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Are you planning a trip to Lebanon and cannot decide what places you should be looking out for? It might be a small country but there are a great many things to see around in Lebanon. In fact, one of the best things about exploring Lebanon is that you can easily set base in Beirut and explore the entire country by taking day trips from there onwards. This method will also ensure easier travel options since Beirut is the capital city of Lebanon allowing you easy options for transport options. There is a huge cultural diversity within the nation to look out having a 50% Muslim and 45% Christian population along with traces of other ethnic groups- there are a total of 18 such groups recognized in Lebanon. Here, you will find a unique mix of things that belong to the Middle East coupled with things found entirely in European countries. So, without much ado, let’s get on to the list of amazing places that you have to visit while you are visiting Lebanon!
Obviously, Beirut has to be top on the list of places that you have to visit while you are in Lebanon. It is the capital city and you have to enter Lebanon through Beirut via airways. Some ferries will take you to Lebanon too- however. All the roadway routes to Lebanon are boarded up at the moment.
Beirut could be regarded as one of the most exciting places to be in while you are enjoying the arid grandeur of the Middle Eastern countries. For one thing, this city is a lot more liberal than the rest of the Middle East. The wildest beach clubs, loud nightclubs, and other such attractions make Beirut a hard-partying place of the Middle East. Set apart from the vibrant nightlife, you also get to witness several centuries' worth of history while here. Coupled with this, you will find some of the most delectable cuisines in the world while in Beirut.
Armenia Street within Mar Mikael is the place to be if you are looking for party scenes. The Beirut Corniche is captivating and one of the best places to visit the place is during the early mornings. If you are looking for different delicacies to try, go to Hamrun Street which is lined with all kinds of cafes. The National Museum of Beirut is truly a remarkable place to begin your history tour of Lebanon. The Alternative Tour Beirut is a special schedule hosted to give you an alternative perspective into the history of Lebanon through a more holistic approach. The Beirut Souks are excellent and you can shop your heart out for all kinds of souvenirs that you can take back home.
Once you are done exploring Beirut, one of the most vibrant places in the Middle East, you should head to the most beautiful place to be in Lebanon- Byblos! It is also known as Jbeil in Arabic and is situated towards the northern side of Beirut. It is a scenic seaside village together with amazing teal waters, beaches lined with palm trees, and a plethora of sandstone houses found in the old town. It will take you about 45 minutes to reach Byblos from Beirut via road.
Byblos has one fascinating titbit of history- the term seems to be associated with books. It was in the truest sense in ancient times- Byblos happened to be an important trade center for importing and exporting papyrus to ad from Egypt, thus conventionally becoming one of the earliest centers to distribute books. One of the finest things to do in this magical place is to walk by the seafront or enjoy a scrumptious seafood meal in one of the cafes along the seafront. It is regarded as one of the oldest among Phoenician cities and listed amongst the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites. The city has been occupied by humans since the Neolithic era and had major contributions towards the development of the Phoenician language.
Tyre, once called Sour is et on the southern side of Lebanon and a beautiful place to visit. In the past, it used to be a city of very high importance along the Mediterranean. Nowadays, it is a city holding lots of Roman ruins, some of the friendliest people in the world, and fragrant, vibrant, fresh flowers bursting open on every side! It is one of those places which is going to give you excellent vibes as you walk through the streets. The Roman ruins to are going to mesmerize you since you get an amazing slice of the past through these. Tyre is also listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites for multiple reasons. Its status as an ancient runic city gives it a major boost. Its history as a Phoenician city also adds to the glamour. Tyre is also held responsible for the founding of other cities like Cadiz and Carthage. And their greatest invention- they were the first to produce the royal purple dye!
If you want to travel to Tyre from Beirut you have to hit the roadways. Public transportation options are available in the form of minibusses. However, if you are taking a minibus, you might have to change vehicles in Sidon. It is a one-hour and forty-five-minute ride from Beirut to Tyre.
Harissa is one of the most amazing places and has to be there on your list of places to visit in Lebanon. It is situated about a 40-minute cab ride away from Beirut. However, there is a much more interesting route that you can opt for if you plan to go to Harissa (and you should!). you could take a cab or bus ride from Beirut up to Jounieh. From Jounieh, scheduled cable cars leave for Harissa taking you through mountainous regions covered in forests and looking mesmerizing. This particular90-minute cable car journey is one of the major attractions to Harissa and why you should visit the place!
The most attraction to look out for while you are in Harissa is the Our Lady of Lebanon statue. It is perched high up on a mountain top and was built with the idea that the Lady would be overlooking the nation underneath. The city is built at 650 m above sea level allowing you bearable weather and some stunning sights to behold. It is an important pilgrimage center in Lebanon but all kinds of tourists can frequent the place. The sanctuary was built in honor of the Virgin Mary and Christians and Muslims alike gather here to perform various activities together.
