the district Gemeyzeh close by Mohammad al-Amin mosque. Do not miss an evening of rock and roll at Bar Louis. Beirut is undoubtly the natural starting point for traveling around Lebanon.
Tripoli - hectic seaport
Tripoli is the bustling capital of northern Lebanon. The crusaders also took over the port city of Tripoli, leaving beautiful castles with 360-degree views of the densely packed city. Tripoli is more conservative than Beirut, and the mosques are always visible above the flat rooftops. If you get tired after a few hours in traffic and the busy souq, jump in the hammam and get a nice scrubbing.
The small idyllic port of Byblos is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as the oldest inhabited city in the world. On a small hill with a magnificent view of the city and the Mediterranean, you can stroll around the ruins of an ancient castle from the 12th century, which was the scene of several battles between the Crusaders and their nemesis; Kurdish Sunni Muslim Saladin. In the adjacent habour you can enjoy fresh sushi and a red sunset over the Mediterranean. Byblos is just one hour north of Beirut, and is great for a little day trip.
Baalbek - Lebanon's cultural highlight
Not even in ancient Rome can match Baalbek in extravagance and size. Baalbek means Valley of the Sun and was built for the Arabs to be impressed with the Romans strength and civilization. The Jupiter Temple had the world's largest pillars and six of these 22.9 m tall pillars still stand, as a testament to the Romans' superior engineering capabilities. Bacchus Temple is just like the Romans left it 2000 years ago. The 46 columns surrounding the temple still stands, and the lavish decorations are inconceivable preserved. Baalbek is definitely one of the highlights of any trip to Lebanon.
Trekking in Lebanon - valleys and mountains
One of the most beautiful natural areas in Lebanon is Qadisha Valley; a 50 km long gorge, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The most beautiful part of this long gap is 20 km hike up to Qadisha grotto. On the way you will see old temples, numerous waterfalls and spectacular views before cooling off in the 778-meter-long cave.
The Lebanon mountain range runs from north to south down through Lebanon. There is a 440 km long trekking route along the mountains, The Lebanon Mountain Trail, which takes you through 75 villages and beautiful landscapes. Along the route there is the possibility to stay at guest houses and campsites.
Skiing in Lebanon
If you travel to Lebanon between December and April, while snow falls in the Lebanese mountains, you can combine celebrations and cultural life with skiing. Only a day trip from Beirut, you'll find two of Lebanon's best ski areas. The most popular is called Mazaar ski resort. With its 42 slopes totaling 80 km, it is Lebanon's largest. Just nearby is the smaller, but more scenic Cedars ski resort, which offers better powder snow and off-piste skiing. KILROY can help you with information regarding skiing in Lebanon.