If you want to get a taste of how grand and impressive the Roman Empire was at its peak, Baalbek is the place for you to be. Baalbek is about two hours away from Beirut on road and it is recommended that you stay in Baalbek for about two days to take in all that the place has to offer. It is one of the best Roman ruins in the world that you are most likely to see unless you are in Rome itself. The immensity of the ruins is mind-boggling and is sure to leave you spellbound.
Baalbek was originally known as Heliopolis or City of the Sun in the Roman Era. There are four temples in Baalbek dedicated to Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, and Bacchus respectively. These temples are some of the largest examples of the intricate Roman architectural styles left in today's world. The Stone of the Pregnant Woman at 1,000 tons and the Megalith weighing 1,650 tons are two of the largest stone blocks ever in antiquity! Even if you are less of a history buff and more of an adventurer, Baalbek has something in store for you. You can climb to the top of the temples and enjoy the dramatic view that encompasses you, much like the Romans used to do during their time. The massive ruins that Baalbek boasts of have earned it a place among the list of World Heritage Sites.
The city of Bcharré is about two hours away from Beirut if you are taking public transport. It was initially known as Bsharri in Arabic and is a place with a mystical charm! The journey to Bcharré alone will enthrall you like nothing else in Lebanon can. You have to travel through winding roads in the Qadisha Valley to reach Bcharré. From there on you will be led into canyons carved by rivers and mountains perpetually covered in mystic mist. The wintertimes also bring snow into the mountainous regions sometimes.
The famous Lebanese-American poet-writer Khalil Gibran is said to hail from this mystical hamlet. Naturally, one of the most famous places to see in Bcharré is the Gibran Museum dedicated to the memory of the poet. There was a time when this iconic place used to shelter hermetic monks. However, nowadays, it is a mausoleum to Gibran housing his tomb and also displays a collection of his most famous works both in writing and drawing. You will also get one of the most stunning views of Bcharré from the top of the museum, so be sure to visit there.
Cedars of God
Cedar has been an important tree for structural use in Middle Eastern times. The Phoenicians had extensively used cedar to construct boats while the Egyptians had used the same for the construction of tombs. The use of cedar is ingrained into the Lebanese culture so much so that even U2 has prepared a musical composition called Cedars of Lebanon. However, the rampant use of the wood has harmed the cedar forests and there's hardly any natural cultivation left. However, if you want to take a glimpse into the wondrous cedar forests you can head to the Cedars of God park situated just outside of Bcharré. These trees are majestic to behold and a walk or hike through the nature park is surely going to be a delight for you.
The Cedars of God park is regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and vehemently protected nowadays. The fine status was achieved because of the extensive use of this wood, especially in the construction of religious features. Since it the forests are located just outside Bcharré, you can visit the place while visiting the town which is just a 2-hour drive away from the capital.
Jeita Grotto is a marvelous set of two tunnels situated just outside Beirut, about half an hour on road. This is an especially "cool" place to visit on a hot day since you'll be easily protected from the sultry heat by the cool caves.
There are two cave systems in this region regarded as the Lower and Upper Caves. A river cuts through the Lower caves and is an essential source of water to the people of Lebanon. You can take a boat to traverse through the river system- it is a beautiful experience, albeit a bit spooky. On the other hand, the upper caves are dry, can be explored on foot, and feature the largest stalactite in the world at 8.2 m long.
If you want to taste a slice of an entrapping bit of history or simply love to find yourself in places that take you to the past, Qadisha Valley is the place for you. In fact, in the early centuries, when Christians were facing persecution in this region, it is one of the earliest places where the refugees had settled down. It is also one of the finest places in Lebanon to visit if you are up for some adventurous activities such as skiing, hiking, and mountain climbing. It is also regarded as a World Heritage Site as it is seen as one of the most important monastic settlements among Christians.
While you are visiting Qadisha Valley, make it a point to have Qozhaya in your list of places to visit. It is an important shrine among Christians and is dedicated to the memory of St. Anthony. It is a fine example of Arabic architecture, especially seen in a rock-hewn chapel built within a cave. The journey is also mesmerizing since you’d have to take a long journey through wooded canyons to reach the destination. The Qadisha Valley is easy to reach from Beirut and is just a 90-minute ride away from the city.
Sidon is a great side trip from Tyre, being just 45 minutes away from the place, and the two places can be easily done on a day! This place is also known as Saida and happens to be a port city. despite the storied history of the place, Sidon is one of the calmer cities to visit while you are traveling through Lebanon. One of the main reasons to visit Sidon would be the terrific souks or marketplaces that it has to offer. You can shop for all your collectibles and souvenirs from the vibrant souks here where everything from modern-day implements to traditional wares are sold in little, brightly colored shops. You also have to visit the Sea Castle which is a relic from the time of the crusade wars among the Muslims and Christians and was constructed by crusaders as a fortress!
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